Bogota Sunangel Heliangelus zusii

  • Order: Caprimulgiformes
  • Family: Trochilidae
  • Monotypic
  • Authors: Thomas S. Schulenberg


Geographic Variation

Heliangelus zusii is known only from a single specimen; no geographic variation has been described.

Related Species

Described as Heliangelus zusii Graves 1993; the holotype was purchased in Bogotá, Colombia, but there is no information on where it was collected.

The holotype was purchased in Bogotá in 1909 by Brother Nicéforo Maria, who sent it to the United States in 1947 for identification. At the time, there was no consensus on its identity, although generally it was felt to represent a hybrid, such as between Agliaocercus kingi (Long-tailed Sylph) and Heliangelus squamigularis (Graves 1993; Heliangelus squamigularis itself now is suspected to be a hybrid [Graves 1990]), or between Agliaocercus kingi and Thalurania furcata (Fork-tailed Woodnymph) Hinkelmann et al. 1991). Meyer de Schauensee (1947), however, seriously considered the possibility that it might represent an undescribed species, and perhaps a new genus. Graves (1993) rejected the hypothesis of hybrid origin, and described the unique specimen as a new species. Some authors rejected the validity of zusii (Schuchmann 1999), but its validity as a species was confirmed through phylogenetic analysis of mitochondrial DNA (obtained from skin cells scraped from the holotype) (Kirchman et al. 2010, McGuire et al. 2014). The genetic analysis, however, further suggests that zusii is not a member of Heliangelus, but instead is basal to a clade that includes Taphrolesbia griseiventris (Gray-bellied Comet) and Agliaocercus (sylphs) (Kirchman et al. 2010, McGuire et al. 2014).

The species epithet zusii honors the American ornithologist Richard L. Zusi, "in recognition of his contributions to the systematics of hummingbirds".

Recommended Citation

Schulenberg, T. S. (2015). Bogota Sunangel (Heliangelus zusii), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.