Ant-tanagers are birds of the genus Habia. These are long-tailed and strong billed birds. The males have a red crest and plumage containing red, brown or sooty hues. Females may resemble the males or be largely yellowish or brown in colour. Formerly placed in the tanager family (Thraupidae), they are actually closer to Cardinalis in the Cardinalidae. Consequently, it can be argued that referring to the members of this genus as Ant-tanagers is misleading, but no other common name has gained usage.
All species forage for insects, which can be larger than their bills. Fruit is a minor part of their diet. Red-throated, Sooty and Black-cheeked Ant-tanagers form a superspecies; they inhabit second growth and patchy woodland. They look down from a series of low (2–3 m) perches and take prey from foliage or in flight. They follow army ant swarms to catch insects that are fleeing from the ants.
Red-crowned and Crested Ant-tanagers prefer denser undergrowth and watch from higher (4–5 m) perches, often working upwards through the foliage. They are less likely to follow ant columns.
The female alone builds a cup nest and incubates the two or three eggs. The young leave the nest before they can fly and hide in dense vegetation.
Ant-tanagers have harsh call notes but musical whistled songs.
Species in taxonomic order
- Red-throated Ant-tanager, Habia fuscicauda
- Black-cheeked Ant-tanager, Habia atrimaxillaris
- Sooty Ant-tanager, Habia gutturalis
- Crested Ant-tanager, Habia cristata
- Red-crowned Ant-tanager, Habia rubica
- Ochre-breasted Tanager, Habia stolzmanni
- Carmiol's Tanager, Habia carmioli
- Lemon-spectacled Tanager, Habia olivacea
- ffrench, Richard (1991). A Guide to the Birds of Trinidad and Tobago (2nd edition ed.). Comstock Publishing. ISBN 0-8014-9792-2.
- Hilty, Steven L (2003). Birds of Venezuela. London: Christopher Helm. ISBN 0-7136-6418-5.
- Morton, Isler & Isler, Tanagers ISBN 0-7136-5116-4
- Stiles and Skutch, A guide to the birds of Costa Rica ISBN 0-8014-9600-4
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