The Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola) is a species of passerine bird of uncertain relation. It is 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 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.
The Bananaquit was first described by Linnaeus in his Systema Naturae in 1758 as Certhia flaveola. It was reclassified as the only member of the genus Coereba by Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot in 1809. Prior to 2005 the Bananaquit was assigned to the monotypic family Coerebidae; there is currently no agreement to which family it belongs; some authors place it into the Emberizidae. Since recent studies have shed some light on the Bananaquit's affinities, many authorities consider Coerebidae an obsolete taxon. The Coerebidae used to contain other nectar-eating birds from the tropical Americas, but these have since been moved. The Bananaquit is part of a group that includes Darwin's finches, Tiaris (grassquits), Loxigilla, etc.—most of which were previously placed in Emberizidae, but are now known to actually be part of the Thraupidae. As such this species is tentatively placed in the Thraupidae family unless a study suggests more accurate placement. Nevertheless, its precise relations remain unresolved, so the American Ornithologists' Union classes it as a species incertae sedis.
It is still unclear if any of the island subspecies should be elevated to species, but phylogenetic studies by Seutin et al. and Bellemain et al. 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. Bellemain et al. suggested that the two taxa bahamensis and bartholemica be split, and in February 2010, the International Ornithological Congress listed as proposed splits from C. flaveola.