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Version 1.0

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Little Tinamou Crypturellus soui

Tshering Dema L, Marîa Félix Ramos-Ordoñez, R. Bribiesca-Formisano, Claudia I. Rodríguez-Flores, Carlos A. Soberanes-González, and Marîa del Coro Arizmendi
Version: 1.0 — Published July 29, 2011


Geographic Variation

Fourteen subspecies currently recognized, although "several" of these are "clearly transitional" (Cabot 1992). The following diagnoses of the subspecies are from Blake (1977):

meserythrus Sclater 1859;

"A richly colored race with decided sexual difference. Crown and breast darker gray than modestus, and posterior underparts much more reddish. Female slightly darker above than modestus, but tail coverts more rufescent, and inner remiges broadly tipped and edged rufous. Both sexes nearer panamensis in ventral coloration, but much brighter and (¿) more rufescent or (¿) more cinnamon ochraceous" (Blake 1977: 31).

Occurs from southeastern Mexico south to southeastern Nicaragua.

modestus Cabanis 1869

"Sexes virtually alike. Mainly grayish brown above, the foreneck and chest gray, passing to light ochraceous on breast and abdomen. Nearest panamensis, but male grayer above and much paler, more ochraceous below. Female less reddish brown above and more grayish below. Paler throughout than capnodes" (Blake 1977: 31).

Occurs in Costa Rica, primarily on the Caribbean slope, and on the Pacific slope of western Chiriquí, Panama.

capnodes Wetmore 1963

"Differs from modestus in darker general coloration. Upperparts darker reddish brown with blacker crown; foreneck and upper breast darker gray" (Blake 1977: 31).

Occurs in northwestern Panama, and probably in adjacent southwestern Costa Rica.

poliocephalus Aldrich 1937

"Female differs from modestus, panamensis, and harterti by the more rufous general coloration, and browner, less blackish head. Male browner above than modestus, and more cinnamon buff below" (Blake 1977: 32)

Occurs on the Pacific coast of Panama, including Isla del Rey in the Pearl Islands.

panamensis Carriker 1910

"Female browner below than male, and both sexes much darker than poliocephalus; crown and hindneck blacker; foreneck and upper breast darker gray. Similar to modestus in general appearance, but darker, more reddish brown above; male darker, less ochraceous below; undersurface of female less grayish than in modestus" (Blake 1977: 32).

Occurs on the Pacific slope in Panama from the Río Majé (Panamá) east to Darién; and on the Caribbean slope of Panama from western Colón east.

harterti Brabourne and Chubb 1914

"A transitional form connecting the browner or duskier Central American races with the more rufous forms of upper Amazonia. Nearest caucae, but female more grayish brown, less rufescent above, and much less rufescent below; lower foreneck and breast more decidedly grayish, less tawny. Male differs from caucae in darker general coloration and less ochraceous underparts; from caquetae in grayer, less brownish dorsum, and relatively obscure barring on the flanks and tibiae" (Blake 1977: 32).

Occurs on the Pacific coast of Colombia, Ecuador, and extreme northwestern Peru (Tumbes), north to the Gulf of Urabá.

caucae Chapman 1912

"Female darker than mustelinus, and with a sooty pileum; differs from the nominate race only in having the chest strongly tinged with dusky gray. Male similar to mustelinus below and slightly paler than soui; uppersurface browner, less rufescent than mustelinus" (Blake 1977: 33).

Occurs in northern Colombia in the middle Magdalena valley and in the drainages of the Cauca and Sinú rivers.

mustelinus Bangs 1905

"Male closely similar to the nominate race, but less rufescent above, and more buffy, less tawny below. Female usually paler above than soui, and with brownish instead of sooty pileum" (Blake 1977: 33).

Occurs in northeastern Colombia (Santa Marta region south to Boyacá), and northwestern Venezuela in Zulia, Mérida and northern Táchira.

andrei Brabourne and Chubb 1914

"Closely similar to the nominate race, but upperparts, sex for sex, darker and less rufescent. Female virtually indistinguishable from soui below, but ventral coloration of male less bright, dull tawny olive, rather than clay color" (Blake 1977: 33).

Occurs on Trinidad, and in northeastern Venezuela.

soui Hermann 1783

"Sexes strikingly different. Male rich brown above, the entire crown, nape, and primaries blackish; foreneck, chest, and sides dull brownish, in strong contrast to the cinnamomeous breast and ochraceous abdomen. Female darker, more decidedly rufous brown above, and with darker pileum; below extensively ochraceous buff or tawny, and chest without strong brownish wash; white of throat usually tinged with ochraceous" (Blake 1977: 33).

Occurs from southeastern Colombia east to the Guianas, and Brazil north of the Amazon.

caquetae Chapman 1915

"A transitional form between mustelinus and soui, and the dark extreme nigriceps. Male not certainly separable from soui; differs from mustelinus in darker and browner dorsum, and darker ochraceous, less olivaceous underparts. Female above and below also darker and browner than mustelinus, pileum sooty, and chest with a dusky band; slightly darker and browner than both soui and caucae, and chest distinctly dusky" (Blake 1977: 34).

Occurs in southeast Colombia.

nigriceps Chapman 1823

"A notably dark race, averaging darker throughout than nominate soui, especially on sides of head, lower breast, and abdomen. Female dark chestnut brown above, much brighter, more chestnut rufous below, and chest without tawny or ochraceous tinge. Male deep fuscous brown above, darkest on head; the lower foreneck, breast and sides strongly tinged with fuscous brown" (Blake 1977: 34).

Occurs in eastern Ecuador and northeastern Peru.

inconspicuus Carriker 1935

"Nearest albigularis, but darker, more fuscous above, and with darker pileum. Male dark fuscous below, in strong contrast to the bright clay color of albigularis; female duller, more grayish below, not bright clay color" (Blake 1977: 34).

Occurs in central and eastern Peru, and northern Bolivia.

albigularis Brabourne and Chubb 1914

"Sexes virtually identical, but female usually more uniformly clay color below. Very similar to male soui, but less rufescent above and crown more brownish, less dusky" (Blake 1977: 34).

Occurs in Brazil south of the Amazon.

Related Species

The phylogenetic relationships between the members of Tinamidae was reconstructed by Bertelli and Porzecanski (2004), using both morphological and molecular (mitochondrial and nuclear DNA) characters. This phylogeny recovered a monophyletic genus Crypturellus. A phylogenetic analysis of characters, weighted equally, placed soui at the base of a clade of eight other species: C. atrocapillus (Black-capped Tinamou), C. duidae (Gray-legged Tinamou), C. erythropus (Red-legged Tinamou), C. noctivagus (Yellow-legged Tinamou), C. variegatus (Variegated Tinamou), C. casiquiarae (Barred Tinamou), C. bartletti (Bartlett's Tinamou), and C. brevirostris (Rusty Tinamou).

Recommended Citation

Dema L, T., M. F. Ramos-Ordoñez, R. Bribiesca-Formisano, C. I. Rodríguez-Flores, C. A. Soberanes-González, and M. d. C. Arizmendi (2011). Little Tinamou (Crypturellus soui), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.littin1.01