Family Typical Antbirds (Thamnophilidae)

Least Concern

Rusty-backed Antwren (Formicivora rufa)


French: Grisin roux German: Zimtrücken-Ameisenfänger Spanish: Hormiguerito dorsirrufo

Myiothera rufa


, 1831,

interior of Bahia, Brazil


Recent extensive morphological and vocal study#R places present species closest to F. grisea (with F. intermedia) and F. acutirostris, as well as subsequently described F. grantsaui and F. paludicola; close relationship to first of these also supported by genetic study. Plumage variation occurs within races as currently defined, and nominate and chapmani may intergrade; vocal repertoires may vary regionally; further study needed. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • F. r. urubambae J. T. Zimmer, 1932 – E Peru (locally in E foothills of Andes in San Martín, Ucayali#R and Cuzco).
  • F. r. chapmani Cherrie, 1916 – S Suriname and EC Brazil (locally in Amapá, Pará, Maranhão and Piauí).
  • F. r. rufa (Wied, 1831) – SC & E Brazil (S Amazonas and extreme E Acre E to C Mato Grosso and Goiás, and from coastal Ceará and Rio Grande do Norte, S to Mato Grosso do Sul and N São Paulo) S to extreme SE Peru (extreme E Madre de Dios), E Bolivia (Beni, La Paz, NE Cochabamba, Santa Cruz), and C & NE Paraguay (locally along R Paraguay and in N Amambay).
  • Descriptive notes

    12–13 cm; 11·5–14 g. Male has white supercilium, tawny-rufous crown and upperparts, outer scapulars edged white, concealed white interscapular patch; wings... read more


    Typical loudsong a long (e.g. 34 notes, 2·3 seconds) rattle of evenly pitched harsh or sharp... read more


    Occupies undergrowth of variety of habitats, including cerrado brushland, grassy ... read more

    Food and feeding

    Little published. Feeds on various insects, probably also spiders; stomach contents of single specimen from Brazil (Goiás) included... read more


    Sept–Jan in Brazil. One described nest, from São Paulo (Brazil), a deep, thinly woven cup with external diameter 7 × 6 cm, internal... read more


    Presumed resident.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common throughout most of its extensive but patchy range. Regions inhabited include a number of protected parks and reserves, e.g. Chapada dos... read more

    Recommended citation

    Zimmer, K. & Isler, M.L. (2020). Rusty-backed Antwren (Formicivora rufa). 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 26 February 2020).