Ant tanagers are birds of the tanager family in the genus Habia. These are long-tailed and strong billed birds. The males have a red crest and plumage containing red, brown or sooty hues. Females may resemble the males or be largely yellowish or brown in colour.
All species forage for insects, which can be larger than their bills. Fruit is a minor part of their diet. Red-throated, Sooty and Black-cheeked Ant-Tanagers form a superspecies; they inhabit secon growth and patchy woodland. They look down from a series of low (2-3 m) perches and take prey from foliage or in flight. They follow army ant swarms to catch insects that are fleeing from the ants.
Red-crowned and Crested Ant-Tanagers prefer denser undergrowth and watch from higher (4-5 m) perches, often working upwards through the foliage. They are less likely to follow ant columns.
The female alone builds a cup nest and incubates the two or three eggs. The young leave the nest before they can fly and hide in dense vegetation.
Ant tanagers have harsh call notes but musical whistled songs.
Species in taxonomic order
- Red-crowned Ant-Tanager, Habia rubica
Red-throated Ant-Tanager, Habia fuscicauda
Sooty Ant-Tanager, Habia gutturalis
Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager, Habia atrimaxillaris
Crested Ant-Tanager, Habia cristata
- ffrench, Birds of Trinidad and Tobago ISBN 0-7136-6759-1
- Hilty, Birds of Venezuela, ISBN 0-7136-6418-5
- Morton, Isler & Isler, Tanagers ISBN 0-7136-5116-4
- Stiles and Skutch, A guide to the birds of Costa Rica ISBN 0-0814-9600-4