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Ochre-Flanked Tapaculo
Eugralla paradoxa

Kittlitz Babbler
Churrín Grande
Eugralla paradoxa
Length: 146mm. Sexes alike. Bill dark grey with a sharp extension over the forehead; iris dark brown; head, neck, back and breast plumbeous grey, darker above and paler on throat and breast; rump rusty; tail feathers dark grey. Belly whitish; lower belly, flanks and undertail coverts rusty; wing coverts plumbeous grey; remiges plumbeous grey margined rusty brown; tertiaries show a black subterminal bar and a rusty terminal bar; axillaries grey and rusty. Legs with inner portion of tarsus and toes greenish yellow; outer portion of tarsus, outer toe and fore toe olivaceous brown. Average weight: 32g.
Juveniles: overall browner and paler with feathers margined blackish brown, giving a scaly appearance. Habitat and behaviour: Kittlitz Babbler inhabits the thickest understory of the Andean woods. It is curious as most Rhinocryptids and in spite of being very tame it is extremely hard to locate and observe on account of its mimetic colour that blends in with the dark colours of its habitat. Likely signs of its presence are the scraped ground. However, since it may be confused with those left by other members of the family, the only telltale signal of its presence is its voice, consisting of brief repeated notes. Whenever it is drawn to something that calls its attention it emits a feeble “zig-zig” sound.
It feeds on insects and invertebrates that it gleans from decaying leaves and twigs on the humid forest floor. According to A. Johnson, 1965, the nest is placed among the vegetation, consisting of a sphere-shaped construction of sticks, lined with grass. Clutch size ranges from two to three white-coloured eggs.
Range: its distribution in Argentina is not well known. It is presumed, on the basis of vegetation and other observations, that it may occur in Neuquén, Río Negro and Chubut, exclusively within the thin stretch of the subantarctic forest with thick forest floor made up chiefly of cane (Chusquea culeou). As a matter of fact, the only species captured in Argentina is a specimen collected at Lake Hess, located on the western centre of the province of Río Negro, almost on the border with Chile.
On September 29, 1992, in the locality of Mallín Ahogado, at a site called Loma del Medio, 15km northwest of El Bolsón, province of Río Negro, Carlos Mariano Kovacs collected a male adult. An unknown cry had called his attention. This specimen was far from its usual habitat,
as the existing vegetation was a sparse cypress wood (Austrocedrus chilensis), Maqui shrubs (Aristotelia maqui), large quantities of rose hip and a few blackberries. Judging by the size of its gonads (4mm), it was undergoing its reproductory stage, most likely with a pair, although this could not be proved.
On account of the above stated, this is the second recorded capture of this rare Rhynocryptid in Argentina, an almost exclusive Chilean species. At present this species has been sighted more or less regularly. The area around Lago Puelo in Chubut and El Manso in Río Negro should be added to the already mentioned locality.
Illustrated Handbook of the Birds of Patagonia
Kindless: Kovacs Family

Photographs: Mariano Diez Peña

Birding Patagonia • Birdwatcing in Bariloche, Patagonia, Argentina and Chile.
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Photographs on the website: Mariano Diez Peña