Family Quail-thrushes and Jewel-babblers (Cinclosomatidae)

Least Concern

Chestnut-backed Jewel-babbler (Ptilorrhoa castanonota)


French: Ptilorrhoa à dos roux German: Buntflöter Spanish: Zordala dorsicastaña

Eupetes castanonotus


, 1876,

Mount Morait, Vogelkop, New Guinea


Several recently discovered populations are represented by extremely few or no specimens; thus, racial identity of those on Yapen I and others in Wandammen Mts, Bomberai Peninsula (Fakfak Mts, Kumawa Mts) and Gauttier Mts (near W part of N coast) undetermined. Review of races needed#R. Seven subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. c. gilliardi (Greenway, 1966) – Batanta I (E West Papuan Is), in NW New Guinea.
  • P. c. castanonota (Salvadori, 1876) – Vogelkop (Tamrau Mts, Arfak Mts), in NW New Guinea.
  • P. c. saturata (Rothschild & E. J. O. Hartert, 1911) – Nassau Mts, in WC New Guinea.
  • P. c. uropygialis (Rand, 1940) – N slopes of Oranje Mts and C North Coastal Range (Torricelli Mts), in WC & N New Guinea.
  • P. c. buergersi (Mayr, 1931) – NE New Guinea (Sepik Mts, Adelbert Mts, probably also W Finisterre Mts).
  • P. c. par (Meise, 1930) – Saruwaged Mts, in Huon Peninsula (NE New Guinea).
  • P. c. pulchra (Sharpe, 1882) – SE New Guinea (from Herzog Mts and Mt Karimui E to E Owen Stanley Range).
  • Also, race unknown, on Yapen I, Bomberai Peninsula (Fakfak Mts, Kumawa Mts), Wandammen Mts and Foja Mts.

    Descriptive notes

    22–24 cm; 70–74 g. Male nominate race has broad blue supercilium from side of forehead to posterior ear-coverts and neck side, black on lores and as broad stripe... read more


    Song 1–4 thin whistles followed by long whistle and then downslur or rapid high-pitched... read more


    Inhabits hill and lower montane forest, at c. 300–1450 m; present up to 1580 m near Telefomin. read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects; possibly also small frogs. Forages on ground, using the bill to turn over leaves.


    Females in breeding condition in late Jul and Aug, eggs in mid-Jun and immature in May, indicating breeding during dry season and probably... read more


    Probably sedentary.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Considered to be generally fairly common to common, but is rather shy and as a result is heard far more often than it is seen. Occurs in Varirata... read more

    Recommended citation

    Boles, W. (2019). Chestnut-backed Jewel-babbler (Ptilorrhoa castanonota). 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 25 March 2019).