Blue-backed Parrots aka Müller's (or Mueller's) Parrots, or Azure Rumped Parrots

Female Blue-backed Parrot

The Blue-backed Parrot, Tanygnathus sumatranus, is also known as Müller's (or Mueller's) Parrot, or Azure Rumped Parrot.

Distribution / Range

The Blue-backed Parrot is found the on the islands around the Philippines and Sulawesi (Indonesia). They occur in lowlands and lower mountains; in forest, along forest edge, and some in cultivated areas up to 800m.

They are usually seen in small flocks.


This is a medium size parrot, averaging 32cm in length. The plumage is basically green with yellow-streaked wings, a blue rump, and blue wing bends. The head, mantle, wings and tail are darker green, the belly and collar are lighter green.

The blue-backed parrots are sexually dimorphic (most parrots aren't) - the male can be identfied by his red beak and the female by her pale yellow or horn-colored beak.

They are often active at night and are known to eat crops, including corn.

There are six subspecies:

  • T. s. sumatranus: Sulawesi and nearby islands

  • T. s. sangirensis: Sangir Islands and Karakelong. More blue on wing bends and wing coverts, head darker green. Yellow iris.

  • T. s. burbidgii: Sulu Islands. Darker green with lighter collar. Yellow Iris.

  • T. s. everetti: Panay, Negors, Leyte, Samar, Mindanao. Mantle and back darker, rump and head lighter. Some blue in mantle. Red iris.

  • T. s. duponti: Luzon. Dark green with yellow collar. Yellowish underwing coverts. Iris red.

  • T. s. freeri: Polillo Islands. More uniform color with less contrast, more yellow on nape (back of the neck). Iris red.


Burbidgei's / Burbidge's Blue-backed Parrots:

Species: Scientific: Tanygnathus sumatranus / mulleri burbidgii ... English: Burbidgei's Blue-backed Parrot ... Dutch: Witsnavelpapegaai ... German: Weißschnabelpapagei ... French: Perroquet d'Archipel Sulu

Description: Same as Müller's Parrots (sumatranus) pictured above, but head yellow-green; upper back green, clearly defined by lighter head colouring; lower back pronounced blue; entire upper wing-coverts green with narrow yellow-green edging; tail upperside dark green; iris red; on average slightly larger. ... Length: 32 cm (12.5 - 12.8 ins), wing length: 210 mm - 230 mm (8 - 9 ins)

CITES II - Endangered Species ... Distribution: Sulu Archipelago in the Philippines, Moluccan Islands

Du Pont's Blue-backed Parrots:

Description: Paler blue tinge; lower back slightly paler blue; under wing-coverts yellowish; iris red. ... Length: 31 cm (12 ins), wing length: 199 - 204 mm (8 ins)

CITES II - Endangered Species ... Distribution: Luzon Island, Philippines

Everett's Blue-backed Parrots:

Species: Scientific: Tanygnathus sumatranus / mullerli everetti ... English: Everett's Blue-backed Parrot ... Dutch: Kleine Witsnavelpapegaai ... German: Kleiner Weißschnabelpapagei, Everett Papagei ... French: Perroquet de Everett ... CITES II - Endangered Species

Description: Same as Müller's Parrots (sumatranus) - pictured above, but upper back green tinged with blue; yellowish-green band between head and upper back; lower back pronounced blue; breast and abdomen feathers slightly darker; entire upper wing-coverts green with narrow yellow-green edging; tail upperside darker green; iris red; on average smaller. ... Length: 31-32 cm (12-12.8 in), wing length: 180 - 208 mm (7 - 8 ins)

Distribution: Panay, Leyte, Samar, Negros and Mindanao in the Philippine; Moluccan Islands

Freer's Blue-backed Parrots:

Species: Scientific: Tanygnathus sumatranus freeri ... English: Freer's Blue-backed Parrot ... Dutch: Freer's Witsnavelpapegaai ... German: Polillo Weißschnabelpapagei ... French: Perroquet d'ile Polillo ... CITES II - Endangered Specie

Description: Same as Everett's Blue-backed Parrots (everetti), but plumage generally more yellowish, particularly on nape (back of the neck); crown paler green; wing-coverts with paler edging; upper back green tinged paler blue; lower back slightly paler blue; iris red; larger. ... Length: 32-34 cm (12.8-13.5 ins), wing length: 230 - 240 mm (9 - 9.5 ins)

Distribution: Polillo Island, Philippines and Moluccan Islands

Müller's Parrots, Müller's Blue-backed Parrots:

Species: Scientific: Tanygnathus sumatranus sumatranus ... English: Müller's Parrot, Müller's Blue-backed Parrot ... Dutch: Müllers Papegaai ... German: Müllers Edelpapagei ... French: Perroquet de Müller

Description: General plumage green; upper back, breast and abdomen more yellowish; lower back and rump feathers pale blue; lesser wing-coverts and primary wing-coverts tinged with blue; median wing-coverts and secondary wing-coverts with yellow-green edging; under wing-coverts green-yellow; tail green with green-yellow tips; tail underside dirty yellow; skin to narrow periophthalmic ring grey; bill red with pale tip; iris pale yellow; feet grey. Female as male, but without yellowish tinge to upper back; lesser wing-coverts virtually without blue tinge; bill pale horn colour. Immatures as female; male attains adult bill colouration at 10 - 12 months. ... Length: 32 cm (12.5ins), wing length 200 - 222 mm (8 - 8.5ins)

CITES II - Endangered Species ... Distribution: Sulawesi (formerly known as Celebes), Togian and Sula Islands - part of the Maluku island group in Indonesia, Banggai Archipelago, Muna and Buton

Species Research by Sibylle Johnson

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