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Red-crowned Ant Tanager

Habia rubica

The Red-crowned Ant Tanager, Habia rubica, is a medium-sized passerine bird that exhibits sexual dimorphism in its plumage. The male is adorned with a dull reddish-brown body, a brighter red throat and breast, and a distinctive black-bordered scarlet crown stripe, which becomes more pronounced when the bird is excited. The female, on the other hand, is cloaked in yellowish-brown feathers with a yellow throat and a yellow-buff crown stripe.

Identification Tips

To identify this species, look for the male's raised scarlet crown stripe when excited and the contrasting red throat and breast. The female can be recognized by her more subdued yellowish tones and yellow-buff crown stripe. Both sexes measure between 17–19 cm in length, with males weighing 28–43 g and females slightly lighter at 23–37 g.

Habitat

The Red-crowned Ant Tanager is typically found in the middle stratum of forests, favoring areas rich in ferns, shrubs, and herbs. It thrives in the undergrowth of tropical American forests.

Distribution

This bird is a resident breeder with a broad range extending from Mexico through Central and South America to Paraguay and northern Argentina, as well as on the island of Trinidad.

Behaviour

These birds are often encountered in pairs or family groups. They exhibit a shy demeanor but are quite vocal. When foraging, they may follow army ant columns or South American coatis to catch prey startled by these creatures.

Song & Calls

The call of the Red-crowned Ant Tanager is a distinctive rattle followed by a musical "pee-pee-pee," which can be heard echoing through the forest.

Breeding

The female constructs a shallow cup nest, typically situated in a sapling or tree fern near a stream. The clutch usually consists of two to three white eggs, speckled with brown. Incubation lasts for about 13–14 days, and both parents are involved in feeding the chicks. The young leave the nest at approximately ten days old, although initially unable to fly, they take refuge in dense foliage.

Similar Species

While there are no similar species mentioned, always consider variations within the subspecies and regional differences when identifying birds in the field.

Diet and Feeding

The Red-crowned Ant Tanager's diet mainly consists of arthropods and berries. They are known to opportunistically feed on invertebrates disturbed by the foraging activities of army ants or coatis.

Conservation status

The IUCN has classified the Red-crowned Ant Tanager as Least Concern, indicating that it is not currently at significant risk of decline across its wide range.

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