Bananal antbird (Cercomacra ferdinandi)

GenusCercomacra (1)
SizeBody-length: 16 cm (2)
Weight15 g (3)

The Bananal antbird is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).

A medium-sized bird endemic to a small area of Brazil (2), the Bananal antbird (Cercomacra ferdinandi) is named after Bananal Island, situated in the Araguaia River (4).

The male Bananal antbird has black plumage, with white-edged shoulder feathers, wing coverts and flight feathers. The black, graduated tail also has a white tip. The female Bananal antbird has largely grey plumage, with fine, white streaking on the throat and breast (3).

The male Bananal antbird has a harsh, loud ‘cawh’ call, which is usually repeated in quick succession (3) (4). The male and female may also perform a synchronised duet, in which the female responds in a slightly higher pitched version of the male’s song (3).

The Bananal antbird is endemic to central Brazil. Its fairly small range encompasses parts of the Araguaia River, the Tocantins River, and the Manuel Alves Grande River (2).

The Bananal antbird resides in thickets alongside rivers and streams, as well as forest undergrowth near water, such as seasonally flooded areas (2).

The diet of the Bananal antbird consists primarily of insects, including grasshoppers and crickets, butterfly and moth larvae, and spiders (3). Feeding in family groups, in pairs or individually (2), the Bananal antbird will forage amongst vine tangles and dense vegetation, typically between 3 and 15 metres above the ground. However, it also regularly descends to the ground, especially when in pursuit of prey (3).

Almost nothing is known about the breeding habits of the Bananal antbird, except that a juvenile has been recorded being fed by its parents in late August (3).

As the Bananal antbird has a relatively small range, it is highly susceptible to changes to the rivers on which it lives. A series of large hydro-electrical plants are being built along the TocantinsRiver and Araguaia River. These developments have already resulted in a decline in numbers of the Bananal antbird (2).

The majority of the range of the Bananal antbird falls within the boundaries of the Araguaia National Park (2). However, the level of protection currently offered by this park is not known (2).

Recommended conservation measures for the Bananal antbird include an extensive survey into the exact population numbers of this species and the range it occupies. Research should also be done into the natural history of this bird in order to be able to determine its ecological needs (2).

Legislation that limits development within the habitat of the Bananal antbird is also recommended, in addition to encouraging the government to revise the plans for the hydro-electrical plants which are having a devastating effect on populations of the Bananal antbird (2).

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This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  1. IUCN Red List (November, 2010)
  2. BirdLife International (November, 2010)
  3. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (2003) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 8: Broadbills to Tapaculos. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  4. Ridgely, R.S. and Tudor, G. (1994) The Birds of South America, Volume 11: The Suboscine Passerines. The University of Texas Press, Austin.