Barred Antshrike

(Thamnophilus doliatus)
On the verandah, a laughing bird song heralds the arrival of the Barred Antshrike. Not only is its call distinctive but so is its appearance. The Antshrike has feathers the colour of the original uniforms used for prisoners: black and white stripes. So it can undoubtedly be called a “jail bird.” The Barred Antshrike is one of nine species of Antbirds found in Trinidad and Tobago. It frequents semi-open forest and gardens on both islands and is also resident in many South and Central American countries, including our neighbour, Venezuela. Although it only measures six inches, the Antshrike puts on a brilliant show when aroused. During this time, the bird raises its black crest giving the appearance of having a mohawk. It then begins to chuckle, ka-ka-ka-ka, while simultaneously waving its tail. This often makes for a perfect photo opportunity. Normally moving in pairs, one can sometimes spot a female not far away from the male. The female, however, has a different look: a chestnut brown body and crest with the black and white bars on its face. It is interesting to note that during courtship, the male feeds the female. When foraging this Antbird prefers insects although it will eat berries if the situation arises. If you think you have spotted a Barred Antshrike, most likely you have, as there is no other bird in Trinidad and Tobago which looks quite like it!

– J.L. Ryan


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