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How Many Ants Could an Antbird Eat if an Antbird Could Eat Ants?

BRAZIL | Sunday, 30 October 2022 | Views [33]

Spot-breasted Antvireo

Spot-breasted Antvireo

NOT ALL OF THE BIRDS IN BRAZIL are as amazing and colorful as hummingbirds, trogons, tanagers and toucans. Nor are they as easily spotted. Take “antbirds,” for instance, a group of small, dull-colored birds that skulk around on the shady rainforest floors. 

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                    Scaled Antbird

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                         Spot-backed Antwren

Surprisingly, ant-wrens are not wrens, ant-tanagers are not tanagers, ant-vireos are not vireos, ant-shrikes are not shrikes—you get the idea. Even more surprising, antbirds don’t eat ants—ants have too much formic acid in their bodies to be tasty treats. Instead antbirds follow trails of army ants and eat the insects flushed by the ants.

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                    Chestnut-backed Antshrike

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                      Star-throated Antwren

Andrés would stop when he heard one of the species call and play his recording. More often than not, one of them would show up—sometimes several different species looking for a free lunch. They flit from twig to twig near the ground, often for just a second or two. Getting a good look at one is a treat—taking an in-focus photo is pure luck.

 

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