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Ant-Pipits

birds black species wings

The ant-pipits are 10-11 species of birds that make up the family Conopophagidae. These birds are exclusively South American, occurring in tropical rain forests of Amazonia. The usual habitat of ant-pipits is thick and lush with foliage, and the birds are rather shy. Consequently, these small birds are difficult to see and demanding to study. Therefore, little is known about their biology and ecology.

Ant-pipits are small, stocky, wren-like birds, with a short tail, short wings, and long legs. The body length of these almost tail-less birds is 4-5.5 in (10-14 cm). Antpipits feed on the forest floor, mostly by using their strong legs and feet to scratch about in plant litter to expose their food of insects and other arthropods. Antpipits are permanent residents in their forest habitats, meaning they are not known to undertake long-distance, migratory movements.

The true ant-pipits are eight to nine species in the genus Conopophaga. The black-bellied ant-pipit (Conopophaga melanogaster) is a rather attractive species of tropical forests in Amazonian Brazil. Male individuals have chestnut back, wings, and tail, black head and breast, and a white eye-stripe that extends back into a distinctive plume at the back of the head. Coloration of the female black-bellied ant-pipit consists of more subdued hues of brown and grey.

The black-cheeked ant-pipit (C. melanops) of Amazonian Brazil has a chestnut cap, an olive back and wings, and a large, black cheek-patch. The chestnut-crowned ant-pipit (C. castaneiceps) occurs in Amazonian Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, while the slaty ant-pipit (C. ardesiaca) occurs in Bolivia and southern Peru.

There are two species of Corythopis ant-pipits, the ringed ant-pipit (Corythopis torquata) and the southern ant-pipit (C. delalandi).

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