Ocellated antbird

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Christian Nunes

The ocellated antbird (Phaenostictus mcleannani) is a species of antbird in the family Thamnophilidae. It is monotypic within the genus Phaenostictus and found in Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. Its natural habitat is the understory of moist lowland forests, foothill forest, and tall secondary growth woodlands.

The species is 19 cm long and weighs around 50 g. The eye is surrounded by a large area of bare blue coloured skin. The plumage varies slightly amongst the three subspecies, but overall it has a grey crown, black throat with a buff breast changing into a spotted belly and back.

The ocellated antbird feeds primarily on insects and arthropods, sometimes small lizards. Most of its prey is obtained by following trails of army ants, which flush the prey out from hiding places. One such army ant species is Eciton burchellii. The ocellated antbird is considered an obligate follower of army ants, seldom foraging away from swarms. Amongst the species of antbirds and other army ant followers (such as tanagers and woodcreepers) it is usually a dominant species.

The social biology of this species is unusual for the antbird family. The breeding pair form the nucleus of a group or clan that includes their male offspring and their mates. These clans work together to defend territories against rivals. The open nest cup was only recently described, with a clutch of two eggs. source

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