Rob Williams

Ochre-fronted Antpittas

Grallaricula ochraceifrons

Location: East slope of the Andes in northern Peru.

Endemic: Yes, from Peru.

Characteristics

The ochre-fronted antpitta is olive on top, with white or whitish underparts, and broad black streaks.

Length: 10-11 cm / 4-4 ½ in.

Threat: Endangered.

Best Time for observation: Seasonality is not documented.

Habitat: Humid montane forests at the northern extreme of the east Andes in Amazonas and San Martin.

Ochre-fronted Antpittas

Antpittas are a birders dream, their distinctive calls, generally shy habits, often impenetrable habitat, delightful form and quizzical expressions make them a favourite of most birders. With a couple of notable exceptions, the majority of the 53 species are hard to see and any sighting generally makes a days bird-watching. Amongst the Antpittas, the nine diminutive species of the genus Grallaricula are perhaps the most desired. These uncommon denizens of dark damp forest interiors are more arboreal than their larger cousins and are considered to be some of the hardest birds to see in South America, with several species also having small ranges. The most local of all is the Ochre-fronted Antpitta which was only described in 1983, it is restricted to the humid montane forests at the northern extreme of the east Andes in Amazonas and San Martin. The only easily accessible locality is the area around Abra Patricia. But even here, in known territories, and with knowledge of the call, the species can still be challenging to see well.

The recent discovery that Antpittas can be attracted to feeding stations and habituated has made birds that were previously very difficult to see much more reliable. Antpittas are now fed daily in several places by dedicated locals whose daily commitment and patience permit visitors to get unprecedented sightings. At Alto Nieva there is now a predictable pair of Ochre-fronted Antpittas coming daily to feed on worms placed on branches in front of a small viewing area to the delight of many birders and photographers. In the same area a larger Rusty-tinged Antpitta is also being fed, allowing the visitor a double Antpitta day.

Text by Rob Williams.