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Superb Pitta - BirdForum Opus

Alternative name: Black-backed Pitta

Pitta superba


21 - 22cm.

  • Glossy black plumage
  • Prominent azure-blue and green upperwing-coverts (sometimes with dusky stripes), green edged flight-feathers
  • Bright red central lower breast, belly and undertail-coverts
  • Black bill
  • Flesh-coloured to horn feet

Sexes are similar. The female is a slightly smaller and duller than the male.
Juveniles are dull blackish-brown, the blue on the wings is less extensive and duller, the red of the underparts replaced with dull pinkish and the bill orange-red tipped.


Endemic to Manus Island, north of New Guinea.
A little known, restricted-range species.


This is a monotypic species.
Exact relationships uncertain, has been considered to form a superspecies with Ivory-breasted Pitta, Azure-breasted Pitta and Hooded Pitta.


Primary and secondary rainforest. Also in scrub around village gardens and bamboo scrub.
Recorded up to 100m but may also inhabit higher altitudes.


Secretive and skulking, mostly seen on the ground.
Diet not documented. Reported to smash snails on stones and then eating them.
Breeding season unknown. One egg was found in October, juveniles reported from September to October, adults in breeding condition in December and January.
The domed nest is made of fibres, rootlets, bamboo, other leaves and twigs. Lays 2 eggs.
A sedentary species.


  1. Clements, JF. 2010. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to December 2010. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019. Spreadsheet available at http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/Clements%206.5.xls/view
  2. Dickinson, EC, ed. 2003. The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World. 3rd ed., with updates to October 2008 (Corrigenda 8). Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0691117010
  3. Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2010. IOC World Bird Names (version 2.7). Available at http://www.worldbirdnames.org/.
  4. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliot, and D Christie, eds. 2003. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 8: Broadbills to Tapaculos. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8487334504

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