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Snowcap Microchera albocoronata

  • Order: Caprimulgiformes
  • Family: Trochilidae
  • Polytypic: 2 subspecies
  • Authors: Ethan Kistler and Thomas S. Schulenberg


Geographic Variation

Two subspecies of Microchera albocoronata are recognized:

parvirostris, described as Panychlora parvirostris (Lawrence 1865); type locality Angostura, Costa Rica

Occurs on the Caribbean slope from southern Honduras south to southern Costa Rica, possibly extending into western Panama.

Similar to nominate albocoronata, but "white at base of lateral rectrices more restricted and less sharply defined, the adult male with the general color brighter coppery purple" (Ridgway 1911: 582).

albocoronata, described as Mellisuga albo-coronata (Lawrence 1855); type locality Belén, Veragua, Panama

Occurs on both slopes of western Panama.

See Detailed Description.

Related Species

The genus Microchera was proposed by Gould (1858), with albocoronata as the type species; this genus is monotypic.

Phylogenetic analysis of DNA sequence data reveals that hummingbirds (Trochilidae) constitute nine major clades, comprising the hermits, mangos, Patagona, topazes, coquettes, brilliants, mountain-gems, bees, and emeralds (McGuire et al. 2007, 2009). Microchera is a member of the emerald clade; other genera in this radiation include ChlorostilbonKlais, Orthorhynchus, Campylopterus, Chalybura, Thalurania, Eupherusa, Elvira, Aphantochroa, Taphrospilus, Amazilia, Chrysuronia, Hylocharis, Lepidopyga, and Damophila (McGuire et al. 2007, 2009). Within the emerald radiation, Microchera is sister to (and very closely related to) Elvira; the sister to Microchera + Elvira is Eupherusa (McGuire et al. 2007, 2009). Interestingly, the outer rectrices are mostly white in all three of these genera.

Recommended Citation

Kistler, E. and T. S. Schulenberg (2013). Snowcap (Microchera albocoronata), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.