Chestnut-backed Antbird Poliocrania exsul

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Thamnophilidae
  • Polytypic: 5 subspecies
  • Authors: Stefan Woltmann, Ryan S. Terrill, Matthew J. Miller, and Matthew L. Brady

The Chestnut-backed Antbird is one of many secretive forest understory species that is far more often heard than seen. The song -- a two- or three-note whistle -- is a common feature of many lowland forests throughout the species’ range. Like most antbirds, the species has no special predilection for foraging at army-ant swarms, though it does so opportunistically when a swarm passes through a territory. The specific name exsul (“stranger” in Latin) may have reflected its sporadic appearance at ant swarms to early naturalists who believed all antbirds followed army ants. Unlike many forest-dwelling antbird species, the Chestnut-backed Antbird is often found in even small forest patches in fragmented landscapes, and it has flourished on Barro Colorado Island, Panama, despite being a demonstrably isolated population.


© Justin Hite

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

Woltmann, S., R. S. Terrill, M. J. Miller, and M. L. Brady (2010). Chestnut-backed Antbird (Poliocrania exsul), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.