Proposal (567) to South American Classification Committee


Change English name of Drymophila caudata


With the passing of Proposal 542 and following Isler et al. (2012), the species name caudata is restricted to a very rare taxon recorded only in the East Andes of Colombia.  Previously, “Long-tailed Antbird” applied to a very widespread taxon:




It would be confusing to apply the name "Long-tailed Antbird" to a very rare taxon with such a small range (compared to the old caudata) and consistent with other recent SACC English name treatments to adopt a new name.


This proposal is divided into two parts, the first on whether or not to change the name, and the second is a suggested name.


Part A.  Change the English name of narrowly defined D. caudata to something besides “Long-tailed Antbird”.  A YES vote means to change it to something besides “Long-tailed”.  A NO means to retain Long-tailed for narrowly circumscribed D. caudata.


Part B.  Adopt “East Andean Antbird” as the English name of D. caudata.


In the latest Colombian checklist update paper (Donegan et al. 2012), we included the above map.  Only the dark red and perhaps grey parts refer now to caudata.  We adopted "East Andean Antbird" for caudata instead of retaining "Long-tailed", which was suggested by Isler et al. (2012).


“East Andean Antbird” is a mildly clunky and somewhat boring name, but appropriate and the best alternative we could come up with.  A few relevant factors towards this suggestion name appearing in our paper and this proposal are as follows:


-       Other alternatives are elusive.  Sclater's Antbird would honour the author of caudata but has limited traction / usage already in some publications as an alternative name for Myrmeciza exsul so is not really "available".  See the separate discussion in Proposal 556 ( on "Western Antshrike" for reasons as to why Sclater's is not a good name to use here.


-       There is a similar name in usage for a hummingbird (West Andean Emerald Chlorostilbon melanorhynchus) - although this is often shortened to "Western Emerald" including at SACC.

-       Few other Thamnophilid antbirds occur in the East Andes.  Only "Parker's" and "Immaculate" occur in the Eastern Cordillera and do not also have lowland distributions, per the McMullan et al. field guide.  [Bar-crested Antshrike, Uniform Antshrike, Plain Antvireo, White-streaked Antvireo, Slaty Antwren, and Rufous-rumped Antwren complete the set for the family, but none is an "Antbird".]  Newly split klagesi also occurs in the East Andes but in the northernmost part (Perijá and Norte de Santander) and also extends to the Mérida Andes so is not an endemic to the range.


-       None of the species listed in the previous bullet are East Andes endemics. "East Andean Antbird" would appropriately label the only Thamnophilid antbird endemic to the region.


-       Isler et al. (2012) also refer to the range of this species as being of Magdalena distribution, but “Magdalena Antbird” is now used for Myrmeciza palliata so is also not available."


-       Another possibility as a vernacular name would be Streak-breasted Antbird, referring to the stronger striations on this species compared to congeners, but having both "Streak-headed" (D. striaticeps) and Streak-breasted in this group - for two species which both have streaking in both areas - could be really confusing for field observers.



Isler, M. L., A. M. Cuervo, G. A. Bravo, & R. T. Brumfield. 2012. An integrative approach to species-level systematics reveals the depth of diversification in an Andean thamnophilid, the Long-tailed Antbird. Condor 114: 571–583

Donegan, T.M., Quevedo, A., Salaman, P. & McMullan, M. 2012. Revision of the status of bird species occurring or reported in Colombia 2012.  Conservación Colombiana 17: 4-14.


Thomas Donegan, November 2012



Comments from Remsen:  “YES on both A and B.  I was about to write such a proposal when Donegan’s version arrived.  Part A is a “must” in my opinion.  Standard operating procedure in cases of taxonomic splits is to retain the “parent” name only if it applies to one of the daughter species that is much more widespread than the others.  Retention of the parent name for one of the daughters creates subsequent confusion for obvious reasons.  Although there is no hard rule for determining when to abandon the parent name, the case of D. caudata is not a close call.  As Donegan’s map shows, post-split daughter D. caudata represents only a tiny fraction of the range of pre-split broadly defined D. caudata.  “Long-tailed Antbird” is best applied to the group as a whole and abandoned for any of its daughter species.  As for Part B, I think Donegan’s “East Andean” is a “lesser of evils” compared to the alternatives, so I’ll go for it unless someone creative proposes a better name.”


Comments from Robbins: “A. YES, to a name change.  B.  I’m fine with either East Andean or Streak-breasted; I’m not bothered by the potential confusion of the latter name with Streak-headed. If we are truly concerned with that similarity then we would need to change English names for a plethora of species, e.g., tanagers!


Comments from Mort Isler: “A little bell when off in my head when we were recommending English names in the D. caudata paper.  It seemed inappropriate to apply Long-tailed Antbird to a geographically restricted population, but we thought we had to maintain the name.  Thank you for the correction.


“As for a replacement, East Andean is troublesome, not only because it is “clunky” but especially because northern end of the Eastern Cordillera is occupied by D. klagesi.  I believe that Streak-breasted, the alternative suggested by Thomas, is more appropriate.  I agree with Mark that potential confusion of Streak-breasted with Streak-headed should not be a deterrent.”


Comments from Stiles:  “YES to A; I have no strong feelings regarding B, but given that klagesi is really rather marginal as an “East Andean” bird and that caudata is in fact endemic to the main range of the Eastern Andes of Colombia, I am comfortable with “East Andean” for this species, in spite of a general dislike of English trinomials (i.e., YES).”


Comments from Zimmer: “YES to Part A.  I definitely agree with the reasoning that the “parent” name should only be retained for one of the “daughter” species when one daughter species has a range that overwhelms that of the others, and therefore, is the taxon popularly linked with the English name.  Clearly, that is not the case here, so we need to make a change.  As for Part B, I could go along with either “East Andean” or “Streak-breasted” although I’m not wild about either.  The former, as Thomas noted in the Proposal, is “clunky and boring”, whereas the latter does invite some confusion with Streak-headed Antbird.  However, given that we have managed to survive the potential confusion created by having Spot-crowned, Spot-breasted and Streak-crowned antvireos, I would just as soon go for “Streak-breasted Antbird” for D. caudata.”


Comments from Schulenberg:  "Long-tailed Antbird" should not be used for the narrow caudata; all are in agreement there. "East Andean" * is * clunky, and "Streak-breasted" * is * confusingly similar to "Streak-headed" (striaticeps). I'm grasping here - what about "Oriente Antbird"? "Bamboo Antbird"? (yes, all Drymophila are in bamboo, but so what?)”


Additional comments from Stiles:  If "East Andean" is deemed too "clunky" for nominate caudata, "Streak-breasted" seems livable - it is the member of this complex with the most heavily streaked breast and so is accurate, even if not wholly diagnostic.”