The plumbeous antbird was described by the English zoologist Philip Sclater in 1855 and given the binomial name Thamnophilus hyperythrus. The specific name combines the Ancient Greek words hupo "beneath" and eruthros "red". Alternatively, the name may be from the Greek word huperuthros for "reddish". The current genus Myrmelastes was introduced by Sclater in 1858 with the plumbeous antbird as the type species.
The plumbeous antbird is 17 cm (6.7 in) in length. The male is slaty gray with blackish-gray wings and tail. The wing coverts have conspicuous white spots. Each eye is surrounded by an extensive patch of light blue skin. The female has similar upperparts including the white spots on each wing but is bright orange-rufous below.
The spot-winged antbird (Myrmelastes leucostigma) and the slate-colored antbird (Myrmelastes schistaceus) lack the light blue periorbital skin patches, the white-shouldered antbird (Akletos melanoceps) and the sooty antbird (Hafferia fortis) are blacker than the plumbeous antbird and lack the white spots on the wing.
The nest of this species was first described in 2003 based on two nests found in Manú National Park, Peru. The open cup-shaped nests were suspended 0.7 m (2 ft 4 in) and 1.0 m (3 ft 3 in) above the ground. They were constructed of black rhizomorphs and covered in dry leaves attached with spider silk. Each nest contained two eggs. These had a pinkish white background which was almost completely covered with dark purplish-red streaks. They measured 23 mm × 17 mm (0.91 in × 0.67 in) in the first nest and 24 mm × 20 mm (0.94 in × 0.79 in) in the second.
- BirdLife International (2016). "Myrmelastes hyperythrus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22701832A93850529. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22701832A93850529.en. Retrieved 16 November 2021.
- Sclater, Philip (1855). "A draft arrangement of the genus Thamnophilus, Vieillot". The Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal. New Series. 1: 226–249 .
- Peters, James Lee, ed. (1951). Check-list of Birds of the World. Vol. 7. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Museum of Comparative Zoology. p. 236.
- Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 198. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
- Sclater, Philip Lutley (1858). "Synopsis of the American ant-birds (Formicariidae). Part III. containing the third subfamily Formicariinae, or Ant-thrushes". Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London. 26: 272–289 .
- Zimmer, K.; Isler, M.L. (2018). del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J.; Christie, D.A.; de Juana, E. (eds.). "Plumbeous Antbird (Myrmelastes hyperythrus)". Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
- Ridgely, Robert S.; Tudor, Guy (2009). Birds of South America: Passerines. Helm Field Guides. London: Christopher Helm. p. 366. ISBN 978-1-408-11342-4.
- Londoño, Gustav A. (2003). "First description of the nest and eggs of the Plumbeous (Myrmeciza hyperythra) and the Black-faced (Myrmoborus myotherinus) Antbirds" (PDF). Ornitologia Neotropical. 14: 405–410.