Historically, the genus consisted of a single polytypic species, Spindalis zena, with eight recognized subspecies:
S. z. townsendi and S. z. zena from the Bahamas S. z. pretrei from Cuba S. z. salvini from Grand Cayman S. z. dominicensis from Hispaniola and Gonave Island S. z. portoricensis from Puerto Rico S. z. nigreciphala from Jamaica, and S. z. benedicti from Cozumel Island.
In 1997, based primarily on morphological and vocalization differences, three of the subspecies (portoricensis, dominicensis and nigricephala) were elevated to species status. S. zena remained a polytypic species with five recognized subspecies—S. z. pretrei, S. z. salvini, S. z. benedicti, S. z. townsendi, and S. z. zena.
O. H. Garrildo, K. C. Parkes, G. B. Reynard, A. Kirkcornell, and R. Sutton (December 1997). "Taxonomy of the Stripe-Headed Tanager, genus Spindalis (Aves:Thraupidae) of the West Indies" (djvu). The Wilson Bulletin109 (4): 561–594. http://elibrary.unm.edu/sora/Wilson/DJVU/v109n04/P0561-P0594.djvu. Retrieved 2006-09-30.
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