Crypturellus boucardislaty-breasted tinamou

Geographic Range

Slaty-breasted tinamous are native to the Neotropical region. There are found in the same range year round, from southern Mexico to northern Costa Rica through Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, and Nicaragua (Lancaster, 1964a) (Lancaster, 1964a)


Slaty-breasted tinamous are most often found in tall, wet forests with canopies ranging from 10 to 25 meters in height and seem to require at least some protective undergrowth, though the amount can range from very thick to quite sparse (Lancaster, 1964a). Slaty-breasted tinamous can also be found in areas of degraded farm-land or regenerating plantations and are often found in damp areas around forest edges. (Lancaster, 1964a)

  • Range elevation
    0 to 1800 m
    0.00 to 5905.51 ft

Physical Description

The breast feathers are a dark slaty gray, the head is blackish and the throat is white. The back can range between black and chestnut. The legs are pink to bright red. Females of this species have barring on their wings. (Grzimek, et al., 2005)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes colored or patterned differently
  • Average mass
    470 g
    16.56 oz
  • Average length
    27.5 cm
    10.83 in


Males establish a territory within their home range and attract two to four females. After mating, the females lay the eggs in a nest at the base of a tree or in dense vegetation and leave to find another mate. The male incubates the eggs alone. (Lancaster, 1964b)

Males begin calling to establish territory in early March and mating occurs from then until early May (some males may nest as early as January and as late as June). Females may lay 2-3 eggs and males may mate with 2-4 females. Males may nest multiple times during a season and females mate with other males after leaving previous mates. Eggs are laid on the ground in thick vegetation or at the base of a large tree (most often in tree buttresses). Nests of 4-12 eggs are incubated by the male once the females leave. Males are very attentive to the eggs, staying with them for almost two days at a time sometimes and only leaving briefly to forage. Eggs hatch after about 16 days of incubation, and the male calls the chicks out of the nest less than a day later. Males abandon the chicks after several days, leaving them to fend for themselves. (Lancaster, 1964b)

  • Breeding interval
    Slaty-breasted tinamous breed multiple times with different partners during their breeding season.
  • Breeding season
    Breeding may occur from January to late April.
  • Range eggs per season
    1 to 12
  • Average time to hatching
    16 days
  • Range time to independence
    18 (low) days

Female slaty-breasted tinamous leave males shortly after the eggs are laid, leaving incubation up to the males. Males protect nests from predators and attempt to kick leaves on to the eggs to hide them when leaving to forage. Males call the young off the nest after hatching, then abandon them a few days later. (Lancaster, 1964b)

  • Parental Investment
  • precocial
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • male
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • protecting
      • male


There is no available information on slaty-breasted tinamou longevity.


Slaty-breasted tinamous are solitary animals, and even when they meet with others, do not interact (unless they are both males and one is defending territory). Slaty-breasted tinamous feed in a manner similar to domestic fowl; moving erratically along the forest floor while foraging for seeds, fruits, ants, termites, and occasionally small lizards or frogs. Unlike domestic fowl however, tinamous do not use their feet to scratch the ground or move debris to search for food, the instead toss leaves and twigs with their beak (Lancaster, 1964a).

When alarmed, slaty-breasted tinamous may freeze, then try to walk away stealthily. If the predator is approaching the tinamou, it may run in a zig-zag pattern, utilizing as much cover as possible. It is only when they are in immediate danger (or surprised) and there are no other options that they take to the air with a loud burst of wingbeats, flying rather clumsily for short distances to escape (Lancaster, 1964a). (Lancaster, 1964a)

Home Range

Males have home ranges that are much larger than the area they actively defend (territory) and home ranges often overlap with those of other males. Smaller territories within the home range are defended and used for courtship with females. Males defend territory with calling-duels, or if a rival male has entered another male’s territory, it may be attacked and chased by the defending male for five to ten yards.

Communication and Perception

Males call more often to establish and defend territory and to attract mates. Females join in duets with males during courtship. A mated male and its females will use recognition calls to communicate within the male’s territory. Males may also use recognition calls when calling to hatchlings before abandoning them (Lancaster, 1964b). Female calls are somewhat more nasal and have a whining quality. Calling seems to occur most often in the morning and evening (Lancaster 1964a). The slaty-breasted tinamou's call is often characterized as a low ah-oowah sound (Grzimek, Schlaeger and Olendorf, 2005). (Grzimek, et al., 2005; Lancaster, 1964a; Lancaster, 1964b)

  • Other Communication Modes
  • duets

Food Habits

Slaty-breasted tinamous feed on fruits and seeds, as well as insects such as ants and termites. Frogs and lizards may be consumed on occasion. Foraging behavior is similar to that seen in domestic fowl, involving erratic movements and pecking the ground for seeds, fruits, or insects. (Lancaster, 1964b)

  • Animal Foods
  • amphibians
  • reptiles
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • fruit


The eggs of slaty-breasted tinamous may be preyed upon by snakes or coatis, adults may be preyed upon by ocelots, jaguars, foxes, snakes, and humans. Slaty-breasted tinamous freeze initially in response to a threat, then try to stealthily walk away. They will fly only in response to an imminent threat. Tinamous are cryptically colored.

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

Slaty-breasted tinamous may be important in the dispersal of undigested seeds and seeds from consumed fruits.

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Slay-breasted tinamous are a game species and are hunted throughout their range.

  • Positive Impacts
  • food

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of slaty-breasted tinamous on humans.

Conservation Status

Slaty-breasted tinamous have become rare in parts of their range where they are heavily hunted but are very common in other areas. They are listed on the IUCN Red List as a species of least concern.


Tanya Dewey (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Kenneth Falkenstein (author), Northern Michigan University, Alec R. Lindsay (editor, instructor), Northern Michigan University.



living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map


uses sound to communicate


living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.

to jointly display, usually with sounds in a highly coordinated fashion, at the same time as one other individual of the same species, often a mate


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.


Referring to a mating system in which a female mates with several males during one breeding season (compare polygynous).


the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.


rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


remains in the same area


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


lives alone


uses touch to communicate


Living on the ground.


defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.


A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.


uses sight to communicate

young precocial

young are relatively well-developed when born


Grzimek, B., N. Schlaeger, D. Olendorf. 2005. "Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia: Slaty-breasted tinamou" (On-line). Accessed March 22, 2008 at

Lancaster, D. 1964. Life History of the Boucard Tinamou in British Honduras. Part I: Distribution and. The Condor, Vol. 66, No. 3: 165-181.

Lancaster, D. 1964. Life History of the Boucard Tinamou in British Honduras. Part II: Breeding. The Condor, Vol. 66, No. 4: 253-276.