Formicariidae – Antthrushes

Short-tailed Antthrush Chamaeza campanisona ©James Lowen Website

The Formicariidae are smallish passerine birds of subtropical and tropical Central and South America known as formicariids. They are between 10 and 20 cm in length, and are related to the antbirds, Thamnophilidae, and gnateaters, Conopophagidae. This family contains probably some 12 species in two fairly small genera.

They are forest birds that tend to feed on insects at or near the ground since many are specialist ant eaters. Most are drab in appearance with shades of (rusty) brown, black, and white being their dominant tones. Compared to other birds that specialise in following ants, this family is the most tied to the ground. The long, powerful legs, which lend the birds a distinctive upright posture, has led to the common name although they are not related to true thrushes. Their essentially vestigial tail aid this lifestyle.

They lay two or three eggs in a nest in a tree, both sexes incubating.

The Ground-Antbirds is a very much altered family since DNA sequencing split it asunder, according to authorities today there are just 12 species of Antthrushes that belong in this family; they are:

Rufous-capped Antthrush Formicarius colma
Black-faced Antthrush Formicarius analis
Mayan (Mexican) Antthrush Formicarius moniliger
Rufous-fronted Antthrush Formicarius rufifrons
Black-headed Antthrush Formicarius nigricapillus
Rufous-breasted Antthrush Formicarius rufipectus

Short-tailed Antthrush Chamaeza campanisona
Striated Antthrush Chamaeza nobilis
Cryptic (Such’s) Antthrush Chamaeza meruloides
Rufous-tailed Antthrush Chamaeza ruficauda
Schwartz’s Antthrush Chamaeza turdina
Barred Antthrush Chamaeza mollissima

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 12

Other Links
  • Black-faced Antthrush Formicarius analis

  • Rufous-capped Antthrush Formicarius colma


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