Antbirds are a large and diverse family of birds (more than 200 species) found from Mexico to South America.  Antbirds are often high on the list of visiting birders as they represent a family of birds not typically found in the United States.   They are known by a variety of names including antshrikes, antwrens, antvireos, fire-eyes, bare-eyes and bushbirds.

One of the most unusual birds in this group is the Barred Antshrike.  It is found as far north as the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico, and as far as I have been able to determine it is the only member of the antbird family to have ever been recorded in the United States.

Male Barred Antshrike

Male Barred Antshrike

Its presence in Texas was based on an audio recording of a singing bird which was not seen.

Its easy to see how this bird got its name, although the missus might disagree.

Male and female Barred Antshrikes do not resemble each other in the least.  The male is one of the world’s easiest birds to identify, if you can find one. It feeds on ants and insects on the ground as it skulks through the forest undergrowth.

The female is rufous above with a chestnut crest. The sides of her head and neck are streaked with black, and the underparts are rich buff.

Female Barred Antshrike

Female Barred Antshrike

The tip of the bill is slightly hooked, perhaps the reason for the “shrike” name.

Barred Antshrikes are thought to be monogamous, to mate for life, and to defend their territory. Both sexes incubate the eggs.

The song of the Barred Antshrike can be heard on the xeno-canto web site.

Most antbirds have generally, dark, subtle colors.  The Fasciated Antshrike is similar in appearance to the Barred Antshrike but most other species on the family are less distinctively marked.

Spotted Antbird

Spotted Antbird

 

Spot-backed Antbird

Spot-backed Antbird

 

Fasciated Antshrike

Fasciated Antshrike

References:
All images © Glenn Bartley.  Glenn is a Birdzilla.com staff photographer and leads his own photography work shops to Central and South America.

The song on the Barred Antshrike can be heard on the xeno-canto web site.

From Texas Bird Images web site – Barred Antshrike – Cameron Co., September 1, 2006.  A singing bird was recorded, but not seen, at Harlingen, Cameron, on 1 September 2006, TBRC# 2006-95).  The audio can be heard hear.

Male Barred Antshrike

Male Barred Antshrike

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