Family Typical Antbirds (Thamnophilidae)

Least Concern

Common Scale-backed Antbird (Willisornis poecilinotus)


French: Fourmilier zébré German: Schuppenmantel-Ameisenwächter Spanish: Hormiguero dorsiescamado común

Hypocnemis poecilinota


, 1847,



Until recently treated as conspecific with W. vidua and W. nigrigula (which see). Specific epithet sometimes misspelt poecilonotus; priority of this name could potentially be disputed#R. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • W. p. poecilinotus (Cabanis, 1847) – C & SE Venezuela (Bolívar, N Amazonas), the Guianas and NE Amazonian Brazil (Roraima and E from lower R Negro to Amapá).
  • W. p. duidae (Chapman, 1923) – EC Colombia (Meta, Guainía, Vaupés), SW Venezuela (S Amazonas) and NW Brazil (upper and W bank of lower R Negro).
  • W. p. lepidonota (P. L. Sclater & Salvin, 1880) – SE Colombia (E Cauca, Caquetá, Putumayo, Amazonas), E Ecuador and N & EC Peru (S, W of R Ucayali, to Cuzco).
  • W. p. gutturalis (Todd, 1927) – NE Peru (Loreto S of R Amazon and E of lower R Ucayali) and adjacent W Brazil (E to lower R Juruá).
  • W. p. griseiventris (Pelzeln, 1868) – EC & SE Peru (Ucayali E of middle R Ucayali, Madre de Dios, E Puno), SW Amazonian Brazil (E from R Juruá to both banks of R Madeira and drainage of R Aripuanã, Rondônia, and W Mato Grosso W of R Teles Pires) and N Bolivia (Pando, La Paz, N Beni, NE Santa Cruz).
  • Descriptive notes

    12–13 cm; 15·7–19·4 g (nominate), 15·8–20·5 g (duidae), 15–22·3 g (griseiventris). Interscapular... read more


    Loudsong of nominate race a series (e.g., ten notes, 7·1 seconds) of long upslurred notes (... read more


    Understorey of humid lowland and foothill evergreen forest, at least locally to 1350 m, e.g. in E... read more

    Food and feeding

    Feeds on variety of insects and other arthropods; at least occasionally, also small lizards. In Brazil, nominate race near Manaus observed... read more


    Season Nov–Mar in French Guiana; nests found in Aug and Apr in Colombia (Meta); season probably Dec–Jul in E Ecuador (based on... read more


    None recorded; presumed resident.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Fairly common throughout its extensive range. This includes numerous large protected areas, examples of which are: Brownsberg Nature... read more

    Recommended citation

    Zimmer, K., Isler, M.L. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Common Scale-backed Antbird (Willisornis poecilinotus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 18 February 2020).