Systematics and behavior of South American flickers (Aves, Colaptes). Bulletin of the AMNH ; v. 149, article 1

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New York : [American Museum of Natural History]
"The genus Colaptes is comprised of eight species, formerly arranged in the genera Colaptes, Nesoceleus, and Chrysoptilus. More or less distinct forms hybridize in secondary contacts within four of the eight species. The six South American species constitute two subgroups; the forest, or green, flickers, which are more arboreal and more closely resemble the ancestor of Colaptes, and the ground flickers, which are to a high degree terrestrially adapted, live in open country, and represent the most specialized species of the genus. The North American Colaptes auratus resembles the green flicker group more than it does the ground flickers; it is probably independently derived from an ancestor of the former group. Two well-marked races comprise the somewhat xeric-adapted C. atricollis, which is morphologically and behaviorally unspecialized. Several races are included in C. punctigula, which is partly ground-foraging and the only truly tropical flicker. Colaptes melanochloros forms a superspecies with punctigula, and it is comprised of two distinctive racial groups, by some authors considered species. The melanochloros group of more arboreal, woodland and savanna populations is arranged in two distinct races, melanochloros and nattereri, which intergrade over a large part of southern Brazil. Three much less strongly marked subspecies, melanolaimus, leucofrenatus, and nigroviridis, constitute the melanolaimus group, which inhabits more open country and woodland edges and is partly ground-foraging. The two groups interbreed freely in Corrientes, Argentina, in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, and probably in south-central Paraguay, although rather effectively isolated by the Paraguay River in northern Paraguay. Colaptes pitius, a monotypic, forest-edge species of Patagonia and Chile, forages on the ground and nests either arboreally or terrestrially. The northern Andean C. rupicola is composed of a southern group of two moderately differentiated races, rupicola and puna, and a morphologically distinct north Peruvian race, cinereicapillus, which also differs somewhat in behavior from the southern forms. Contact between cinereicapillus and the more southern forms is limited topographically and ecologically; interbreeding occurs, with some introgression. This highland species is highly social, completely terrestrial, and is the only flicker that does not subsist mainly on ants. There are two rather weakly marked races of the terrestrial C. campestris, northern campestris with a black throat and southern campestroides with a white throat. These races have come into secondary contact recently, and they interbreed in the only major area of contact, central Paraguay. Slightly less social than rupicola, campestris nests in the ground or in fence posts or trees. It is morphologically and behaviorally distinctive, and it appears to be the most specialized of the flickers. The habits, vocalizations, and displays of the various flickers show many similarities. The ground flickers have the most distinct behavioral features, many of which (e.g., walking gait, sociality, yelping calls, wing-flicking display) seem to be adaptations for a terrestrial mode of life. Sympatry within the genus is uncommon and occurs only between distantly related species with divergent plumage patterns and habits. Greater speciation in South America compared with North America probably reflects greater opportunities for speciation on the former continent. Colaptes evolved from an arboreal, ant-eating woodpecker that resembled modern species of Piculus (e.g., rivolii); these genera are very closely related"--P. 5.
109 p. : ill., maps ; 27 cm.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 108-109).