Warbling Antbird Hypocnemis cantator complex

Brazilian name: papa-formiga-cantador

Male Warbling Antbird, Carajás, Pará, Brazil, February 2002 - click for larger image The Warbling Antbird is found in the Amazon and Orinoco Basins where it prefers forest borders and secondary woodland often near water or marshes. It gleans in foliage and often picks its prey from the underside of leaves.

In January 2007 the Auk published a paper by Mort and Phyllis Isler and Bret Whitney entitled "Species Limits in Antbirds (Thamnophilidae): The Warbling Antbird (Hypocnemis cantator) complex." The Auk 124(1):11-28, 2007. The conclusion of the paper is that six populations of Warbling Antbird currently considered subspecies are more appropriately recognised as species, given the multiplicity of vocal differences that distinguishes them.

Male Warbling Antbird, Carajás, Pará, Brazil, February 2002 - click for larger image

The six species they distinguish are:
Guianan Warbling-Antbird Hypocnemis cantator
- eastern Venezuela, the Guianas and Brazil north of the Amazon and east of the Negro
Imeri Warbling-Antbird Hypocnemis flavescens
- southern Venezuela and adjacent areas of Brazil around the upper rio Negro.
Peruvian Warbling-Antbird Hypocnemis peruviana
- most of the western Amazon Basin, west of the lower rio Negro and the rio Madeira.
Yellow-breasted Warbling-Antbird Hypocnemis subflava
- the extreme south-west of the Amazon Basin in Peru and Bolivia.
Rondonia Warbling-Antbird Hypocnemis ochrogyna
- Brazil east of the rio Madeira in Rondonia and adjacent areas of Bolivia
Spix's Warbling-Antbird Hypocnemis striata
- Brazil south of the Amazon and east of the middle and lower Madeira.

Male Warbling Antbird, River Javarí, Peru, September 2003 - click for larger image Three of these species are represented here. Photos 1 and 2 taken at Carajás, Pará, show a male Spix's Warbling-Antbird of the sub-species H. striata affinis. Photos 3 and 4 taken just over the Peruvian border at Palmarí show a male Peruvian Warbling-Antbird H. peruviana. Photos 5 and 6 taken at São Gabriel da Cachoeira, Amazonas show a male Imeri Warbling-Antbird H. flavescens.
Male Warbling Antbird, River Javarí, Peru, September 2003 - click for larger image

Their appearance varies. Spix's Warbling-Antbird has strongly marked black and white upperparts in the male and is quite rufescent on the flanks. Peruvian Warbling-Antbird is deep rufous on the flanks with more dark spots on the underparts and is generally darker. Imeri Warbling-Antbird has a hint of yellow on the underparts and browny-grey wings.

Male Warbling Antbird, São Gabriel da Cachoeira, Amazonas, Brazil, August 2004 - click for larger image A lot of the vocal differentiation between the species is based on detailed studies of spectographs but, to give a flavour of one of the more obvious differences listen to some of the recordings on xeno-canto.

Refer to the Cat. nr. on the right and listen to the male songs of cantator on 8610 and 11999 and of striata on 11368. These songs accelerate. Compare them to the songs of flavescens on 11392, peruviana on 4784 and 12075 and subflava on 2530. These songs decelerate. The remaining species ochrogyna has a relatively even spaced song as you can hear on 1895. In this recording of a duet, as in several others, you can also hear the female song, a descending series of 6 to 9 notes.

Male Warbling Antbird, São Gabriel da Cachoeira, Amazonas, Brazil, August 2004 - click for larger image There are illustrations in Ridgely & Tudor, Volume 2, Plate 22; Hilty & Brown, Plate 28 and Ridgely & Greenfield, Plate 62.

Previous Page Back to Index Next Page

If you do not see a menu on the left, you may have arrived at this page from another site. Please click Home to get to my main page.