Antpittas are a notoriously sneaky bunch of creatures. According to the Hilty and Brown’s Guide to the Birds of Colombia they are, “as a group, the most difficult to observe and among the least known of all South American birds,” and all Cornell’s Neotropical Birds website has to say about this species is that “almost nothing is known concerning its life history.” That’s because they spend their lives in tropical undergrowth sneaking about in the shadows. It is possible to be within a few feet of a singing antpitta and still not be able to see it. A friend once informed me “don’t bother looking for antipittas, because they’re actually just a myth and no one has ever seen one.” This is actually pretty good advice.
However, I sometimes get lucky with sneaky creatures hiding in the underbrush. While hiking in the Mesenia Paramillo Reserve in southeastern Antioquia, this little guy hopped out into the open and called for about two minutes. What you hear in the video is not the bird’s typical three-noted song, but some kind of alarm call. I was just about close enough to grab him while I took this video. I’m not sure what spurred the bird’s uncharacteristically brazen bahvaior, but I feel very privileged to have gotten this peek at such a seldom seen creature. It’s an especially interesting sighting, since I was not on the Pacific slope of the Andes and so was outside of the recognized range of this species.