Eight subspecies usually recognized:
cearensis, described as Nothura maculosa cearensis Naumburg 1932; type locality Lavras, Ceará, Brazil (Cottrell 1979)
Occurs in northeastern Brazil.
"Characterized by small size and ochraceous dorsum blotched with brown and rufous brown; neck and chest with narrow dark streaks; underside of body pale buff, lightly barred on sides of chest, the flanks almost immaculate. Differs from major in smaller size, lighter, much more buffy ochraceous upperparts, and lighter creamy buff breast and abdomen. Nearest N. minor [Lesser Nothura] in size, but inner webs of outer primaries broadly notched with buff and upper wing coverts more coarsely barred; more ochraceous above with less rufescent brown blotches" (Blake 1977; see also Conover 1950).
major, described as Tinamus major Spix 1825; type locality Diamantina, Minas Gerais, Brazil (Cottrell 1979);
Occurs in interior of east-central Brazil in Goiás, Minas Gerais, and probably adjacent parts of southwestern Bahia.
"Closely similar to the nominate race, but showing slight differences when series are compared. Uppersurface slightly lighter and yellower than in maculosa, and somewhat paler below; dusky markings on foreneck more indistinct, and flanks less heavily barred. Distinguished from cearensis in larger size, darker, less ochraceous upperparts, and darker abdomen" (Blake 1977; see also Conover 1950).
paludivaga, described as Nothura maculosa paludivaga Conover 1950; type locality seven kilometers southwest of Laguna General Diaz [Presidente Hayes], Paraguay
Occurs from central Paraguay (but probably north to the Bolivian border) west to north central Argentina in eastern Formosa and Chaco.
"Characterized by the dark, rather grayish black and dull yellow dorsum. Most similar to nominate maculosa, but less rufescent brown above and grayer, much less yellowish ochraceous, below. Similar, also, to N. chacoensis [Chaco Nothura] (sympatric locally), but general appearances grayish black rather than ochraceous buff; dorsum much more heavily blotched, chest more heavily streaked, and flanks more heavily barred with dark brown; undersurface of body duller, paler, and less ochraceous, the center of abdomen often whitish" (Blake 1977; see also Conover 1950).
maculosa, described as Tinamus maculosa Temminck 1815; type locality Paraguay
Occurs from southern Brazil (north to southern Matto Grosso, São Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro) south through eastern Paraguay and Uruguay to northeastern Argentina from Misiones south to northern Santa Fe and Entre Ríos.
"Typical [nominate] maculosa is characterized by its rufescent ... and black appearance above and its ochraceous (sometimes rufescent) buff coloration below. The dark spotting on the chest and the barring of the flanks is moderately heavy. There is, however, great variation even in specimens from the same locality ..." (Conover 1950).
pallida, described as Nothura maculosa pallida Olrog 1959; type locality Iguasa, Aguaray, Salta, Argentina.
"Similar a Nothura maculosa Temminck y sus subespecies, y además a Nothura darwinii Gray y sus subespecies. Se diferencia de las primeras por su colorido, notablemente más pálido y grisáceo, o muy parecido al de darwinii, y por la particularidad de tener la primera primaria poco maculado ...; de las segundas, por tener todas las primarias maculadas y además por su tarso más largo y fuerte" (Olrog 1959: 41).
annectens, described as Nothura maculosa annectens Conover 1950; type locality Cambaceres, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Occurs in eastern Argentina from central Córdoba, southern Santa Fe, and northern Buenos Aires south to Bahia Blanca and southern La Pampa.
Differs from nominate maculosa "by having more ochraceous brown, less rufescent, upperparts; dark markings on chest and flanks darker (browner, less tinged with rusty), heavier, and more numerous; abdomen lighter, more ochraceous, less rufescent. Dorsum darker, browner and grayer, much less yellowish than in nigroguttata, and underparts dull buff, rather than bright ochraceous, with the dark markings much more numerous, especially on the chest" (Blake 1977; see also Conover 1950).
submontana, described as Nothura maculosa submontana Conover 1950; type locality Chos-Malal, Río Neuquén, Argentina at 760 m
Occurs in the Andean foothills of Neuquén and Chubut. Intergrades with nigroguttata to southeast (Conover 1950).
"The light olive grayish dorsum and pale whitish buff underparts distinguish this form. Differs from nigroguttata by having the general tone of the upperparts olive gray rather than yellowish, with much whiter, less yellowish, longitudinal streaks to the feathers; much paler below, whitish buff, rather than ochraceous; dark markings of chest much duller, less clearly defined, and flanks less heavily barred. Much lighter, more olive gray (not ochraceous brown) above than annectens, and much paler below" (Blake 1977; see also Conover 1950).
nigroguttata, described as Nothura nigroguttata Salvadori 1895; type locality Choele-Choel, Río Negro, Argentina
Occurs in south central Argentina in southeastern Neuquén, eastern Río Negro, and northeastern Chubut. Intergrades with submontana in Neuquén (Conover 1950).
"Distinguished by the relatively bright yellow and black uppersurface. As compared with annectens, the upperparts are lighter and much yellower; light bars of the upper wing coverts wider and yellower, and the dark bars narrower; flanks slightly less heavily barred; lower neck and chest less heavily spotted; undersurface of body brighter, more ochraceous buff. Lighter, yellower, much less olivaceous above than submontana" (Blake 1977; see also Conover 1950).