Bird Families

Red-throated caterpillar - a species of passerine birds from the caterpillar family


Gnateaters eat insects. One way they catch insects is to perch in a tree and plung to the ground when an insect is spotted. They then stay on the ground only briefly. They also take insects directly from the tree. Gnateaters are difficult to spot and thus are poorly studied. They are located in Central and South America. They are round, short-tailed, and long-legged birds, They are quite upright when standing.

The members of this family are very closely related to the antbirds of family Thamnophilidae and less closely to the antpittas (Grallariidae) and tapaculos (Rhinocryptidae).

Genus Conopophaga
Gnateaters are small birds, have short tails, usually have white ear line.

Gnateater, _Ash-throatedConopophaga peruviana Found: Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru

Gnateater, _Black-belliedConopophaga melanogaster Found: northern Bolivia, Brazil

Gnateater, Black-cheekedConopophaga melanops Found: Brazil

Gnateater, _CearaConopophaga cearae Found: northeast Brazil

Gnateater, _Chestnut-beltedConopophaga aurita Found: South America

Image by: 1) Cornell_Univ's_Neotropical_Birds_Online - Marcelo_Barreiros 2) Claudio Timm 3, 4) Nick Athanas - Ecuador, Brazil
1) Female 2, 3, 4) Male

Gnateater, _Chestnut-crownedConopophaga castaneiceps Found: Columbia, Ecuador, Peru

Image by: 1, 2) Chrystopher Canaday - Ecuador 3) Jose Loaiza - Ecuador 4) Nick Athanas - Ecuador
1, 2) Female 3, 4) Male

Gnateater, _HoodedConopophaga roberti Found: northern Brazil

Gnateater, _RufousConopophaga lineata Found: South America

Image by: 1, 5) Nick Athanas - Brazil 2, 3, 4, 6) Dario Sanches - Brazil
1) Female 5) Male

Gnateater, _SlatyConopophaga ardesiaca Found: Bolivia, Peru

Genus Pittasoma
The two species of Pittasoma are round, short-tailed, and long-legged birds - the largest members of the gnateater family. These terrestrial birds are quite upright when standing. They are insectivorous.

Antpitta, _Black-crownedPittasoma michleri Found: Colombia, Costa Rica, and Panama.

Antpitta, _Rufous-crownedPittasoma rufopileatum Found: Colombia, Ecuador.

Red-throated caterpillar

The red-throated caterpillar is a species of passerine birds from the caterpillar family. It inhabits undergrowth and shrubbery in eastern Brazil from the north of Rio Grande do Sul to Ceara. Its range also extends to eastern Paraguay and northeastern Argentina, and has recently been reported in Uruguay. This bird is often difficult to catch and spot, however it is more common and less shy than other caterpillars.

The red-throated caterpillar is a small, plump bird, 13 cm long, with a short tail and rather long legs. The plumage is mostly reddish brown. Females have a white gray stripe above the eye that ends on a tuft of feathers. The voice is a series of soft squeaks that gradually become fast and loud. At dusk and dawn, males use flight feathers to create a buzzing sound as soon as they fly over their territory.

The red-throated caterpillar hunts, moving rapidly from one height to another through the undergrowth near the surface of the earth. When a bird notices an insect, it makes a short flight down to the ground or near the upper leaves to catch it.

The nest is built from twigs and moss on a bowl-shaped tree. The female lays two dark-colored oval or slightly conical eggs.

The number of subspecies is unclear, but generally there are three generally accepted: Conopophaga lineata lineata, Conopophaga lineata vulgaris, and Conopophaga lineata cearae. The latter subspecies lives in northeastern Brazil, and differs from other birds in both vocalization and morphology. It has a darker, orange-yellow coloration and is absent or almost absent from the white crescent visible on the upper chest of the remaining subspecies. In the XXI century, it is considered as an independent species of Conopophaga cearae.


Gill, F. and M. Wright. 2006. Birds of the World: Recommended English Names. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.

Ridgely, R. S., and G. Tudor. 1994. The Birds of South America. Volume 2. The Suboscine Passerines. University of Texas, Austin.

Whitney, B.M. 2003. Family Conopophagidae (Gnateaters). Pages 732-748 in Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 8: Broadbills to Tapaculos. J. del Hoyo, A. Elliot, and D. Christie, eds. BirdLife International and Lynx Editions, Cambridge, UK and Barcelona.

Title Illustrations
Scientific NameConopophaga melanops nigrifrons
LocationREBIO de Pedra Talhada - Quebrangulo - Alagoas, Brazil
Specimen ConditionLive specimen
SourceConopophaga melanops nigrifrons_Black-cheeked Gnateater
Source CollectionFlickr
Copyright© 2008 Ciro Albano
Scientific NameConopophaga lineata
LocationGuaramiranga - Ce., Brazil
Specimen ConditionLive specimen
SourceChupa-dente-de-Baturite - Conopophaga lineata cearae - Rufous Gnateater
Source CollectionFlickr
Copyright© 2004 Ciro Albano
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  • First online 05 December 2007
  • Content changed 05 December 2007
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