Vaalnest Reviews the Chat, Ant-eating bird

Posted by Collen on Tue January 26, 2016 in Birding in Vaal Marina.

The Ant-eating Chat is Endemic to the Southern African Region which means that this bird is only found in this region and nowhere else in the world.

The ant-eating chat or southern anteater-chat (Myrmecocichla formicivora) is a species of bird in the family Muscicapidae. It is found in Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry shrubland and subtropical or tropical dry lowland grassland. The Ant-eating Chat (Myrmecocichla formicivora) has dark brown plumage with white wing patches in flight. Its common endemic, locally nomadic in pairs or small groups of up to 6 birds. It eats mainly ants and termites but does eat other insects. Like open grassland and semi-arid shurblandAnt-eating Chat is known in Afrikaans as Swartpiek. Here are quick features to lookout for when spotting the Ant Eater:

The Ant-eating Chat has a height of 18 cms and weighs around 50 gms.
The head is coloured black, brown while the bill is coloured black.
The Myrmecocichla formicivora has a black coloured throat, black legs and a black, brown coloured back. The eyes are brown.
The male Myrmecocichla formicivora has physical features that are slightly different from the female bird. Head is black, brown
Eyes are brown and Bill, Throat and Legs are black
Feeding Habits includes foraging for food on the ground for insects such as butterflies, bees, wasps, locusts and ants. These invertebrates are usually hawked aerially, killed and then eaten. The Myrmecocichla formicivora forages mainly on the ground or at the base of trees, and low down in the shrubs eating mostly fruits and seeds. The bird builds its nest on the ground with figs, straw and leaves. The nest is placed under a bush to protect the young from predators. Also to remember is that the bird is mainly found in the Savanna grasslands where it breeds and feeds.






Wikimedia Commons has media related to Myrmecocichla formicivora.

BirdLife International (2012). "Myrmecocichla formicivora". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.