Family Typical Antbirds (Thamnophilidae)

Least Concern

White-backed Fire-eye (Pyriglena leuconota)


French: Alapi à dos blanc German: Feueraugen-Ameisenvogel Spanish: Ojodefuego dorsiblanco

Myothera leuconota


, 1824,

Pará, Brazil


Sometimes treated as conspecific with P. leucoptera and/or P. atra. Populations of present species appear to involve more than one species#R; conversely, some races may represent merely clinal variation in plumage; taxonomic study required. Investigation of genetic structure within populations along valley of R Tocantins, in SE Amazon Basin, provides strong support for hypothesis that R Tocantins has been historical barrier promoting population divergence in this antbird#R. Ten subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. l. pacifica Chapman, 1923 – Pacific Fire-eye – W Ecuador and extreme NW Peru (Tumbes).
  • P. l. castanoptera C. Chubb, 1916 – Black-bellied Fire-eye – Andean slopes in S Colombia (E slope of C range, W slope of E range in Huila, E slope of E range S from Cauca and Caquetá), Ecuador (E slope) and N Peru (N of R Marañón in Piura, Cajamarca and N Amazonas).
  • P. l. picea Cabanis, 1847 – Black-headed Fire-eye – E Andean slope of C Peru (S Amazonas S to Junín and Ayacucho).
  • P. l. marcapatensis Stolzmann & Domaniewski, 1918 – E Andean slope of SE Peru (Madre de Dios, Cuzco, Puno).
  • P. l. hellmayri Stolzmann & Domaniewski, 1918 – E Andean slope of WC Bolivia (Beni, La Paz, Cochabamba, W Santa Cruz).
  • P. l. maura (Ménétries, 1835) – E Bolivia (E Santa Cruz), SC Brazil (W & SW Mato Grosso) and extreme N Paraguay (Alto Paraguay).
  • P. l. similis J. T. Zimmer, 1931 – SC Amazonian Brazil in Pará and N Mato Grosso (R Tapajós E to R Xingu).
  • P. l. interposita O. M. O. Pinto, 1947 – E Pará from R Xingu E to R Tocantins.
  • P. l. leuconota (Spix, 1824) – White-backed Fire-eye – E Pará (E of R Tocantins) and N Maranhão.
  • P. l. pernambucensis J. T. Zimmer, 1931 – Pernambuco Fire-eye – NE Brazil (E Pernambuco, E Alagoas).
  • Descriptive notes

    16–18 cm; 26–36 g (appears to vary by sex and among races). Interscapular patch white; iris bright red. Male nominate race is glossy black; underwing-coverts... read more


    Male loudsong a medium-length (e.g. 2 seconds) series of evenly paced short whistles that usually... read more


    Understorey of lowland and foothill evergreen forest, to 950 m in much of range; to 1350 m on... read more

    Food and feeding

    Feeds on variety of insects, particularly orthopterans; also arachnids, and centipedes (Chilopoda); small lizards up to 11 cm in length... read more


    Nests in all months in Brazil, with peak in Aug–Nov, minimal nesting activity for 3 months early in dry season (almost no eggs laid... read more


    None recorded; presumed resident.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Generally fairly common throughout its large range. Numerous large protected areas exist within regions occupied by this species; furthermore, it is... read more

    Recommended citation

    Zimmer, K. & Isler, M.L. (2020). White-backed Fire-eye (Pyriglena leuconota). 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 23 February 2020).