Family Typical Antbirds (Thamnophilidae)

Least Concern

White-shouldered Antshrike (Thamnophilus aethiops)


French: Batara à épaulettes blanches German: Perlschulter-Ameisenwürger Spanish: Batará hombroblanco

Thamnophilus æthiops

P. L. Sclater

, 1858,

Río Napo, Napo, Ecuador


Apparently sister to T. aroyae#R; see also T. caerulescens. Some diagnosable races, geographically separated by Amazonian rivers, may be full species; some support for this provided by recent molecular study#R, but vocal and other analyses, as well as investigation of possible intergradation at headwaters of rivers, needed. Races juruanus and kapouni appear to intergrade. Ten subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • T. a. wetmorei Meyer de Schauensee, 1945 – foothill region in SE Colombia (W Meta S to E Cauca and W Putumayo).
  • T. a. aethiops P. L. Sclater, 1858 – foothill region in E Ecuador and N Peru (N of R Marañón).
  • T. a. polionotus Pelzeln, 1868 – S Venezuela (Amazonas, SE Bolívar), E Colombia (E Guainía, E Vaupés), and NW Brazil (N Roraima, and R Negro in upper drainage and on W bank of lower stretches S to R Solimões).
  • T. a. kapouni Seilern, 1913 – E Peru (S of R Marañón and R Amazon), extreme W Brazil (SW Amazonas E to R Juruá) and N Bolivia (Pando S to La Paz and Cochabamba).
  • T. a. juruanus H. von Ihering, 1905 – SW Amazonian Brazil between R Juruá and R Purus.
  • T. a. injunctus J. T. Zimmer, 1933 – Amazonian Brazil between R Purus and R Madeira.
  • T. a. punctuliger Pelzeln, 1868 – Amazonian Brazil between R Madeira and R Tapajós (S to Rondônia and NW Mato Grosso) and extreme NE Bolivia (NE Santa Cruz).
  • T. a. atriceps Todd, 1927 – Amazonia in S Pará and NE Mato Grosso (between R Tapajós and R Tocantins).
  • T. a. incertus Pelzeln, 1868 – Pará S of R Amazon (E of R Tocantins) and NW Maranhão.
  • T. a. distans O. M. O. Pinto, 1954 – NE Brazil (coastal Pernambuco and Alagoas).
  • Descriptive notes

    15–17 cm; 23–30 g. Male nominate race is black, except for a few small whitish spots on lesser wing-coverts and bend of wing, and blackish-grey posterior... read more


    Male loudsong a short and slowly paced (e.g. 6 notes, 2·2 seconds) series of low-pitched,... read more


    Understorey of lowland evergreen forest, mostly below 700 m, occasionally to 1150 m; to c. 2000 m... read more

    Food and feeding

    Little published. Feeds on variety of insects and arthropods. Pairs or individuals forage mostly 1–5 m above ground in dense... read more


    Little recorded. In Brazil, single nests found in Oct, Nov and Feb (incertus), Jul (punctuliger) and Sept (polionotus... read more


    None recorded; presumed resident throughout range.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Generally uncommon throughout its extensive range. This includes numerous large parks and biological reserves, examples being Jaú and Tapaj... read more

    Recommended citation

    Zimmer, K. & Isler, M.L. (2020). White-shouldered Antshrike (Thamnophilus aethiops). 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 24 February 2020).