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Zapata Sparrow Torreornis inexpectata

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Passerellidae
  • Polytypic: 3 subspecies
  • Authors: Hyeon-Jeong Kim and David L. Slager


Geographic Variation

Three subspecies are recognized for Torreornis inexpectata (Dickinson and Christidis 2014):

inexpectata, described as Torreornis inexpectata Barbour and Peters 1927; type locality Santo Tomás, Peninsula de Zapata, Cuba

Subspecies inexpectata inhabits the Zapata Swamp, with its range extending from north of Santo Tomás to Maniadero (Raffaele 1998) in the province Matanzas. For description, see Detailed Description.

sigmani, described as Torreornis inexpectata sigmani Spence and Smith 1961; type locality 2.3 miles west of Baitiquiri, Oriente [Guantánamo], Cuba

Subspecies sigmani is similar to nominate inexpectata, but is slightly smaller, duller, and paler (Spence and Smith 1961). The rufous of the crown is less intense and less extensive; there is very little grayish olive on the breast and flanks; the underparts are paler yellow; and the streaking of the upperparts is less distinct (Spence and Smith 1961, Byers et al. 1995). First discovered in 1959, this subspecies occupies the driest area in Cuba on the southeastern tip of the island. This range includes coastal areas east of Guantánamo Bay from west of Baitiquirí to Cajobabo (Spence and Smith 1961, Raffaele 1998, Kirkconnell and Suarez 2005) in the province Guantánamo.

varonai, described by Regalado Ruiz 1981; type locality Cayo Coco, Sabana-Camagüey Archipelago, Cuba

Subspecies varonai is somewhat intermediate between nominate inexpectata and signmani. Compared to inexpectata, varonai averages larger. The crown is clearer brown than in expectatata, although otherwise the plumage generally is more grayish, and the underparts are paler yellow (Regalado Ruiz 1981). It occurs on Cayo Coco, Cayo Romano, and adjacent areas on the northern Cuban coast in semi-deciduous dry forest in the province of Ciego de Ávila (Regaladao 1981, Parada Isada and Socarrás Torres 2010).

Related Species

Torreornis is a monotypic genus. A recent phylogenetic study of emberizids, based on DNA sequence data from both mitochondrial and nuclear genes, revealed that Torreornis inexpectata is the sole member of an ancient lineage, and is sister to a clade composed of the genera Melozone and Aimophila (Klicka et al. 2014).

Recommended Citation

Kim, H. and D. L. Slager (2015). Zapata Sparrow (Torreornis inexpectata), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.