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Discovering the Unique Characteristics of the Black-throated Huet-huet: Plumage Behavior and Habitat

Black-throated Huet-huet, Pteroptochos tarnii: A Guide to

Identification and Plumage

Birdwatchers all over the world are fascinated about the Black-throated Huet-huet, Pteroptochos tarnii, an endemic bird of Chile. Their unique physical features and exceptional behavior make them a popular subject of study.

If you’re planning to observe this remarkable species, here’s a guide on how to identify them from other birds and an overview of their molts.


The Black-throated Huet-huet (Pteroptochos tarnii) has a unique appearance with its brown plumage, black feathers on its throat and chest, and a white stripe above the eyes, which makes a striking contrast and gives it an expressive look. They have a sturdy and thick bill, strong legs, and a long, rounded tail, which helps them balance on uneven terrain.

Their wings are relatively short and rounded. The length of the bird measures around eight inches, and it weighs approximately 75 to 115 grams.



If you’re out in the field and are trying to identify a Black-throated Huet-huet, you can look for their distinctive physique. They usually forage on the forest floor, moving around in a hopping motion.

They are shy birds and have a habit of hiding behind logs, rocks, and roots in the forest. Usually, the best way to spot them is by listening for their distinct vocalizations.

The Black-throated Huet-huet has a few different calls, including a raspy “chuuhkt” and a lower-pitched “chuk-chuk-chuk.”

Similar Species

Black-throated Huet-huets are unique birds and can quickly be identified by their black throat and white stripe above the eye, but they sometimes may get confused with other birds such as the Chestnut-throated Huet-huet and the Moustached Turca. However, a Chestnut-throated Huet-huet has a chestnut-colored throat, while the Moustached Turca has a more prominent eye-stripe extending around its head.


Black-throated Huet-huets generally have uniform plumage throughout their lives. However, they do undergo molting, which is the process of replacing their old feathers with new ones.

The molting stage can be a unique period in the life of birds because it helps them repair their damaged feathers and update their appearance. There are two types of molts that black-throated huet-huets undergo, pre-basic molt and pre-alternate molt.

The Pre-Basic Molt

The pre-basic molt is the time when Black-throated Huet-huets replace their old feathers and grow new ones, leading to a change in their plumage. The pre-basic molt typically occurs once a year, usually after the breeding season, and before the onset of winter.

During this stage, the feathers on their body, wings, and tail will shed and be replaced with new ones that will have a better structure and insulation for the winter season in the southern hemisphere.

The Pre-Alternate Molt

The pre-alternate molt is the process where Black-throated Huet-huets can develop breeding plumage. It happens before the breeding season, around early October to early November.

During this stage, the feathers around their head, throat, and neck will molt, and new feathers with brighter colors will grow in, enhancing the bird’s appearance during mating.

In conclusion, the Black-throated Huet-huet, Pteroptochos tarnii, is an exceptional bird with unique characteristics.

Their distinguishing physical traits and exceptional behavior make them an excellent subject for bird enthusiasts and researchers. When spotting a Black-throated Huet-huet in the wild, always keep in mind the distinctive features, their hiding habits, and unique vocalizations to be able to identify them easily.

The molt process of black-throated huet-huets is fascinating, and it is a crucial point of their life cycle that can give birdwatchers a chance to observe them more closely.

Systematics History,

Geographic Variation,


Related Species, and

Historical Changes to Distribution of Black-throated Huet-huet, Pteroptochos tarnii

The black-throated Huet-huet, Pteroptochos tarnii, is a bird species of the Huet-huet family (Pteroptochidae) endemic to Chile. This bird has a striking appearance that has caught the attention of ornithologists due to its unique vocalizations, behavior, and distribution.

This article will discuss the systematics history of the black-throated Huet-huet, geographic variation, subspecies, related species, and historical changes in its distribution.

Systematics History

The Black-throated huet-huet was discovered in 1819 by the French explorer Louis Isidore Duperrey in Valparaso province, central Chile. The first scientific description of the bird came two years later by the English naturalist, William John Swainson, who named it Pteroptochos tarnii.

The genus Pteroptochos was created specifically for the huet-huets. The name “huet-huet” means ‘foggy’ in the language of the Mapuche people, who are the indigenous inhabitants of southern Chile.

Geographic Variation

The black-throated huet-huet has various geographic variation across its range. These variations in appearance, vocalization, and habitat can sometimes lead to confusion over the species’ subspecific name.

The black-throated huet-huet’s range stretches from Concepcin Province in south-central Chile, where several of its subspecies occur, to the Magallanes Region in far southern Chile.


The black-throated huet-huet has several subspecies, each of which differs subtly in appearance and genetics. These subspecies are typically identified based upon different morphological characteristics, such as coloration, size, and the continuity or lack of white streaks above the eye.

The subspecies of the black-throated huet-huet are:

1. P.

t. tarnii: This subspecies is found in central Chile, from Limar Province to Concepcin Province.

It has a larger body size than the other subspecies of the Black-throated Huet-huet. 2.

P. t.

concolor: This subspecies is found in central Chile, from the lower Maule River to uble Province. It has more prominent white stripes above its face than some of the other subspecies.

3. P.

t. atacamae: This subspecies is found in the Atacama Desert Region in northern Chile.

It is the smallest of all subspecies. 4.

P. t.

falklandicus: This subspecies is found in the Falkland Islands, located in the southeastern part of South America. It was once considered a different species entirely, the Falkland Huet-huet.

5. P.

t. magellanicus: This subspecies is found in the southern Patagonian region of Chile and Argentina.

It appears to have the darkest plumage of all the subspecies.

Related Species

The black-throated huet-huet belongs to a family of bird species known as the Huet-huets (Pteroptochidae). These birds are endemic to the forests and scrublands of South America, ranging from southern Colombia to Tierra del Fuego.

Black-throated Huet-huets have a close relationship with two other species, the Moustached Turca (Pteroptochos megapodius), and the Chestnut-throated Huet-huet (Pteroptochos castaneus).

Historical Changes to Distribution

The Black-throated huet-huet is a resident species of southern Chile but has had population reductions and habitat loss due to human activities. Their habitat is threatened by logging, forest fires, over-grazing, and invasive non-native species.

Despite being of “least concern” on the Red List of Threatened Species, the black-throated Huet-huet is classified as ‘vulnerable’ within Chile, mainly because 50% of their habitat is unprotected. Conservation measures are needed to prevent further population declines and extinction of subspecies.

In summary, Black-throated Huet-huet, Pteroptochos tarnii, is a fascinating bird with unique characteristics and variations in appearance. Further, Black-throated Huet-huet has several subspecies found in various regions of Chile, with different morphologies and genetics.

These are important factors to consider in the species’ conservation, which is essential for preserving the black-throated Huet-huet for future generations.


Movements, and

Migration of the Black-throated Huet-huet, Pteroptochos tarnii


The black-throated Huet-huet, Pteroptochos tarnii, is a terrestrial bird that inhabits the temperate forests and scrublands of southern Chile. Their habitat is specifically limited to the central and southern regions of the country, where they are found from sea level to around 5,000 feet in elevation.

The Black-throated Huet-huet prefers areas with dense vegetation, such as native forests, dense scrublands, and shrubby areas with a mixture of deciduous and evergreen trees. Their habitat in Chile has shrunk due to human activities such as deforestation and land-use practices, like farming and ranching.

This has had a significant negative impact on the Black-throated Huet-huet population in Chile.


The black-throated Huet-huet is mainly a resident bird, meaning it does not migrate. However, different populations of this species show some movements during the non-breeding or winter months.

Black-throated Huet-huets usually spend their entire life in one area if the habitat quality allows and plentiful food is available throughout the year. During the winter, they can move to lower elevations or areas with more abundant food due to climatic conditions such as scarcity of food resources, temperature changes or snow cover.

Black-throated Huet-huets show weak flight, and their wings are short compared to other birds, but they are capable of short flights to escape from predators or cross rivers and streams. These movements usually happen within their usual habitat range.


The Black-throated Huet-huet is predominantly a resident bird, and there is no evidence that they undertake any form of long-distance migration. However, some researchers believe that the species may have undertaken some intra-continental movements during glaciation periods in the past.

This is because their ancestor might have had a larger distribution around 10,000 years ago, before the advance and retreat of the glaciers. During the last glacial maximum which occurred approximately 20,000 years ago, southern Patagonia was covered with ice fields and glaciers, which considerably reduced the bird’s habitat.

They remained relatively stable, however, in the Holarctic tundra and steppes, which allowed perennial grasses and shrubs to grow. During ice-free periods, the species could have moved south to recolonize regions where glaciers had retreated.

In that way, movements allow Black-throated Huet-huet populations to maintain genetic diversity, and these records help to understand population fluctuations and variations. In conclusion, the Black-throated Huet-huet, Pteroptochos tarnii, is a resident bird species native to the temperate forests and scrublands of southern Chile.

Their habitat is threatened by human activities, mainly deforestation, and land-use practices. Although they are not migratory birds, different populations of the black-throated Huet-huet may show some movement during the non-breeding or winter months, mainly to access food resources or favorable microclimates temporarily.

Additionally, the species might have undertaken some intra-continental movements during glaciation periods in the past to survive extinction, which helps to maintain genetic diversity.

Diet and Foraging, and

Sounds and Vocal

Behavior of the Black-throated Huet-huet, Pteroptochos tarnii

Diet and Foraging

The Black-throated Huet-huet, Pteroptochos tarnii, is an omnivorous bird species, which means that it feeds on a variety of animals and plants. This species feeds on anything from insects, crustaceans, snails, and earthworms to seeds, fruits and even small frogs.

One of their significant feeding habits is scavenging. They feed on small organisms that they find on the forest floor, and sometimes they are attracted by the sounds that large forest animals, particularly boars, make.

During the breeding season, they may also eat insects and small birds.


The Black-throated Huet-huet uses its strong legs and bill to forage for food on the ground. They hop and scratch, using one leg to scratch the ground and the other to stay balanced while searching for food.

Their bill is thick and sturdy, with a slightly hooked upper mandible that helps them break through the bark of trees and other plants to find insects. They also use their bills to probe the soil for worms, which they dig out by inserting their beak and then using their tongue to pry the worm out.


The diet of the Black-throated Huet-huet is known to vary depending on the availability of food resources in their habitat and the season of the year. During the summer breeding season, their diet consists mainly of insects, while during the winter season, their diet shifts to more plant-based foods such as fruits and seeds, as insect populations are reduced.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

The Black-throated Huet-huet has a relatively low metabolism, which means that it has a low metabolic rate. This species is capable of regulating its body temperature within a narrow range, which allows it to live in regions with extreme temperatures.

During cold weather, the Black-throated Huet-huet can maintain its body temperature by reducing its metabolic rate. In contrast, during the hot summer months, it can cool itself by panting to dissipate heat.

Sounds and Vocal


The Black-throated Huet-huet is an excellent vocalist and uses a variety of sounds to communicate with other individuals. Their sounds range from soft, low-pitched chirps to harsh, loud screeches and calls.

They have a distinctive call, which has been described as ‘chuuhkt- chuuhkt’ or “kank-kank”. This call is mainly used by males to mark their territory and also during the breeding season to attract females.


Black-throated Huet-huets can be vocal at any time of day or night, but they are most active and vocal during the early morning and late afternoon. Their vocalizations are often used to locate other individuals and maintain contact while foraging.

The birds have different calls and songs for different situations, and the songs can vary from male to male, or female to female. In conclusion, The Black-throated Huet-huet, Pteroptochos tarnii, is an omnivorous species, feeding on a wide variety of food items that differ with season and habitat.

Black-throated Huet-huets are known to feed on insects, crustaceans, snails, earthworms, seeds, and fruits. They have a relatively low metabolism and are capable of regulating their temperature within a narrow range.

The vocalization of Black-throated Huet-huets is distinctive and plays a significant role in the communication between individuals. Their calls have different meanings, such as marking territory or attracting a mate, and help them maintain contact while foraging or in breeding grounds.

Behavior, Breeding, and Demography of the Black-throated Huet-huet, Pteroptochos tarnii


The Black-throated Huet-huet (Pteroptochos tarnii) is an active bird that prefers to live in solitude and forages mainly on the ground. They often use their strong legs and hooked bill to dig in the soil and search for food.

These birds are terrestrial, meaning that they spend their time on or near the ground, instead of in trees.


In terms of locomotion, the Black-throated Huet-huet moves around by hopping or walking on the ground and using its wings to maintain balance. They have short, rounded wings, which cannot support sustained flight, but rather for short bursts and to help them escape predators.

They also use their wings to help them balance when moving up steep inclines.


Black-throated Huet-huets are fastidious creatures, and they take time each day to groom their feathers and remove unwanted parasites. This behavior helps them stay healthy and prevents the spread of diseases.

They also spend time in dust baths, which helps keep their feathers clean. They use their beak to preen their feathers, fixing any damaged ones.



Agonistic behavior is behavior associated with conflict between individuals of the same species. Black-throated Huet-huets are known to be territorial birds and will defend their territory against intruders.

Their agonistic behavior includes calling, charging, and posturing to intimidate rivals. These behaviors are more common during the breeding season.



The Black-throated Huet-huet has a monogamous mating system, which means that they

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