Proposal (71) to South American Classification Committee


Change English name of Cyanoloxia glaucocaerulea


Effect on South American CL: This proposal would change slightly the English name of a species on our list from a "Meyer de Schauensee" name ("Indigo Grosbeak") to a "Ridgely-Tudor" name ("Glaucous-blue Grosbeak").


Background: Hudson (1920) and Hellmayr (1938) used the English name "Glaucous Grosbeak" for Cyanoloxia glaucocaerulea. Meyer de Schauensee (1966, 1970) evidently was the one who changed this to "Indigo Grosbeak." This was followed by Olrog (1984), Sibley & Monroe (1990), Narosky & Yzurieta (1993), Hayes (1995), and Dickinson (2003).


Ridgely & Tudor (1989) modified Hudson's name to "Glaucous-blue Grosbeak" for Cyanoloxia glaucocaerulea, with the following note:


"[Indigo Grosbeak] is poor as it is even less indigo blue than is the Indigo Bunting of North America, P. cyanea. We suggest a straight translation of its Latin species name, which is an accurate description of the male's color ... .'"


This was followed by Sick (1993), de la Peña and Rumboll (1998), and Mazar Barnett & Pearman (2001).


Analysis: Bob's name is probably "better." It is a partial restoration of a name that predates Meyer de Schauensee/Eisenmann, and I like the translation from Latin. However, the dictionary meaning of "glaucous" is "green with a grayish blue cast." The comparable dictionary description of "indigo" is "deep violet-blue." We do not have an ad. male here at LSU for me to check, but Tudor's painting in Ridgely & Tudor (1989) to my non-artist's eye looks closer to indigo, and I see no "green with a grayish blue cast." To a North American used to "Glaucous" and "Glaucous-winged" for basically all white or gray Larus, the use of glaucous, for better or worse, with a basically blue bird may be confusing.


Recommendation: I tentatively vote NO on this, pending comments of others. In contrast to several other "Ridgely-Tudor" names under consideration, historical precedence is not as much a concern. I would vote YES if other can assure me that this species is accurately described by "glaucous-blue."


Literature Cited:

DE LA PEÑA, M. R., AND M. RUMBOLL. 1998. Birds of Southern South America and Antarctica. . Harper Collins.

HAYES, F. E. 1995. Status, Distribution and Biogeography of the Birds of Paraguay. Monographs in Field Ornithology No. 1, American Birding Association.

MAZAR BARNETT, J., AND M. PEARMAN. 2001. Annotated checklist of the birds of Argentina. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

MEYER DE SCHAUENSEE, R. 1966. The species of birds of South America and their distribution. Livingston Publishing Co., Narberth, Pennsylvania.

MEYER DE SCHAUENSEE, R. 1970. A guide to the birds of South America. Livingston Publishing Co., Wynnewood, Pennsylvania.

NAROSKY, T., AND D. YZURIETA. 1993. Birds of Argentina & Uruguay. A Field Guide. Asociación Ornitologica Del Plata, Buenos Aires.

OLROG, C. C. 1984. Las Aves Argentinas. Administración Parques Nacionales, Buenos Aires.

RIDGELY, R. S., AND G. TUDOR. 1989. The birds of South America, vol. 1. Univ. Texas Press, Austin.

SIBLEY, C. G., AND B. L. MONROE, JR. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the World. Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut.

SICK, H. 1993. Birds in Brazil. Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, New Jersey.


Van Remsen, October 2003





Comments from Jaramillo: "YES.  The name Indigo Grosbeak is relatively new, with the historical name actually being Glaucous Grosbeak. Thus the creation of the new name Glaucous-blue which is only a bit newer than Indigo Grosbeak seems appropriate. Partly I find it appropriate because having an Indigo Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting, as well as a Blue Grosbeak and a Blue Bunting a bit much! Also I recall seeing skins of glaucocaerulea and they are a paler blue, with a grayish tone that at least to me seems to make the use of the descriptive "glaucous-blue" appropriate. In Spanish this species' colour is described as "celeste" rather than "azul" so it is a paler blue, more blue-grey."


Comments from Zimmer: "I vote "YES". The name "Indigo Grosbeak" isn't really well-established, in part because this is a bird that most people don't see. "Glaucous-blue" is not only a throwback to an older name, but it is much more accurate regarding the color of the bird. As seen in the field, the bird really is a distinctly paler, grayish-blue with a slight greenish cast, certainly not approaching "Indigo". I think Bob's addition of "-blue" after the "Glaucous" also negates any possible confusion with "Glaucous" as used to refer to northern hemisphere gulls."


Comments from Stiles: "NO. Literally, "glaucous" is a rather pale, rather greyish green - specifically sea-green in the original Greek - and is so used widely in botany. In ornithology the picture has been a bit confused, as the word has come to have more greyish overtones (note Glaucous Gull, I wonder if it was originally so named for its color or its association with the sea?). In this particular case, while I have no specimens to guide me, I can find nothing greenish about any paintings of the male that I have seen - including that by Tudor)."


Comments from Nores: "YES. El ave tanto en los museos como en el campo se ve de un color celeste grisáceo y no índigo como su actual nombre."


New comments from Stiles: "Upon reading Manuel Nores's comments regarding C. glaucocaerulea, I'm willing to change my vote to YES.. I have no first-hand experience with the bird, nor access to specimens, and am quite willing to defer to someone who obviously has both.


Comments from Robbins: "[YES] Well, I wasn't aware that the definition of glaucous included a "green sheen or cast". Nonetheless, given what others have said about the color of the adult male I vote "yes" to calling the species Glaucous-blue Grosbeak."