Although the rufous-tailed plantcutter has a clear preference for vegetative matter, such as leaves, shoots and buds, it will occasionally take fruits and insects, while nestlings are fed almost exclusively with insects (2) (4). During the breeding season, this species forages in pairs, but at other time it aggregates in small groups of six to twelve birds (2).
The rufous tailed plantcutter has two distinct breeding seasons, from October to November, and December to January (2). The loosely built nest is made from dry twigs, padded with root fibres, and usually placed between one to three metres above the ground in thick thorny scrub (2) (3). Each breeding pair is known to incubate two to four eggs for around two weeks, but the length of the nestling period is yet to be documented. Although most populations are sedentary, those in the extreme south tend to move northwards during the winter, whilst those breeding at high altitudes tend to move to lower elevations (2).