Antbird facts for kids
Quick facts for kidsAntbirds
|The barred antshrike has a wide range. Its hooked bill is typical of the antshrikes|
|Some 45 genera, over 200 species|
|Global range (in green)|
The antbirds are a large passerine bird family, the Thamnophilidae. They are found in subtropical and tropical Central and South America, from Mexico to Argentina. There are more than 200 species called 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 dull grey, white, brown and rufous plumage. The two sexes have somewhat different 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. They eat mostly insects and other arthropods. Small vertebrates are occasionally taken. Most species feed in the understory and midstory of the forest, although a few feed in the canopy and a few on the ground.
Antbirds are monogamous, mate for life, and defend territories. They usually lay two eggs in a nest. Both parents share the tasks of incubating eggs and raising the nestlings. After fledging, each parent cares exclusively for one chick.
Images for kids
The legs and feet of ant-following antbirds are stable and adapted to gripping vertical stems and branches. The leg muscles of the bicoloured antbird make up 13 % of the total body weight.
The barred antshrike is distributed from Mexico to Argentina. It has the hooked bill typical of the antshrikes.
A variable antshrike gleaning insects from foliage
The black-hooded antshrike is a relatively sluggish species usually found singly or in pairs. Here a male feeds on a caterpillar.
Immaculate antbirds regularly attend army ant swarms in order to feed, but they are not obligate ant-followers; they also forage away from the swarms.
A female variable antshrike constructing a nest
In Spanish: Thamnophilidae para niños
Antbird Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.