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Unicolored Blackbird

From Opus

Male, nominate subspeciesPhoto © by birdclubPantanal, Brazil, 15 September 2007
Male, nominate subspecies
Photo © by birdclub
Pantanal, Brazil, 15 September 2007
Agelasticus cyanopus


[edit] Identification

Length 18–21 cm (17-8¼ in)
A typical icterid blackbird, with an appropriate name, at least for the male, which is totally black.
The female, however, is anything but unicolored, with a yellow streaked breast, rufous-olive back, and brown head. Her wings and tail are the only black parts.

[edit] Variations

Female, nominate subspeciesPhoto © by Stanley JonesEntre Ríos Province, Argentina, 2 October 2019
Female, nominate subspecies
Photo © by Stanley Jones
Entre Ríos Province, Argentina, 2 October 2019

Although males are all black, females vary dramatically depending on the subspecies. Some have bright yellow underparts (nominate race A. c. cyanopus); some are blackish, with an olive-yellow wash (A. c. unicolor); and some are simply olive-yellow (A. c. atroolivaceus).

[edit] Distribution

South America: found in Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina

[edit] Taxonomy

Formerly placed in Chrysomus. Lopes (2017)[5] recommended recognizing two species, A. cyanopus and A. atroolivaceus (including unicolor as a subspecies).

[edit] Subspecies

Juvenile malePhoto © by Stanley JonesEntre Ríos Province, Argentina, 2 October 2019
Juvenile male
Photo © by Stanley Jones
Entre Ríos Province, Argentina, 2 October 2019

Three subspecies currently recognized[1][5]:

  • A. c. unicolor:
  • Northeastern Brazil (Amapá to Pará and northwestern Maranhão) south through central Brazil to northwestern Paraná and western São Paulo; intergrades with atroolivaceus in southern São Paulo
  • A. c. atroolivaceus:
  • Eastern Brazil, from Minas Gerais and southwestern Bahia south to coastal southeastern Brazil (Espírito Santo to São Paulo); intergrades with unicolor in southern São Paulo
  • A. c. cyanopus:
  • Eastern Bolivia and southwestern Brazil (western Mato Grosso and Moto Grosso do Sul) to Paraguay and northern Argentina

Former subspecies A. c. xenicus is a junior synonym of A. c. unicolor.
Former subspecies A. c. beniensis is now considered a junior synonym of A. c. cyanopus.
Ranges of A. c. unicolor and A. c. atroolivaceus expanded.

[edit] Habitat


[edit] Behaviour

[edit] Diet

Their diet consists mostly of insects, small vertebrates and seeds. Possibly also nectar.

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from
  2. Avibase
  3. Fraga, R. (2020). Unicolored Blackbird (Agelasticus cyanopus). 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 17 February 2020)
  4. Birdforum post related to subspecies taxonomy of this species.
  5. Lopes, L. E. (2017) Variation of plumage patterns, geographic distribution and taxonomy of the Unicolored Blackbird (Aves: Icteridae). Zootaxa 4221: 431–456

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