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Chestnut-naped antpitta (Grallaria nuchalis ruficeps)
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Infraorder: Tyrannides
Parvorder: Furnariida
Family: Grallariidae
P.L. Sclater and Salvin[1], 1873

Grallariidae is a family of smallish suboscine passerine birds of subtropical and tropical Central and South America known as antpittas. They are between 10 and 20 cm (4–8 in) in length, and are related to the antbirds, Thamnophilidae, and gnateaters, Conopophagidae.

The antpittas were formerly placed in the family Formicariidae. Beginning in 2002 a series of molecular genetic studies found that Formicariidae, as then defined, was non-monophyletic.[1][2][3][4] In 2008, the American Ornithologists' Union reorganised the genera to create monophyletic families and moved the antpittas to their own family Grallariidae.[5] This family now contains 68 species in one large and four fairly small genera.[6]

These are forest birds that tend to feed at or near the ground since many are specialist ant eaters. Most are drab in appearance with shades of (rusty) brown, black, and white being their dominant tones. Compared to other birds that specialize in following ants, this family is the most tied to the ground. The long, powerful legs (which lend the birds a distinctive upright posture) and an essentially vestigial tail aid this lifestyle.

The antpittas are sexually monomorphic; they resemble the true pittas in that they are virtually tailless; they hop like some thrushes, and are much easier to hear than see—although their vocalizations may be rather atypical for perching birds.

They lay 1 to 6[7] eggs in a nest in a tree, both sexes incubating.


The following cladogram shows the phylogeny of the antipitta family. It is based on a large molecular phylogenetic study of the suboscines by Michael Harvey and collaborators that was published in 2020. The three species in the genus Myrmothera were found to be embedded in the genus Hylopezus.[8] The species are those recognised by the International Ornithologists' Union (IOC).[6]


Grallaria – 45 species

Cryptopezus – speckle-breasted antpitta

Grallaricula – 10 species

Hylopezus – 6 species and Myrmothera – 6 species


Typical antpittas – tribe Grallariini/subfamily Grallariinae

Lesser antpittas – possibly tribe Myrmotherini/subfamily Myrmotherinae


  1. ^ Irestedt, M.; Fjeldså, J.; Johansson, U.S.; Ericson, P.G.P. (2002). "Systematic relationships and biogeography of the tracheophone suboscines (Aves: Passeriformes)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 23 (3): 499–512. doi:10.1016/S1055-7903(02)00034-9.
  2. ^ Chesser, R. Terry (2004). "Molecular systematics of New World suboscine birds". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 32 (1): 11–24. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2003.11.015.
  3. ^ Rice, Nathan H. (2005). "Phylogenetic relationships of antpitta genera (Passeriformes: Formicariidae)". The Auk. 122 (2): 673–683. doi:10.1093/auk/122.2.673.
  4. ^ Rice, Nathan H. (2005). "Further evidence for paraphyly of the Formicariidae (Passeriformes)". The Condor. 107 (4): 910–915. doi:10.1093/condor/107.4.910.
  5. ^ Banks, R.C.; Chesser, R.T.; Cicero, C.; Dunn, J.L.; Kratter, A.W.; Lovette, I.J.; Rasmussen, P.C.; Remsen, J.V.; Rising, J.D.; Stotz, D.F.; Winker, K. (2006). "Forty-Ninth Supplement to the American Ornithologists' Union Check-List of North American Birds". The Auk. 125 (3): 758–768. doi:10.1525/auk.2008.9708.
  6. ^ a b Gill, Frank; Donsker, David; Rasmussen, Pamela, eds. (January 2023). "Antthrushes, antpittas, gnateaters, tapaculos, crescentchests". IOC World Bird List Version 13.1. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 5 March 2023.
  7. ^ Cornell University (July 31, 2020). "Grallaria Antpittas".
  8. ^ Harvey, M.G.; et al. (2020). "The evolution of a tropical biodiversity hotspot". Science. 370 (6522): 1343–1348. doi:10.1126/science.aaz6970. hdl:10138/329703. A high resolution version of the phylogenetic tree in Figure 1 is available from the first author's website here.

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