Generally, northern populations appear to show somewhat longer wings and shorter tails (Proudfoot and Johnson 2000). Plumage coloration also shows some distributional variation: paler, more gray-toned plumage predominates in populations that occur in drier environments, while birds that live in moister environments typically display a brighter plumage (Proudfoot and Johnson 2000). The number of subspecies recognized varies from 12 (Dickinson 2003) up to 14 (Proudfoot and Johnson 2000):
ridgwayi: Range is central and south Mexico. Distinction between this subspecies and cactorum (see below) is slight.
cactorum: Range is south Arizona to Nayarit, Mexico. In comparison to ridgwayi, the wing is shorter, the tail longer, and the plumage paler and grayer.
intermedium: Range is Mexico from south Nayarit to south Oaxaca. Birds are paler than ridgwayi but darker than cactorum. Recognized by Proudfoot and Johnson (2000), but not by Peters (1940), Friedmann et al. (1950), Dickinson (2003), or König and Weick (2008).
saturatum: Pacific lowlands of Chiapas (District of Soconusco), Mexico, south into adjacent Guatemala. This subspecies is larger, darker above, and has more heavily streaked underparts than ridgwayi. Recognized by Proudfoot and Johnson (2000), but not by Peters (1940), Friedmann et al. (1950), Dickinson (2003), or König and Weick (2008).
medianum (north Colombia)
phaloenoides (north and east Venezuela, Trinidad, and Guianas)
duidae (Mt. Duida in south Venezuela)
olivaceum (Mt. Auyan-Tepuí, southeast Venezuela)
ucayalae (Amazon Basin from southeast Colombia, Venezuela, and Brazil to south Peru and north Bolivia)
brasilianum (northeast Brazil to northeast Argentina and north Uruguay)
pallens (east Bolivia, west Paraguay, and north Argentina)
tucumanum (northwest Argentina)
stranecki (central Argentina to south Uruguay)