Golden-backed mountain-tanager (Buthraupis aureodorsalis)

Golden-backed mountain-tanager on branch
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Golden-backed mountain-tanager fact file

Golden-backed mountain-tanager description

GenusButhraupis (1)

This forest-dwelling bird has incredibly striking plumage; the crown and nape are a luxurious dark blue, and the rest of the head, throat and upper back are black. This contrasts with the vivid golden-yellow back, rump and shoulder feathers, from which this bird gets its name. The breast and belly are also bright orange-yellow, with streaks of chestnut on the breast. The wings and tail are mostly black, apart from a small patch of deep blue feathers, and the feathers under the tail and on the thighs are chestnut. It has a thick black bill and dark brown irises (2) (3). The song of the golden-backed mountain-tanager is a complex sequence of whistled and snarled notes (4).

Length: 22 cm (2)

Golden-backed mountain-tanager biology

Little is know about this bird, probably due to its inaccessible habitat, which can generally only be reached by trails, and its quiet, inconspicuous behaviour (2). The golden-backed mountain-tanager is usually found in pairs, searching for berries, fruits and insects in the middle story of the forest (4).


Golden-backed mountain-tanager range

Known only from the Andes mountain range in central Peru, in just a few areas in the regions of San Martín, La Libertad and Huánuco (2) (4).


Golden-backed mountain-tanager habitat

The golden-backed mountain-tanager occurs in elfin forest, (cloud forest composed of dense areas of small, stunted trees and shrubs), at elevations of 3,050 to 3,500 meters (4). It prefers ridges that are frequently blanketed in cloud (2).


Golden-backed mountain-tanager status

Classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List 2006 (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Endangered


Golden-backed mountain-tanager threats

At present, the golden-backed mountain-tanager inhabits a relatively undisturbed area, however, its small population is threatened, and possibly already declining, as a result of habitat loss. This is due to deforestation for grazing and agriculture, particularly coffee and illegal coca, and gradual urban development (4) (5). Elfin forests are also at risk from fires spreading from adjacent grasslands (4). This species is extremely vulnerable to any habitat loss due to its range already being very restricted.


Golden-backed mountain-tanager conservation

Golden-backed mountain-tanagers occur within the Rio Abiseo National Park, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which offers a number of tanagers a degree of protection (4). However, at present there are no known conservation measures in place aimed directly at this spectacular, rare bird.

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

For further information on the golden-backed mountain-tanager see:



This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:



  1. IUCN Red List (January, 2007)
  2. Ridgely, R.S. and Tudor, G. (1989) The Birds of South America. Vol 1: The Oscine Passerines. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  3. Blake, E.R. and Hocking, P. (1974) Two new species of Tanager from Peru. The Wilson Bulletin, 86: 321 - 516.
  4. Birdlife International (May, 2007)
  5. Wild World Ecoregion Profile (May, 2007)

Image credit

Golden-backed mountain-tanager on branch  
Golden-backed mountain-tanager on branch

© Charles Hesse

Charles Hesse


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