Family Cardinals (Cardinalidae)

Least Concern

Black-backed Grosbeak (Pheucticus aureoventris)


French: Cardinal à dos noir German: Goldbauch-Kernknacker Spanish: Picogrueso dorsinegro

Pitylus aureoventris

d’Orbigny and Lafresnaye

, 1837,

Yungas, Sicasica, Bolivia


May hybridize with P. chrysogaster in Ecuador and genetic data indicate that present species may be paraphyletic with respect to latter#R. Race crissalis distinctive for its yellow vs black throat (3), but often with small black maculations, and minor vocal difference#R; no other distinctions apparent. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. a. crissalis P. L. Sclater & Salvin, 1877 – Yellow-throated Grosbeak – Andes of SW Colombia (Nariño) S to C Ecuador.
  • P. a. meridensis Riley, 1905 – Andes of NW Venezuela (Mérida).
  • P. a. uropygialis P. L. Sclater & Salvin, 1871 – Yellow-rumped Grosbeak – Colombia in E Andes (Norte de Santander S to Cundinamarca).
  • P. a. terminalis Chapman, 1919 – lower Andes of Peru (Amazonas and Cuzco).
  • P. a. aureoventris (d’Orbigny & Lafresnaye, 1837) – Black-rumped Grosbeak – S Peru (Puno), W & S Bolivia (La Paz S to Tarija) and NW Argentina (Jujuy S to San Luis and Córdoba); also, probably only in austral winter, WC Brazil (Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul, reaching S Amazonas and S Goiás#R) and N Paraguay.
  • Descriptive notes

    22 cm; 43·8–57·2 g (Bolivia), 55·4–66·2 g (Colombia). Male nominate race has upperparts black, sometimes with narrow yellow fringes on... read more


    Song a rich, melodious series of whistled notes, similar to that of P. chrysogaster but... read more


    Mostly dry to arid scrubby, often open, woodland, well-bushed gardens and similar; generally in... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet includes berries, seeds, and insects. At Chía, in Colombia, seen to feed extensively on flowers and seeds of Polymnia... read more


    Little published information. Birds with enlarged gonads at end of Jan (Cauca) and juvenile in Nov (Nariño) in Colombia; nest with... read more


    Most populations apparently sedentary; some evidence of movement at geographical ends of range, and... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Uncommon or rare in Venezuela; locally common, though in small numbers in Colombia; rare to locally common in Peru. Increasingly recorded in E... read more

    Recommended citation

    Brewer, D. & de Juana, E. (2019). Black-backed Grosbeak (Pheucticus aureoventris). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 18 June 2019).