Salvadori's antwren -- 小蚁鹩 (Myrmotherula minor)

Salvadori's antwren perched on branch
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Salvadori's antwren fact file

Salvadori's antwren description

GenusMyrmotherula (1)

Known for its rather acrobatic feeding manoeuvres, Salvadori’s antwren (Myrmotherula minor) is a small bird endemic to south-eastern Brazil (3). The male Salvadori’s antwren is largely grey with the exception of a small black bib and black wings. The male has two lines of white spots on its under-tail coverts and white-fringed tail feathers (4).

Although the female Salvadori’s antwren is also mainly grey, it can be easily distinguished from the male by its olive-brown back, whitish throat and olive-tipped wing feathers (2) (4). The female also has a rusty-orange fringe to the tail feathers and buff underparts (2).

Named after the Italian ornithologist who first described the species in 1864, Salvadori’s antwren has a highly distinctive, complex song (5), comprising a rapid, whistled, two or even three-part song of several sharp, descending syllables (6).

Salvadori’s antwren is the only bird in its genus to have banded under-tail coverts. The band-tailed antwren (Myrmotherula urosticta) is similar in appearance to Salvadori’s antwren, but it has a thick white tip to its tail. The sides of the female white-flanked antwren (Myrmotherula axillaris luctosa) are paler than Salvadori’s antwren and the male white-flanked antwren has a much larger black bib (2).

Length: 9 cm (2)

Salvadori's antwren biology

A sociable bird, Salvadori’s antwren travels in mixed-species flocks with other small insectivores. Within the flock, Salvadori’s antwren is found in a pair or a small family group of up to four members. Pairs quietly call to one another while foraging and are rarely further than three metres apart (6).

Salvadori’s antwren feeds mainly on arthropods and caterpillars of less than 1.5 centimetres in length. It usually forages in foliage between two and eight metres above ground-level. While foraging, the agile Salvadori’s antwren makes acrobatic hops, hitches and flutters and is often seen perching on precarious branches or hanging horizontally or vertically for up to three seconds. When prey is dislodged from the foliage, Salvadori’s antwren will often pursue it in a downwards flutter-chase (6).

Little is known about the breeding biology of Salvadori’s antwren. However, immature Salvadori’s antwrens have been observed with adults in mixed flocks in December and January, indicating that the main breeding season is likely to be between October and January. The breeding period coincides with a great abundance of arthropods, which is thought to help minimise parental foraging efforts and increase chick survival (8).


Salvadori's antwren range

Salvadori’s antwren is thought to be restricted to the Atlantic forest of south-east Brazil. However, Salvadori’s antwren has occasionally been reported in north-east Peru, although the evidence for this is disputed (3).


Salvadori's antwren habitat

Occurring in mature, undisturbed lowland forest, Salvadori’s antwren can also be found in secondary forest, but usually only if re-growth is well established and connected to an area of mature forest. Salvadori’s antwren is almost always found near water, preferring humid areas of forest, rich in mossy tree trunks and bromeliad species (3).

Salvadori’s antwren has been reported to exist at altitudes between sea level and 800 metres, although most recent records are in areas below 300 metres (7).


Salvadori's antwren status

Salvadori's antwren is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable


Salvadori's antwren threats

The already restricted habitat of Salvadori’s antwren is under constant pressure from deforestation, with heavy degradation even in some protected areas (2). As this species is endemic to the Atlantic forest, continued destruction of this habitat is a serious threat (9).

In 2010 the Salvadori’s antwren population was estimated at 2,500 to 10,000 individuals and noted as decreasing (10).


Salvadori's antwren conservation

Two biological reserves exist to preserve areas of Atlantic forest in Rio de Janeiro, but other key sites such as Fazenda União remain unprotected. Of the two managed parks in the São Paulo region, one is not adequately protected and the other covers altitudes outside the usual range for Salvadori’s antwren (2).

Conservation of Salvadori’s antwren may be supported by protecting the Fazenda União region, promoting environmental awareness in local communities and monitoring degradation of the remaining Atlantic forest habitat (10).


Find out more

More information on Salvadori’s antwren:

Find out more about bird conservation in Brazil:



This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

This species information was authored as part of the Arkive and Universities Scheme.


A major grouping of animals that includes crustaceans, insects and arachnids. All arthropods have paired jointed limbs and a hard external skeleton (exoskeleton).
Atlantic forest
A highly biodiverse region found along the east coast of South America, comprising several different vegetation types, including high-altitude grassland, and lowland and montane forest.
Small feathers concealing the bases of larger flight feathers, usually on the wings or tail.
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
Secondary forest
Forest that has re-grown after a major disturbance, such as fire or timber harvest, but has not yet reached the mature state of primary forest.


  1. IUCN Red List (August, 2011)
  2. BirdLife International. (2000) Threatened Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, Barcelona and Cambridge.
  3. Whitney, B.M. and Pacheco, J.F. (1995) Distribution and conservation status of four Myrmotherula antwrens (Formicariidae) in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil. Bird Conservation International, 5: 295-313.
  4. Ridgely, R.S. and Tudor, G. (2009) Field Guide to the Songbirds of South America: The Passerines. University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas.
  5. Jobling, J.A. (2009) Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. A & C Black Publishers Limited, London.
  6. Whitney, B.M. and Pacheco, J.F. (1997) Behaviour, vocalizations, and relationships of some Myrmotherula antwrens (Thamnophilidae) in eastern Brazil, with comments on the “plain-winged” group. Ornithological Monographs, 48: 809-819.
  7. Scott, D.A. and Brooke, M.L. (1985) The endangered avifauna of southeastern Brazil: A report on the BOU/WWF expeditions of 1980/81 and 1981/82. ICBP Technical publication, 4: 115-139.
  8. Develey P.F. and Peres, C.A. (2000) Resource seasonality and the structure of mixed species bird flocks in a coastal Atlantic forest of southeastern Brazil. Journal of Tropical Ecology, 16: 33-35. Available at:
  9. Brooks, T., Tobias, J. and Balmford, A. (1999) Deforestation and bird extinctions in the Atlantic forest. Animal Conservation, 2: 211-222.
  10. BirdLife International (August, 2011)

Image credit

Salvadori's antwren perched on branch  
Salvadori's antwren perched on branch

© Geiser Trivelato

Geiser Trivelato
Avenida Minas Gerais, 461 Jardim Déa - Jacutinga - Minas Gerais - Brasil
Tel: 51 021 35 3443 3773


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