Although tropical Africa and Asia do have bird species that follow marauding ants, this phenomenon is nowhere near as well established as in tropical America. Just the fact that the Neotropics have entire groups of birds named after their habit of following ants is an indication of the major influence army ants have on the avifauna of the region. Numerous species of antbirds, antvireos, antwrens, antshrikes, antthrushes, antpipits, antpittas and ant-tanagers live in these rich forests. The ants themselves are not consumed by the birds but rather the insects that flee the swarms of voracious ants. When in attendance of an army ant swarm, these shy birds lose all inhibitions and often allow close approach.
This image of the beautiful Spotted Antbird was taken this November by Adam Riley on the Pipeline Road near the famous Canopy Tower in Panama. Join Rockjumper Birding Tours and Carlos Bethancourt, Panama’s top birder, in November 2010 for a small group birding adventure in this simply sensational Central American country that has leapt to prominence as one of the prime birding destinations in the New World.