skip to content

Thamnophilus atrinucha

Black-crowned Antshrike

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Thamnophilidae
  • Polytypic 2 Subspecies

Authors: Tarwater, Corey E., and J. Patrick Kelley

Thamnophilus atrinucha

Limbo Plot, Pipeline Road, Panama, 28 March 2010 © Michael P. Ward (female) and J. Patrick Kelley (male)

Thamnophilus derives from the Greek words "thamnos" (shrub) and "philos" (loving). This scientific moniker accurately depicts what observers often see of Western Slaty-Antshrikes. They are not the colorful tropical birds on the top of tourist lists, but they make up for this in their attitude. Western Slaty-Antshrikes are highly vocal (and territorial) and are one of the first species heard when walking into a tropical forest for the first time. They are considered insectivores, although when they get lucky, they catch small lizards. They can be aggressive birds. Individuals engaged in aggressive territorial disputes on occasion may hit into each other, landing on the ground while peaking and scratching at each other. Nevertheless, most disputes are settled by singing. They are year-round territorial birds, foraging in pairs and with mixed species understory flocks.  They have long breeding seasons, small clutch sizes, extended post-fledging parental care, and delayed dispersal.  They can be found in primary and secondary tropical forests throughout Central and northern South America. To date most of the detailed studies of Western Slaty-Antshrikes have focused on populations in central lowland Panama; therefore the studies outlined in this species account are biased towards this region.

Recommended Citation

Tarwater, Corey E., and J. Patrick Kelley. 2010. Black-crowned Antshrike (Thamnophilus atrinucha), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online:

This map is based on maps available from the NatureServe InfoNatura website, for the distribution in Central America and/or Caribbean, and on a map provided by Robert S. Ridgely, for the South American distribution.

The data for the InforNatura maps are provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE.

  • Migration/Movement:Resident (nonmigratory)
  • Primary Habitat:Tropical deciduous forest
  • Foraging Strata:Understory
  • Foraging Behavior:Glean
  • Diet:Terrestrial invertebrates
  • Sociality:Solitary/Pairs
  • Mating System:Monogamy
  • Nest Form:Cup
  • Clutch: 1 - 2
  • IUCN Status:Least Concern