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Birds of North and Middle America, part V/Genus 23. Pittasoma Cassin


Genus PITTASOMA Cassin.

Pittasoma Cassin, Proc. Ac. Nat. Sci. Phila., 1860, 189. (Type, P. michleri Cassin.)
Pittisoma (emendation) Sclater and Salvin, Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond., 1864, 357.
Calobamon[1] Heine, in Heine and Reichenow, Nomencl. Mus. Hein. Orn., 1890, 123. (New name for Pittasoma Cassin, on grounds of purism.)

Very large Formicariidæ (length about 160-180 mm.) with excessively short tail (shorter than commissure, only one-third as long as the short, much-rounded wing), stout, distinctly uncinate, bill, very long tarsi (half as long as wing), and conspicuously variegated coloration.

Bill nearly as long as head, stout, rather broad and slightly depressed basally, its width at loral antiæ much greater than its height at same point and equal to half the distance from nostril to tip of maxilla, or slightly more; culmen distinctly but not sharply ridged, slightly curved from near base to near tip, where more strongly decurved, the tip of maxilla strongly uncinate; maxillary tomium straight or very faintly concave, distinctly notched subterminally; mandibular tomium faintly convex, slightly but distinctly notched subterminally; gonys strongly convex and prominent basally, nearly straight for most of its length, ascending terminally, the tip of the mandible forming an obtuse, slightly recurved, point. Nostril exposed, posteriorly in contact with loral feathering, longitudinally oval, with a thin, pointed, internal tubercle or splint in upper posterior portion. Rictal bristles present but short and inconspicuous. Wing rather short, much rounded, the longest primaries scarcely if at all extending beyond secondaries; fifth and sixth, or fourth, fifth, and sixth, primaries longest, the tenth (outermost) less than two-thirds as long as the longest, the ninth much shorter than secondaries. Tail excessively short, shorter than commissure, only one-third as long as wing, the rectrices relatively broad. Tarsus much longer than commissure, half as long as wing, stout, rounded posteriorly, distinctly scutellate, the plantar scutella indistinct (fused on upper half or more); middle toe, with claw, about three-fourths as long as tarsus ; outer toe, without claw, reaching to a little beyond subterminal articulation of middle toe, the inner toe reaching about to the joint; hallux about as long as inner toe, but much stouter; basal phalanx of middle too united to outer too for greater part of its length, to inner too for loss than half its length; claws moderate in size and curvature, that of the hallux shorter than the digit. Plumage full, with feathers broad and distinctly outlined, those of rump and flanks more elongated, blended, and lax; feathers of pileum rather stiff, slightly elongated; an elongated, narrow, naked postocular space.

Coloration. — Head black, with more or less of chestnut on lateral portion, the throat sometimes spotted with brown and whitish; above brown, the back streaked with black, wing-coverts with subapical spots of buff or light fulvous margined with black; under parts broadly barred or squamated with white and black.

Range. — Eastern Costa Kica to northwestern Ecuadór. (Two species.)


a. Pileum, including superciliary and supra-auricular regions, uniform black.

b. Smaller (wing 93-99.5 in adult male, 93.5-95.5 in adult female); auricular and suborbital regions wholly chestnut. (Panamá.)

Pittasoma michleri michleri (p. 141).

bb. Larger (wing 99.5-115 in adult male, 97.5-100.5 in adult female); auriculars and suborbital regions black, or mostly so. (Costa Rica.)

Pittasoma michleri zeledoni (p. 142).

aa. Pileum rufous, bordered laterally by a black superciliary stripe. (Northwestern Ecuadór.)

Pittasoma rufopileatum (extralimital).[2]



Adult male. — Pileum, including upper half of lores and whole of superciliary region, uniform black (slightly glossy); back, scapulars, rump, and upper tail-coverts olive-brown to vandyke brown, the first broadly but not sharply streaked with black (the feathers sometimes also narrowly squamately margined with the same), and with narrow buffy shaft-streaks; tail deep chestnut-brown; wings deep chestnut- brown, the middle and greater coverts with a small subterminal transverse spot of whitish or buffy, inclosed between a small black spot and a narrow terminal bar;[3] tertials with a more or less distinct apical spot of buff or tawny; outer webs of primaries lighter chestnut- brown than the general color; lower half of lores dull white, usually somewhat flecked with dusky; auricular and malar regions uniform deep chestnut, the latter, however, partly mixed with black, especially the posterior portion; sides of neck mummy brown; chin and throat black (chin sometimes mostly white), broken, more or less, by narrow shaft-streaks or small spots of white or chestnut, the feathers of lower throat sometimes tipped with chestnut; rest of under parts mostly white, heavily marked with broad U-shaped bars of black, the flanks light mummy or chestnut-brown, indistinctly barred with dusky, the under tail-coverts brownish white or pale tawny barred or lunulated with black; maxilla brownish black or blackish brown, paler on tomium; mandible pale yellowish (in dried skins); legs and feet pale yellowish horn color (in dried skins); length (skins), 160-175 (167); wing, 93-99.5 (97.1); tail, 33-37.5 (35.5); culmen, 26.5-27.5 (27); tarsus, 47-52 (49.7); middle toe, 26-29.5 (27.6).[4]

Adult female. — Above similar to the adult male; chin and throat mixed white and light chestnut irregularly spotted or barred with black; remaining under parts as in adult male, but black U-shaped markings narrower, and the white general color more or less suffused or tinged with buff, the chest sometimes washed with rusty; length (skins), 155-178 (164); wing, 93.5-95.5 (94.4); tail, 32-35 (33.1); culmen, 26; tarsus, 46.5-49 (48.1); middle toe, 27-29 (28).[5]

Immature female. — Similar to the adult female, but lower throat tawny, chin and upper throat white, with a few narrow streaks of black.

Panamá (Lion Hill; Panamá; Laguna del Pita; Santa Fé and Calovévora, Verágua?[6]) and adjacent portion of northwestern Colombia (Rio Truando).

Pittasoma michleri Cassin, Proc. Ac. Nat. Sci. Phila., 1860, 189 (Rio Truando, Colombia; coll. U. S. Nat. Mus.); 1864, 257, pi. 3. — Lawrence, Ann. Lyc. N. Y., vii, 1862, 326 (Lion Hill, Panamá). — Salvin, Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond., 1867, 146 (Santa Fé de Verágua, Panamá); 1870, 196 (Calovévora, Panamá). — Sclater, Cat. Birds Brit. Mus., xv, 1890, 309. — Salvin and Godman, Biol. Centr.-Am., Aves, ii, 1892, 237. — Salvadori and Festa, Boll. Mus. Zool., etc., Torino, xiv, 1899, no. 339, 7 (Laguna del Pita, Panamá).
[Pittasoma] michleri Sclater and Salvin, Nom. Av. Neotr., 1873, 75. — Sharpe, Hand-list, iii, 1901, 40.
Pittisoma michleri Sclater and Salvin, Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond., 1864, 357 (Panamá; crit.).



Similar to P. m. michleri but decidedly larger; adult male with head entirely black, except for a tinge of chestnut on auricular region.

Adult male. — Length (skins), 175-179 (177); wing, 99.5-115 (105.1); tail, 31.5-34 (33); culmen, 29-31 (30); tarsus, 50-51.5 (50.7); middle toe, 28.5-31 (30.2).[7]

Adult female. — Length (skins), 166-181 (172); wing, 97.5-100.5 (98.7); tail, 33.5-36 (34.3); culmen, 27-30 (28.5); tarsus, 46-52 (48); middle toe, 29-31 (30).[7]

Eastern Costa Rica (Rio Súcio; Rio Sícsola; Jiménez; Carrillo).

Pittasoma michleri zeledoni Ridgway, Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus., vi, Apr. 11, 1884, 414 (Rio Súcio, Costa Rica; coll. U. S. Nat.Mus.). — Zeledón, Anal. Mus., Costa Rica, i, 1887, 115 (Jiménez, Costa Rica). — Carriker, Ann. Carnegie Mils., i, 1910, 626 (Caribbean foothills of Costa Rica, to about 2,500 ft.; habits).
Pittasoma zeledoni Sclater, Cat. Birds Brit. Mus., xv, 1890, 310. — Salvin and Godman, Biol. Centr.-Am., Aves, ii, 1892, 238.
[Pittasoma] zeledoni Sharpe, Hand-list, iii, 1901, 40.

  1. ?, beautiful; ? (?), a step, pace.
  2. Pittasoma rufopileatum Hartert, Novit. Zool., viii, no. 3, Oct. 5, 1901, 370 (Salidero, Bulún, n. w. Ecuadór; coll. Tring Mus.); ix, 1902, 615, pl. 8.
    This species I have not seen.
  3. Sometimes a few of the lesser coverts have similar but smaller markings.
  4. Seven specimens.
  5. Four specimens.
  6. I have not seen specimens from Verágua. They may be referable to P. m. zeledoni.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Three specimens.