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Dusky-backed Jacamar

Brachygalba salmoni

The dusky-backed jacamar, scientifically known as Brachygalba salmoni, is a diminutive and striking bird, measuring between 16.5 to 18 cm in length. Males are slightly heavier than females, with the former weighing around 18.5 g and the latter approximately 16 g. The male boasts dark greenish-black upper parts, chest, and flanks, which may exhibit a bluish sheen when feathers are worn. Its cheeks are tinged with sooty hues, while the throat is white or whitish, contrasting with a cinnamon belly and breast. Females share a similar coloration, though their throats are buff.

Identification Tips

When identifying the dusky-backed jacamar, look for its dark upper parts and the distinctive white or whitish throat in males and buff throat in females. The cinnamon underparts are also a key characteristic to note. The bird's small size and coloration can help distinguish it from other species.


This species is a denizen of humid primary and secondary forests, preferring forest edges such as clearings and streamside corridors over the dense forest interior. It thrives up to elevations of 700 m.


The dusky-backed jacamar is native to the Darién Province of Panama and extends into the northern regions of Chocó, Antioquia, and southern Córdoba in Colombia. An isolated population exists in Colombia's northern Bolívar Department.


The dusky-backed jacamar is often observed perching and hunting in pairs or small family groups. It exhibits a predilection for flying insects, which it adeptly captures in flight from its perch.

Song & Calls

The species is known for its complex song and distinctive calls, which include an upwardly inflected 'sweet' or 'feet'. At times, this call may evolve into a longer series of similar sounds.


While it is believed that the dusky-backed jacamar nests in burrows within earth banks, detailed documentation of its breeding habits, including timing and nest structure, remains elusive. However, individuals in breeding condition have been observed during January and February in Colombia.

Similar Species

The dusky-backed jacamar forms a superspecies with the pale-headed, brown, and white-throated jacamars. However, its unique coloration and size can help differentiate it from these related species.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the dusky-backed jacamar consists primarily of flying insects. Its hunting strategy involves sallying from perches to snatch prey mid-air, a behavior that is often conducted in social pairs or groups.

Conservation status

The IUCN has classified the dusky-backed jacamar as Least Concern. Although the species is generally scarce, it is locally common within its limited range and appears to tolerate or even prefer some degree of habitat disturbance. The isolated population in Bolívar, however, may face threats from habitat destruction.

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Dusky-backed Jacamars on Birda

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Profile picture for Colin Urmson
Colin Urmson
22 Jun 2023 - 8:33am

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Rufous-tailed Jacamar

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