Neotropical Birds logo
Version 1.0

This is a historic version of this account.  Current version


Whooping Motmot Momotus subrufescens

Sophia Catherine Orzechowski and Thomas S. Schulenberg
Version: 1.0 — Published April 15, 2011


Geographic Variation

Four subspecies recognized:


Occurs in eastern Colombia (Serrania Macuira in e Guajira)

Similar to subrufescens, but paler (Stiles 2009).

olivaresi Hernández-Camacho and Romero-Zambrano 1978

Occurs in eastern Colombia

subrufescens Sclater 1853; type locality Colombia

Occurs on the Caribbean coast of northern Colombia and Venezuela

Following Wetmore (1968) and Stiles (2009), subrufescens includes conexus Thayer and Bangs 1906 (type locality Savanna of Panamá, Panamá); reconditus Nelson 1912 (type locality Marraganti, eastern Panama); and olivaresi Hernández-Camacho and Romero-Zambrano 1978 (type locality left bank of the Río Chicamocha, near Puente Pinzón, Boyacá, Colombia).

Occurs from the Pacific slope of central Panama east to the upper Magdalena valley, Colombia

reconditus Nelson 1912; type locality Marraganti, eastern Panama

Occurs in eastern Panama (except for the Pacific slope) and in the Atrato valley of northwestern Colombia

osgoodi Cory 1913; type locality El Guayabel, 10 miles east of Cúcuta, Colombia

Occurs in the Maracaibo basin

"Recognizable on the basis of its very rufescent coloration over the underparts" (Stiles 2009).

argenticinctus Sharpe 1892; type locality Santa Rita and Babahoyo, Ecuador

Occurs in western Ecuador and northwestern Peru

Related Species

The Whooping Motmot was classified as a separate species by most early authorities (e.g. Cory 1918, Chapman 1923), until Peters (1945) included it within a broadly defined, polytypic Momotus momota; as recognized by Peters, Momotus momota also included the taxa currently assigned to Momotus coeruleiceps (Blue-crowned Motmot)Momotus bahamensis (Trinidad Motmot), Momotus aequatorialis (Andean Motmot), and Momotus momota (Amazonian Motmot). The Peters concept of a broadly defined species, with a geographic range extending from Mexico south to southern Brazil, was widely followed for many years.

A very recent and thorough study was conducted by Stiles (2009). The criteria for redefining the species of Momotus were generated by detailed analyses of external measurements, plumage patterns and primary 'hooting' call. Stiles focused on 10 taxa in regions within Nicaragua, northern Peru, Trinidad, Tobago and Guyana. The species limits were drawn on the basis of two general criteria: "diagnosability, and the probability that differences observed would assure maintenance of reproductive isolation should currently allopatric groups enter into contact" (Stiles 2009). Based upon the results of his analyses, Stiles concluded that the genus Momotus can be broken into five species-level taxa: M. coeruleiceps, M. aequatorialis, M. bahamensis, M. subrufescens and M. momota.

Recommended Citation

Orzechowski, S. C. and T. S. Schulenberg (2011). Whooping Motmot (Momotus subrufescens), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.bucmot3.01