Short-tailed Antthrush Chamaeza campanisona

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Formicariidae
  • Polytypic: 12 subspecies
  • Authors: Harold F. Greeney


Geographic Variation

Eleven-twelve subspecies usually are recognized (Dickinson 2003, Krabbe and Schulenberg 2003):

1)C. c. venezuelana Ménégaux and Hellmayr 1906, described as Chamaeza brevicauda venezuelana; type locality Caracas, Venezuela.

The original description of venezuelana included these comments (in French): "Cette forme est très voisine de la forme précédente; elle concorde avec elle par la coloration du bec, des parties supérieures et les dessins de la queue, mais elle s'en distingue par ses dimensions plus faibles et par la couleur d'un blanc pur du dessous du corps comme chez C. nobilis du haut Amazone. Cette différence est surtout frappante sur les souscaudales qui, dans C. brevicauda typique, sont d'un jaune ocreux vif. Le haut de la poitrine fortement lavée de jaune chez cette dernière forme est à peine teintée de la même couleur chez la forme du Venezuela. Le dessus du corps est d'un brun olivâtre pâle comme dans la forme typique, le piléum un peu plus roussâtre. Le front ne présente en son milieu que des traces de tache noirâtre comme c'est le cas assez souvent chez C. brevicauda. Le bec est brun corné pâle en dessus, jaunâtre en desssous. C. nobilis se distingue de la nouvelle forme par le bec beaucoup plus large, avec la mandibule supérieure noire, par les parties supérieures du corps beaucoup plus foncées, et par le trait supraloral qui est ferrugineux. C. olivacea (Tsch.) du Pérou, C. bogotensis Berl. et Stolzm. de Bogota et C. fulvescens Salv. et Godm . de la Guyanne britannique s'en éloignent par la poitrine, les flancs et les sous-caudales fortement lavés d'un jaune ocreux, la mandibule supérieure noire, etc. etc." It is characterized by Cory and Hellmayr (1924: 292) as similar to nominate campanisona, "especially in all the rectrices having a broad black subterminal band and a distinct white or buff apical margin; but chest and under tail coverts without any, or with very little buff tine; size smaller".

Subspecies venezuelana occurs in the coast ranges of northern Venezuela.

2)Chamaeza campanisona yavii - Described as Chamaeza brevicauda yavii Phelps and Phelps 1947. The type locality is 1600 m on the Cerro Yaví tepui, Amazonas State, Venezuela. So far as is known, this subspecies is endemic to this tepui in southcentral Venezuela.

Chamaeza campanisona yavii is most similar to obscura and fulvescens but the upper parts are paler, (more yellow olive, less brown olive). It further differs from fulvescens by having darker (blacker) markings on the breast and abdomen being blacker (rather than brownish).

The original description of an adult male yavii from Phelps and Phelps (1947) is as follows: "Crown Medal Bronze, centers of feathers dusky giving a mottled appearance, merging into blacker on forehead and to more yellowish on hind neck, forming an indistinct collar; back and uropygium Medal Bronze with very faint and narrow dusky tips to the feathers; lores buffy; superciliary streak, commencing at mid orbital point, gular streak and sides of neck buff; sides of head Medal Bronze, ear-coverts more dusky. Chin pale buffy margined by black stripes; throat pale buffy finely freckled with dusky tips to the feathers and merging into the darker buff of breast; a bronze wash across the breast; abdomen white; lower breast, sides and flanks heavily streaked with blackish, more narrowly towards middle line of abdomen which is almost immaculate; shanks bronzy; under tail-coverts Capuchin Buff with inconspicuous dusky shaft streaks and edgings to the feathers. Wings Fuscous; exposed surfaces of tertials and upper wing-coverts uniform with back; under wing-coverts and axillaries white broadly tipped with dusky. Tail Medal Bronze uniform with back, with a subterminal band of black and tipped with whitish, paler on the under surface".

3)Chamaeza campanisona huachamacarii – Described as Chamaeza campanisona huachamacarii Phelps and Phelps 1951. The type locality is 650 m on the Cerro Huachamacari tepui, Amazonas State, Venezuela. So far as is known, this subspecies is endemic to this tepui in southern Venezuela.

Subspecies huachamacarii, the most recently described taxon within this complex, differs from obscura, fulvescens, venezuelana, and yavii by having more prominent and darker black striping on the underparts, which is also more extensive over the abdomen. Furthermore, huachamacarii has a less prominent postocular stripe and a more prominent, darker olivaceous (less ochraceous yellow), and wider pectoral band. The upper parts and sides of the neck are more olivaceous rather than having the yellow or rufous tinged brown of the other Venezuelan subspecies.

The original description of huachamacarii from Phelps and Phelps (1951) is as follows: "Top of head Antique Brown, exposed centers of feathers dusky giving a scalloped appearance; nape, sides of neck, back and uropygium Dresden Brown; lores slightly ochraceous; postocular stripe narrow, short and inconspicuous; ear-coverts dusky olive. Chin yellowish white; throat Pale Orange-Yellow, darker on sides and posteriorly, faintly speckled centrally and strongly speckled on sides and against breast; a Dresden Brown wash across anterior breast, except in the very center, merging into the heavily black and ochraceous striped sides and flanks; white abdomen more lightly striped with black; under tail-coverts darker than Ochraceous-Buff. Wings Fuscous, paler on the under surface; outer edges of secondaries, entire tertials and exposed parts of upper wing-coverts Dresden Brown uniform with back; under wing-coverts and axillaries white, tipped with dusky. Upper surface of tail Dresden Brown, uniform with the back, a wide black subterminal band; rectrices, except the middle ones, prominently tipped with whitish on the inner vanes; under surface paler and duller".

4)Chamaeza campanisona obscura – Described as Chamaeza brevicauda obscura Zimmer and Phelps 1944. The type locality is 1100 m on the Mt. Auyan tepui, Bolívar State, Venezuela. Subspecies obscura is confined to tepui region of southeastern Venezuela in the states of Bolívar and southern Amazonas.

Chamaeza campanisona obscura is most similar to fulvescens, but the back is darker, more olivaceous (less rufous or yellowish). The striping on the lower breast and flanks is blacker (less brownish), and the subterminal dusky bars on the rectrices are wider and blacker.

Zimmer and Phelps (1944) describe the subspecies as follows: "Back Dresden Brown x Prout's Brown, lighter on the uropygium and darker on the crown, quite dusky at base of culmen; all the feathers with very faint dusky edges giving an indistinct scaled appearance; feathers of crown with dusky centers; lores, postocular stripe, stripe below the dusky ear-coverts, and malar stripe buffy white; a broad dark brown stripe from in front of the eye along the sides of the neck, divided medially by a buffy stripe commencing just below the auriculars. Chin and upper throat buffy white separated from malar stripe by a row of brownish black speckles; lower throat and upper breast deep Ochraceous-Buff, the median feathers heavily edged with black, more olivaceous on the sides; rest of breast and abdomen white with a few dusky markings on the margins; flanks white with a pale buffy tinge, the feathers very heavily margined on both vanes with black, not rounding the tip; under tail-coverts Ochraceous-Buff with faint dusky markings. Wings Fuscous, paler on the inner side where the shafts are whitish, the secondaries broadly edged with the color of the back; tertials and wing-coverts uniform with back; under wing-coverts and axillaries white heavily tipped with dusky, and with a blackish patch near the bend of the wing. Tail Prout's Brown above, with a blackish subterminal band increasing in width from 3 mm on central rectrices to 15 on the outer ones; tips of rectrices whitish except on the central ones which are uniform with the base of the tail; under aspect of tail paler with white shafts. Bill brownish black, base of mandible flesh color; feet light brown".

5)Chamaeza campanisona fulvescens – Described as Chamaeza fulvescens Salvin and Godman 1882. The type locality is in the Merumé Mountains of western Guyana. It is also known from Mt. Roraima in eastern Venezuela.

Subspecies fulvescens differs from other similar subspecies in being more fulvous brown above, including on the head, back, wings, and tail. A paraphrased description of fulvescens taken from Chubb (1921) is as follows: The upper wingcoverts and inner webs of the flight feathers are darker than the back color. The outer tail-feathers have a dark subterminal band and are edged with white at the tips. The lores are fulvous, while the feathers on the chin, cheeks, and behind the eye are white marked with brown and tinged with fulvous. The sides of the neck are similar in coloration to the back. Centrally, the throat is white tinged with fulvous while the feathers of the fore-neck are fulvous margined with black. The lower parts are white and have the feathers margined with balck. The flanks are black and have the feathers broadly margined on one side with white. The tail-coverts are blackish tipped with fulvous, some of the lateral ones showing more or less white. The underwing-coverts are white tipped with brown and the under surface of the tail is pale brown with the tips edged in white.

The original description in Latin from Sclater and Godman (1882) is as follows: "Supra saturate cinnamomeo-brunnea, cspite summo obscuriore; subtus alba, gutture et crisso fulvo tinctis; pectoris et hypochondriorum plumis nigro utrinque marginatis, illis omnino saturate fulvis torquem pectoralem formantibus; subalaribus albis nigro variegatis; cauda dorso concolori, fascia subapicali nigra, rectricum apicibus fusco-albidis; rostro corneo, mandibulae basi albicante; pedibus carneis".

6)Chamaeza campanisona columbiana – Described as Chamaeza columbiana Berlepsch and Stolzmann 1896. The type locality is “Bogotá,” Colombia, based on specimens which previous authors (e.g., Sclater 1858, 1890) had ascribed to subspecies olivacea. This subspecies is confined to the eastern slopes of the eastern Andes in Colombia, and differs from other subspecies in having the crissum and breast paler buff than in any other subspecies.

The original description of Chamaeza campanisona columbiana in French provided by von Berlepsch and Stolzmann (1896) is as follows: "Ces oiseaux s'accordent parfaitement avec la description de Tschudi de la Ch[amaeza] olivacea, mais non pas avec la diagnose de cette espèce donnée par Mr. Sclater (Cat. Brit. Mus. xv. p. 307), qui est probablement basée sur des individus de Bogotá ou de la Bolivie. L'oiseau de La Gloria [the specimens of Chamaeza campanisona olivacea with which the authors are comparing the Bogotá specimens they describe here] diffère au premier coup d'oeil des individus de Bogotá du Musée Berlepsch par la couleur de la gorge et de la poitrine, qui est d'un roux-ochreux vif au lieu de blanche. Les côtés de la poitrine sont lavés d'olive et les flancs lavés d'un roux ochreux, ce qui n'est pas le cas chez les oiseaux de Bogotá. Les bordures noirâtres des plumes de la poitrine et des flancs sont un peu plus étroites. Les parties supérieures sont d'un vert olive au lieu d'un brun olivâtre. La strie surcilière bien marquée chez les oiseaux de Bogotá manque presque complètement chez l'oiseau de La Gloria. La bande noirâtre antéapicale qui, chez les oiseaux de Bogotá, se manifeste sur toutes les rectrices, manque complètement sur les rectrices médianes chez l'oiseau de La Gloria tandis qu'elle est très-bien marquée sur les rectrices externes. L'oiseau péruvien a les ailes, la queue et les tarses plus longs, le bec au contraire un peu plus court que celni de Bogotá".

7)Chamaeza campanisona punctigula - Described as Chamaeza columbiana punctigula Chapman 1924. The type is Río Suno, in the Napo Province of eastern Ecuador. It is distributed from eastern Ecuador southward to northern Peru (south at least to San Martiín, and possibly south to possibly to Huánuco).

Chamaeza campanisona punctigula is rather similar to subspecies columbiana, but has the upperparts deeper olive, the markings at the tips of rectrices narrower and buffier, the underparts whiter, and the abdomen with almost no tinge of buff. The black markings on the underparts are also more prominent and more extensive (from Chapman’s (1924) description).

8)Chamaeza campanisona olivacea - Described as Chamaeza olivacea de Tschudi 1844. The type locality was not made explicit in the original description (= Perú). Cory and Hellmayr (1924) suggested Montaña de Vitoc, Junín Department, Peru as the appropriate collecting locality for the type. This subspecies is only known from central Peru (Junín Department).

Chamaeza campanisona olivacea differs from both boliviana and columbiana by its deeper, more ochraceous throat, chest, flanks, and under tail coverts. The upperparts are brownish olivaceous, and darker than in boliviana and nominate campanisona, but less rufous than in columbiana and fulvescens. The tail of olivacea is rufous brown, similar to columbiana and fulvescens. The black and buff markings on rectrices are somewhat variable, and may even be absent.

9)C. c. berlepschi (Stolzmann 1926). Described as Chamaeza brevicauda berlepschi Stolzmann 1926. The type locality is in the Marcapata Valley, Cuzco Department of southeastern Peru. It is found in southeastern Peru and possibly (Krabbe and Schulenberg 2003) in extreme western Bolivia (western La Paz Department).

Chamaeza campanisona berlepschi is most similar to the subspecies which replaces it to the south, boliviana. It differs, however, from this subspecies and from its northern replacement (olivacea) in having the upper parts more rufescent (Zimmer 1932).

10)C. c. boliviana Hellmayr and Seilern 1912, described as Chamaeza brevicauda boliviana; with type locality Quebrada onda, Yungas of Cochabamba, Bolivia. Occurs in the Andean foothills (yungas) of Bolivia, from La Paz to Santa Cruz.

The original description in German of subspecies boliviana was rather cursory (Hellmayr and Seilern 1912) and is as follows: "Ganz wie C[hamaeza] b[revicauda] brevicauda, also oberseits grünlich olivbraun, aber dadurch unterschieden, daß auf dem mittleren Steuerfedernpaar die schwarze Subterminalbinde fehlt oder nur durch einen kleinen, knapp vor der Spitze stehenden, runden Schaftfleck angedeutet ist. Oberschnabel dunkler, hornschwarz, Flügel und Schwanz kürzer". This subspecies was characterized by Cory and Hellmayr (1924: 292) as differing from nominate campanisona and from venezuelana, "which it resembles in the decidedly olivaceous upperparts, by lacking the black subterminal band on the median rectrices (occasionally suggested by a small subapical shaft spot), and by its darker, more blackish bill".

11)C. c. campanisona (Lichtenstein 1823); described as Myiothera campanisona, with type locality São Paulo, Brazil.

Occurs in eastern Brazil in Ceará and Alagoas (Quebrangulo) and from Bahia to Santa Catarina.

12)C. c. tshororo (Bertoni 1901), described as Chamaeza tshororo, with type locality of Alta Paraná.

Occurs in extreme southern Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul and western Paraná) and in northeastern Argentina. Not recognized by Cory and Hellmayr (1924) or Dickinson (2003); provisionally recognized by Krabbe and Schulenberg (2003), who noted that it was "doubtfully distinct from nominate".

Original description in Spanish from Bertoni (1901):  "Sobre la cabeza, es de un café acanelado ó rojizo; pero en la frente hay una mancha negra perfectamente circular, y sobre el ojo una ceja blanca. El cuello y todo sobre el cuerpo y téctrices es de un pardo verdoso algo oliva. Las rémijes pardas. La cola tiene la extremidad acanelada, luego una faja negra, y el resto como sobre el cuerpo. Toda la garganta y lo inferior del cuerpo, es de un blanco, algo amarilloso en la garganta; pero cada pluma tiene dos fajas negras paralelas á las bordas sin unirse en las puntas, formando un conjunto muy gracioso. Las tapadas blancas, ribeteadas de negro. Rémijes allí, pardas con la borda blanquizca hacia la raíz. Iris color café. Pico de un blanco algo encarnado que obscurece en la punta. Tarso, dedos y uñas casi blancos, con algunas manchas vinosas, no simétricas, en las escamas de los dedos".

Related Species

Short-tailed Antthrush was, for many years, referred to in the literature as Chamaeza brevicauda (von Pelzeln 1871, Sharpe 1901, von Ihering and von Ihering 1907, Cory and Hellmayr 1924, Chapman 1926, Zimmer 1932, Phelps and Phelps 1947, Meyer de Schauensee 1950). This was due to the original description of the species by Vieillot (1818) as Turdus brevicaudus from Rio de Janeiro. Subsequently, however, Lichtenstein (1823) described Myiothera campanisona from “San Paulo” (= São Paulo). Peters (1951) appears to be the first to recognize that Vieillot’s name was pre-occupied by Turdus brevicauda Boddaert (1783). Although this is not explicitly stated by Peters (1951), Lichtenstein’s (1823) was subsequently adopted for Short-tailed Antthrush and it became Chamaeza campanisona in the literature (Meyer de Schauensee 1952, Remsen and Traylor 1989, Ridgely and Tudor 1994, Ridgely and Greenfield 2001, Krabbe and Schulenberg 2003, McNish 2007, Remsen et al. 2013). There are, however, scattered misspellings (campanisoma) in the more recent literature (Snyder 1966, Lopes et al. 1980, Feduccia and Olson 1982, dos Anjos 2002, Greeney and Gelis 2007). The species is named for the distinctive for the bell-like quality of its song (campana = bell; sonus = sounding).

Krabbe and Schulenberg (2003) recognized 12 subspecies of Short-tailed Antthrush. They suggested that the four large, darker forms from the Venezuelan and Guyanan tepui region might well constitute a separate species (yavii, huachamacarii, obscura, fulvescens) and that up to three other valid species may be included within Chamaeza campanisona as currently defined. Based on their distributions, these other three might be: nominate campanisona and tshororo of eastern Brazil, eastern Paraguay and northeastern Argentina; venezuelana, columbiana, and punctigula of the northern Andes from Venezuela to northern Peru; and olivacea, berlepschi, and boliviana of the southern Andes from central Peru to Bolivia. There is, however, a good deal of plumage variation within these latter two groupings. Additionally, as the songs of venezuelana and boliviana, the races found at opposite extremes of the Andes, are rather similar (Krabbe and Schulenberg 2003), suggesting that the Andean races may best be considered only on species. To date, however, there have been no modern revisions of this large and complex group of taxa. Recently, Ridgely et al. (2005) found a population of Short-tailed Antthrush in the Iwokrama Forest of central Guyana, and suggested that it may represent a new subspecies. Willis (1992) suggested that, due to similarities in vocalizations, nominate campanisona (with tshororo) may form a superspecies with Such's Antthrush (Chamaeza meruloides) and Schwartz's Antthrush (Chamaeza turdina).

Recommended Citation

Greeney, H. F. (2013). Short-tailed Antthrush (Chamaeza campanisona), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.