The Buff-throated Saltator is a large bird with a convex bill. The bird is olive above and grayish below, with a cinnamon buff crissum. It also has a short white supercilium, white chin and upper throat, and buff lower throat with black malar stripe that borders buff throat.
The Buff-throated Saltator is similar to the Black-headed Saltator (Saltator atriceps); the distributions of these two species overlap from Mexico south to Panama. The Black-headed Saltator is larger, with a black crown and a white throat. Another similar species is the Green-winged Saltator (Saltator similis), which overlaps with Buff-throated Saltator in eastern Bolivia and south central Brazil. The Green-winged Saltator, however, has grayer upperparts and an entirely white throat. The distribution of the Buff-throated Saltator also broadly overlaps that of the Grayish Saltator (Saltator coerulescens), but the Grayish Saltator has an entirely white throat, and the upperparts are gray, not olive.
The following description is based on Ridgway (1901), and refers to subspecies magnoides:
Adult: Forecrown and crown sooty blackish, becoming dusky grayish on nape. Rest of upperparts (back, rump, wing coverts) "plain bright yellowish olive-green." Narrow white supercilium, terminating behind eye. Sides of head plain dull gray. Malar and band across breast black. Chin and upper throat white' lower throat (just above black breast band) ochraceous buff. Underparts mostly plain light grayish, paler and tinged with buffy on belly; flanks may be tinged with olive. Undertail coverts ochraceous or buffy. Sexes similar.
Juveniles: The juveniles do not acquire the adult plumage until 3-4 months of age. In the juvenile the whitish chin and throat are mottled; supercilium tinged olive; the crown is a dull olive-green; and underparts include a buffy or brownish tinge (Stiles and Skutch 1989).
Iris: wood brown (Wetmore et al. 1984).
Bill: blackish (Stiles and Skutch 1989), or black, with "base of gonys and lower half of rami neutral gray" (Wetmore et al. 1984).
Tarsi: Blackish (Stiles and Skutch 1989), or grayish brown (Wetmore et al. 1984).
Measurement data on Buff-throated Saltator, Saltator maximus, from Wetmore et al. (1984), presented as mean (range). These measurements do not include Saltator maximus gigantoides or Saltator maximus maximus.
|Subspecies||Wing Length (mm)||Tail Length (mm)||Tarsus Length (mm)|| n|
|maximus iungens male|| 97.9 (93.0-102.5)|| 91.8 (88.0-100.8)||24.7 (24.3-25.1)|| 10|
|maximus iungens female|| 95.3 (91.5-98.5)|| 87.7 (79.9-96.1)|| 24.3 (23.1-25.3)|| 8|
|maximus magniodes male|| 101.8 (99.0-104.0)|| 96.6 (91.0-102.4)|| 25.4 (24.4-26.7)|| 10|
|maximus magniodes female|| 98.8 (92.6-108.0)|| 91.2 (86.2-97.7)|| 24.5 (21.3-25.9)|| 10|
|maximus intermedius male|| 99.4 (94.5-103.0)|| 91.8 (85.7-97.2)|| 25.1 (24.4-25.6)||10|
|maximus intermedius female|| 94.0 (89.0-100.4)|| 88.3 (82.8-94.0)|| 23.9 (22.1-25.1)|| 10|
Saltator maximus maximus: males with an average of 46.2 g (n=17), and the females with an average of 49.1 g (n=13) (Hartman 1961).
Stiles and Skutch (1989) record one weight of the Buff-throated Saltator to be 50 g and Wetmore et al. describes a similar weight of 46.9 g of a female.