For a long time, it was considered an endemic species to Colombia although recently a population was found in the north of Ecuador. Its name Grallaria derives from the modern Latin grallarius = stiltwalker and the epithet rufocinerea from the Latin roots rufus = rufous and cinereus = ash gray.
It measures 15.5 to 16.5 cm and weighs 44.8 g. It has dark brown irises, black bill, and gray tarsi. It has a uniform rufous brown head, upperparts and throat, the latter with a gray base of feathers. The rest of the underparts are gray with the center of the belly mottled whitish.
The Chestnut-naped Antpitta (Grallaria nuchalis) is much larger and has blackish, not rufous, sides of the head and throat. The Rufous-headed Tororoi (Grallaricula cucullata) is smaller, gray underneath with a white pectoral crescent.
Two subspecies are recognized: G. r. rufocinerea is found in the central Andes and G. r. romeroana in the south of the country in the headwaters of the Magdalena valley and west of Putumayo. The latter has a solid rufous brown chin and throat and a more extensive white belly.
Some authors propose that G. rufocinerea and G. erythroleuca are sister species.
It is found in the central Andes of Colombia to the north of Ecuador. In Colombia it is distributed from 2100 to 3150 m above sea level on both slopes of the Central mountain range, from the south of the department of Antioquia south to the west of the department of Putumayo.
It inhabits in mature humid montane forests and less frequently in forests in secondary succession and forest edges.
Their diet is made up of insects and other arthropods.
An individual in reproductive condition was registered in the month of June in the southeast of the department of Antioquia. In the Ucumarí Regional Natural Park it was found that the reproductive peak occurs between March and May with the presence of young in June. Other aspects of their reproductive biology remain undocumented.
Forages singly or in pairs and moves along the forest floor among dense vegetation. It has been observed following ant marches and it is likely that it also sometimes follows large mammals such as tapirs and bears. The activity area for two adults was estimated at 1.4 ha.
State of conservation
At the national and international level it is classified as a species in a Vulnerable situation and the main threat it faces is the destruction of its habitat due to the processes of deforestation and fragmentation that result from the establishment of human populations and the transformation of the occupied zones into agricultural areas.