Plain Antvireos

The Plain Antvireo, Dysithamnus mentalis, is a passerine bird species in the antbird family. It is a resident breeder in tropical Central and South America from southern Mexico south to northern Argentina, and on Trinidad and Tobago.


The Plain Antvireo is typically 11.4 cm long, and weighs 13.5 g.

The adult male has a slate grey head and upperparts, blackish cheeks, three narrow white wing bars, pale grey underparts and a white belly.

The female has olive brown upperparts, a rufous crown, a white eye-ring, yellowish-buff underparts and weakly buff-barred rufous wings. Immature males are much like the adult male, but have brown edgings to the flight feathers, an olive rump and yellowish underparts.

Depending on subspecies, there are large variations in the plumage of both sexes, especially in the colour of the underparts (yellow to white), the darkness of the face, the amount of olive to the upperparts of the male, and the amount of rufous to the upperparts of the female.

If the nest is approached, an incubating bird will drop to the ground and flutter weakly to distract the potential predator. It then shows a white (male) or buff (female) shoulder stripe which is not normally visible.

Plain Antvireo

Calls / Vocalizations

It has a musical buu-bu-bu-bu-u-u-u song, and calls include a weak naaa and a questioning bu-u-u-u-u?

Diet / Feeding

This is a common and confiding bird of primary and second growth forest. The Plain Antvireo feeds like a vireo on small insects and other arthropods taken from twigs and foliage in the lower branches of trees.

It does not often join mixed-species feeding flocks, preferring to keep oits distance from other species when attending army ant swarms. It is usually found in pairs or small groups like adults with last years’ young or birds congregating at a special food source.

Breeding / Nesting

Mated pairs are quite territorial and defend a patch of habitat that may be as large as about 7,000 square metres, but sometimes is only half that size.

The female lays two cinnamon-marked white eggs in a small deep cup nest in the lateral fork of a sapling. The eggs are incubated by both parents for 15 days to hatching, with a further 9 days to fledging.


Due to its large range, this species is not considered threatened by the IUCN. It appears to be tolerant of some degree of habitat disturbance and/or human activity.

Photo of author

Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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