Long-billed Gnatwrens

The Long-billed Gnatwren, Ramphocaenus melanurus, is part of the gnatcatcher family. It is the only member of the genus Ramphocaenus (Vieillot, 1819). They are fairly common permanent residents of Santa Rosa forests, especially in areas with substantial evergreen vegetation.

Their habitat includes the undergrowth and vines of dry forest and secondary woodland from Mexico south to Peru and Brazil, and on Trinidad.

This unmistakable bird usually occurs in pairs or family groups.


Adult Long-billed Gnatwrens are 10.9cm long and average 10.3g in weight. They have a long thin bill and a short cocked tail. The upperparts are grey-brown, with rufous on the sides of the head.

Their throats are white, shading to buff on the rest of the underparts. The tails are black with white tips to all but the central feathers and are frequently wagged.

R. m. trinitatis, found in eastern Colombia, Venezuela and Trinidad, have paler underparts, and buff flanks and head sides.

Breeding / Nesting:

They build a deep cup nest low to the ground, in a small plant or sapling. Both parents incubate their eggs (usually two) for 16 to 17 days. The young ones fledge after another 11 to 12 days.


Long-billed Gnatwrens eat mainly insects, insect eggs and spiders.

Song / Call:

Please click on this link to listen to the various songs.

Photo of author

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