Proposal (835) to South American Classification Committee


Change the English name of Saucerottia saucerottei



Background: NACC recently (Chesser et al., in press, 60th Supplement) split Central American Saucerottia saucerottei hoffmanni from South American Saucerottia saucerottei, as originally proposed by Stiles and Skutch (1989), based on new genetic data of McGuire et al. (2014) and Jimenez and Ornelas (2016), which showed that they are not sisters and in fact are not particularly closed related within Saucerottia.  For details, see full NACC proposal 2019-A-4.


NACC voted to change the name of Amazilia/Saucerottia hoffmanni to Blue-vented Hummingbird, following follow Stiles and Skutch (1989), following Terry Chesser’s proposal below:


“2019-E-2. Amazilia saucerottei/hoffmanni split. We voted to split Steely-vented Hummingbird A. saucerottei into two species. The proposal (2019-A-4) contained the following recommendation: “Stiles and Skutch (1989) recommended the English name Blue-vented Hummingbird for the split species and this has been used by Gill and Donsker (2018).” Ridgway (1911) used the name Sophia’s Hummingbird for this taxon, but that was based on the scientific species name, sophiae, in use at the time. No recommendation was made in the proposal regarding the English name of the extralimital A. saucerottei sensu stricto, and I suggest that we leave this for SACC to consider.”


So, time for SACC to consider.


South American Saucerottia saucerottei has been known as Steely-vented Hummingbird since at least Meyer de Schauensee (1966).  Cory (1918) called nominate Saucerottia s. saucerotteiSaucerotte’s Hummingbird”, so that provides an alternative.  I assume Eisenmann provided Meyer de Schauensee with Steely-vented Hummingbird, because he used Blue-vented for Saucerottia saucerottei sensu lato in Eisenmann (1955).


In the case of splits that involve multiple daughters from a parental species, standard guidelines recommend new English names for both.  However, this is not the standard parent-daughters split but actually a correction of the classification to that shows that hoffmanni is not a daughter in the lineage sense but an unrelated taxon.  Therefore, I think we can use this as rationale to avoid creating a novel name and to retain Steely-vented Hummingbird.


Recommendation: As noted above, I recommend a NO, on this one, i.e. to retain Steely-vented Hummingbird, the English name that has been in place for the South American taxa for 60+ years.  A YES vote would be for creating a novel name Saucerottia saucerottei, e.g. Saucerotte’s Hummingbird or some other alternative.



Van Remsen, May 2019





Comments from Stiles: “Given the ambiguity of Eisenmann’s use of names, I agree that Steely-vented is the least disruptive for the South American species; as I believe that we (S & S 1989) were the first to explicitly recommend Blue-vented for the hoffmanni split, and this name appears to have gained appreciable traction, I recommend this for the NACC bird; it also retains the impression of the similarity of plumages in the two. However, the other alternative could be to use Saucerotte’s for the SACC bird and Hoffmann’s for that of the NACC, which would also retain some symmetry in the E-names. (I note here that Hoffmann was a German medical doctor and naturalist who accompanied von Frantzius to Costa Rica in 1853, but died the following year due to malaria (?), hence the commemorating of his name).”


Comments from Zimmer: “NO”.  I am persuaded by the rationale laid out by Van in the Proposal, for retaining the long-established name of “Steely-vented Hummingbird” for the South American species.  Given that NACC has gone with “Blue-vented” for Central American birds, retaining “Steely-vented” maintains a sort of symmetry of English names, while also alluding to the overall similarity of plumage between the two.”


Comments from Stotz: “YES.  My argument for changing Saucerottia saucerottei ‘s English name is that these species are roughly equally common in e-bird.  So this is not a case where the daughter taxa are widely unequal in abundance and range.  Given that typically we would coin a new name,  I think this is a case where the failure to create a new name for nominate saucerottei creates a real opportunity for confusion among the target audience for English names, namely birdwatchers.  I favor Saucerotte’s Hummingbird (inconsistent I know with my  previous preference for descriptive over patronymic names).”


Comments from Jaramillo: “NO.  Retain Steely-vented Hummingbirds for S. saucerottei. I do not see a need to create a new name, hoffmanni is actually quite a bit more restricted in range than saucerottei. As Van notes, they are not sisters. In addition, I think a new name will actually create more confusion, at least that is my opinion.”