Plushcap Catamblyrhynchus diadema

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Thraupidae
  • Polytypic: 3 subspecies
  • Authors: Ashley Salinas and Kevin J. Burns


Geographic Variation

Three subspecies recognized (Paynter 1970, Clements et al. 2010):

C. d. diadema - As in Detailed Description. Distribution: Andes from northwestern Venezuela and Colombia south to southern Ecuador (Paynter 1970).

C. d. federalis - Slightly brighter and paler mahogany-red on lower underparts (crissum and undertail coverts). Forecrown patch smaller and duller. Iris, tarsi and bill gray. The female is slightly smaller and paler, with olive legs and feet. Juvenile like those of C. d. diadema but paler olive brown on underparts (Restall et. al 2007). Distribution: Occurs in the coastal range of northern Venezuela (Paynter 1970).

C. d. citrinifrons - Similar to nominate diadema, but patch on forecrown is paler yellow (Hellmayr 1938), and is bordered behind by a narrow chestnut band; also, these feathers not as stiff and plushlike. The sides of the head and the underparts are paler chestnut brown (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990, Ridgely and Tudor 1989). Distribution: Andes of Peru, Bolivia, and northwestern Argentina (Paynter 1970).

Related Species

Because of its unique morphology and behavior, the taxonomic position of the Plushcap has eluded systematists for decades. Many authors have considered the Plushcap to represent a monotypic family (Catamblyrhynchidae; e.g. Hellmayr 1938, Meyer de Schauensee 1966 ) or subfamily (Catamblyrhynchinae; e.g., Paynter 1970, Ridgely and Tudor 1989). Currently the Plushcap is classified as a species of tanager, Thraupidae (Remsen et al. 2010). This is partly based on DNA hybridization studies that show it to be allied to the tanagers (Bledsoe 1988). The placement of the Plushcap within the tanagers has been confirmed by multi-locus DNA sequence data (Yuri and Mindell 2002, K. J. Burns unpubl. data), although its closest relative within the tanagers remains unclear (K. J. Burns unpubl. data).  Catamblyrhynchus diadema was formerly called the Plush-capped Finch because of its finch-like appearance; however, since it is not a true finch it now commonly is referred to as the Plushcap (Ridgely and Tudor 1989).

Recommended Citation

Salinas, A. and K. J. Burns (2010). Plushcap (Catamblyrhynchus diadema), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.