The distribution of the Bananal Antbird is centered on Ilha do Bananal, the immensely long island in the Rio Araguaia in east central Brazil. This is one of several similar species of Cercomacra antbirds with allopatric distributions around the margins of Amazonia. In general appearance, this antbird is typical of the genus: medium sized, with a graduated tail and a fairly long, slender bill. The male is mostly black, with white-tipped wing coverts and white tips to the rectrices, and is very similar to several other species, especially to the Rio Branco Antbird (Cercomarca carbonaria), the Jet Antbird (Cercomacra nigricans), and the Mato Grosso Antbird (Cercomacra melanaria). The female is mostly gray, with narrow white streaks on the throat and breast, but with the wing and tail pattern as in the male. Bananal Antbirds typically forage as pairs in vine tangles and dense undergrowth in gallery forest and in tall second growth. The Bananal Antbird is fairly common, but is very poorly known. Furthermore, its restricted distribution and riverine habitat leave it vulnerable to habitat loss.