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Species Guide

Isthmian Wren

Cantorchilus elutus

The Isthmian Wren, a small bird belonging to the family Troglodytidae, is a creature of subtle beauty. Adults exhibit a gray-brown crown and back, complemented by a pale russet rump. Their tail is adorned with russet brown and darker bars, while a thin white supercilium and a gray-brown stripe through the eye add to their distinct appearance. The cheeks are a mottled tapestry of dark grayish brown and grayish white. A white throat transitions to a pale grayish chest, leading to a grayish white belly with buffy cinnamon sides and flanks.

Identification Tips

When attempting to identify the Isthmian Wren, look for its size, which ranges from 12.5 to 14 cm in length. Key features include the russet rump and tail with darker bars, the white supercilium, and the mottled cheeks. The bird's overall coloration is a blend of gray-brown, russet, and buffy cinnamon.


The Isthmian Wren is a denizen of the Pacific slope of Costa Rica and Panama. It favors humid areas and can be found in a variety of environments such as forest edges, secondary growth, and even gardens. However, it tends to avoid dense wet forests.


This species is distributed from Costa Rica's San José Province south and east to just past the Canal Zone in Panama. It thrives at elevations from sea level to approximately 2,000 meters.


The Isthmian Wren typically forages in pairs within low dense vegetation, although it may occasionally venture higher into the trees. It is known to construct "dormitory" nests for roosting, in addition to its breeding nests.

Song & calls

The vocal repertoire of the Isthmian Wren includes a song composed of 3-4 clear whistles, often sung by both sexes. Its calls are varied, featuring a harsh 'chur' and a tinkling 'chi-chi-chi'.


Breeding season for the Isthmian Wren spans from January to September in Costa Rica, with a similar period presumed for Panama. The nest, resembling a football in shape with a side entrance, is crafted from grass and vegetable fibers, lined with softer materials, and typically situated within 3 meters of the ground amidst dense vegetation. The female incubates the two eggs on her own.

Diet and Feeding

While the diet of the Isthmian Wren has not been extensively documented, it is believed to consist mostly of arthropods and other small invertebrates.

Conservation status

The Isthmian Wren has not been assessed by the IUCN. Despite its relatively small range, it is not considered globally threatened due to its commonality within its range and its adaptability to human-modified habitats.

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Isthmian Wrens on Birda

A map showing the sighting location
Profile picture for Diego Ramírez-Calvo
Diego Ramírez-Calvo
04 Mar 2024 - 3:30pm
Costa Rica

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