Two subspecies usually recognized (e.g. Dickinson and Christidis 2014), although geographic variation is weak (Paynter 1952, Rising 2011):
palliatus, described as Plagiospiza superciliosa palliata van Rossem 1938
Occurs in northwestern Mexico, from eastern Sonora and Chihuahua south to Nayarit and western Zacatecas (Byers et al. 1995)
The plumage of palliatus is very similar to that of superciliosus, but is slightly paler in overall coloration, with paler and warmer brown tones on the upperparts and paler and grayer (less buffy) on the breast and flanks with a slightly whiter belly (Byers et al. 1995, Rising 2011). Paynter (1952) describes this subspecies as being paler throughout, redder dorsally, and more pure gray ventrally, with a nearly pure white throat and with the central rectrices gray instead of olive or olive-brown laterally. Populations in Nayarit, Jalisco, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, and Michoacan are intermediate between palliatus and superciliosus (Rising 2011).
superciliosus, described as Aimophila superciliosa Swainson 1838
Occurs on the Central Plateau of Mexico from Jalisco and west central Veracruz southeast to central Oaxaca.
See Detailed Description.