Distribution in the Americas
Spiny-faced Antshrike is resident in eastern Panama and northwestern Colombia. It does not occur west of the Canal Zone in Panama (Wetmore 1972, Ridgely and Gwynne 1989). In Panama it occurs primarily on the Caribbean slope; in Colombia, it also occurs on the Pacific slope, where reported to date only from the Serranía de Baudó in Chocó (Meyer de Schauensee 1941, Adsett and Wege 1998). Spiny-faced Antshrike usually is considered to be very local or patchy in distribution (Ridgely and Gwynne 1989).
The elevational range of Spiny-faced Antshrike is from the lowlands up to ca 800 m (Parker et al. 1996, Zimmer and Isler 2003).
Spiny-faced Antshrike occurs in the understory of humid lowland evergreen forest. Wetmore (1972) encountered it in "heavy undergrowth ...along narrow, steeply sloping side valleys" leading down to a small stream. Whitney and Rosenberg (1993) encountered this antshrike in similar situations, "mostly on the sides of steep slopes below ridges", although it also "ranged into the damp bottoms of ravines below ridges". The forest at the site visited by Whitney and Rosenberg (1993) had a broken canopy, 15-25 m in height, with many lianas and epiphytes, and a dense understory, which contained an abundance and variety of palms.