When two species or subspecies hybridize, the parental taxa may become more similar or follow new directions as alleles from one enter the novel genetic and ecological environment of the other. Here, we document hybridization between two Dinopium woodpeckers in Sri Lanka: two subspecies of Black-rumped Flameback woodpeckers (Dinopium benghalense jaffnense and D. b psarodes, recently considered as a full species Lesser Sri Lanka Flameback Dinopium psarodes). Hybridization has been suspected for 130 years. We describe eight different forms of hybrids, only two of which were known historically, and pairing patterns that indicate hybridization. The species and subspecies along with numerous hybrids have now become a hybrid swarm in northern Sri Lanka.
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