The plantcutters are a group of passerine birds in the cotinga family Cotingidae. They were previously in their own family, Phytotomidae.

The three plantcutters are all placed in the genus Phytotoma.


These are robust birds of open woodland, scrub and farmland in southern and western South America.

Rufous-tailed Plantcutter - Female

Diet / Feeding

They resemble finches, and are among the few primarily folivorious birds, though they also take some fruits, berries and flowers.

The common name is a reference to their stubby bills with fine serrations along the cutting edge – an adaption for cutting plant material.

Peruvian Plantcutter (Phytotoma raimondii)


They are sexually dichromatic, with males having black wings with white pacthes, and at least partially rufous underparts.

The plumage of the females is greyish-white or brownish-white with dense dark streaking throughout.

Breeding / Nesting

These pair-living birds lay 2 – 4 brown-spotted green eggs in a tree nest. Only the female incubates, but both sexes participate in the nest-building and feeding of the chicks.

The chicks are fed almost exclusively with insects.

White-tipped Plantcutter (Phytotoma rutila)


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