Tuesday, February 1, 2011

About Aratinga taxonomy

Two Red-throated Parakeets - Aratinga holochlora rubritorquis (left) and one Pacific Parakeet - Aratinga strenua
In the previous post, I mentioned some taxonomic confusion regarding the Aratinga parakeets in Central America. Having researched this a little further, I've found that there are two schools of thought regarding Aratinga taxonomy.

In the end, however, the American Ornithologists' Union (AOU) taxonomy is authoritative, and will be explained here. To avoid confusion, I'll leave the alternative taxonomy, used by BirdLife International for example, undescribed.

According to the AOU, the 'green' parakeet found on the Pacific Slope of Central America from southeastern Oaxaca and Chiapas south to southwestern Nicaragua is Aratinga strenua, the Pacific Parakeet. Last Saturday, we counted a large roost of this species in San Salvador.

The 'red-throated' parakeet we counted in much lower numbers Saturday is Aratinga holochlora rubritorquis, or 'Red-throated' Green Parakeet. Note that according to the AOU, red-throated birds are a form or subspecies - rubritorquis - of the Green Parakeet, Aratinga holochlora. This subspecies is found in central and eastern Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and northern Nicaragua.

The field of taxonomy is in a state of flux, and at any given time will reflect then current insights into relationships between populations. The current AOU check-list can be found here.

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