New World Blackbirds (Icteridae)

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) - HBW 16, p. 789

French: Carouge à épaulettes German: Rotflügelstärling Spanish: Sargento Alirrojo
Other common names: Bicolored Blackbird (“gubernator group”)

Taxonomy: O.[riolus] phoeniceus Linnaeus, 1766, Charleston, South Carolina, USA.
Formerly treated as conspecific with A. assimilis, but the two differ markedly in sexual dimorphism, in mating and nesting behaviour and in size; molecular data support treatment as separate species. Subspecific taxonomy complex. Distinctive race gubernator has been suggested as being a separate species (sometimes including californicus and mailliardorum as races); was possibly isolated in the past, but now intergrades with nelsoni. Over most of E USA and Canada geographical variation runs along smooth clines, and delimitation of races is rather arbitrary; se.. View all taxonomy...

Taxonomy: O.[riolus] phoeniceus Linnaeus, 1766, Charleston, South Carolina, USA.
Formerly treated as conspecific with A. assimilis, but the two differ markedly in sexual dimorphism, in mating and nesting behaviour and in size; molecular data support treatment as separate species. Subspecific taxonomy complex. Distinctive race gubernator has been suggested as being a separate species (sometimes including californicus and mailliardorum as races); was possibly isolated in the past, but now intergrades with nelsoni. Over most of E USA and Canada geographical variation runs along smooth clines, and delimitation of races is rather arbitrary; several independent studies indicate minimal differences in mitochondrial DNA between most races in E North America. Some authors suggest that arctolegus and fortis are better synonymized with nominate. Additional proposed races are, in USA, stereus (described from Barr, Colorado), zastereus (from Boise, Idaho) and heterurus (from Fort Wingate, New Mexico), all tentatively included in fortis; and matudae (from Palizada, in Campeche, in Mexico) and brevirostris (from W Honduras), all treated as synonyms of richmondi. Twenty-two subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution:

  • arctolegus Oberholser, 1907 - breeds from SE Alaska and W Canada (SE Yukon, C Mackenzie, NW Saskatchewan and NC Manitoba S to C British Columbia, S Alberta and W & NE Ontario) S in USA to E Montana, S South Dakota and Iowa; migrates to S USA.
  • caurinus Ridgway, 1901 - SW Canada (British Columbia) S along US coast to N California.
  • nevadensis Grinnell, 1914 - breeds from SC & SE British Columbia S in W USA (from C Washington, N Idaho and WC Oregon) to SC California and S Nevada.

     See all 22 subspecies
  • arctolegus Oberholser, 1907 - breeds from SE Alaska and W Canada (SE Yukon, C Mackenzie, NW Saskatchewan and NC Manitoba S to C British Columbia, S Alberta and W & NE Ontario) S in USA to E Montana, S South Dakota and Iowa; migrates to S USA.
  • caurinus Ridgway, 1901 - SW Canada (British Columbia) S along US coast to N California.
  • nevadensis Grinnell, 1914 - breeds from SC & SE British Columbia S in W USA (from C Washington, N Idaho and WC Oregon) to SC California and S Nevada.
  • mailliardorum van Rossem, 1926 - C coastal California, in SW USA.
  • californicus Nelson, 1897 - C California (Central Valley).
  • aciculatus Mailliard, 1915 - Kern County, in S California.
  • neutralis Ridgway, 1901 - S coastal California and extreme NW Mexico (N Baja California).
  • sonoriensis Ridgway, 1887 - SW USA (extreme S Nevada, SE California and Arizona) and NW Mexico (N Sonora).
  • fortis Ridgway, 1901 - breeds in USA E of Rocky Mts (in W Montana and SE Idaho E to W Nebraska and W Kansas, S to C & EC Arizona, C & SE New Mexico and N & W Texas); N populations migrate S to Gulf Coast.
  • phoeniceus (Linnaeus, 1766) - breeds from SE Canada (S Quebec E to W Newfoundland and Nova Scotia) and E USA (E from Wisconsin, Iowa and E Nebraska, S to NE Texas, NE Louisiana and C Florida); N populations migrate S to at least Gulf Coast.
  • littoralis A. H, Howell & van Rossem, 1928 - coast of Gulf of Mexico from Texas E to Florida.
  • mearnsi A. H, Howell & van Rossem, 1928 - SC Florida.
  • floridanus Maynard, 1895 - S Florida (including Florida Keys).
  • bryanti Ridgway, 1887 - NW Bahamas.
  • nyaritensis Dickey & van Rossem, 1925 - Pacific coast from W Mexico (S from Nayarit) S to W El Salvador.
  • gubernator (Wagler, 1832) - C Mexico, from Durango S to Jalisco and Puebla.
  • nelsoni Dickerman, 1965 - Morelos and Puebla, in SC Mexico.
  • grinnelli A. B. Howell, 1917 - El Salvador to NW Costa Rica (Guanacaste).
  • megapotamus Oberholser, 1919 - S Texas (extreme S USA) and E Mexico (S to N Veracruz).
  • richmondi Nelson, 1897 - S Veracruz S to N Costa Rica (Limón).
  • pallidulus Van Tyne & Trautman, 1946 - N Yucatán Peninsula, in SE Mexico.
  • arthuralleni Dickerman, 1974 - L Petén Itzá, in N Guatemala.