Brown-backed Parrotlet Touit melanonotus


Justification of Red List Category
This species' population is suspected to be small and declining, with small subpopulations. For these reasons the species is assessed as Near Threatened.

Population justification
Already in the 19th century, this species has been described as rare throughout its range; however, their inconspicuous habits result in their often being overlooked (Collar et al. 2020). It is suspected that the population numbers below 10,000 mature individuals (ICMBio 2018). Subpopulations are small and isolated due to the fragmentation of habitat and limited dispersal outside of forested areas (ICMBio 2018, R. Subirá in litt. 2022).

Trend justification
The population trend has not been assessed directly, but the species is suspected to decline as a consequence of the destruction, degradation and fragmentation of its forested habitat (ICMBio 2018). Tree cover within the range is lost at a rate equivalent to 3% over three generations (10.8 years; Global Forest Watch 2021, using Hansen et al. [2013] data and methods disclosed therein). The species is strictly forest-dependent, and as such the rate of population decline may be exacerbated by the impacts of forest degradation; however, it is unlikely that declines exceed 20% over three generations.

Distribution and population

Touit melanonotus is confined to south-east Brazil (Bahia, Espírito Santo, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Paraná and Santa Catarina). It is sporadically, but widely, reported in Rio de Janeiro. In São Paulo, it is recorded in coastal forests (Wege and Long 1995, Simpson and Simpson 2012, Melo et al. 2016, WikiAves 2021). Recent records from sites in Bahia are the first since the 19th century (J. Minns in litt. 1999, E. O. Willis and Y. Oniki in litt. 1999, Cavarzere et al. 2019, WikiAves 2021). The first records in Paraná were made in 1997 and the species is now known from several localities, amongst which are Salto Morato Nature Reserve and Bicudinho-do-brejo Reserve (Vallejos et al. 2013); the voucher recording of the first published recording Paraná has been re-identified as belonging to Pionopsitta pileata (Mazar Barnett et al. 2004, Vallejos et al. 2013). 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' calls, after previously fruitless fieldwork in the areas involved.


The species inhabits humid evergreen forest in the lower montane zone at 500-1,200 m, but up to 1,400 m in Itatiaia National Park and near sea-level in Bahia and São Paulo (Wege and Long 1995, Juniper and Parr 1998, F. Olmos in litt. 1999). It may undertake seasonal migration or dispersal, in some areas possibly only over quite short altitudinal distances, though dispersal between isolated forest remnants appears low (R. Subirá in litt. 2022). It is mostly seen in small groups of up to 20 individuals, but flock size may increase to up to 70 birds during January-February (Collar et al. 2020 and references therein). It feeds on fruits, seeds and berries (Collar et al. 2020). Breeding presumably occurs in September-October, but this remains unconfirmed (Collar 1997, Collar et al. 2020). A 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 the species' habitats (Fearnside 1996). Current key threats are forest loss through agricultural expansion, urbanisation, colonisation and associated road-building (Dinerstein et al. 1995, R. Subirá in litt. 2022). The lower montane slopes have suffered comparatively less destruction than adjacent lowlands (Stattersfield et al. 1998), and tree cover loss within the range is low (3% over three generations; Global Forest Watch 2021, using Hansen et al. [2013] data and methods disclosed therein). The species is not recorded in trade (Collar et al. 2020).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. In Brazil, this species is considered Vulnerable at the national level (ICMBio 2018). It is protected under Brazilian law. It occurs in numerous protected areas, including Serra das Lontras National Park (Bahia), Serra dos Órgãos, Tijuca and Itatiaia National Parks (Rio de Janeiro), and Serra da Bocaina National Park (São Paulo).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Accurately quantify the population size and the sizes of the subpopulations. Determine seasonal abundance at different elevations. Monitor the population trend. Protect suitable habitat. Consider creating dispersal corridors to facilitate movement and reconnect subpopulations.


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. surdus has extensive yellow on tail and green back. Voice Harsh chatterings.


Text account compilers
Hermes, C.

Abreu Bovo, A.A., Ashpole, J, Benstead, P., Capper, D., Clay, R.P., De Luca, A., Develey, P., Ferraz, K.M.P.M.B., Minns, J., Olmos, F., Oniki, Y., Sharpe, C.J., Subirá, R., Symes, A., Wheatley, H. & Willis, E.O.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Touit melanonotus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 31/03/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 31/03/2023.