Like most tapaculos this species feeds on insects and other invertebrates (5) (6). Its relatively short, rounded wings permit only brief, weak flights, and so it spends much of the day foraging on the ground (5).
Nesting takes place between October and November (7), at which time the dusky tapaculo excavates a tunnel over half a metre long through the dense undergrowth at the side of a stream. At the end of the tunnel, a globe shaped nest is constructed from root fibres and moss, and lined with horse hair. The nest is accessed by an opening in the side and a clutch of two to three eggs is deposited within (2).