Peruvian Sheartail Thaumastura cora

  • Order: Caprimulgiformes
  • Family: Trochilidae
  • Monotypic
  • Authors: Christopher J. Clark


Geographic Variation

No geographic variation is documented in Peruvian Sheartail (Zimmer 1930, 1953). Previously named subspecies appear to represent natural variation or faded specimens (see Systematics).

Related Species

Monotypic. Originally placed in Ornismya cora by Lesson and Garnot (1827). Bonaparte (1850) placed it in the genus Thaumastura, which is Greek for  "wonderful tail", with the exclamation "Cauda speciosa!" ("Beautiful tail!"). Other taxa were briefly placed in the same genus: Bonaparte (1850) originally included Oasis Hummingbird (Rhodopis vesper) and Purple-collared Woodstar (Myrtis fanny) in the same genus, but vesper and fanny were arbitrarily placed in their own genera by Reichenbach (1854). Gould (1849-61) briefly included the true sheartails (Doricha spp.) in Thaumastura in his monograph (Gould, 1856b), but shifted them out in the subsequent introduction (Gould, 1856a); he also mentioned the similarity of T. cora females to those of R. vesper, M. fanny and Eulidia yarrellii (Chilean Woodstar) (Gould 1849-61). Bonaparte (1854) included Tilmatura dupontii (Sparkling-tailed Hummingbird) in Thaumastura.

Clark et al. (2013) noted similarities between the vocalizations of Peruvian Sheartail and both Oasis Hummingbird and Purple-collared Woodstar, and also commented that the behavior of "splitting" the tail into two parts during display is a synapomorphy shared with Purple-collared Woodstar and Short-tailed Woodstar (Myrmia micrura), suggesting that Peruvian Sheartail is closely related to these three species. This is independently confirmed by phylogenetic analyses that place T. cora, R. vesper, M. micrura and M. fanny) in a monophyletic clade (McGuire, personal communication).

Multiple subspecies of T. cora have been described: T. cora montana was described by Cory (1913) based on "upper parts clear green and not golden green; sides of throat showing a tinge of purple (not blue as in T. cora); feathers on the sides of lower breast and flanks largely with green centers; tail similar to that of T. cora but the dark marking blacker and the black tip showing a subterminal faint tinge of green". But Zimmer (1930, 1953) found no differences that would warrant subspecies status for T. c. montana, based on direct examination of Cory’s specimens, and concluded Cory was misled by a faded Delattre skin. T. cora var. cyanescens was described by Simon (1921), but Zimmer (1930) documents that it was an individual variant whereas other skins from the same population are not different from the nominate.

Clark et al. (2013) describe a male hybrid Peruvian Sheartail × Chilean Woodstar, including song, scolding calls, and shuttle display.

Recommended Citation

Clark, C. J. (2013). Peruvian Sheartail (Thaumastura cora), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.