Patagonian negrito -- 棕背小霸鹟 (Lessonia rufa)

Male Patagonian negrito
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Patagonian negrito fact file

Patagonian negrito description

GenusLessonia (1)

Described by Darwin as a “common, inoffensive little bird” (3), the Patagonian negrito remains widespread and fairly abundant through much of southern South America (2) (4). The male Patagonian negrito is mostly all black with the exception of a highly distinctive patch of rufous-chestnut on its back. In contrast, the female has a brownish-grey head and neck, dull rufous-brown back, mostly black wings, and dull ashy grey underparts (2) (4). Juveniles are very similar to the female, but have more rufous on the back (2).

Also known as
Austral negrito.
Length: 11.5 - 12.5 cm (2)

Patagonian negrito biology

This highly active species is essentially terrestrial but is often seen perching on low bushes or fences, and commonly stands on rocks and small mounds. Running about on the ground in short, restless bursts, it usually pursues its insect prey with brief flutters into the air (2) (4).

Breeding occurs from September to January, with populations in the far south tending to breed later than those in the north. The male displays by fluttering upwards 10 to 15 metres into the air. After mating, the female lays between two to four eggs in a small open nest made of twigs, small branches and roots, and usually positioned below overhanging vegetation on the ground or on a cliff ledge (2). The males have no role in the raising of young, and consequently leave the breeding grounds well before the females, which remain to care for the young (2) (4). Once the young have fledged and are capable of travelling long distances, they too migrate northwards with the female (2).


Patagonian negrito range

The Patagonian negrito breeds in central Chile and Argentina, south to Tierra del Fuego, but during the winter migrates north into northern Chile and Argentina, southern and eastern Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and extreme south-eastern Brazil (2) (4).


Patagonian negrito habitat

Usually found in open areas with short grass or bare soil, near marshes and coastal lagoons and beaches. Although this typically comprises elevations below 1,000 metres, in some areas it can occur as high as 2,000 metres above sea level (2) (4).


Patagonian negrito status

Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern


Patagonian negrito threats

There are no major threats to this relatively widespread and common species (2) (5).


Patagonian negrito conservation

Although there are no known conservation measures in place for the Patagonian negrito, it is occurs in numerous national parks across its range (2).

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

Find out more

For information on the conservation of birds across the Americas, visit:

For more information on this and other bird species please 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 (May, 2009)
  2. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (2004) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 9: Cotingas to Pipits and Wagtails. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. Gould, J. and Darwin, C.R. (1839) Birds: Part 3 No. 4 of The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle. Smith Elder and Co, London. Available at:
  4. Ridgely, R.S. and Tudor, G. (1994) The Birds of South America: The Suboscine Passerines. Volume II. University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas.
  5. BirdLife International (May, 2009)

Image credit

Male Patagonian negrito  
Male Patagonian negrito

© Arthur Grosset

Arthur Grosset


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