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A photo of a Barred Antshrike (Thamnophilus doliatus), male
Barred Antshrike, Male

Barred Antshrike

Thamnophilus doliatus

The barred antshrike, Thamnophilus doliatus, is a passerine bird belonging to the antbird family, Thamnophilidae. This species is notable for its sexual dimorphism and robust bill, reminiscent of true shrikes. Males are adorned with striking black and white bars, while females boast a cinnamon-rufous crest and ochraceous-buff underparts. Both sexes share a pale yellow iris, adding a touch of color to their appearance.

Identification Tips

Adult males of the barred antshrike can be identified by their black and white barred plumage, with thicker black bars on the upperparts and thinner black bars on the underparts. Females, on the other hand, have a cinnamon-rufous crest and upperparts with black and white or buff streaks on the sides of their head and neck. Both sexes have a bushy crest and a pale yellow iris, which can aid in identification.

Habitat

The barred antshrike is found in a variety of landscapes, favoring thick undergrowth and avoiding the interior of mature forests. Its habitat ranges from scrublands and riparian thickets to the edges of dry woodlands and secondary forests. It can also be found in gardens and, in some regions, prefers river islands or savannas.

Distribution

This bird has a wide distribution across the Neotropics, from Mexico through Central America, Trinidad and Tobago, and every mainland South American country except Chile and Uruguay. There is also a single accepted record from southern Texas.

Behaviour

The barred antshrike is a year-round resident that typically forages in pairs, staying close together within dense foliage. It is known for its agility, hopping and making wing-assisted jumps in search of prey, which includes insects, other arthropods, small lizards, fruit, and seeds.

Song & Calls

Both sexes sing, often while displaying physical behaviors such as stretching the neck, bowing forward, and pumping their tails. The song is a series of loud chuckling or cackling notes that ascend and then descend in intensity. Calls vary among subspecies but often include a "crow-like caw" and other guttural sounds.

Breeding

Barred antshrikes are monogamous and territorial. Their breeding season varies geographically, with nests being tightly woven open cups suspended from branches. Clutch size is typically two eggs, with both parents sharing incubation duties.

Similar Species

While the barred antshrike exhibits marked sexual dimorphism, it can be distinguished from similar species by its unique barring pattern in males and the cinnamon-rufous crest in females.

Diet and Feeding

The barred antshrike has a diverse diet, primarily feeding on insects and their larvae, but also consuming other arthropods, small lizards, fruit, and seeds. It forages from the ground up to about 3 meters, rarely joining mixed-species feeding flocks.

Conservation Status

The IUCN has classified the barred antshrike as Least Concern. With an estimated population of at least 50 million mature individuals and a stable population trend, there are currently no immediate threats to the species. However, deforestation and habitat destruction pose potential challenges to its survival.

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