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

Species Links
  • Barred Antthrush Chamaeza mollissima

    BirdLife Species Account
    This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation)...
  • Barred Antthrush Chamaeza mollissima

    Peru Aves Species Account
    The Barred Antthrush has brown upperparts. It has characteristic finely barred post ocular stripe, malar area, and stripe down the neck...
  • Barred Antthrush Chamaeza mollissima

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution
  • Barred Antthrush Chamaeza mollissima

    Species Account
    The Barred Antthrush Chamaeza mollissima is a species of bird in the Formicariidae family. It is found in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist montane forests...
  • Barred Antthrush Chamaeza mollissima

    Cornell Species Account
    Arguably the most immediately distinctive of the Chamaeza antthrushes on account of its very heavily and closely barred (rather than scalloped or streaked) underparts, the Barred Antthrush is a very local and relatively infrequently encountered bird....
  • Barred Antthrush Chamaeza mollissima

    HBW Species Account
    ...Chamæza mollissima P. L. Sclater, 1855, Santa Fe de Bogotá, Colombia. Birds from Cordillera de Colán (N Peru) slightly intermediate in plumage between nominate and race yungae. Two subspecies recognized...
  • Black-faced Antthrush Formicarius analis

    BirdLife Species Account
    Background info
  • Black-faced Antthrush Formicarius analis

    HBW Species Account
    ...with lots of video footage
  • Black-faced Antthrush Formicarius analis

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution
  • Black-faced Antthrush Formicarius analis

    Species Account
    ...t is a common and widespread forest bird in the tropical New World, from southern Mexico through Central America to the northern regions of South America. It occurs in Colombia, Venezuela, Trinidad and Brazil, and the Amazon Basin with the exception of the northwest region...
  • Black-faced Antthrush Formicarius analis

    Cornell Species Account
    Black-faced Antthrush is a medium sized, terrestrial antbird of lowland evergreen forest of tropical Middle America and South America. The species occupies primary forest and mature secondary forest, but tends to avoid scrub and small forest patches...
  • Black-headed Antthrush Formicarius nigricapillus

    Species Account
    Sound archive & distribution
  • Black-headed Antthrush Formicarius nigricapillus

    Species Account
    The black-headed antthrush (Formicarius nigricapillus) is a species of bird in the Formicariidae family. It is found in Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Panama. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and subtropical or tropical moist montane forests...
  • Black-headed Antthrush Formicarius nigricapillus

    Cornell Species Account
    The Black-headed Antthrush is a member of the genus Formicarius, which are chunky, forest floor dwelling birds, related to antpittas, but are shaped somewhat like rails, with short, stubby tails, and walk like a chicken...
  • Black-headed Antthrush Formicarius nigricapillus

    IUCN Species Status
    This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation)...
  • Black-headed Antthrush Formicarius nigricapillus

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Formicarius nigricapillus Ridgway, 1893, Buena Vista, Costa Rica. Two subspecies recognized.
  • Black-headed Antthrush Formicarius nigricapillus

    BirdLife Species Account
    ...espite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations)....
  • Cryptic (Such's) Antthrush Chamaeza meruloides

    BirdLife Species Account
    ...The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern...
  • Cryptic (Such's) Antthrush Chamaeza meruloides

    HBW Species Account
    axonomy: Chamaeza meruloides Vigors, 1825, Brazil. Was long confused with C. ruficauda, but differs vocally. Monotypic.
  • Cryptic (Such's) Antthrush Chamaeza meruloides

    Species Account
  • Cryptic (Such's) Antthrush Chamaeza meruloides

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution...
  • Cryptic (Such's) Antthrush Chamaeza meruloides

    Species Account
    he cryptic antthrush (Chamaeza meruloides), also known as the Such's antthrush, is a species of bird in the Formicariidae family. It is endemic to Atlantic Forest in southeastern Brazil. Although first described almost 200 years ago, it was long overlooked (hence, cryptic) due to confusion with the rufous-tailed antthrush and short-tailed antthrush, which inhabit the same region...
  • Cryptic (Such's) Antthrush Chamaeza meruloides

    Cornell Species Account
    This species also is known in much of the ornithological literature as the Cryptic Antthrush, on account of the fact that this species was for many decades confounded with Rufous-tailed Antthrush (Chamaeza ruficauda), despite obvious differences in vocalizations and, to a lesser extent, in morphology...
  • Mexican (Mayan) Antthrush Formicarius moniliger

    HBW Species Account
    ...Feeds on snails, beetles, lizards, even small snakes. Walks slowly and deliberately over the ground litter, sometimes flicking leaves about...
  • Mexican (Mayan) Antthrush Formicarius moniliger

    Species Account
    Sound archive & distribution
  • Rufous-breasted Antthrush Formicarius rufipectus

    BirdLife Species Account
    ... The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations)....
  • Rufous-breasted Antthrush Formicarius rufipectus

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Formicarius rufipectus Salvin, 1866, Santiago de Veraguas, Panama. Four subspecies recognized...
  • Rufous-breasted Antthrush Formicarius rufipectus

    Cornell Species Account
    The Rufous-breasted Antthrush is similar to other members of the genus Formicarius in being a chunky, short-tailed, forest-floor dwelling bird that characteristically walks like a chicken. Its distribution is complicated, but is generally found in the upper foothills along the Caribbean slope of Costa Rica and western Panama, as well as along both slopes of the Andes in Colombia and Ecuador, and the Amazonian slope foothills through much of Peru...
  • Rufous-breasted Antthrush Formicarius rufipectus

    Species Account
    Sound archive & distribution
  • Rufous-breasted Antthrush Formicarius rufipectus

    Species Account
    The rufous-breasted antthrush (Formicarius rufipectus) is a species of bird in the Formicariidae family. It is found in Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist montane forests.
  • Rufous-capped Antthrush Formicarius colma

    Cornell Species Account
    Uncommon but widespread, Rufous-crowned Antthrush is a resident of the forest floor and low undergrowth. They forage on the ground, where they walk with tail cocked, flipping over leaves in search of insect prey...
  • Rufous-capped Antthrush Formicarius colma

    Species Account
    The rufous-capped antthrush (Formicarius colma) is a species of bird in the Formicariidae family. It is found in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests...
  • Rufous-capped Antthrush Formicarius colma

    IUCN Species Status
    This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation)...
  • Rufous-capped Antthrush Formicarius colma

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution
  • Rufous-capped Antthrush Formicarius colma

    HBW Species Account
    Not globally threatened. Generally rated as uncommon to fairly common; rather local in Ecuador; fairly common to common in Peru; rare in Rio Grande do Sul (SE Brazil)...
  • Rufous-capped Antthrush Formicarius colma

    BirdLife Species Account
    This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation)...
  • Rufous-fronted Antthrush Formicarius rufifrons

    BirdLife Species Account
    This species is considered Near Threatened as it is known from only a small range, and is apparently rare and patchily distributed. However, the range is not yet severely fragmented or restricted to few locations (Collar et al. 1992). For these reasons, the species is classified as Near Threatened...
  • Rufous-fronted Antthrush Formicarius rufifrons

    HBW Species Account
    ...Distribution: Extreme W Brazil in NW Acre (upper R Juruá), SE Peru in Madre de Dios and Cuzco (R Urubamba), and NW Bolivia in W Pando (R Tahuamanu)....
  • Rufous-fronted Antthrush Formicarius rufifrons

    IUCN Species Status
    ...Formicarius rufifrons was formerly known only from the río Madre de Dios and its tributaries, Peru, but during the 1990s it was found on the upper rio Juruá in Acre, Brazil (Whittaker and Oren 1999), río Tahuamanu in Pando, Bolivia (L. Jammes in litt. 1999, T. S. Schulenberg in litt. 1999) and río Urubamba in Cuzco, Peru (H. Lloyd in litt. 1999, N. Gerhart in litt....
  • Rufous-fronted Antthrush Formicarius rufifrons

    Species Account
    Sound archive & distribution
  • Rufous-fronted Antthrush Formicarius rufifrons

    Species Account
    The rufous-fronted antthrush (Formicarius rufifrons) is a species of bird in the Formicariidae family. It is found very locally in humid forest in southeastern Peru, northwestern Bolivia (Pando), and far southwestern Brazil (Acre). It is threatened by habitat loss.
  • Rufous-fronted Antthrush Formicarius rufifrons

    Cornell Species Account
    The past five decades have shown that the avifauna of southwestern Amazonian forests holds a bonanza of exciting discoveries, principally in the myriad of habitats associated with river floodplains...
  • Rufous-tailed Antthrush Chamaeza ruficauda

    BirdLife Species Account
    ... The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern...
  • Rufous-tailed Antthrush Chamaeza ruficauda

    Species Account
    The Rufous-tailed Antthrush is distributed in south-east Brazil from Espírito Santo to Rio Grande do Sul and into Argentina. It is found in the Atlantic Rain Forest and forest edges especially where there is dense undergrowth and it is usually at between 1,000 and 2,200 metres so is at higher elevations than Short-tailed Antthrush C. campanisona or Such's Antthrush C. meruloides...
  • Rufous-tailed Antthrush Chamaeza ruficauda

    HBW Species Account
    ...Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Restricted-range species: present in Atlantic Forest Mountains EBA. Fairly common to common; scarce in Rio Grande do Sul...
  • Rufous-tailed Antthrush Chamaeza ruficauda

    Species Account
    Sound archive & distribution...
  • Rufous-tailed Antthrush Chamaeza ruficauda

    Species Account
    The rufous-tailed antthrush or Brazilian antthrush (Chamaeza ruficauda) is a species of bird in the Formicariidae family. It is endemic to Atlantic Forest in southeastern Brazil and far northeastern Argentina (only Misiones Province). The cryptic antthrush and short-tailed antthrush are present in the same region, but these are mainly found at lower altitudes than the rufous-tailed antthrush.
  • Rufous-tailed Antthrush Chamaeza ruficauda

    Cornell Species Account
    Long considered to be conspecific with the Schwartz’s Antthrush of northern South America, whilst simultaneously confused with the locally sympatric Such’s Antthrush (Chamaeza meruloides), which shares much of the same geographic range as the present species, but is usually found at marginally lower elevations. The Rufous-tailed Antthrush ranges from southeast Brazil to northeasternmost Argentina, where it is confined to the province of Misiones, and is generally found above 1000 m altitude...
  • Schwartz's Antthrush Chamaeza turdina

    Species Account
    he Schwartz's antthrush (Chamaeza turdina), also known as the scalloped antthrush, is a species of bird in the Formicariidae family. It is found in humid highland forests in the Andes of Colombia and the Coastal Range in Venezuela. The Colombian population belongs to the nominate subspecies, while the Venezuelan belongs to chionogaster...
  • Schwartz's Antthrush Chamaeza turdina

    Cornell Species Account
    his member of the genus Chamaeza has a relatively tiny and highly disjunct range in the north-coastal mountains of Venezuela, and in Colombia’s upper Magdalena and middle Cauca valleys. Two subspecies are recognized for these well-separated populations. The Schwartz’s Antthrush was long considered to be conspecific with the Atlantic Forest endemic, Rufous-tailed Antthrush (Chamaeza ruficauda), but in addition to being obviously highly disjunct geographically, the two differ in both vocalizations and morphology...
  • Schwartz's Antthrush Chamaeza turdina

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Chamæzosa turdina Cabanis and Heine, 1859, Bogotá, Colombia. Formerly treated as conspecific with C. ruficauda, but differs in voice and in ventral plumage pattern and has geographically disjunct range. Two subspecies recognized...
  • Schwartz's Antthrush Chamaeza turdina

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution...
  • Schwartz's Antthrush Chamaeza turdina

    BirdLife Species Account
    ...The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern...
  • Short-tailed Antthrush Chamaeza campanisona

    BirdLife Species Account
    ...The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern...
  • Short-tailed Antthrush Chamaeza campanisona

    Species Account
    The Short-tailed Antthrush is distributed in eastern and southern Brazil from Bahia to Santa Catarina with disjunct populations in Alagoas and Ceará. It is also found in adjacent areas of Paraguay and Argentina as well as in Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia...
  • Short-tailed Antthrush Chamaeza campanisona

    HBW Species Account
    ...Taxonomy: Myiothera campanisona M. H. K. Lichtenstein, 1823, São Paulo, south-east Brazil. Taxonomic divisions uncertain, and races should possibly be grouped into up to four separate species. The four large, dark forms of Venezuelan and Guyanan tepuis (yavii, huachamacarii, obscura, fulvescens) form a group, having voice similar but not identical to that of N Andean birds; song recorded in Bolivia also differs distinctly from latter’s. Race tshororo considered doubtfully distinct from nominate. Twelve subspecies recognized....
  • Short-tailed Antthrush Chamaeza campanisona

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution
  • Short-tailed Antthrush Chamaeza campanisona

    Species Account
    The short-tailed antthrush (Chamaeza campanisona) is a South American species of bird in the Formicariidae family. Its distribution is highly disjunct with populations in the Atlantic Forest in eastern Brazil, eastern Paraguay and northeastern Argentina, isolated highland forests in northeastern Brazil, forests on the tepuis in southern Venezuela, Guyana and northern Brazil, and in forests along the east Andean slope from Venezuela to Bolivia.
  • Short-tailed Antthrush Chamaeza campanisona

    Cornell Species Account
    Short-tailed Antthrush displays a near-perfect example of a circum-Amazonian distribution. It is found in the foothills of the Andes and related mountain ranges from northern Venezuela south to northern Bolivia, with disjunct populations in the Pantepui region of southern Venezuela and adjacent Guyana, as well as in the lowlands of the Atlantic Forest region in southeast Brazil and adjacent northeast Argentina and eastern Paraguay, before reappearing finally in the isolated upland forests of extreme northeastern Brazil. As many as 12 subspecies have been recognized, and these might be split into four different species, although conclusive evidence for such an approach is, to date, lacking....
  • Striated Antthrush Chamaeza nobilis

    BirdLife Species Account
    ...The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern...
  • Striated Antthrush Chamaeza nobilis

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Chamæza nobilis Gould, 1855, Chamicuros, Peru.Race fulvipectus, which differs vocally from other races, possibly a separate species; racial identity of birds from EC Amazonian Brazil (R Purús E to R Madeira), however, is uncertain; further study needed. Three subspecies recognized...
  • Striated Antthrush Chamaeza nobilis

    IUCN Species Status
    his species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations)...
  • Striated Antthrush Chamaeza nobilis

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution...
  • Striated Antthrush Chamaeza nobilis

    Species Account
    The striated antthrush (Chamaeza nobilis) is a species of bird in the Formicariidae family. It is found in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests.
  • Striated Antthrush Chamaeza nobilis

    Cornell Species Account
    Also sometimes known as the Noble Antthrush, the Striated Antthrush is the sole representative of the genus Chamaeza to occur in Amazonia, where it is largely restricted to the western half of the basin. Here, it prefers terra firme forest below 1000 m, and like congenerics can be difficult to observe, especially without employing playback of the species’ ‘hooting’ vocalizations...
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 12

Other Links
  • Black-faced Antthrush Formicarius analis

    Video
  • Rufous-capped Antthrush Formicarius colma

    Video

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