Blue Bunting Cyanocompsa parellina

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Cardinalidae
  • Polytypic: 3 subspecies
  • Authors: Delaney Kempf


Geographic Variation

​Subspecies Variation- Subspecies' Territorial Ranges

​Nominate Form-Subspecies Parellina (Eastern Mexico (from Veracruz, Eastern Puebla and North Oaxaca East to Tabasco, Central Chiapas and Yucatán Peninsula) South to Northwestern Nicaragua.) There is a suspected small breeding population that is believed to have reached Northern Costa Rica through either a natural or an introduced expansion.

​Subspecies​ Beneplacita (Northeast Mexico (Nuevo León and extreme Western Tamaulipas).

Subspecies Indigotica (Western Mexico from Central Sinaloa South on the Pacific slope to Southern Oaxaca and extreme Southwest Chiapas).

​Subspecies Variation- Geographic Classification

​ 3 subspecies of Blue Bunting have been recognized by most ornithology groups, (Howell and Webb 1995) the Nominate Form Parrellina and ​Beneplacita​, while not visibly indistinguishable, are sometimes considered the same due to overlapping ranges. (Handbook of the Birds of the World)

Despite cursory similarities between the C.p.beneplacita and C.p.parellina subspecies; there is little to no genetic evidence to support the idea that there is any gene flow between these two subspecies. In the Southern area of Tamaulipas, Mexico; specifically Alta Mira, is the Southern limits of the C.p.beneplacita group. Birds here are not typical C.p.beneplacita, the females however most closely resemble this group and are therefore considered C.p.beneplacita. (Todd, Auk Vo. 40 1923) While there is not yet any evidence to support this, any possible hybridization between these two groups would most likely occur here. Some groups refer to this as a fourth subspecies, C.p.lucida. ​These individuals are recognized as being brightly colored and small-billed; unlike C.p.beneplacita or C.p.parellina. ​(Sutton and Burleigh, Auk Vo. 56 1939)

Recent genetic analysis however, seems to reaffirm that there are only three geographically isolated lineages for C.parellina. (R.W. Bryson Jr. Journal of Biogeography Vo. 41 2014) Therefore this is obviously open for more extensive research on the relationships between these subspecies.

Related Species

​Cyanocompsa and Passerina Buntings:

​Although currently the only species in the Cyanocompsa genus, this species has been previously grouped in the Passerina genus. This is the Bunting genus, and contains 7 individual species. (Indigo Bunting - P. cyanea, Blue Grosbeak - P. caerulea, Lazuli Bunting - P. amoena, Rose-bellied Bunting - P. rositae, Orange-breasted Bunting - P. leclancherii, Varied Bunting - P. versicolor, and Painted Bunting - P. ciris) ​These birds split from the rest of the 'blue' cardinalids circa 7.3 million years ago and represent the 'northern clade' of this group. (cardinalids from North and Central America) Within this Passerina genus the Blue Bunting was the first species to begin its early divergence from the other Passerina circa 6.4 million years ago, followed in succession most likely by the formation of the Varied Bunting - P. versicolor. (R.W.Bryson Jr. Journal of Biogeography Vo. 41 2014)

Recommended Citation

Kempf, D. Blue Bunting (Cyanocompsa parellina), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: