Proposal (925) to South American Classification Committee



Recognize Heliothraupis oneilli as a new genus and species, the Inti Tanager


Effect on SACC: This would add a new genus and species to the roster of South American Thraupidae.


Background: As outlined in Lane et al. (2021), the new thraupid Heliothraupis oneilli has been described. It isn't likely a controversial addition to the list given its highly distinctive plumage, song, and natural history. It is presently known from only a few localities in La Paz, Bolivia, and Cusco, Peru, but is expected to be found at more localities in the nearby Andean foothills of the two countries.


English name: As noted in the paper, Our proposed common name “Inti” is derived from the Quechua and Aymara word for “Sun” and thus parallels the genus name.


Recommendation: Given that there are no previously available names, I recommend YES to this proposal.


Literature cited:

Lane, D. F., M. Aponte Justiniano, R. S. Terrill, F. E. Rheindt, L. B. Klicka, G. H. Rosenberg, C. J. Schmitt, and K. J. Burns. 2021. A new genus and species of tanager (Passeriformes, Thraupidae) from the lower Yungas of western Bolivia and southern Peru. Ornithology 138: 1-17.


Dan Lane, November 2021


Note on voting from Remsen: Let’s divide this into two parts: “A” for recognition of the new genus and species, and “B” for endorsement of the proposed English names.




Comments from Remsen:

“A. YES.  Obviously a new species.  Genetic data require a new genus name unless we’re willing to collapse existing distinctive genera.”

“B. YES.  There is no reason to deviate from the published proposed English name: it is colorful, charismatic, and memorable, in my opinion.  I like the match between the genus name and English name.”


Comments from Robbins: “A. YES to recognition of the species and placing it in a new genus.”


Comments from Donsker: “B. YES.  I fully support Inti Tanager as proposed by Dan and his colleagues.”


Comments from Pacheco: “A. YES. An obvious vote for outrageously distinctive creature.”


Comments from Areta: “A. YES to recognizing Heliothraupis oneilli. Just to add a bit of historical interest, the bird was first seen and sketched by Mark Pearman on 13 March 1993 in the Machariapo Valley, long before the sightings in Peru presented in the introduction of the paper (this part of the story is somewhat downplayed and hidden in the OD).


A drawing on a piece of paper

Description automatically generated with medium confidence



Additional comments from Lane: “To clarify and expand upon Nacho’s comment: Mark sent me that sketch in April/May of 2019 and admitted that he saw that bird briefly and concluded it was a furnariid of some kind (e.g., note the use of “buff” in the color description of the figure Nacho included). Our description was largely complete by that time, and so, after asking Mark if it would be ok to mention it, I included reference to his 1993 sighting in the second paragraph on page 11 of the document, where we clearly stated that it was the first verified observation of the species, and noted that March was the latest seasonal observation from the region. I’m not sure why one would think this downplayed the observation, but I don’t know what more I could say about it in the context of the events of the discovery and verification of the taxonomy and natural history of the species. Mark’s observation was only made known to us well after all our fieldwork and most of the labwork was complete. He was, unfortunately, on the wrong scent regarding the affinities of the bird, and he didn’t publish mention of it in his paper on the avifauna of the Machariapo.”


Comments from Bonaccorso: “A.YES. Absolutely. Quite distinctive species both morphologically and genetically.”


Comments from Jaramillo: “A and B: YES.”


Comments from Zimmer:

Part A: YES.  This distinctive bird clearly represents a new species, and I agree totally with the erecting of a new genus as well.

“Part B: YES also on the English name of Inti Tanager is memorable, pithy, and appropriate.”


Comments from Stiles: “A and B: YES.”