Proposal (800) to South American Classification Committee


Establish English names for the two species of Urochroa



         With passage or proposal 775, we need to choose English names for the two species of Urochroa.



1. retain the name White-tailed Hillstar for bougueri in the interest of stability

2. choose another name for bougueri, in the process discarding the name White-tailed for either of the two species. I favor this option, because leucura is decidedly more white-tailed, such that conserving this name for bougueri would be misleading within Urochroa, and transferring it to leucura, while accurate, would cause confusion with virtually all the literature on this genus.


B. two possible species names for bougueri could be:

1. Rufous-gaped - it is descriptive, refers to its most distinctive field mark and has been adopted in some recent lists;

2. Chocó: apt for its distribution.


C. Leaving White-tailed out of the running for the above reasons, the two most important features distinguishing leucura from bougueri are its smaller size (evident in collections, but hardly so in the field) and its uniformly bright green dorsum (as opposed to the dusky bronze-green dorsum of bougueri); also its distribution, on the other side of the Andes. So, the options might be:

1. Green-backed - apt for its best field mark vs. bougueri

2. Eastern - accurate within the genus (if a bit insipid, but with Hillstar for the genus, it becomes more evocative), and also accurate with respect to the other hillstar genus, Oreotrochilus.


Although certainly not mandatory, it seems convenient to associate either the two descriptive names or the two geographical, names, i.e., Rufous-gaped with Green-backed or Chocó with Eastern. I favor the former, but could live with either option.. 


Gary Stiles



Comments from Zimmer: “YES for the English names of “Rufous-gaped Hillstar” for Urochroa bougueri and “Green-backed Hillstar” for Urochroa leucura.  I’m more enthusiastic about the former than I am about the latter, but I agree that for symmetry’s sake, we should either go with two geographic names, or two descriptive names, rather than using one of each.  I like “Chocó” as a modifier for bougueri, but “Rufous-gaped” is just too accurately descriptive not to use in my opinion.  “Eastern” is accurate across Hillstar genera, but a little mushy.  “Green-backed” is not as appropriate when taking Oreotrochilus into account, but at least it is not an inaccurate name, and it does offer symmetry with the use of Rufous-gaped for bougueri.


Comments from Stotz: “Because of the way that the proposal is written, I can’t see that a simple yes/no vote suffices.  I agree with Gary and Kevin that we should go with either 2 geographic names or 2 descriptive names.  It is unfortunate that the 2 best names in both instances belong to bougueri.  My personal preference is for Choco for bougueri and Eastern for leucurus.  I consider Rufous-gaped and Green-backed acceptable as well.”


Comments from Remsen: “A.  Definitely option 2 for reasons Gary noted; option 1 is more than just the generally bad idea of retaining a parent name for one of the daughters in a split, but also is a mismatch between the taxa “White-tailed” and leucura, which would create eternal confusion. B. I like Green-backed, but could live with Eastern.  C. I like Rufous-gaped, but could live with Choco.”