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Formicariidae – Antthrushes

formicariidae
Mayan Antthrush in Belize: Photo by Holger Teichmann

Formicariidae, commonly referred to as antthrushes, are a family of Neotropical birds primarily found in Central and South America. These secretive birds inhabit forest understories and are known for their melodious songs and calls. Antthrushes often forage on the ground, feeding on insects and other invertebrates, and are sometimes associated with army ant swarms. With their cryptic plumage and elusive behavior, antthrushes add to the diversity of birdlife in the dense forests of the Neotropics.

Overview of Formicariidae

Antthrushes do share some similarities with thrushes in their overall body proportions, but their behavior sets them apart. Unlike thrushes, antthrushes typically walk along the forest floor with their tails held high over their backs. They take long strides interrupted by pauses to search for invertebrate prey, often synchronizing their head and tail movements with each step. Nesting in old tree cavities near the ground, they create nests with loose materials sometimes buried beneath the surrounding ground surface. These birds are more often heard than seen, and their throaty trilled whistles serve as a key indicator for locating them in the dense forests of the Neotropics.