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Birds of North and Middle America, part V/Genus 7. Erionotus Cabanis and Heine


Genus ERIONOTUS Cabanis and Heine.

Erionotus[1] Cabanis and Heine, Mus. Hein., ii, Aug., 1859, 15. (Type, Thamnophilus cærulescens Vieillot.)

Medium-sized or rather small Formicariidæ (length about 140-150 mm.), with bill more compressed than in Thamnophilus and coloration very different, the plumage without bars, either above or below.

Bill variable in size (nearly as long to only about half as long as head), its width at frontal antiæ not greater than its height at same point and equal to less than one-half to decidedly more than one- half the distance from nostril to tip of maxilla; culmen slightly to distinctly ridged, nearly straight for most of its length, strongly decurved terminally, the tip of maxilla distinctly (sometimes strongly) uncinate; maxillary tomium straight, slightly but distinctly notched subterminally; mandibular tomium straight, slightly but distinctly notched and toothed subterminally, the tip of the mandible forming a small but distinct recurved point; gonys moderately convex (more strongly so basally), recurved terminally. Nostril exposed (but posteriorly in contact with feathering of the latero-frontal antiæ), oval or roundish, without operculum, with the interior tubercle slightly visible in posterior portion. Rictal bristles present but minute (practically obsolete); feathers of chin, malar and frontal antiæ, and lores, with distinct terminal setæ. Wing moderate or rather large, with longest primaries decidedly longer than secondaries; fourth, fifth, and sixth, or fifth, sixth, and seventh primaries longest and equal (or the fifth slightly longer than fourth, the latter equal to sixth), the tenth (outermost) about three-fifths as long as the longest, the ninth equal to or shorter than secondaries. Tail four-fifths to more than five- sixths as long as wing, much rounded (graduation less than length of middle toe without claw), the rectrices (12) moderately broad or rather narrow, rounded terminally. Tarsus longer (sometimes much longer) than exposed culmen, one-third as long as wing or a little less, distiactly scutellate, the plantar scutella in two longitudinal series, that on outer side sometimes indistinct, especially on upper portion; middle toe, with claw, much shorter than tarsus; outer toe, without claw, reaching to or slightly beyond middle of subterminal phalanx of middle toe, the inner toe slightly shorter; hallux about as long as inner toe but much stouter; basal phalanx of middle toe wholly united to outer toe, for about half its length to inner toe; claws moderate in size and curvature, that of the hallux decidedly shorter than the digit. Plumage full, soft, and blended, that of the rump elongated and lax; feathers of crown and occiput (especially the latter) elongated, forming a more or less distinct decumbent crest of broad, rounded feathers.

Coloration. — Adult males with pileum, wings, and tail black, the rest of upper parts gray or gray and black, in some species wholly black, except for white concealed patch on back and white wing- spots; back with a large concealed patch of white, the wings and tail with white markings; under parts gray, sometimes whitish on abdomen, etc., sometimes entirely black; adult females brown (sometimes partly rufescent) above, with whitish markings on wings and concealed white patch on back, paler brownish or rufescent below.

Nidification. — Nest pensile, vireo-like; eggs white or creamy white, spotted or streaked with brownish.

Range. — Honduras to Cayenne and southeastern Brazil. (About twelve species.)[2]


a. Smaller (wing averaging less than 71 in adult males, less than 68 in adult females); adult females with lateral under parts distinctly darker than median portion.

b. Paler; adult female more olivaceous. (South America in general.)

Erionotus punctatus punctatus (extralimital).[3]

bb. Darker; adult female more tawny or rufescent. (British Honduras to western Ecuador.)

Erionotus punctatus atrinucha (p. 49).

aa. Larger (wing averaging 72.1 in adult male, 70.1 in adult female); adult female with lateral under parts not distinctly darker than median portion. (Gorgona Island, Bay of Panama.)

Erionotus punctatus gorgonæ (p. 52).



Similar to T. p. punctatus,[4] but adult male with gray of both upper and under parts darker and adult female with general coloration darker and less rufescent (more olivaceous), especially the pileim.[5]

Adult male. — Pileum black, more or less mixed with slate-gray on forehead (the latter sometimes extensively slate-gray barred or flecked with black); hindneck mixed black and slate-gray, sometimes uniform black; back mixed black and slate-gray (the former predominating), the feathers extensively pure white basally; scapulars and rump plain slate-gray; exterior row of scapulars black, broadly edged with white; wings black, all the wing-coverts conspicuously tipped with white, tertials broadly edged with white, the other remiges narrowly edged with light gray; upper tail-coverts black, broadly tipped with white; tail black, all the rectrices tipped with a large white spot, except middle pair, which are narrowly tipped with white or else wholly black; outermost rectrix, on each side, with a quadrate spot of white crossing outer web beyond middle portion;[6] superciliary region, sides of head and neck, and under parts plain gray (no. 6) or slate-gray, the sides of head (often chin and throat also) faintly barred or flecked with dusky, the auricular region with narrow shaft-streaks of whitish; under tail-coverts broadly tipped or terminally margined with white; maxilla brownish black, mandible grayish or brownish (bluish gray in life?); legs and feet horn color (bluish gray in life?); length (skins), 129-151 (141); wing, 66.5-74 (69.6); tail, 51.5-60 (55.1); culmen, 16.5-21 (19.7); tarsus, 19.5-22 (20.6); middle toe, 12.5-14.5 (13.2).[7]

Adult female. — General color of upper parts olive-brown, the pileum more rufescent (more russet or mars brown); interscapulars with much concealed white; upper tail-coverts dull chestnut-brown, usually tipped (more or less distinctly) with pale buffy brown or buffy; tail dark chestnut-brown, the rectrices tipped with white or buffy, the exterior pair with a quadrate spot of white or buffy on outer web beyond middle portion; wings dusky, all the wing-coverts conspicuously tipped with pale buff or buffy white, tertials broadly edged with the same, the remaining remiges edged with russet or brown (becoming paler and more buffy on outer primaries); sides of head, chin, and throat pale olive-buffy, the auricular region with narrow shaft-streaks of whitish or pale buffy; rest of under parts plain light buffy olive (sometimes approaching wood brown) the middle of abdomen paler and more yellowish or buffy, the under tail-coverts more rufescent or cinnamomeous; bill and feet as in adult male; length (skins), 132-150 (141.1); wing, 64-70.5 (67.5); tail, 50-58.5 (54.1); culmen, 18-20 (18.8); tarsus, 20-22 (20.9); middle toe, 12-14 (13.2).[8] Young male. — Pileum, hindneck, back, scapulars, and rump uniform prouts brown; under parts pale brownish gray, washed with prouts brown, the abdomen grayish white or very pale gray; wings and tail as in adult female.

Young female. — Not essentially different in coloration from the adult female but texture of plumage different (much softer).

British Honduras (Toledo District), Honduras (Puerto Cabello; Medina; Rio Segóvia; Chamelicón; Rio Blanco; Céiba), Nicaragua (Rio Escondido; San Emilis), Costa Rica (Angostura; Pacuare; San Bernardo; Sipúrio; Siquirres; Rio Revantazón; Jiménez; Old Harbor; Orosí; El Hogár; Cuábre; Guácimo; La Cristina), Panamá (Santiago de Veragua; Chepo; Lion Hill; Panamá; Sabana de Panamá), western and central Colombia (Rio Truando; Bucaramanga; Bonda, Cacagualito, ]Iinca, and Don Diego, Santa Marta; Nechi, Antioquía; Oñaca; Bogotá),[9] and western Ecuadór[10] (Babahoyo; Esmeraldas; Balzár Mts.; Santa Rita; Chimbo; Vinces; Foreste del Rio Peripa).

Thamnophilus nævius (not Lanius nævius Gmelin) Sclater, Proc. Zool. Soc, Lond., 1855, 148 (Bogotá); 1858, 213 (monogr.); 1860, 278 (Babahoyo, w. Ecuadór), 294 (Esmeraldas, w. Ecuadór; crit.); Cat. Am. Birds, 1862, 173 (Colombia; Esmeraldas, w. Ecuadór); Cat. Birds Brit. Mus., xv, 1890, 197 (Puerto Cabello and Medina, Honduras; Angostura, Costa Rica; Verágua, Chepo, and Panamá, Panamá; Minca and Nechi, Colombia; Esmeraldas, Balzár Mts., Santa Rita, and Chimbo, w. Ecuadór). — Cassin, Proc. Ac. Nat. Sci., Philad., 1860, 188 (Rio Truando, Colombia). — Sclater and Salvin, Proc. Zool. Soc, Lond., 1864, 355 (Lion Hill, Panamá; crit.); 1879, 524, Nechi, Antioquía, Colombia). - Salvin, Proc. Zool. Soc, Lond., 1867, 144 (Santiago de Verágua, Panamá). — Lawrence, Ann. Lyc, N. Y., ix, 1868, 107 (Angostura and Pacuare, Costa Rica). — Frantzius, Journ. für Orn., 1869, 305 (Costa Rica). — Boucard, Proc. Zool. Soc, Lond., 1878, 60 (San Carlos, Costa Rica). — Salvin and Godman, Ibis, 1880, 171 (Minca, Santa Marta, Colombia, 2,000 ft.). — Berlepsch and Taczanowski, Proc. Zool. Soc, Lond., 1883, 564 (Chimbo, w. Ecuadór; crit.). — Berlepsch, Journ. für Orn., 1884, 307 (Bucaramanga, Colombia; crit.); Zeitschr. Orn., 1887, 185 (Bogotá). — Ridgway, Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus., x, 1887, 590 (Segóvia R., Honduras). — Zeledón, Anal. Mus. Nac, Costa Rica, 1887, 114 (Angostura, Costa Rica). — Bangs, Proc Biol. Soc, Wash., xii, 1898, 138 (Santa Marta, Colombia); Proc. New Engl. Zool. Club, ii, 1900, 24 (Loma del León, Panamá); Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., xxxix, 1903, 150 (Céiba, Honduras). — Allen, Bull. Am. Mus., N. H., xiii, 1900, 161 (Bonda, Santa Marta, Colombia).
(?) Thamnophilus cærulescens (not of Vieillot) Lafresnaye, Rev. Zool., 1853, 338.
Thamnophilus amazonicus (not of Sclater) Lawrence, Ann. Lyc. N. Y., vii, 1862, 325 (Lion Hill, Panamá).
[Thamnophilus] nævius Sclater and Salvin, Nom. Av. Neotr., 1873, 70, part.
Thamnophilus atrinucha Salvin and Godman, Biol. Centr.-Am., Aves, ii, sig. 25, Feb., 1892, 200 (Panamá; coll. Salvin and Godman). — Richmond, Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus., xvi, 1893, 500 (Rio Escondido, Nicaragua; habits). — Salvadori and Festa, Boll. Mus. Zool., etc., xv, no. 362, 1899, 27 (Vinces and Foreste del Rio Peripa, w. Ecuadór); no. 399, 7 (Laguna del Pita, Panamá). — Thayer and Bangs, Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., xlvi, 1906, 216 (Sabana de Panamá).
[Thamnophilus] atrinucha Sharpe, Hand-list, iii, 1901, 14.
[Thamnophilus] nævius atrinucha Hellmayr, Abh. K. B. Akad. Wias., ii. Kl., xxii Bd., iii. Abth., 1905, 659 (crit.).
Thamnophilus nævius atrinucha Carriker, Ann. Carnegie Mus., vi, 1910, 602 (Caribbean lowlands and foothills, Costa Rica; crit.; habits; descr. nest and eggs).



Similar to E. p. atrinucha but adult male with forehead more extensively grayish,[11] the adult female with lateral under parts paler (nearly concolor with median portion).

Gorgona Island, Bay of Panamá.

Adult male. — Length (skins), 143-148 (146); wing, 70-75 (72.1); tail, 57-61 (59); culmen, 18.5-20 (19.4); tarsus, 20-21 (20.5); middle toe, 12.5-13 (12.7).[12]

Adult female. — Length (skins), 140-148 (144); wing, 68.5-72.5 (70.1); tail, 54.5-57.5 (56.1); culmen, 18.5-20 (19.1); tarsus, 21-21.5 (21.1); middle toe, 13-14 (13.4).[12]

Thamnophilus gorgonæ Thayer and Bangs, Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., xlvi, no. 5, June, 1905, 95 (Gorgona Island, Bay of Panamá; coll. E. A. and O. Bangs).

  1. "Von έριον (Wolle) und νώτος (Rücken)." (Cabanis and Heine.)
  2. The type of Erionotus (Thamnophilus cærulescens Vieillot), together with Thamnophilus melanochrous Sclater and Salvia and probably several others referable to the same group (I have not seen T. tschudii Pelzeln, T. æthiops Sclater, T. cinereo-niger Pelzeln, T. stellaris Spix, T. tristis Sclater and Salvin, T. capitalis Sclater, nor T. cinereiceps Pelzeln), differs so much in relative size and shape of the bill from T. amhiguus Swainson, T. nævius (Gmelin), T. gorgonæ Thayer and Bangs, and related forms that there is some question as to whether the two groups are really congeneric; indeed, I have placed them together mainly on account of their very close resemblance to one another in style of coloration. Another group, composed of species (referred by Dr. Sclater to the genera Thamnophilus and Dysithamnus) distinguished by their very plain (mainly gray, slate colored or sooty) coloration, without black wings or tail and destitute of white markings on wings and tail or of a distinct white dorsal (concealed) patch, I do not, at present at least, refer to Erionotus. These species (Thamnophilus murinus Pelzeln, T. simplex Sclater, T. capitalis Sclater, T. inornatus Ridgway, Dysithamnus leucostictus Sclater, Thamnophilus schistaceus D'Orbigny, Dysithamnus ardesiacus Sclater and Salvin, D. unicolor Sclater, D. plumhea (Maximilian), and D. subplumbeus Sclater and Salvin) differ considerably among themselves in structural details and may represent two or more distinct groups. Since they are all extralimital to the present work, however, I leave them as a problem for others to work out.
  3. [Lanim] nævius Gmelin, Syst. Nat., i, pt. i, 1788, 308, not of p. 304. — Tityra cayanensis, female! (Cayenne); Latham, Index Orn., i, 1790, 81. — Thamnophilus nævius (not of Vieillot, 1816) Swainson, Zool. Journ., ii, no. v, April, 1825, 90; Orn. Drawings, pl. 59; Sclater, Cat. Birds Brit. Mus., xv, 1890, 197, part. — E[nonotus] naevius Cabanis and Heine, Mus. Hein., ii, 1859, 16. — Lanius punctatios Shaw, Gen. Zool., vii, pt. ii, 1809, 327 (based on "Le Tachet. Levaill[ant] Ois." [pl. 77, fig. 1]). — (?) Thamnophilus nævius albiventris Taczanowski, Orn. du Pérou, ii, 1884, 9. — T[hamnophilus] naevius naevius Hellmayr, Abh. K. B. Akad. Wiss., ii kl., xxii Bd., iii Abt., 1905, 659 (crit.).
  4. See "Key," top of this page.
  5. This is an unsatisfactory subspecies, and I am doubtful as to its validity. Both very dark and light colored examples occur among specimens from Bogotá, and I find it extremely difficult to correlate the color differences with geographic distribution.
  6. The second and third pairs (counting from outside) are sometimes similarly marked.
  7. Twenty specimens.
  8. Twenty-one specimens.
    Locality. Wing. Tail. Culmen. Tarsus. Middle
    Four adult males from Honduras (3) and British Honduras (1) 69.8 56.4 19.9 20.4 13.1
    Two adult males from Nicaragua 69.7 56.5 19.5 20.7 13
    Ten adult males from Costa Rica 69.2 54.3 19.3 20.7 13.2
    Two adult males from Panamá 70 53.2 19.2 19.7 12.7
    Two adult males from Colombia (Bogotá) 70.7 57 17 22 14.5
    Ten adult males (E. p. punctatus) from Columbia 71 54.7 19.2 21.3 13
    One adult male (E. p. punctatus) from Cayenne 69.5 53 17.5 22 14
    Ten adult males (E. p. punctatus) from eastern Brazil 70.9 52.7 17 21.4 12.8
    Two adult females from Honduras 70 56 19.2 20.7 13.5
    Two adult females from Nicaragua 68.2 54.5 18.7 20.2 12.7
    Ten adult females from Costa Rica 67.1 53.3 18.7 20.9 13.6
    Seven adult females from Panamá 67.2 54.7 18.9 21.4 12.8
    Six adult females {E. p. punctatus) from Colombia 67.9 55 19.3 21.2 13.1
    Two adult females {E. p. punctatus) from Venezuela 64.5 51.5 17.5 21.2 13
    One adult female {E. p. punctatus) from Brazil (Bahia) 69 58 18 24.5 14.5
  9. Specimens of both this form and what I am not able to distinguish from true E. punctatus occur in Bogotá collections.
  10. I have not seen a specimen from western Ecuadór.
  11. On comparison with a large series of E. p. atrinucha I find that most of the characters mentioned by Mr. Bangs do not hold.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Four specimens.