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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Thamnophilidae
Many, see text.

The antbirds are a large family of smallish passerine bird species of subtropical and tropical Central and South America. They are closely related to the antthrushes and antpittas in the family Formicariidae.

These are forest birds, but tend to feed on insects at or near the ground. A sizable minority of them specialize in following columns of army ants to eat the small invertebrates that leave hiding to flee the ants.

Many species lack bright colour; brown, black and white being the dominant tones in their appearance.

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



There are some 200 species, variously called as antwrens, antvireos, antbirds and antshrikes. These terms refer to the relative sizes of the birds (increasing in the order given) rather than any particular morphological resemblance to the true wrens, vireos or shrikes. The genus Phlegopsis is the bare-eyes, Pyriglena the fire-eyes and Neoctantes and Clytoctantes are the bushbirds.

Although the taxonomical layout of the group is based on studies from the mid-19th century when less than half the present species were known to science, comparison of the myoglobin intron 2, GAPDH intron 11 and the mitochondrial cytochrome b DNA sequences (Irestedt et al., 2004) has largely verified it. Two major clades - most antshrikes and other larger, strong-billed species and Herpsilochmus, and the classical antwrens the more slender, longer-billed species and other antwrens - and the monophyly of most genera was confirmed.

The Thamnophilidae contain several large or very large genera, and a considerable number of small or monotypic ones. Several of these, which have always been difficult to assign, seem to form a third, hitherto unrecognized clade independently derived from ancestral antbirds. The results also confirmed suspicions of previous researchers that some species, most notably in Myrmotherula and Myrmeciza, need to be assigned to different genera. Still, due to the difficulties of sampling from such a large number of often poorly known species, the assignment of some genera is still awaiting confirmation.

Subfamily N.N.: Basal antbirds

  • Genus Terenura
    • 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
  • Genus Myrmornis
    • Wing-banded Antbird, Myrmornis torquata
  • Genus Pygiptila
    • Spot-winged Antshrike, Pygiptila stellaris
  • Genus Thamnistes
    • Russet Antshrike, Thamnistes anabatinus

Subfamily Thamnophilinae: antshrikes and relatives

  • Genus Megastictus
    • Pearly Antshrike, Megastictus margaritatus
  • Genus Thamnomanes
    • Saturnine Antshrike, Thamnomanes saturninus
      Dusky-throated Antshrike, Thamnomanes ardesiacus
      Cinereous Antshrike, Thamnomanes caesius
      Bluish-slate Antshrike, Thamnomanes schistogynus
  • Genus Xenornis (pending confirmation of placement)
    • Speckled Antshrike, Xenornis setifrons
  • Genus Dichrozona
    • Banded Antwren, Dichrozona cincta
  • Genus Taraba
    • Great Antshrike, Taraba major
  • Genus Hypoedaleus
    • Spot-backed Antshrike, Hypoedaleus guttatus
  • Genus Batara
    • Giant Antshrike, Batara cinerea
  • Genus Mackenziaena
    • Tufted Antshrike, Mackenziaena severa
      Large-tailed Antshrike, Mackenziaena leachii
  • Genus Cymbilaimus (pending confirmation of placement)
    • Fasciated Antshrike, Cymbilaimus lineatus
      Bamboo Antshrike, Cymbilaimus sanctaemariae
  • Genus Frederickena
    • Black-throated Antshrike, Frederickena viridis
      Undulated Antshrike, Frederickena unduligera
  • Genus Dysithamnus
    • Spot-breasted Antvireo, Dysithamnus stictothorax
      Plain Antvireo, Dysithamnus mentalis
      Streak-crowned Antvireo, Dysithamnus striaticeps
      Spot-crowned Antvireo, Dysithamnus puncticeps
      Rufous-backed Antvireo, Dysithamnus xanthopterus
      White-streaked Antvireo, Dysithamnus leucostictus
      Plumbeous Antvireo, Dysithamnus plumbeus
      Bicolored Antvireo, Dysithamnus occidentalis
  • Genus Herpsilochmus
    • Ash-throated Antwren, Herpsilochmus parkeri
      Creamy-bellied Antwren, Herpsilochmus motacilloides
      Black-capped Antwren, Herpsilochmus atricapillus
      Caatinga Antwren, Herpsilochmus sellowi
      Pileated Antwren, Herpsilochmus pileatus
      Spot-tailed Antwren, Herpsilochmus sticturus
      Dugand's Antwren, Herpsilochmus dugandi
      Todd's Antwren, Herpsilochmus stictocephalus
      Ancient Antwren, Herpsilochmus gentryi
      Spot-backed Antwren, Herpsilochmus dorsimaculatus
      Roraiman Antwren, Herpsilochmus roraimae
      Pectoral Antwren, Herpsilochmus pectoralis
      Large-billed Antwren, Herpsilochmus longirostris
      Yellow-breasted Antwren, Herpsilochmus axillaris
      Rufous-winged Antwren, Herpsilochmus rufimarginatus
  • Genus Sakesphorus
    • Collared Antshrike, Sakesphorus bernardi
      Black-crested Antshrike, Sakesphorus canadensis
      Silvery-cheeked Antshrike, Sakesphorus cristatus
      Black-backed Antshrike, Sakesphorus melanonotus
      Band-tailed Antshrike, Sakesphorus melanothorax
      Glossy Antshrike, Sakesphorus luctuosus
  • Genus Thamnophilus (possibly polyphyletic)
    • Acre Antshrike, Thamnophilus divisorus
      Barred Antshrike, Thamnophilus doliatus
      Chapman's Antshrike, Thamnophilus zarumae
      Bar-crested Antshrike, Thamnophilus multistriatus
      Chestnut-backed Antshrike, Thamnophilus palliatus
      Lined Antshrike, Thamnophilus tenuepunctatus
      Black-hooded Antshrike, Thamnophilus bridgesi
      Black Antshrike, Thamnophilus nigriceps
      Cocha Antshrike, Thamnophilus praecox
      Blackish-gray Antshrike, Thamnophilus nigrocinereus
      Castelnau's Antshrike, Thamnophilus cryptoleucus
      White-shouldered Antshrike, Thamnophilus aethiops
      Uniform Antshrike, Thamnophilus unicolor
      Upland Antshrike, Thamnophilus aroyae
      Plain-winged Antshrike, Thamnophilus schistaceus
      Mouse-colored Antshrike, Thamnophilus murinus
      Western Slaty Antshrike, Thamnophilus atrinucha
      Guianan Slaty Antshrike, Thamnophilus punctatus
      Peruvian Slaty Antshrike, Thamnophilus leucogaster
      Natterer's Slaty Antshrike, Thamnophilus stictocephalus
      Bolivian Slaty Antshrike, Thamnophilus sticturus
      Planalto Slaty Antshrike, Thamnophilus pelzelni
      Sooretama Slaty Antshrike, Thamnophilus ambiguus
      Streak-backed Antshrike, Thamnophilus insignis
      Amazonian Antshrike, Thamnophilus amazonicus
      Variable Antshrike, Thamnophilus caerulescens
      Rufous-winged Antshrike, Thamnophilus torquatus
      Rufous-capped Antshrike, Thamnophilus ruficapillus

Subfamily N.N.: Typical antwrens and relatives

Tribe "Microrhopini"

  • Genus Neoctantes
    • Black Bushbird, Neoctantes niger
  • Genus Clytoctantes (pending confirmation of placement)
    • Recurve-billed Bushbird, Clytoctantes alixii
      Rondonia Bushbird, Clytoctantes atrogularis
  • Genus Myrmorchilus
    • Stripe-backed Antbird, Myrmorchilus strigilatus
  • Genus Microrhopias
    • Dot-winged Antwren, Microrhopias quixensis

Tribe Formicivorini

  • Genus Myrmochanes
    • Black-and-white Antbird, Myrmochanes hemileucus
  • Genus Myrmotherula (paraphyletic)
    • Stipple-throated group ("Microrhopini"):
      Brown-bellied Antwren, Myrmotherula gutturalis
      Checker-throated Antwren, Myrmotherula fulviventris
      White-eyed Antwren, Myrmotherula leucophthalma
      Foothill Antwren, Myrmotherula spodionota
      Stipple-throated Antwren, Myrmotherula haematonota
      Brown-backed Antwren, Myrmotherula fjeldsaai
      Ornate Antwren, Myrmotherula ornata
      Rufous-tailed Antwren, Myrmotherula erythrura
      Streaked group (closer to Myrmochanes):
      Pygmy Antwren, Myrmotherula brachyura
      Short-billed Antwren, Myrmotherula ignota (sometimes M. obscura)
      Guianan Antwren, Myrmotherula surinamensis
      Amazonian Antwren, Myrmotherula multostriata
      Pacific Antwren, Myrmotherula pacifica
      Cherrie's Antwren, Myrmotherula cherriei
      Klages' Antwren, Myrmotherula klagesi
      Stripe-chested Antwren, Myrmotherula longicauda
      Sclater's Antwren, Myrmotherula sclateri
      Yellow-throated Antwren, Myrmotherula ambigua
      Grey group (may include Formicivora):
      White-flanked Antwren, Myrmotherula axillaris
      Slaty Antwren, Myrmotherula schisticolor
      Rio Suno Antwren, Myrmotherula sunensis
      Salvadori's Antwren, Myrmotherula minor
      Ihering's Antwren, Myrmotherula iheringi
      Rio de Janeiro Antwren, Myrmotherula fluminensis
      Plain-winged Antwren, Myrmotherula behni
      Ashy Antwren, Myrmotherula grisea
      Unicolored Antwren, Myrmotherula unicolor
      Alagoas Antwren, Myrmotherula snowi
      Long-winged Antwren, Myrmotherula longipennis
      Band-tailed Antwren, Myrmotherula urosticta
      Gray Antwren, Myrmotherula menetriesii
      unassigned (probably stipple-throated group):
      Rufous-bellied Antwren, Myrmotherula guttata
      Plain-throated Antwren, Myrmotherula hauxwelli
      Star-throated Antwren, Myrmotherula gularis
      unassigned (Relationships unknown):
      Leaden Antwren, Myrmotherula assimilis
  • Genus Formicivora
    • Narrow-billed Antwren, Formicivora iheringi
      White-fringed Antwren, Formicivora grisea
      Black-bellied Antwren, Formicivora melanogaster
      Serra Antwren, Formicivora serrana
      Restinga Antwren, Formicivora littoralis
      Black-hooded Antwren, Formicivora erythronotos
      Rusty-backed Antwren, Formicivora rufa
  • Genus Stymphalornis (pending confirmation of placement)
    • Parana Antwren, Stymphalornis acutirostris

Tribe Pithyini

  • Genus Pithys
    • White-plumed Antbird, Pithys albifrons
      White-masked Antbird, Pithys castanea
  • Genus Skutchia (pending confirmation of placement)
    • Pale-faced Antbird, Skutchia borbae
  • Genus Phlegopsis
    • Black-spotted Bare-eye, Phlegopsis nigromaculata
      Reddish-winged Bare-eye, Phlegopsis erythroptera
  • Genus Phaenostictus
    • Ocellated Antbird, Phaenostictus mcleannani
  • Genus Gymnopithys
    • Rufous-throated Antbird, Gymnopithys rufigula
      Bicolored Antbird, Gymnopithys leucaspis
      Lunulated Antbird, Gymnopithys lunulata
      White-throated Antbird, Gymnopithys salvini
  • Genus Rhegmatorhina
    • Hairy-crested Antbird, Rhegmatorhina melanosticta
      Chestnut-crested Antbird, Rhegmatorhina cristata
      White-breasted Antbird, Rhegmatorhina hoffmannsi
      Harlequin Antbird, Rhegmatorhina berlepschi
      Bare-eyed Antbird, Rhegmatorhina gymnops
  • Genus Cercomacra
    • Gray Antbird, Cercomacra cinerascens
      Rio de Janeiro Antbird, Cercomacra brasiliana
      Dusky Antbird, Cercomacra tyrannina
      Willis' Antbird, Cercomacra laeta
      Parker's Antbird, Cercomacra parkeri
      Blackish Antbird, Cercomacra nigrescens
      Bananal Antbird, Cercomacra ferdinandi
      Black Antbird, Cercomacra serva
      Jet Antbird, Cercomacra nigricans
      Rio Branco Antbird, Cercomacra carbonaria
      Mato Grosso Antbird, Cercomacra melanaria
      Manu Antbird, Cercomacra manu
  • Genus Hypocnemis
    • Warbling Antbird, Hypocnemis cantator
      Yellow-browed Antbird, Hypocnemis hypoxantha
  • Genus Drymophila
    • Ferruginous Antbird, Drymophila ferruginea
      Bertoni's Antbird, Drymophila rubricollis
      Rufous-tailed Antbird, Drymophila genei
      Ochre-rumped Antbird, Drymophila ochropyga
      Striated Antbird, Drymophila devillei
      Dusky-tailed Antbird, Drymophila malura
      Long-tailed Antbird, Drymophila caudata
      Scaled Antbird, Drymophila squamata

Tribe Myrmecizini

  • Genus Sclateria
    • Silvered Antbird Sclateria naevia
  • Genus Percnostola (pending confirmation of placement)
    • Black-headed Antbird, Percnostola rufifrons
      White-lined Antbird, Percnostola lophotes
  • Genus Schistocichla (sometimes placed in Percnostola)
    • Slate-colored Antbird, Schistocichla schistacea
      Spot-winged Antbird, Schistocichla leucostigma
      Caura Antbird, Schistocichla caurensis
  • Genus Myrmoborus
    • White-browed Antbird, Myrmoborus leucophrys
      Ash-breasted Antbird, Myrmoborus lugubris
      Black-faced Antbird, Myrmoborus myotherinus
      Black-tailed Antbird, Myrmoborus melanurus
  • Genus Gymnocichla
    • Bare-crowned Antbird, Gymnocichla nudiceps
  • Genus Rhopornis (pending confirmation of placement)
    • Slender Antbird, Rhopornis ardesiaca
  • Genus Pyriglena
    • White-backed Fire-eye, Pyriglena leuconota
      White-shouldered Fire-eye, Pyriglena leucoptera
      Fringe-backed Fire-eye, Pyriglena atra
  • Genus Hypocnemoides
    • Black-chinned Antbird, Hypocnemoides melanopogon
      Band-tailed Antbird, Hypocnemoides maculicauda
  • Genus Hylophylax
    • Spotted Antbird, Hylophylax naevioides
      Spot-backed Antbird, Hylophylax naevia
      Dot-backed Antbird, Hylophylax punctulata
      Scale-backed Antbird, Hylophylax poecilinota
  • Genus Myrmeciza (paraphyletic)
    • Chestnut-tailed group (Pithyini)
      Southern Chestnut-tailed Antbird, Myrmeciza hemimelaena
      Northern Chestnut-tailed Antbird, Myrmeciza castanea
      Large dark group (close to Pyriglena)
      Plumbeous Antbird, Myrmeciza hyperythra
      Goeldi's Antbird, Myrmeciza goeldii
      White-shouldered Antbird, Myrmeciza melanoceps
      Sooty Antbird, Myrmeciza fortis
      Immaculate Antbird, Myrmeciza immaculata
      Patterned breast group (close to Hypocnemoides and Hylophylax)
      Ferruginous-backed Antbird, Myrmeciza ferruginea
      Scalloped Antbird, Myrmeciza ruficauda
      White-bibbed Antbird, Myrmeciza loricata
      Squamate Antbird, Myrmeciza squamosa
      Main group
      Gray-headed Antbird, Myrmeciza griseiceps
      Dull-mantled Antbird, Myrmeciza laemosticta
      Esmeraldas Antbird, Myrmeciza nigricauda
      Stub-tailed Antbird, Myrmeciza berlepschi
      Yapacana Antbird, Myrmeciza disjuncta
      White-bellied Antbird, Myrmeciza longipes
      Chestnut-backed Antbird, Myrmeciza exsul
      Gray-bellied Antbird, Myrmeciza pelzelni
      Black-throated Antbird, Myrmeciza atrothorax


  • Genus Biatas
    • White-bearded Antshrike, Biatas nigropectus


  • Irestedt, Martin ; Fjeldså, Jon; Nylander, Johan A. A. & Ericson, Per G. P. (2004): Phylogenetic relationships of typical antbirds (Thamnophilidae) and test of incongruence based on Bayes factors. BMC Evol. Biol. 4: 23. DOI:10.1186/1471-2148-4-23 Supplementary information

External links

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| Eurylaimidae
| Formicariidae
| Furnariidae
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| Pitta
| Rhinocryptidae
| Thamnophilidae
| Tyrannidae

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