Sometimes separated with other barred congeners in Centurus. Recent molecular phylogeny found nominate race to form a clade with M. carolinus, with M. superciliaris as sister to this pair#R. In past, reckoned closest to M. hoffmannii, and sometimes treated as conspecific. Hybridizes with latter in S Honduras (R Pespire), with M. carolinus in S USA (Texas) and rarely with M. uropygialis in SW Mexico. Recent study#R suggests that aurifrons in N of range is distinct in both size and plumage coloration from all other races, which should perhaps be treated as a separate species, M. santacruzi; this is supported by genetic differences, and has been adopted by some authors#R#R, but requires further study. Geographical variation complex, and strong clinal variation in many plumage characters, making delimitation of races very difficult; also, mainland races, themselves rather variable, intergrade, producing many populations with intermediate characters; grateloupensis may be no more than an intergrade population. Subspecific treatment has varied greatly in the past, and some have recognized only nine or fewer races; conversely, others have grouped races to form up to four separate species; further study needed. Paler birds from C Texas S to W Mexican Plateau, described as race incanescens, seem better merged with nominate; others from interior Chiapas, described as frontalis, tend towards nominate, but better treated as part of polygrammus. Twelve subspecies currently recognized.
Food and feeding
Status and conservation
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