Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

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[Mystery bird] Bare-throated Tiger-heron, Tigrisoma mexicanum, photographed in Mexico. [I will identify this bird for you in 48 hours]

Image: Dennis Paulson [larger view].

Please name at least one field mark that supports your identification.

Review all mystery birds to date.


  1. #1 psweet
    October 30, 2009

    There appears to be some confusion about the locale of this bird. You claim it’s Mexican, but the photo was apparently taken in Namibia. Any chance of a clarification here?

    If Mexican, looks like a Tiger-Heron of some sort.

  2. #2 David
    October 30, 2009

    Hmmm, the family is certainly Ardeidae, possibly subfamily Tigrisomatinae, in which there are species of Tiger Heron both in Central America (genus Tigrisoma, 3 species) and in Africa (I think only Tigriorinis leucolopha) but I am confused by psweet’s Mexican reference…

    certainly this looks very close to an immature Bare-throated Tiger Heron (Tigrisoma mexicanum), possibly a Fasciated Tiger Heron (Tigrisoma fasciatum), or a Rufescent Tiger Heron (Tigrisoma lineatum), all of which are found throughour Central America…

    if this is an African species (photo is marked Namibia), then it could be a White-crested Tiger Heron (Tigriorinis leucolopha) which is found in bordering Angola, but not listed for Namibia (or bordering countries such as South Africa or Zambia) so I’m off to try to find some African bitterns instead!

  3. #3 David
    October 30, 2009

    (Hey Grrl, any chance you can post my comment which has been referred to you for some reason- too many href tags perhaps?)

  4. #4 "GrrlScientist"
    October 30, 2009

    sorry about the mix-up. this is a mexican bird.

  5. #5 David
    October 30, 2009

    Thanks Grrl

    Therefore, taking a closer look at all three Central Amercan species, (discounting T. lineatum on plumage and T. fasciatum on range) I’m going for a juvenile Bare-throated Tiger Heron (Tigrisoma mexicanum)

  6. #6 Adrian
    October 31, 2009

    Help. My comments seem to be blocked for some reason. Greenish-yellow unfeathered throat says Bare-throated Tiger-Heron as there is no heron of this description in Africa

  7. #7 psweet
    October 31, 2009

    Thanks, guys, I didn’t know that there even was a Tiger Heron that made it to Africa.

  8. #8 David
    October 31, 2009

    psweet, from the Univeristy of Michigan Museum of Zoology, the subfamily Tigrisomatinae contains four genera: our Central American Tigrisoma (3 spp. of tiger herons); and also from Central America, the monotypic genus of Agamia (Agamia agami, agami or chestnut-bellied heron); and two further monotypic genera, the Indonesian/PNG genus of Zonerodius (Zonerodius heliosylus, forest bittern), and the African Tigriornis (Tigriornis leucolopha, white-crested tiger heron).

    However, there appears to be a lot of discussion about the correct taxonomy of the entire family, with DNA evidence now pointing to inclusion in the family Pelicaniformes and not Ardeidae, which would now reclassify the family into three subfamilies: Tigrisomatinae (we keep Tigrisoma, Tigriornis, and Zonerodius, but lose Agamia while gaining the boat-billed Cochlearius); Botaurinae which contains all the “bitterns”; and Ardeinae which contains all the rest- night herons, pond herons, typical herons, egrets, and the agami.

    S.J.Hackett, et al (2008) “A Phylogenomic Study of Birds Reveals Their Evolutionary History”, Science, Vol. 320. no. 5884, pp. 1763 – 1768

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