Black-legged Dacnis Dacnis nigripes


Justification of Red List Category
This species is classified as Near Threatened because it has a moderately small, fragmented population. However, it may be more common than previously thought owing to its close resemblance to Blue Dacnis Dacnis cayana.

Population justification
Although uncommon, the species has been found in some of the largest protected expanses of Atlantic Forest and it is felt that it may have been unrecorded due to its resemblance to the much commoner Blue Dacnis Dacnis cayana. Given this new information, it seems unlikely that its population is as small as previously estimated. It is now considered to number at least 10,000 individuals, roughly equivalent to 6,700 mature individuals.

Trend justification
Data on precise population trends are lacking, but moderate declines are suspected to be occurring, owing to the continuing degradation of habitats and fragmented nature of the species's population.

Distribution and population

Dacnis nigripes occurs very sparsely in coastal south-east Brazil, in Espírito Santo (four specimens in 1942, and several recent records), Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Paraná (five recent records), and northern Santa Catarina (recent records from three sites and two old specimens) (do Rosário 1996, E. O. Willis and Y. Oniki in litt. 1999, Whittaker et al. 2010). A specimen from Minas Gerais is thought to be a labelling error, but it may possibly occur in the extreme south of the state.


It has been found in primary and tall secondary lowland and montane Atlantic forest from sea-level to 1,700 m. It appears to move seasonally, or perhaps erratically, between parts of its range, probably the result of irregular wanderings in search of favourite food-plants. The diet comprises berries, seeds, insects and even eucalyptus nectar (R. Grantsau in litt 2003). It is often seen in association with mixed-species flocks, and birds may concentrate locally during certain periods. Breeding takes place from October to February (Whittaker et al. 2010). It nests in second growth adjacent to large tracts of Atlantic Forest, and nest trees tend to harbour large numbers of epiphytes, particularly Usnea (Usneaceae) which is a major component of nests (Whittaker et al. 2010).


It is threatened by widespread habitat loss throughout its range, and is also at risk from the (illegal) cage-bird trade, which prizes it for its rarity. Trapping may be facilitated by the periodic concentration of individuals.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
It is protected under Brazilian law. It has been recorded in Desengano, Intervales, Alto do Ribeira, Ilha do Cardoso and Serra do Tabuleiro State Parks, Itatiaia, Serra dos órgãos and Tijuca National Parks, Tinguá Biological Reserve, Ubatuba Experimental Station, Cananéia-Iguape-Peruíbe Environmental Protection Area, and Artex and Spitzkopf Ecological Reserves (Wege and Long 1995, do Rosário 1996).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Investigate seasonal movements. Ensure the de facto protection of reserves in which it occurs. Implement and enforce a complete ban on the capture of wild birds.


11 cm. Male turquoise-blue with black throat patch, short eye-stripe and upper mantle. Mostly black wings with broad blue fringes to greater coverts and tertials. Blackish tail. Red iris and dusky legs. Female brownish-olive above, tinged greenish-blue on forecrown, cheeks, scapulars and rump. Dull buffish below. Similar spp. Male Blue Dacnis D. cayana has more extensive black on back and throat, blue fringes to remiges and red legs. Female is bright green with bluish head.


Text account compilers
O'Brien, A., Clay, R.P., Gilroy, J., Sharpe, C.J., Williams, R.

Whittaker, A., Piacentini, V., Willis, E., Oniki, Y., Olmos, F., Grantsau, R.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Dacnis nigripes. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 01/04/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 01/04/2023.