Thamnophilidae – Antbirds

Barred Antshrike Thamnophilus doliatus ©Ian Montgomery Website

The antbirds are a large passerine bird family, Thamnophilidae, found across subtropical and tropical Central and South America, from Mexico to Argentina. There are more than 200 species, known variously as antshrikes, antwrens, antvireos, fire-eyes, bare-eyes and bushbirds. They are related to the antthrushes and antpittas (family Formicariidae), the tapaculos, the gnateaters and the ovenbirds. Despite some species’ common names, this family is not closely related to the wrens, vireos or shrikes.

Antbirds are generally small birds with rounded wings and strong legs. They have mostly sombre grey, white, brown and rufous plumage, which is sexually dimorphic in pattern and colouring. Some species communicate warnings to rivals by exposing white feather patches on their backs or shoulders. Most have heavy bills, which in many species are hooked at the tip.

Most species live in forests, although a few are found in other habitats. Insects and other arthropods form the most important part of their diet, although small vertebrates are occasionally taken. Most species feed in the understory and mid-story of the forest, although a few feed in the canopy and a few on the ground. Many join mixed-species feeding flocks, and a few species are core members. To various degrees, around eighteen species specialise in following columns of army ants to eat the small invertebrates flushed by the ants, and many others may feed in this way opportunistically

Antbirds are monogamous, mate for life, and defend territories. They usually lay two eggs in a nest that is either suspended from branches or supported on a branch, stump, or mound on the ground. Both parents share the tasks of incubation and of brooding and feeding the nestlings. After fledging, each parent cares exclusively for one chick.

Around a fifth of the group are threatened with extinction as a result of human activities. Antbirds are not targeted by either hunters or the pet trade. The principal threat is habitat loss, which causes habitat fragmentation, which leads to increased nest predation.

Antbirds are diurnal: they feed, breed and defend territories during the day. Many of the family are, however, reluctant to enter areas of direct sunlight where it breaks through the forest canopy. Antbirds will engage in anting, a behaviour in which ants (or other arthropods) are rubbed on the feathers before being discarded or eaten. While this has conventionally been considered a way to remove and control feather parasites, it has been suggested that for antbirds it may simply be a way to deal with the distasteful substances in prey items


Species List

There are, according to the IOC, there are 235 species of Antbirds in the family Thamnophilidae; they are:

Fasciated Antshrike Cymbilaimus lineatus
Bamboo Antshrike Cymbilaimus sanctaemariae

Spot-backed Antshrike Hypoedaleus guttatus

Giant Antshrike Batara cinerea

Large-tailed Antshrike Mackenziaena leachii
Tufted Antshrike Mackenziaena severa

Black-throated Antshrike Frederickena viridis
Undulated Antshrike Frederickena unduligera
Fulvous Antshrike Frederickena fulva

Great Antshrike Taraba major

Black-crested Antshrike Sakesphorus canadensis
Silvery-cheeked Antshrike Sakesphorus cristatus
Glossy Antshrike Sakesphorus luctuosus

White-bearded Antshrike Biatas nigropectus

Collared Antshrike Thamnophilus bernardi
Black-backed Antshrike Thamnophilus melanonotus
Band-tailed Antshrike Thamnophilus melanothorax
Barred Antshrike Thamnophilus doliatus
Chapman’s Antshrike Thamnophilus zarumae
Bar-crested Antshrike Thamnophilus multistriatus
Lined Antshrike Thamnophilus tenuepunctatus
Chestnut-backed Antshrike Thamnophilus palliatus
Black-hooded Antshrike Thamnophilus bridgesi
Black Antshrike Thamnophilus nigriceps
Cocha Antshrike Thamnophilus praecox
Blackish-grey Antshrike Thamnophilus nigrocinereus
Castelnau’s Antshrike Thamnophilus cryptoleucus
White-shouldered Antshrike Thamnophilus aethiops
Uniform Antshrike Thamnophilus unicolor
Plain-winged Antshrike Thamnophilus schistaceus
Mouse-colored Antshrike Thamnophilus murinus
Upland Antshrike Thamnophilus aroyae
Black-crowned Antshrike Thamnophilus atrinucha
Northern Slaty Antshrike Thamnophilus punctatus
Natterer’s Slaty Antshrike Thamnophilus stictocephalus
Bolivian Slaty Antshrike Thamnophilus sticturus
Planalto Slaty Antshrike Thamnophilus pelzelni
Sooretama Slaty Antshrike Thamnophilus ambiguus
Amazonian Antshrike Thamnophilus amazonicus
Acre Antshrike Thamnophilus divisorius
Streak-backed Antshrike Thamnophilus insignis
Variable Antshrike Thamnophilus caerulescens
Rufous-winged Antshrike Thamnophilus torquatus
Rufous-capped Antshrike Thamnophilus ruficapillus

Pearly Antshrike Megastictus margaritatus

Black Bushbird Neoctantes niger

Recurve-billed Bushbird Clytoctantes alixii
Rondonia Bushbird Clytoctantes atrogularis

Speckled Antshrike Xenornis setifrons

Russet Antshrike Thamnistes anabatinus

Spot-breasted Antvireo Dysithamnus stictothorax
Plain Antvireo Dysithamnus mentalis
Streak-crowned Antvireo Dysithamnus striaticeps
Spot-crowned Antvireo Dysithamnus puncticeps
Rufous-backed Antvireo Dysithamnus xanthopterus
Bicolored Antvireo Dysithamnus occidentalis
Plumbeous Antvireo Dysithamnus plumbeus
White-streaked Antvireo Dysithamnus leucostictus

Dusky-throated Antshrike Thamnomanes ardesiacus
Saturnine Antshrike Thamnomanes saturninus
Cinereous Antshrike Thamnomanes caesius
Bluish-slate Antshrike Thamnomanes schistogynus

Spot-winged Antshrike Pygiptila stellaris

Checker-throated Antwren Epinecrophylla fulviventris
Brown-bellied Antwren Epinecrophylla gutturalis
White-eyed Antwren Epinecrophylla leucophthalma
Napo Stipple-throated Antwren Epinecrophylla haematonota
Negro Stipple-throated Antwren Epinecrophylla pyrrhonota
Madeira Stipple-throated Antwren Epinecrophylla amizonica
Yasuni Antwren Epinecrophylla fjeldsaai
Foothill Antwren Epinecrophylla spodionota
Ornate Antwren Epinecrophylla ornata
Rufous-tailed Antwren Epinecrophylla erythrura

Plain-throated Antwren Isleria hauxwelli
Rufous-bellied Antwren Isleria guttata

Moustached Antwren Myrmotherula ignota
Pygmy Antwren Myrmotherula brachyura
Guianan Streaked Antwren Myrmotherula surinamensis
Amazonian Streaked Antwren Myrmotherula multostriata
Pacific Antwren Myrmotherula pacifica
Cherrie’s Antwren Myrmotherula cherriei
Klages’s Antwren Myrmotherula klagesi
Stripe-chested Antwren Myrmotherula longicauda
Yellow-throated Antwren Myrmotherula ambigua
Sclater’s Antwren Myrmotherula sclateri
White-flanked Antwren Myrmotherula axillaris
Silvery-flanked Antwren Myrmotherula luctuosa
Slaty Antwren Myrmotherula schisticolor
Rio Suno Antwren Myrmotherula sunensis
Salvadori’s Antwren Myrmotherula minor
Long-winged Antwren Myrmotherula longipennis
Band-tailed Antwren Myrmotherula urosticta
Ihering’s Antwren Myrmotherula iheringi
Rio de Janeiro Antwren Myrmotherula fluminensis
Yungas Antwren Myrmotherula grisea
Unicolored Antwren Myrmotherula unicolor
Alagoas Antwren Myrmotherula snowi
Plain-winged Antwren Myrmotherula behni
Grey Antwren Myrmotherula menetriesii
Leaden Antwren Myrmotherula assimilis

Banded Antbird Dichrozona cincta

Star-throated Antwren Rhopias gularis

Stripe-backed Antbird Myrmorchilus strigilatus

Bahia Antwren Herpsilochmus pileatus
Caatinga Antwren Herpsilochmus sellowi
Black-capped Antwren Herpsilochmus atricapillus
Aripuana Antwren Herpsilochmus stotzi
Predicted Antwren Herpsilochmus praedictus
Creamy-bellied Antwren Herpsilochmus motacilloides
Ash-throated Antwren Herpsilochmus parkeri
Spot-tailed Antwren Herpsilochmus sticturus
Dugand’s Antwren Herpsilochmus dugandi
Todd’s Antwren Herpsilochmus stictocephalus
Spot-backed Antwren Herpsilochmus dorsimaculatus
Roraiman Antwren Herpsilochmus roraimae
Pectoral Antwren Herpsilochmus pectoralis
Large-billed Antwren Herpsilochmus longirostris
Ancient Antwren Herpsilochmus gentryi
Yellow-breasted Antwren Herpsilochmus axillaris
Rufous-winged Antwren Herpsilochmus rufimarginatus

Dot-winged Antwren Microrhopias quixensis

Narrow-billed Antwren Formicivora iheringi
Black-hooded Antwren Formicivora erythronotos
Southern White-fringed Antwren Formicivora grisea
Northern White-fringed Antwren Formicivora intermedia
Serra Antwren Formicivora serrana
Black-bellied Antwren Formicivora melanogaster
Rusty-backed Antwren Formicivora rufa
Sincora Antwren Formicivora grantsaui

Marsh Antwren Stymphalornis acutirostris

Ferruginous Antbird Drymophila ferruginea
Bertoni’s Antbird Drymophila rubricollis
Rufous-tailed Antbird Drymophila genei
Ochre-rumped Antbird Drymophila ochropyga
Dusky-tailed Antbird Drymophila malura
Scaled Antbird Drymophila squamata
Striated Antbird Drymophila devillei
Santa Marta Antbird Drymophila hellmayri
Klage’s Antbird Drymophila klagesi
East Andean (Long-tailed) Antbird Drymophila caudata
Steak-headed Antbird Drymophila striaticeps

Streak-capped Antwren Terenura maculata
Orange-bellied Antwren Terenura sicki
Rufous-rumped Antwren Terenura callinota
Chestnut-shouldered Antwren Terenura humeralis
Yellow-rumped Antwren Terenura sharpei
Ash-winged Antwren Terenura spodioptila

Grey Antbird Cercomacra cinerascens
Rio de Janeiro Antbird Cercomacra brasiliana
Dusky Antbird Cercomacra tyrannina
Willis’s Antbird Cercomacra laeta
Parker’s Antbird Cercomacra parkeri
Blackish Antbird Cercomacra nigrescens
Riparian Antbird Cercomacra fuscicauda
Black Antbird Cercomacra serva
Jet Antbird Cercomacra nigricans
Rio Branco Antbird Cercomacra carbonaria
Mato Grosso Antbird Cercomacra melanaria
Manu Antbird Cercomacra manu
Bananal Antbird Cercomacra ferdinandi

White-backed Fire-eye Pyriglena leuconota
Fringe-backed Fire-eye Pyriglena atra
White-shouldered Fire-eye Pyriglena leucoptera

Slender Antbird Rhopornis ardesiacus

White-browed Antbird Myrmoborus leucophrys
Ash-breasted Antbird Myrmoborus lugubris
Black-faced Antbird Myrmoborus myotherinus
Black-tailed Antbird Myrmoborus melanurus

Guianan Warbling Antbird Hypocnemis cantator
Imeri Warbling Antbird Hypocnemis flavescens
Peruvian Warbling Antbird Hypocnemis peruviana
Yellow-breasted Warbling Antbird Hypocnemis subflava
Rondonia Warbling Antbird Hypocnemis ochrogyna
Spix’s Warbling Antbird Hypocnemis striata
Manicore Warbling Antbird Hypocnemis rondoni
Yellow-browed Antbird Hypocnemis hypoxantha

Black-chinned Antbird Hypocnemoides melanopogon
Band-tailed Antbird Hypocnemoides maculicauda

Black-and-white Antbird Myrmochanes hemileucus

Bare-crowned Antbird Gymnocichla nudiceps

Silvered Antbird Sclateria naevia

Black-headed Antbird Percnostola rufifrons
Allpahuayo Antbird Percnostola arenarum
White-lined Antbird Percnostola lophotes

Slate-colored Antbird Schistocichla schistacea
Spot-winged Antbird Schistocichla leucostigma
Humaita Antbird Schistocichla humaythae
Brownish-headed Antbird Schistocichla brunneiceps
Rufous-faced Antbird Schistocichla rufifacies
Roraiman Antbird Schistocichla saturata
Caura Antbird Schistocichla caurensis

Yapacana Antbird Myrmeciza disjuncta
White-bellied Antbird Myrmeciza longipes
Chestnut-backed Antbird Myrmeciza exsul
Ferruginous-backed Antbird Myrmeciza ferruginea
Scalloped Antbird Myrmeciza ruficauda
White-bibbed Antbird Myrmeciza loricata
Squamate Antbird Myrmeciza squamosa
Dull-mantled Antbird Myrmeciza laemosticta
Magdalena Antbird Mymmeciza palliata
Esmeraldas Antbird Myrmeciza nigricauda
Stub-tailed Antbird Myrmeciza berlepschi
Grey-bellied Antbird Myrmeciza pelzelni
Northern Chestnut-tailed Antbird Myrmeciza castanea
Southern Chestnut-tailed Antbird Myrmeciza hemimelaena
Black-throated Antbird Myrmeciza atrothorax
White-shouldered Antbird Myrmeciza melanoceps
Goeldi’s Antbird Myrmeciza goeldii
Plumbeous Antbird Myrmeciza hyperythra
Sooty Antbird Myrmeciza fortis
Blue-lored (Immaculate) Antbird Myrmeciza immaculata
Zeledon’s Antbird Myrmeciza zeledoni
Grey-headed Antbird Myrmeciza griseiceps

Wing-banded Antbird Myrmornis torquata

White-plumed Antbird Pithys albifrons
White-masked Antbird Pithys castaneus

Bicolored Antbird Gymnopithys leucaspis
White-cheeked Antbird Gymnopithys leucaspis
Rufous-throated Antbird Gymnopithys rufigula
White-throated Antbird Gymnopithys salvini
Lunulated Antbird Gymnopithys lunulatus

Bare-eyed Antbird Rhegmatorhina gymnops
Harlequin Antbird Rhegmatorhina berlepschi
White-breasted Antbird Rhegmatorhina hoffmannsi
Chestnut-crested Antbird Rhegmatorhina cristata
Hairy-crested Antbird Rhegmatorhina melanosticta

Spotted Antbird Hylophylax naevioides
Spot-backed Antbird Hylophylax naevius
Dot-backed Antbird Hylophylax punctulatus

Common Scale-backed Antbird Willisornis poecilinotus
Xingu Scale-backed Antbird Willisornis vidua

Black-spotted Bare-eye Phlegopsis nigromaculata
Reddish-winged Bare-eye Phlegopsis erythroptera

Pale-faced Antbird Skutchia borbae

Ocellated Antbird Phaenostictus mcleannan

Species Links
  • Barred Antshrike Thamnophilus doliatus

    Species Account
    Males are barred black and white all over with a short tail and yellow eyes. The top of the head is white with a black tipped crest. Females are chestnut brown on the upperparts while the sides of the head and neck are buff streaked with black with a chestnut crest. The underparts of the female are brown becoming lighter in color closest to the throat. The size is between 70 mm to 77mm and weight between 25 - 30 gms…
  • Barred Antshrike Thamnophilus doliatus

    Cornell Species Account
    Full species account…
  • Ferruginous-backed Antbird Myrmeciza ferruginea

    Species Account
    Images + This very attractive bird deserves a better photo but the main features are shown here. The most striking of these is the bright blue area around the eye. Its legs and lower mandible are also blue. Upperparts are chestnut and there are two bold buff-coloured wing-bars…
  • Glossy Antshrike Sakesphorus luctuosus

    Species Account
    Image (poor) and info
  • Mato Grosso Antbird Cercomacra melanaria

    Species Account
    Image + This male is typical of the Cercomacra genus in being simply patterned and either black or grey. It has prominent white wing bars and white on the bend of the wings. I`m not sure what it has at the end of its bill but I assume that it is an insect larva of some kind…
  • Plain-throated Antwren Myrmotherula hauxwelli

    Species Account
    (Poor) Image +
  • Rusty-backed Antwren Formicivera rufa

    Species Account
    (Very nice) Images + These attractive little birds show a high degree of sexual dimorphism with the male being rufous brown above and the throat, breast and mid-belly being black surrounded by white while the female is white below with very conspicuous dark streaks on the throat and breast…
  • Spot-backed Antshrike Hypoedaleus guttatus

    Species Account
    (Very good) Images +
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 235

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