Peru valley

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The Junin Tapaculo, Scytalopus gettyae was described in 2013 by KU ornithologists in collaboration with the Centro de Ornitologia y Biodiversidad (in Lima, Peru). It is currently known only from a single valley in the Central Peruvian Andes, where it inhabits the dense, dark understory of cloud forests­— cool mountainous forests characterized by frequent fog and mists. As a result of this humidity, trees in cloud forests are usually covered in epiphytic plants such as mosses, orchids, and bromeliads. These forests also feature other distinctive plants such as tree ferns and bamboos.


The Junin Tapaculo is an example of a cryptic species.  At first glance, cryptic species appear identical to other species, but differ in ecology, behavior, and genetics. In this case, the Junin Tapaculo is diagnosed from similar species by its song and genetics. Because birds themselves use songs to identify one another, bird songs are often more important than feather coloration in identifying species.

Listen to the Junin Tapaculo’s unusual song here.