Named for its occurrence in the Cordillera Real of South America (3), the royal cinclodes is a fairly large ovenbird (member of the Furnariidae family) with dark plumage, a large, down-curved beak and a relatively short tail. The body, face and crown are dark chocolate brown, with whitish mottling and streaking on the breast, a pale buffy-white line above the eye, and a whitish, slightly mottled throat, the white extending over the sides of the neck. The wings are dark, with a prominent reddish-brown edge which forms a distinct wing-bar in flight. The beak is black, and the legs and feet are dark pinkish-grey to black (2) (4). The male and female royal cinclodes are similar in appearance (2). The calls of this species include a loud, high-pitched trilling song, raspy calls and a somewhat nasal kiu or kee (2) (4).
The royal cinclodes was previously considered conspecific with the very similar stout-billed cinclodes, Cinclodes excelsior, but can be distinguished by its slightly darker plumage, more buffy-coloured line above the eye, and more distinct wing-band, as well as by slight differences in its habitat preferences (2) (3) (4) (5) (6). The royal cinclodes also resembles the bar-winged cinclodes, Cinclodes fuscus, but is larger, with a stouter beak, and a reddish-brown rather than whitish wing-band (4) (5) (6).
- Length: 20 - 21 cm (2)
- 50 g (2)