Tapaculos are small to medium-sized birds, with a total length ranging from 10–24 cm (4½ in). These are terrestrial species that fly only poorly on their short wings. They have strong legs, well-suited to their habitat of grassland or forest undergrowth. The tail is cocked and pointed towards the head, and the name tapaculo possibly derives from Spanish for "cover your behind". Another possible explanation is that it originates from the Chilean name for the white-throated tapaculo, simply tapaculo, which is an onomatopoeic reference to its commonly heard song. While the majority of the family are small blackish or brown birds there are some larger and more colourful species. All tapaculos are skulking birds that frequently stay low in dense vegetation, even the larger, colorful species, and this renders them difficult to see. They are best located and – in the case of Scytalopus spp. – identified by their vocalisations. They feed on insects, seeds and other soft plant material with their pointed bills, and will scratch on the ground like a pheasant. Most species lay two or three white eggs in a covered location, whether it be a burrow, a hole in a tree, or a domed nest.