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Thamnophilidae – Typical Antbirds

Black-crested Antshrike in Colombia: Photo by Andrés Posada

Thamnophilidae encompasses a diverse array of antbirds found primarily in the Neotropical region. This family includes numerous species distributed across Central and South America.

Overview of Thamnophilidae

One of the most populous families among Neotropical songbirds, antbirds are predominantly dwellers of the forest understory, characterized by their horizontally held posture and intricate plumage patterns of black, white, gray, and brown, occasionally adorned with patches of exposed colorful facial skin and feathers. While some species are known to trail army ant swarms, preying on insects disturbed by their movement, not all antbirds exhibit this behavior. Consequently, the presence of “ant” in the name of a tropical New World bird species serves as a stronger indicator of its evolutionary lineage rather than its dietary habits. Their nesting preferences typically lean towards dense vegetation, yet when incubating, disturbed individuals often descend to the forest floor, engaging in distraction displays, with certain species revealing hidden white back feathers.