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P.L. Sclater and Salvin, 1873
Grallariidae is a family of smallish 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. They were also formerly placed in the Formicariidae, but studies by Rice (2005) indicated a distinct family was supported. Both the North American and South American committees of the AOU recognized the family soon after. This family contains probably (see below) some 50 species in 1 large and four fairly small genera.
These are forest birds that tend to feed on insects 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.
They lay two or three eggs in a nest in a tree, both sexes incubating.
The antpittas are sexually monomorphic; they resemble the true pittas in that they are virtually tailess; they hop like some thrushes, and are much easier to hear than see – although their vocalizations may be rather atypical for perching birds.
Typical antpittas – tribe Grallariini/subfamily Grallariinae
- Genus Grallaria (32 species)
Lesser antpittas – possibly tribe Myrmotherini/subfamily Myrmotherinae
- Rice, Nathan H. (2005a): Phylogenetic relationships of antpitta genera (Passeriformes: Formicariidae). Auk 122(2): 673-683. [English with Spanish abstract] DOI:10.1642/0004-8038(2005)122[0673:PROAGP]2.0.CO;2 PDF fulltext
- Rice, Nathan H. (2005b): Further Evidence for Paraphyly of the Formicariidae (Passeriformes). Condor 107(4): 910-915. [English with Spanish abstract] doi:10.1650/7696.1 PDF fulltext
- Media related to Grallariidae at Wikimedia Commons