Black-legged Dacnis Dacnis nigripes

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Thraupidae
  • Monotypic
  • Authors: Cathryn O'Hara, Casey H. Richart, and Kevin J. Burns

Diet and Foraging


Black-legged Dacnis is omnivorous, with its diet consisting of foods such as insects, fruits, nectar, and some seeds (Gonzaga 1983, Sick 1993, Hilty 2011). The stomachs contents of 6 specimens contained animal and vegetable matter such as Miconia berries, seeds from Xylopia, other unidentified fruits, coleopterans, dipterans, hymenopterans, and small caterpillars (Gonzaga 1983). Additional fruits eaten by Black-legged Dacnis include bananas at feeders, berries from Trema micrantha, Clusia, Alchornea glandulosa (Euphorbiaceae), and Schinus (Zimmermann 1996, Whittaker et al. 2010, Hilty 2011). The flowers of Erythrina are commonly visited for nectar and are an important food source, and the dacnis is a pollinator for E. falcata and E. verna (Aximoff and Freitas 2009; Rocca and Sazima 2010, Whittaker et al. 2010, Hilty 2011). Additionally, it obtains nectar from Mabea brasiliensis (Euphorbaceae) (Isler and Isler 1987), bottlebrush Callistemon rigidus (Myrtaceae), and Spirotheca passifloroides (Malvaceae) (Whittaker et al. 2010). It is also known to forage either for insects or nectar in the flowers of Schizolobium parahyba and in introduced eucalyptus trees (Whittaker et al. 2010, Hilty 2011). It has been seen gleaning insects from Pinus cones (Lombardi et al. 2012). It is suggested that the distribution of Alchornea glandulosa (Euphorbiaceae) is dependent on the Black-legged Dacnis for dispersal (Parrini and Raposo 2010). This dacmis is believed to be an opportunistic species and has been observed in unexpected areas where favored food resources were present and abundant (Gonzaga 1983, Sick 1993).

Foraging Behavior

The foraging behavior of Black-legged Dacnis is not described in much detail, although it is similar to the behaviors of Blue Dacnis (Dacnis cayana) (Parrini and Raposo 2008). It typically forages from the midstory to the canopy (Parker et al. 1996, dos Anjos et al. 1997, van Perlo 2009, Hilty 2011). Berries are taken with gleans, and it also gleans insects from leaf and branch surfaces (Whittaker et al. 2010). Drinks nectar from flowers (Parrini and Olmos 2008), and probably also gleans insects from inside flower corollas. Also occasionally makes short sallies to to capture flushed insects (Whittaker et al. 2010).

Recommended Citation

O'Hara, C., C. H. Richart, and K. J. Burns (2018). Black-legged Dacnis (Dacnis nigripes), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.