Blue Mockingbird Melanotis caerulescens
Version: 1.0 — Published December 24, 2014
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Two subspecies currently recognized:
caerulescens, described as Orpheus caerulescens Swainson 1827; type locality Mexico
Occurs on the mainland of Mexico, north of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. A proposed subspecies, effuticius Bangs and Penard 1921, is considered to be a synonym (Davis and Miller 1960, Phillips 1986).
See Detailed Description.
longirostris, described as Melanotis caerulescens longirostris Nelson 1898; type locality Maria Madre Island, Mexico
Restricted to the Tres Marías Islands, off the Pacific coast of Mexico.
Characterized by Nelson (1898) as differing from nominate caerulescens by grayer color, overall smaller size, and larger bill. Grant (1965) found that the population on the Tres Marías does not differ in color, but considered longirostris to be diagnosable on the basis of its longer bill (in both sexes) and shorter tail (in males).
Nelson (1899) reported frequent observations of leucistic Blue Mockingbirds on the Tres Marias Islands, which led Hellmayr (1934) and Blake (1953) to considered the white breasted hypoleucus (Blue-and-white Mockingbird) to be a subspecies of Melanotis caerulescens; but hypoleucus is recognized as a separate species by almost all other authors.
Phylogenetic analysis of DNA sequence data, from both mitochondrial and nuclear genes, confirms that caerulescens and hypoleucus are sister taxa (Lovette et al. 2012). The genus Melanotis is the basal member of a clade that includes Melanoptila glabrirostris (Black Catbird), Ramphocinclus brachyurus (White-breasted Thrasher), Dumetalla carolinensis (Gray Catbird), Allenia fusca (Scaly-breasted Thrasher), Margarops fuscatus (Pearly-eyed Thrasher), and Cinclocerthia (trembers) (Lovette et al. 2012).