Black Phoebe - Systematics


The phoebes are a genus, Sayorins, of birds in the Tyrant Flycatcher family. The flycatchers are the largest family of birds on earth, with over 400 known species. The genus name was given by George Robert Gray of the British Museum, and is named after Thomas Say, an American naturalist. The species name, nigricans, is Latin for "blackish", and was given by William John Swainson in 1827.

The Black Phoebe has six subspecies, but these can be divided into two groups which are sometimes considered to be separate species: the nigricans group (Black Phoebe) and the latirostris group (White-winged Phoebe). The first group contains four subspecies; the second group two.

Subspecies Range Appearance
S. n. semiatra Southwest United States to western Mexico, including Baja California. Most white on belly of all subspecies; pale edging on wings and tail.
S. n. nigricans Nominate subspecies; northeast, central, and southern Mexico. Less white on belly than semiatra; white formes an inverted 'U' instead of 'V'.
S. n. aquatica Chiapas, Mexico through Nicaragua. White only on midbelly and vent.
S. n. amnicola Costa Rica and Chiriquí Province, Panama. Darkest subspecies; less white on abdomen.
S. n. angustirostris Eastern Panama south through central Bolivia. Sometimes considered separate species with S. n. latirostris. Extensive white edging on primary and tertial retrices.
S. n. latirostris Bolivia and northwest Argentina. Sometimes considered separate species with S. n. angustirostris. Extensive white edging on retrices and underwing lining.

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