Coerebidae – Bananaquit

Bananaquit Coereba flaveola ©James Lowen Website

The Bananaquit Coereba flaveola is a species of passerine bird of uncertain relation. It was tentatively placed in the tanager family, but classified as incertae sedis by other authorities such as the American Ornithologists’ Union. Its classification is debated, and it is now more often placed in its own family: Coerebidae. It has recently been suggested the bananaquit should be split into three species, but this has yet to receive widespread recognition. This small, active nectarivore is found in warmer parts of the Americas, and is generally common.

There are no less than 41 currently recognised subspecies. It is still unclear if any of the island subspecies should be elevated to species, but phylogenetic studies have revealed three clades: the nominate group from Jamaica, Hispaniola and the Cayman Islands, the bahamensis group from the Bahamas and Quintana Roo, and the bartholemica group from South and Central America, Mexico (except Quintana Roo), the Lesser Antilles and Puerto Rico. Several taxa were not sampled, but most of these are easily placed in the above groups based on zoogeography alone. Exceptions are oblita (San Andrés Island) and tricolor (Providencia Island), and their placement is therefore uncertain. In February 2010, the International Ornithological Congress listed bahamensis and bartholemica as proposed splits from C. flaveola.

Species Links
  • Bananaquit Coereba flaveola

    BirdLife Species Account
    he population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
  • Bananaquit Coereba flaveola

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Certhia flaveola Linnaeus, 1758, Jamaica.Taxonomic placement long disputed. Has often been placed in its own family, Coerebidae, and sometimes with New World warblers (Parulidae) or with buntings and New World sparrows (Emberizidae), sometimes as a subfamily. Recent molecular-genetic data do not support historically recognized family Coerebidae, but do show strong support for a monophyletic grouping that includes present genus, Tiaris, the Galapagos finches, and several Caribbean genera (especially Euneornis), all usually placed in Emberizidae but now thought to belong clearly within the thraupine lineage; genetic variation between species in this clade comparable to that within most avian genera, despite marked differences in bill morphology and feeding behaviour. Within present species, molecular-phylogenetic studies reveal three clades, “bahamensis group” (Quintana Roo region of SE Mexico, and Bahamas), “flaveola group” (Cayman Is, Jamaica and Hispaniola), and “bartholemica group” (Puerto Rico, Lesser Antilles, Mexico except Quintana Roo, and Central and South America), and these may be better treated as three separate species; several taxa not yet sampled, but should fall within with one of above groups on basis of distribution; placement of SW Caribbean island races oblita (San Andrés) and tricolor (Providencia) remains uncertain. Recent molecular-genetic studies point to an origin in Greater Antilles, this followed by multiple expansion phases resulting in island to mainland colonization as the species extended its range. Remarkable geographical variation, especially in Caribbean islands. Number of races likely subject to revision, some races (or groups of races) perhaps worthy of species status and others poorly separated genetically; for example, roraimae could be subsumed in guianensis and alleni in chloropyga. Forty-one subspecies currently recognized.
  • Bananaquit Coereba flaveola

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map
  • Bananaquit Coereba flaveola

    Cornell Species Account
    The Bananaquit inhabits a variety of habitats from scrubland to tropical lowland forest edge, from the Antilles and Mexico south to Paraguay and northern Argentina. Bananaquits are distinctive birds with down-curved bills, black upperparts, bright yellow underparts, and a conspicuous white eyebrow.
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 1

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