Proposal (303) to South American Classification Committee


Change English name of Thalurania colombica (sensu stricto) to "Violet-crowned Woodnymph"


This proposal would change the English name currently used in the SACC Checklist from "Purple-crowned" to "Violet-crowned" for this form, as treated in the Checklist (that is, as a species separate from T. fannyi, the Green-crowned Woodnymph).


For many years (at least since Peters 1945) only a single species of Thalurania was recognized in northern South and Middle America, called the Fork-tailed Woodnymph, Thalurania furcata. Eisenmann (1955) had suggested that the bright-crowned races of Middle America and N South America might represent a separate species, for which he suggested the name "Blue-crowned Woodnymph". The AOU (1983) split the bright-crowned trans-Andean forms from the (mostly) dull-crowned cis-Andean T. furcata using the English name Crowned Woodnymph rather than Eisenmann's name because some races have green crowns; this was followed by Ridgely (1976), AOU (1983), Hilty (1986), Ridgely & Gwynne (1989), Stiles & Skutch (1989), Sibley & Monroe (1990), and Howell & Webb (1995). Then Escalante & Peterson (1992) split the green-crowned forms of the Pacific slope of N South America from the purple-crowned forms of southern Middle America and the Caribbean slope of N South America into two species, respectively Green-crowned Woodnymph (T. fannyi) and Violet-crowned Woodnymph (T. colombica) and this split has been followed (and these names used) by most recent authors, including AOU (1998), Rodner et al. (2000), Hilty (2003), and Jones (2003). (I believe that the evidence for this split was severely flawed and at some point will write this up, but until then we should follow current usage). A further complication was introduced by Schuchmann (1999), who used "Purple-crowned Woodnymph" for colombica, and this was followed by Dickinson (2003), the starting point for the SACC, and so it appears in the SACC list. Thus, four names are being used for Thalurania colombica.


One of these is Crowned Woodnymph, which as used in recent years is best applied to T. colombica (sensu lato), i.e. including fannyi and its races within colombica. For colombica (sensu stricto) we have three short-wavelength choices for the crown color: blue, violet and purple. Blue is inaccurate and to my knowledge has never been used in a major work and may be excluded; violet is accurate and has been used in a number of major works in the last 15 years; purple is somewhat less accurate and has really been used only twice (aside from SACC). I therefore see no useful purpose in perpetuating an inferior name coined for no discernable reason, and in the interests of both accuracy and stability propose that the English name for Thalurania colombica (sensu stricto) should be Violet-crowned Woodnymph and that the English name Crowned Woodnymph be applied only to T. colombica (sensu lato), including T. fannyi. Presumably a NO vote on this proposal would be to keep our current name of Purple-crowned Woodnymph.


F. Gary Stiles, August 2007


Current SACC footnote: 37aa. Called "Crowned Woodnymph" in Ridgely (1976), AOU (1983), Hilty (1986), Ridgely & Gwynne (1989), Stiles & Skutch (1989), Sibley & Monroe (1990), and Howell & Webb (1995); called "Violet-crowned Woodnymph" in AOU (1998), Rodner et al. (2000), Hilty (2003), and Jones (2003); called "Blue-crowned Woodnymph" in Eisenmann (1955). Dickinson (2003) followed Schuchmann's (1999) evidently novel "Purple-crowned Woodnymph," and this is why SACC started with "Purple-crowned."





Comments from Remsen: "YES. I'll lobby for change to "Violet-crowned" in the ongoing revision of Dickinson (2003). As Gary outlines, under current taxonomy, this is the name with the historical track record."


Comments from Jaramillo: "YES - There is no reason to continue using a new, confusing name when we have one which has been used widely for over a decade."


Comments from Robbins: "YES, although I certainly would be quite content continuing to use "Purple-crowned" for colombica."


Comment from Paul Clapham: "Sibley and Monroe (1993) did use the name "Blue-crowned Woodnymph" for T. colombica."