Brown-backed Parrotlet Touit melanonotus


Justification of Red List Category
This species's population is likely to be small and declining, with small subpopulations. For these reasons the species is classified as Vulnerable.

Population justification
In the Brazilian Red List assessment for birds (MMA 2014) it is estimated that there are <10,000 mature individuals with <1,000 mature individuals in each subpopulation.

Trend justification
A moderate and ongoing population decline is suspected owing to rates of habitat destruction and degradation.

Distribution and population

Touit melanonotus is confined to south-east Brazil (Bahia, Espírito Santo, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Paraná). It is sporadically, but widely, reported in Rio de Janeiro, while in São Paulo, there are records from six sites south to Ilha do Cardoso (Wege and Long 1995). Recent records from three sites in Bahia (J. Minns in litt. 1999, E. O. Willis and Y. Oniki in litt. 1999) are the first since the 19th century. The first Paraná records were made in 1997 and it is now known from seven localities, amongst which are Salto Morato Nature Reserve and Bicudinho-do-brejo Reserve (Vallejos et al. 2013); the voucher recording of the first published Paraná record (Mazar Barnett et al. 2004) has been re-identified as belonging to Pionopsitta pileata (Vallejos et al. 2013). It has generally been considered rare throughout its range, even by 19th century commentators, but with the proviso that parrotlets of this genus occur at very low densities, and their inconspicuous habits result in their often being overlooked. Records from several new sites since the mid-1980s, including the first for Espírito Santo (E. O. Willis and Y. Oniki in litt. 1999) and Paraná (Vallejos et al. 2013), have stemmed from knowledge of the species's calls, after previously fruitless fieldwork in the areas involved.


Records are principally from lower montane evergreen forest at 500-1,200 m (Wege and Long 1995), but up to 1,400 m in Itatiaia National Park (Juniper and Parr 1998), and near sea-level in Bahia and São Paulo (Wege and Long 1995, F. Olmos in litt. 1999). It may undertake seasonal migration or dispersal, in some areas possibly only over quite short altitudinal distances. The only known food items are the seeds of large leguminous forest trees and the fruit of Rapanea acuminata, Clusia sp. and mistletoes (E. O. Willis and Y. Oniki in litt. 1999). Breeding presumably occurs in September-October, but this remains unconfirmed (Collar 1997a, Collar et al. 2013), and juvenile was photographed in Serra dos Órgãos National Park in December 2008 (Junger and Pimentel 2009).


Agricultural conversion and deforestation for mining and plantations have historically threatened its habitats (Fearnside 1996). Current key threats are urbanisation, agricultural expansion, colonisation and associated road-building (Dinerstein et al. 1995). Although the lower montane slopes have suffered comparatively less destruction than adjacent lowlands (Stattersfield et al. 1998), it has not been found at these elevations in São Paulo.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. In Brazil, this species is considered Vulnerable at the national level (Silveira & Straube 2008, MMA 2014), and protected under Brazilian law. It occurs in numerous protected areas, with recent records from: Desengano and Pedra Branca State Parks, Itatiaia, Serra dos Órgãos and Tijuca National Parks (Rio de Janeiro); Ubatuba Experimental Station, Iguape Environmental Protection Area, Serra do Mar, Ilha do Cardoso and Intervales State Parks (São Paulo); Salto Morato Nature Reserve and Bicudinho-do-brejo Reserve (Paraná) (Wege and Long 1995, Aleixo and Galetti 1997, Collar et al. 2013).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey suitable habitat in Bahia and Espírito Santo to clarify distribution and status. Determine seasonal abundance at different elevations. Consolidate protected areas where it occurs.


15 cm. Well patterned parrot. Green on head, nape and underparts, bluish-grey flanks. Large, dark brown patch on back. Green rump. Red tail, tipped black with green central rectrices. Wings have extensive dusky brown on primary coverts, tips of primaries and secondaries. Similar spp. Golden-tailed Parrotlet T. surda has extensive yellow on tail and green back. Voice Harsh chatterings.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Capper, D., Clay, R., Sharpe, C J, Symes, A., Ashpole, J & Wheatley, H.

De Luca, A., Develey, P., Minns, J., Olmos, F., Oniki, Y. & Willis, E.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Touit melanonotus. Downloaded from on 08/12/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 08/12/2021.