Slender antbird (Rhopornis ardesiacus)

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Slender antbird
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Slender antbird fact file

Slender antbird description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderPasseriformes
FamilyThamnophilidae
GenusRhopornis (1)

This fairly large, grey antbird occurs in a small area of dry forest in Brazil. The male has ashy-grey plumage that is slightly paler on the underparts, with a distinctive black, triangular patch on the throat. The wings and the long, graduated tail are blackish-grey, and the wing feathers are finely edged in white. The female has paler underparts than the male and can also be distinguished by the russet colouring on the top of the head and back of the neck. The irises of this bird are bright red (2).

Size
Length: 18 – 19 cm (2)
Weight
23 – 28 g (2)
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Slender antbird biology

The slender antbird is often seen on the ground, singly, in pairs or in family groups, searching for food. It moves deliberately with heavy hops and pauses to scan for prey, such as cockroaches, winged termites and spiders. It also rummages in leaf litter trapped amongst the leaves of large, terrestrial bromeliads. Pairs of slender antbirds appear to have small home ranges, up to 50 meters across, which are separated from those of other antbirds by 100 meters or more. Breeding is thought to begin in October, and decline between December and February with the onset of rains (2) (5).

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Slender antbird range

Occurs in Brazil, in south-eastern Bahia (mainly in the region of Boa Nova) and north-eastern Minas Gerais (2).

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Slender antbird habitat

The slender antbird inhabits hillside dry, deciduous forest with many lianas, (climbing, woody, tropical vines) and patches of bromeliads, between 100 and 1,000 meters (2) (3). This type of vegetation is known as mata-de-cipó (4).

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Slender antbird status

Classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Endangered

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Slender antbird threats

Whilst still fairly common within its habitat, the slender antbird has a very small range, and the population may be declining as a result of habitat loss. In 1990, only 5 – 20 percent of dry forest in east Bahia remained, having been steadily cleared for cattle pastures, coffee plantations and firewood extraction (2). Much of the remaining forest is apparently unsuitable for the slender antbird due to a high level of disturbance by livestock (3).

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Slender antbird conservation

The slender antbird is protected by law in Brazil, and since 2004, SAVE Brasil (Sociedade para a Conservação das Aves do Brasil), the representative of Birdlife International in Brazil, has been developing a conservation program for the slender antbird in Boa Nova (2) (3) (4). Since the project started, the local community and landowners have become active participants in conservation activities in the region, and even adopted the slender antbird as the symbol of Boa Nova (4). In addition the project has facilitated further research into the slender antbird’s breeding behaviour, and raised conservation awareness through campaigns, workshops and educational material about the slender antbird and the biodiversity of Boa Nova (4) (6). Furthermore, SAVE have developed a proposal for the creation of a 32,000 hectare protected public area in the region (4).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
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Find out more

For further information on bird conservation in Brazil see:

For more information on this and other bird species please see:

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Authentication

Authenticated (08/04/09) by SAVE Brazil.
http://www.savebrasil.org.br

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Glossary

Bromeliads
A large family of tropical, American, flowering plants that usually have long, stiff leaves and colourful flowers. It includes the pineapple and Spanish moss.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2009)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (2004) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 8: Broadbills to Tapaculos. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. BirdLife International (June, 2007)
    http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/species/index.html?action=SpcHTMDetails.asp&sid=4718&m=0
  4. SAVE Brasil. (2009) Pers. comm.
  5. Willis, E.O. and Oniki, Y. (1981) Notes of the Slender Antbird. Wilson Bulletin, 93: 103 - 107.
  6. Luiz, E.R. (2008) Reproductive notes on the Slender Antbird Rhopornis ardesiacus. Cotinga, 30: 65 - 67.
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Image credit

Slender antbird  
Slender antbird

© Jon Hornbuckle

Jon Hornbuckle
jonhornbuckle@yahoo.com

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