29 Oct 2012

Red-crowned Ant Tanager (Habia rubica)

Conservation & Education News, Creature Feature, News of Asa Wright, Tropical Nature News

Red-Crowned Ant Tanager by Pierre Yves-Bilat.

The Red-crowned Ant Tanager, identified by the scarlet stripe on its crown, is found throughout central and northern South America. The male with red crown and brownish-red coat of feathers, can claim responsibility for inspiring the species name. Conversely, the female is yellow-brown with a sand-coloured coronal stripe.

Although timid, Red-crowned Ant Tanagers are inquisitive dwellers of the forest understory where they forage for insects. They occasionally follow bands of army ants, hence their name. Whenever excited, they display the red crown in the form of a raised crest. In Trinidad, the males can be confused with female Silver-beaked Tanagers, but their red crown and discordant, grating call give them away, although they are good at staying out of view. Those vocalisations are sometimes followed by a sweet “pee-pee-pee.”

These birds commonly mix with other species and are known to build shallow cup nests, usually near streams. At a length of eighteen centimetres, the oft-hidden Red-crowned Ant Tanager is a true beauty.

– J.L. Ryan


  • Hilty, Steven L. Birds of Venezuela. 2003.
  • ffrench, Richard. Birds of Trinidad and Tobago. 1991


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