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Black-headed Saltator Saltator atriceps

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Thraupidae
  • Polytypic: 6 subspecies
  • Authors: Anant Deshwal, Pooja Panwar, and Ragupathy Kannan


Geographic Variation

Six subspecies of Saltator atriceps currently are recognized:

nominate atriceps, described as Tanagra (Saltator) atriceps Lesson 1832; type locality Mexico, restricted to Veracruz by Griscom (1937).

Occurs along the Caribbean slope from eastern Mexico (except for southeastern coastal Veracruz, and the Yucatán Peninsula) south to eastern Costa Rica, also on the Pacific slope from Guatemala to Costa Rica.

See Detailed Description.

suffuscus, described as Saltator atriceps suffuscus Wetmore 1942; type locality Tres Zapotes, Veracruz, Mexico.

Restricted to the Sierra de Los Tuxtlas, coastal southeastern Veracruz, Mexico.

Subspecies suffuscus is similar to nominate atriceps, but center of throat cinnamon, not white (Wetmore 1942).

flavicrissus, described as Saltator atriceps flavicrissus Griscom 1937c; type locality Isguagilite, Guerrero, Mexico.

Occurs on the Pacific slope of southern Mexico, from central Guerrero to east central Oaxaca (west of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec) (Griscom 1937c, Binford 1989a).

Subspecies flavicrissus is similar to nominate atriceps, but "black pectoral collar averaging broader, less broken with white feathers; white throat patch consequently averaging smaller; flanks less washed with brownish or olive; crissum and under tail coverts more olive ochraceous, less orange" (Griscom 1937c).

peeti, described as Saltator atriceps peeti Brodkorb 1940; type locality Pijijiapan, Chiapas, Mexico.

Occurs on the Pacific slope of southern Mexico, in eastern Oaxaca (east of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec) and Chiapas (Brodkorb 1940, Binford 1989a).

Subspecies peeti is similar to nominate atriceps, but larger (Brodkorb 1940); intergrades with atriceps (Binford 1989a).

raptor, described as Pyrrhula raptor Cabot 1845; type locality Yucatán.

Occurs in southeastern Mexico on the Yucatán Peninsula, in Yucatán, Quintana Roo, and Campeche; intergrades with atriceps (Paynter 1955).

Subspecies raptor is "not a markedly distinct race"; it is similar to nominate atriceps, but differs "in being more pale below and in having its flanks nearly concolor with the back, rather than olivaceous" (Paynter 1955).

lacertosus, described as Saltator lacertosus Bangs 1900; type locality Loma del Leon, [Colón], Panama.

Occurs in Panama, east to the Canal Zone; possibly also in Costa Rica, although Ridgway (1901) suggested that "most specimens from Costa Rica and Nicaragua are really intermediate between [lactertosus] and S. a atriceps".

Subspecies lacertosus is similar to nominate atriceps, but the black breast band is reduced or lacking; the sides of the head are slate gray, with no black mixed in; white supercilium is more distinct;, and the central olive shaft streaks on the feathers of the undertail coverts is reduced or lacking (Ridgway 1901).

Related Species

The genus Saltator formerly was classified as a finch, in families such as Fringillidae, Emberizidae, or Cardinalidae; but phylogenetic analysis of DNA sequence data instead reveals that Saltator belongs in Thraupidae (Klicka et al. 2007, Burns et al. 2014). The sister group to Saltator is a small clade containing the genera Coryphaspiza, Embernagra, and Emberizoides (Burns et al. 2014).

Within Saltator, atriceps is sister to Saltator atripennis (Black-winged Saltator); Saltator maximus (Buff-throated Saltator) is basal to this pair (Burns et al. 2014).

Recommended Citation

Deshwal, A., P. Panwar, and R. Kannan (2019). Black-headed Saltator (Saltator atriceps), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.