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Limited Edition 2014 ABA Bird of the Year T-Shirt Available NOW!

Now that the Rufous Hummingbirds are starting their slow journey south, stopping off at hummingbird feeders… [read more]

Limited Edition 2014 ABA Bird of the Year T-Shirt Available NOW! Limited Edition 2014 ABA Bird of the Year T-Shirt Available NOW!

How to Record Birdsong—Part 1

  Two years ago in this space I wrote a three-part primer on the use of digital audio recorders for… [read more]

How to Record Birdsong—Part 1 How to Record Birdsong—Part 1

Featured Photo: May/June 2014 Birding

Here are three images that appear in the “Featured Photo” column of the May/June 2014 issue of Birding.… [read more]

Featured Photo: May/June 2014 Birding Featured Photo: May/June 2014 Birding

On Stringing…

(with apologies to “Pat Stringer”) Never identify a bird unless you’re 100% positive. At least… [read more]

On Stringing… On Stringing...

Introducing: The Lifelook

One of the most interesting facets of birding culture is its unique vocabulary. From lifers to dips to… [read more]

Introducing: The Lifelook Introducing: The Lifelook

ABA Adds Zino’s Petrel, #982

On 16 September 1995, Brian Patteson photographed a Pterodroma petrel off Hatteras, North Carolina. At… [read more]

ABA Adds Zino’s Petrel, #982 ABA Adds Zino's Petrel, #982
Nikon Monarch 7

    Birding British Columbia

    A review by Gavin Bieber

    Birdfinding in British Columbia by Russell Cannings and Richard Cannings

    Greystone Books, 2013

    466 pages, $29.95—softcover

    ABA Sales / Buteo Books 14072

    It is safe to say that virtually all North American birders are familiar with the birding reputations of such mega-diverse states as California, Arizona, and Texas—and that many will find themselves making the ornithological pilgrimage to those states at some point in their birding careers.

    What is less well known, especially to those US birders whose efforts in the field tend to stop at the border, is that the British Columbia list includes a remarkable total of 526 species. Now, though, with the publication of Russell Cannings and Richard Cannings’ new Birdfinding in British Columbia, the secret is out.

    With an amazing breadth of habitats and many highly sought-after bird species, British Columbia occupies a place squarely in the top tier of American states and provinces: that list of 526 comes in at number five, just behind New Mexico and actually ahead of such famously birdy places as Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Ohio, and New Jersey. Among the species generally regarded as “difficult” in the Lower 48, all three of the ptarmigans, the Spruce and Sooty Grouse, Yellow-billed Loon, Slaty-backed Gull, Ancient and Marbled Murrelets, Tufted Puffin, Gyrfalcon, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Red-necked Stint, Flammulated and Boreal Owls, Black-backed and American Three-toed Woodpeckers, and Connecticut Warbler all breed or winter in Canada’s westernmost province.

    Some 30% larger than Texas, British Columbia is vast, with extensive tracts in the north and along the Pacific coast that are very rarely explored by birders. Of particular interest on a continental scale are the areas surrounding northern Puget Sound and the Fraser River Delta, where tens of thousands of waterfowl, hundreds of thousands of shorebirds, and thousands of raptors and gulls winter or stop over during migration. There are days in late summer when the shores of Boundary Bay teem with a living carpet of more than a million shorebirds (mostly Western Sandpipers), and many winters bring numbers of Snowy Owls and Gyrfalcons down from their arctic haunts.

    Before the publication of Birdfinding, there were several regional guides available covering limited areas in the province; at this point all of them are woefully out of date. This new guide, the first to cover the entire province, springs out of the epic British Columbia big year undertaken by Russell Cannings in 2010, in the course of which he traveled over 35,000 miles and personally visited nearly all of the sites covered in the guide; the result was a record tally of 373 species. Russell’s father, Richard, is a prominent ornithologist, ecologist, and author who has been studying British Columbia’s avifauna for decades. Together, the authors are eminently qualified to produce a comprehensive work on the best birding locations in this huge province.

    Most visitors (and indeed, most British Columbia birders, too) spend most of their time afield in the southern part of the province, around the two largest cities, Vancouver and Victoria, with perhaps a side trip inland to the desert-like Okanagan Valley or to the forested Kootenay Mountains. The natural history of these and British Columbia’s wide range of other ecosystems is the subject of Birdfinding’s first three chapters; these useful introductory sections, like most of the rest of the book, are written in a very approachable tone, direct and folksy, at once informative and entertaining.

    The authors cover most of the province’s more accessible sites. They divide British Columbia into eleven broad regions, each comprising a number of birding locations both well-known and obscure. The guide does an excellent job of treating most of the best sites around Vancouver, in the Cascades, in the interior Okanagan Valley, and on southern Vancouver Island; together, these make up the majority of sites most likely to be visited by birding tourists. This is also the region I am most familiar with, and I took advantage of a recent tour to British Columbia to “ground truth” many of the locations treated here. I was impressed by the accuracy of the information: We found the distances, road designations, and landmarks to be all as advertised, and the directions given are clear and concise.

    The introductory materials include a brief month-by-month synopsis of the best birding opportunities. Each of the location accounts then provides a short list of the birds that might be found there; useful as they are, I find many of these lists optimistic, better reflecting the birds that are likely to be present than what one will necessarily see on any given visit. Most of the accounts provide detailed directions to the site in question, but they often do not specify where within each location a given species is most likely to be found, leaving the visiting birder to do some exploring on her own.

    BINbuttonMaps and excellent drawings of birds are liberally sprinkled through the book, breaking up the text and enlivening the presentation.

    As thoroughly covered as the province’s well-birded southern regions are here, this guide’s excellent presentation of so many sites in the farther-flung central and northern reaches of British Columbia may be its greatest accomplishment. From the remote islands of Haida Gwaii to logging roads in the deep heart of the province, visiting birders will find wild places full of sometimes surprising birds. The Peace River District, a fascinating corner of northeastern British Columbia lying east of the Rocky Mountains and home to many “eastern” breeders, is particularly well treated.

    The offshore waters of British Columbia are rich for the birder, but the lack of infrastructure on the west coast of Vancouver Island means that relatively few true pelagic trips are run out of the province. On those occasions when some enterprising birder has managed to assemble enough people to charter a fishing boat from Ucluelet or Tofino, the trips have recorded some great birds. For the most part, though, BC Ferries has to stand in as a substitute, and Birdfinding provides a thorough guide to the system’s most productive routes.

    Unlike many similar books, this guide does not have bar charts depicting the birds’ seasonal abundance; such graphs can prove very handy in giving the visitor a clearer sense of what to expect, or at least what to hope for, where and when in the province. Their absence here, however, is simply a sign of the times: As the authors indicate, such information can be found today at eBird, whose continuously updated graphs and tables are a more flexible resource than any print book could provide. Further evidence of the increasing significance of digital media to birding is found in the guide’s list list of links to regional online forums and to nature and birding clubs throughout the province; there are also suggestions for the effective reporting of rare birds.

    The abbreviated checklist at the back of the guide highlights a selection of especially desirable species, with detailed suggests for where and when to find them; I would have preferred a more comprehensive annotated checklist. There is no species index in the book, making it very difficult to identify likely locations for birds not covered in the brief annotated checklist.

    Apart from these few shortcomings, the depth and breadth of information this guide presents, much of it never before available to the birding public, is stunning. The authors are to be commended for undertaking such a monumental task, and I am confident that Birdfinding in British Columbia will raise the province’s ornithological profile and help many a visiting birder, and even more than a few locals, for years to come.

    gavin-bieber - Gavin Bieber was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He developed a very early interest in the natural world, and has been an avid birder since the age of 5. Bieber currently works as a guide for WINGS/Sunbird, and sits on the board of directors of Tucson Audubon Society.

    Recommended citation: Bieber, G. 2014. Birding British Columbia [a review of Birdfinding in British Columbia, by Russell Cannings and Richard Cannings]. Birding 46 (4): 67.


      2014 AOU Check-list Supplement is Out!

      Every summer, birders anxiously await publication of the “Check-list Supplement” by the American Ornithologists’ Union’s North American Classification Committee (NACC). The Supplement details revisions to its Check-list (e.g., lumps, splits, new species, new classifications, etc.). Below is a brief rundown of those changes. (You can see the Supplement here.) Be sure to check out the ABA’s annual Check-list Redux” in Birder’s Guide to Listing & Taxonomy this September. There, you’ll find photos, maps, and more detailed analysis of these changes. (You can see last year’s Check-list Redux here.)

      As a general policy, the NACC accepts as additions to the Check-list any species the American Birding Association’s Checklist Committee (ABA CLC) adds to its list that are not already on the AOU’s list. See the ABA CLC’s annual report in the Nov/Dec 2013 issue of Birding for details on those species. Likewise, the ABA CLC automatically adopts all taxonomic changes accepted by the NACC.

      You can read all the proposals on which the NACC voted this year by visiting its webpage. Species marked with asterisks below are those which do not appear on the ABA Checklist, either because there are no currently accepted records in the ABA Area or because they are non-natives which have not yet been admitted to the list. When a split is discussed, the species that retains the scientific name of the “old” lumped species is listed first. These days, you can assume that any change in taxonomy is due (at least partly) to analysis of new genetic data, so that is not always mentioned below.


      Clapper Rail Split

      Mangrove Rail* (Rallus longirostris)

      Ridgway’s Rail (Rallus obsoletus)

      Clapper Rail (Rallus crepitans)

      Recent genetic studies have looked at the relatedness of the New World “big rails”, that is, what we have traditionally known as Clapper Rail and King Rail. King Rail was split into two species, and Clapper Rail into three. (For an article on the different “Clapper Rails” in the ABA Area, check out the Sep/Oct 2013 issue of Birding.)

      Finally, Robert Ridgway has an English bird name to celebrate his storied contributions to North American ornithology! Ridgway’s Rail includes the “California” (obsoletus), “Yuma” (yumanensis), and “Light-footed” (levipes) subspecies, plus others further south in Mexico. Any “Clapper Rail” observed in California, Nevada, or Arizona is now this species.

      The name “Clapper Rail” was retained for the birds on the east coast of the U.S. (this species also extends partially into Middle America and the Caribbean), but its scientific name has changed.

      Mangrove Rail is thought to be restricted to coastal South America.

      Ridgway's Rail. Sinaloa, Mexico. Photo by © Marco Antonio González Bernal.

      Ridgway’s Rail. Sinaloa, Mexico. Photo by © Marco Antonio González Bernal.


      King Rail Split

      King Rail (Rallus elegans)

      Aztec Rail* (Rallus tenuirostris)

      “King Rails” found in freshwater marshes of interior and western Mexico are now split as “Aztec Rail”. The large rails of freshwater marshes in the eastern U.S. and Canada retain the same scientific and English names.


      Arctic Warbler Split

      Arctic Warbler (Phylloscopus borealis)

      Kamchatka Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus examinandus)

      Japanese Leaf Warbler* (Phylloscopus xanthodryas)

      These three species are almost identical in appearance but differ markedly in voice. That makes it extremely difficult if not impossible to identify sight records of silent migrants. And most migrants are unfortunately silent. It is thus unknown which species are represented by many records of migrant birds on Alaskan islands and in western Canada, the Lower 48, and Mexico. For details on differences among the three species, see Howell et al.’s Rare Birds of North America (2014). (They speculate that Kamchatka Leaf Warbler is rare to very rare as a migrant on the western and central Aleutians.) Also check out this website, where you can listen to the different vocalizations, and this one, which nicely shows their breeding ranges.

      The “new” Arctic Warbler is the species that breeds in Alaska, so if you’ve seen an Arctic Warbler in Denali National Park, then you’ve still seen an Arctic Warbler. The Supplement lists four records of the “new” Arctic Warbler for California and states that Kamchatka Leaf Warbler is casual in the Aleutians and that two records from the Northwest Territories are not conclusively identified to species. Japanese Leaf Warbler has no confirmed records and is not placed on the Check-list.

      Note that the newest edition of the National Geographic field guide mentions and illustrates xanthodryas, but the authors are really referring to what we today call examinandus.Kamchatka Leaf Warbler (examinandus) and Japanese Leaf Warbler (xanthodryas) were formerly considered the same subspecies (xanthodryas) of Arctic Warbler. So Kamchatka Leaf Warbler first became its own subspecies, and now its own species—quite a graduation!


      Shy Albatross Split

      White-capped Albatross (Thalassarche cauta)

      Salvin’s Albatross (Thalassarche salvini)

      Chatham Albatross* (Thalassarche eremita)

       All three of the “Shy Albatrosses” nest on islands of the south Pacific; any appearances they make in the ABA Area are as vagrants.

      Most records pertain to White-capped Albatross, of which there are a handful of records off the Pacific coast of the Lower 48. There are two of Salvin’s Albatross in the ABA Area—one from off the Aleutians and one very recent record from off central California. (There is another from Hawaiian waters.) Chatham Albatross is not yet confirmed for the ABA Area, but it may be added to the Checklist before long. Two records of young birds initially reported as White-capped Albatross off California are currently being reevaluated after Howell re-identified them as Chatham Albatross based on (orangeish) bill color. The AOU is waiting for the ABA CLC to act on this record.

      For more on these albatross species, their identification, and their records within the ABA Area, see Rare Birds of North America; Steve Howell’s Petrels, Albatrosses, & Storm-petrels of North America (2012); and the current National Geographic field guide.

      Salvin's Albaross. Photo by Arthur Chapman.

      Salvin’s Albaross. Photo by Arthur Chapman.


      Brown Hawk-Owl Split

      Brown Hawk-Owl* (Ninox scutulata)

      Northern Boobook (Ninox japonica)

      This split separates resident Ninox owls of southern Asia (scutulata) from the highly migratory ones of eastern Asia (japonica); the latter are now called Northern Boobook. The two also differ in voice. Two records of Northern Boobook exist from Alaskan islands.



      Scaly-breasted Munia. Photo by © Billtacular via flickr

      Nutmeg Mannikin Changed to Scaly-breasted Munia

      Lonchura punctulataadded to the ABA Checklist just last year, has had its English name changed from Nutmeg Mannikin to Scaly-breasted Munia. It has long been known in the pet trade as “Spice Finch” or “Nutmeg Mannikin”, but neither name is now widely used by ornithological authorities. The species has no particular association with nutmeg (or other spices), or even Indonesia’s Banda Islands whence nutmeg originates. For largely extralimital species, the NACC generally follows regional authorities on issues of common name usage. Almost all other taxonomic authorities call this species Scaly-breasted Munia, and thus, the AOU has followed suit. This change also has the benefit of eliminating some potential confusion among birders who, when reading “mannikin”, may mistakenly infer a relationship with the neotropical manakins of the family Pipridae.


      Black-Hawks Changed to Black Hawks

      The black-hawks of the genus Buteogallus have lost the hyphen from their “last name”. This affects three species: Common Black Hawk, Great Black Hawk*, and Cuban Black Hawk*. Great Black Hawk has no accepted records from the ABA Area, but it occurs rather  far north into Tamaulipas, so it wouldn’t be an outlandish prospect to show up north of the U.S-Mexican birder. Cuban Black Hawk has been recorded in Florida and Georgia, but those records have not been accepted by the ABA CLC. This change in names is taking place because the “black hawks” are a paraphyletic group. That is, they are not each other’s closest relatives. Some black hawks are more closely related to other Buteogallus, such as Solitary Eagle*, than they are to other species called “black hawk”.


      Pallas’s Leaf-Warbler Changed to Pallas’s Leaf Warbler

       Much as with the black hawks (above), the Phylloscopus leaf-warbers were found to be a paraphyletic group. So goes the hyphen.

      Scientific Name and Checklist Sequence Changes

      The genus Geotrygon (quail-doves) was found to be paraphyletic. Therefore, it was split into three genera. Ruddy and Key West quail-doves are still in Geotrygon, so the only consequence for ABA Area birders is a reshuffling of the sequence of some of the doves. Why the hyphen didn’t drop out of “quail-dove” I don’t understand. Coming after Spotted Dove, the new dove sequence is as follows.

      Key West Quail-Dove on Cayo Coco, Cuba. Photo by Michael Retter.

      Key West Quail-Dove on Cayo Coco, Cuba. Photo by Michael Retter.

      Zebra Dove*

      Passenger Pigeon

      Inca Dove

      Common Ground-Dove

      Ruddy Ground-Dove

      Ruddy Quail-Dove

      Key West Quail-Dove

      White-tipped Dove

      White-winged Dove

      Zenaida Dove

      Mourning Dove


      Green Parakeet is now Psittacara holochlorus. Harlingen, Texas. Photo by Michael Retter.

      Green Parakeet is now Psittacara holochlorus. Harlingen, Texas. Photo by Michael Retter.

      The genus Aratinga was found to be paraphyletic and was split into four genera, three of which occur in the ABA Area. Additionally, the genus Nandaya was absorbed into the “new” Aratinga. All of the species listed below have populations in the ABA Area. The new scientific names and the new checklist sequence are as follows.

      Dusky-headed Parakeet* (remains Aratinga weddellii)

      Nanday Parakeet (Nandayus nenday ➛ Aratinga nendaya)

      Blue-crowned Parakeet* (Aratinga acticaudata Thectocercus acuticaudatus)

      Green Parakeet (Aratinga holochlora ➛ Psittacara holochlorus)

      Mitred Parakeet* (Aratinga mitrata ➛ Psittacara miratus)

      Red-masked Parakeet* (Aratinga erythrogenys ➛ Psittacara erythrogenys)

      White-eyed Parakeet* (Aratinga leucophthalma ➛ Psittacara leucophthalmus)


       The Old World family Megaluridae has had its name changed to Locustellidae. Middendorff’s Grasshopper-Warbler and Lanceolated Warbler are the only species in this family on the ABA Checklist.


      Screen Shot 2014-07-19 at 3.00.03 PM

      Bronze Mannikin. Photo by gisela gerson lohman-braun.

      The estrilid finch genus Lonchura was found to be paraphyletic. Therefore, it was split into three genera. Also, the genus Padda was absorbed into the “new” Lonchura. The new scientific names and the new checklist sequence are as follows.

      Bronze Mannikin* (Lonchura cucullata Spermestes cucullata)

      African Silverbill* (Lonchura cantans Euodice cantans)

      Java Sparrow* (Padda oryzivora Lonchura oryzivora)

      Tricolored Munia. Photo by Krayker.

      Tricolored Munia. Photo by Krayker.

      Scaly-breasted Munia (remains Lonchura punctulata)

      Tricolored Munia* (remains Lonchura malacca)

      Chestnut Munia* (remains Lonchura atricapilla)

      Bronze Mannikin is an African species with an established population in Puerto Rico; a small population also exists in the southwestern suburbs of Houston. African Silverbill is established in Hawaii. Java Sparrow is established in Hawaii and turns up as an escapee in California and Florida. Tricolored Munia has exploded in numbers across the Caribbean and Middle America over the last decade; in 2013 presumed vagrants from Cuba turned up on Key West and Dry Tortugas, whence come at least three prior records. Chestnut Munia is established in Hawaii.


      Notable Proposals That Were Not Accepted

      Lump of Thick-billed Parrot and Maroon-fronted Parrot*.

      Split of Siberian Stonechat from Common Stonechat.

      Split of Curve-billed Thrasher into Plateau Thrasher and Palmer’s Thrasher.

      Transfer of American Goldfinch, Lesser Goldfinch, and Lawrence’s Goldfinch into their own genus, Astragalinus.

      Removal of Azure Gallinule* from the AOU Check-list.



      (Asterisks no longer used to label species not found in the ABA Area.)

      No More Bush-Tanagers!

      At least not in North America. All the members of the genus Chlorospingus—which are not tanagers, but emberizid “sparrows”—have had their “last name” changed from “bush-tanager” to “chlorospingus”.

      Common Bush-Tanager Common Chlorospingus (Chlorospingus flavopectus)

      Tacarcuna Bush-Tanager Tacarcuna Chlorospingus (Chlorospingus tacarcunae)

      Pirre Bush-Tanager Pirre Chlorospingus (Chlorospingus inornatus)

      Sooty-capped Bush-Tanager Sooty-capped Chlorospingus (Chlorospingus pileatus)

      Yellow-throated Bush-Tanager Yellow-throated Chlorospingus (Chlorospingus flavigularis )

      Ashy-throated Bush-Tanager Ashy-throated Chlorospingus (Chlorospingus canigularis)

      Sooty-capped Chlorospingus. Savegre Valley, Costa Rica. Photo by Michael Retter.

      Sooty-capped Chlorospingus. Savegre Valley, Costa Rica. Photo by Michael Retter.


      Dark-eyed Junco Split

      Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)

      Guadalupe Junco (Junco insularis)

      Guadalupe Junco is a severely endangered endemic of Mexico’s Guadalupe Island, off the west coast of northern Baja California. For a captivating look into this species and its unique home, be sure to watch this video.


      Painted Parakeet Split

      Painted Parakeet (Pyrrhura picta)

      Santarem Parakeet (Pyrrhura amazonum)

      Bonaparte’s Parakeet (Pyrrhura lucianii)

      Rose-fronted Parakeet (Pyrrhura roseifrons)

      The endemic “Azuero Parakeet” (eisenmanni) of Panama is still treated as a subspecies of Painted Parakeet. The other subspecies of the “new” Painted Parakeet are found in South America, as are Santarem, Bonaparte’s, and Rose-fronted parakeets. So there is no appreciable change as far as North America is concerned.


      Bicolored Antbird along Pipeline Road, Panama. Photo by Michael Retter.

      Bicolored Antbird along Pipeline Road, Panama. Photo by Michael Retter.

      Bicolored Antbird Split

      White-cheeked Antbird (Gymnopithys leucaspis)

      Bicolored Antbird (Gymnopithys bicolor)

      This is, unfortunately, an A = A + B split at the English name level and a B = A + B split at the scientific name level (as with Clapper Rail). The formerly lumped Bicolored Antbird was G. leucaspis. But G. leucaspis now refers to White-cheeked Antbird, found east of the Andes. The “new” Bicolored Antbird (G. bicolor), found west of the Andes, is the one that occurs in North America.


      Male Variable Seedeater in Chiapas, Mexico. Photo by Michael Retter.

      Male Variable Seedeater in Chiapas, Mexico. Photo by Michael Retter.

      Variable Seedeater Split 

      Wing-barred Seedeater (Sporophila americana)

      Variable Seedeater (Sporophila corvina)


      Like the preceding example, this is one where the English name stays with one species and the scientific name with another. Wing-barred Seedeater is not found in North America, so the major effect is a change in the scientific name of Variable Seedeater.


      Additions to the Check-list

      The following two species were added to the AOU’s North American list due to well-documented records, both from Costa Rica.

      Magauri Stork (Ciconia maguari)

      Lined Seedeater (Sporophila lineola)


      More Scientific Name and Checklist Sequence Changes

      The genus Geotrygon (quail-doves) was found to be paraphyletic. One of them (now Leptotrygon) is allied with Leptotila. Some others (Zentrygon) are allied with Zenaida. See what they did there? The new scientific names (when applicable) and the new checklist sequence are as follows, starting immediately after Spotted Dove.

      Zebra Dove

      Passenger Pigeon

      Inca Dove

      Common Ground-Dove

      Plain-breasted Ground-Dove

      Ruddy Ground-Dove

      Blue Ground-Dove

      Maroon-chested Ground-Dove

      Blue-headed Quail-Dove

      Crested Quail-Dove

      Ruddy Quail-Dove

      Violaceous Quail-Dove

      Gray-fronted Quail-Dove

      White-fronted Quail-Dove

      Key West Quail-Dove

      Bridled Quail-Dove

      Olive-backed Quail-Dove (Geotrygon veraguensis Leptotrygon veraguensis)

      White-tipped Dove

      Caribbean Dove

      Gray-chested Dove

      Gray-headed Dove

      Grenada Dove

      Tuxtla Quail-Dove (Geotrygon carrikeri Zentrygon carrikeri)

      Buff-fronted Quail-Dove (Geotrygon costaricensis Zentrygon costaricensis)

      Purplish-backed Quail-Dove (Geotrygon lawrencii Zentrygon lawrencii)

      White-faced Quail-Dove (Geotrygon albifacies Zentrygon albifacies)

      Chiriquí Quail-Dove (Geotrygon chiriquensis Zentrygon chiriquensis)

      Russet-crowned Quail-Dove (Geotrygon goldmani Zentrygon goldmani)

      White-winged Dove

      Zenaida Dove

      Eared Dove

      Mourning Dove

      Socorro Dove

      Buff-faced Quail-Dove is now Zentrygon costaricensis. Monteverde Cloudforest Reserve, Costa Rica. Photo by Michael Retter.

      Buff-fronted Quail-Dove is now Zentrygon costaricensis. Monteverde Cloudforest Reserve, Costa Rica. Photo by Michael Retter.


      The genus Aratinga was found to be paraphyletic and was split into four genera. Additionally, the genus Nandaya was absorbed into the “new” Aratinga. The new scientific names (if applicable) and the new checklist sequence are as follows.

      Orange-fronted Parakeets near Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico. Photo by Michael Retter,

      Orange-fronted Parakeets near Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico. Photo by Michael Retter,

      Olive-throated Parakeet (Aratinga nana Eupsittula nana)

      Orange-fronted Parakeet (Aratinga canicularis Eupsittula canicularis)

      Brown-throated Parakeet (Aratinga pertinax Eupsittula pertinax)

      Dusky-headed Parakeet (remains Aratinga weddellii)

      Nanday Parakeet (Nandayus nenday Aratinga nendaya)

      Chestnut-fronted Macaw

      Military Macaw

      Great Green Macaw

      Red-and-green Macaw

      Scarlet Macaw

      Cuban Macaw

      Blue-and-yellow Macaw

      Blue-crowned Parakeet (Aratinga acticaudata Thectocercus acuticaudatus)

      Green Parakeet (Aratinga holochlora ➛ Psittacara holochlorus)

      Pacific Parakeet (Aratinga strenua ➛ Psittacara strenuous)

      Crimson-fronted Parakeet (Aratinga finschi ➛ Psittacara finschi)

      Cuban Parakeet (Aratinga euops ➛ Psittacara euops)

      Hispaniolan Parakeet (Aratinga chloropterus ➛ Psittacara chloroperus)

      Mitred Parakeet (Aratinga mitrata ➛ Psittacara miratus)

      Red-masked Parakeet (Aratinga erythrogenys ➛ Psittacara erythrogenys)

      White-eyed Parakeet (Aratinga leucophthalma ➛ Psittacara leucophthalmus)


       The sequence of North America’s three Dendrocincla woodcreepers has changed to

      Ruddy Woodcreeper

      Tawny-winged Woodcreeper

      Plain-brown Woodcreeper


       Reevaluation of relationship among some of the furnariids has resulted in a couple genus changes and a reordering, as follows.

      Ruddy Foliage-gleaner (Automolus rubiginosus Clibanornis rubiginosus)

      Streak-breasted Treehunter (still Thripadectes rufobrunneus)

      Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner (still Automolus ochrolaemus)

      Striped Woodhaunter (Hyloctistes subulatus Automolus subulatus)


       The sequence within the genus Saltator has changed to the following.

      Black-headed Saltator

      Buff-throated Saltator

      Slate-colored Grosbeak

      Lesser Antillean Saltator

      Grayish Saltator

      Streaked Saltator


      Yellow-winged Cacique at La Bajada, Nayarit, Mexico. Photo by Michael Retter.

      Yellow-winged Cacique at La Bajada, Nayarit, Mexico. Photo by Michael Retter.

      The pigtailed Yellow-winged Cacique—long known to literally be an odd bird—has been given its own genus. It changed from Cacicus melanicterus to Cassiculus melanicterus. It seems to be from a relatively old lineage that predates diversification of many of the oropendolas and caciques.


       The genus Oryzoborus (seed-finches) has been absorbed into the genus Sporophila. Their new sequence (and scientific names, where applicable) are as follows.

      Ruddy-breasted Seedeater

      Thick-billed Seed-Finch (Oryzoborus funereus Sporophila funerea)

      Nicaraguan Seed-Finch (Oryzoborus nuttingi Sporophila nuttingi)

      Large-billed Seed-Finch (Oryzoborus crassirostris Sporophila crassirostris)

      Variable Seedeater

      White-collared Seedeater

      Yellow-bellied Seedeater

      Lined Seedeater

      Slate-colored Seedeater


       The silverbills got their own genus, Euodice. Indian Silverbill is established on Puerto Rico but does not occur in the ABA Area, so it was not mentioned above with the other estrilids. Its new scientific name and place within the sequence are as follows.

      Bronze Mannikin

      Indian Silverbill (Lonchura malabarica Euodice malabarica)

      African Silverbill


      Additional Notable Proposals That Were Not Accepted

       Split of Cuban Parrot.

      Transfer of the neotropical siskins (represented in North America by Yellow-bellied, Black-headed, and Red) to their own genus, Sporagra.

      Black-headed Siskin occurs quite far north in Mexico and is a good candidate to show up in the ABA Area. This one was along the Durango highway in Sinaloa. Photo by Michael Retter.

      Black-headed Siskin occurs quite far north in Mexico and is a good candidate to show up in the ABA Area. (There is an unaccepted record from South Padre Island, Texas.) This one was along the Durango highway in Sinaloa. Photo by Michael Retter.


        Understanding Rarity

        A review by Graham Etherington

        Rare Birds of North America, by Steve N.G. Howell, Ian Lewington, and Will Russell

        Princeton University Press, 2014

        428 pages, $35.00—hardcover

        ABA Sales / Buteo Books 14102

        Rare birds: everybody loves ‘em. Whether it’s the wonder that you feel on seeing a bird that’s managed to survive a cross-ocean [read more...]

          Education, Enlightenment, and Eggs

          A review by Chelsea Biondolillo

          America’s Other Audubon, by Joy M. Kiser

          Princeton Architectural Press, 2012

          192 pages, $45.00—hardcover

          ABA Sales / Buteo Books 13683

          Some books entertain, others educate or enlighten, and still others dazzle with their visual display. America’s Other Audubon by Joy M. Kiser, a former librarian at the Cleveland Museum of [read more...]

            Blog Birding #197

            Sharon Stiteler, known far and wide as Birdchick, is covering the important case of the Minnesota Vikings, whose brand new stadium looks to be something of a mess for migratory birds.

            I’m not a big fan of petitions but this is a rare case where I think we need as many signatures as possible. Even [read more...]

              ABA’s Regional Interest Discussion Groups

              The birding scene in North America is primarily state/province based, reflected in the vibrant listserv culture that the birding community has created and nurtured. But stuck as we are in our ruts, we miss opportunities to share information across those lines.

              To use my own home state as an example; birders from all over the [read more...]

                #ABArare – “Salvin’s” Shy Albatross – California

                While we’re all eagerly awaiting the likely split of Shy Albatross by the AOU in their forthcoming Check-list supplemental, it’s worth reviewing the status of the species in ABA Area waters. The three “Shy” Albatrosses are represented by eight records from California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. Of those states, California is the only one with [read more...]

                  2014 Camp Colorado

                  July 4, 2014: 10:00 am. I’ve just picked up my rental car at the airport in Denver and am driving by Barr Lake State Park. I’ve arrived a few days early to do some pre-camp scouting in preparation for the ABA’s Camp Colorado. I’m not 10 minutes from the airport when I spot a Swainson’s [read more...]

                    Rare Bird Alert: July 25, 2014

                    Another week on the slower side in the ABA Area, but quality remains high. Numbers of shorebirds are beginning to increase continent-wide and with them the exciting Eurasian vagrants that get every birder’s heart going this time of year. The Red-necked Stint in Florida last week was only the beginning (that bird continues into this [read more...]

                      The Way We Were–And Still Are?

                      ABA member Harriet Davidson (right) is the very essence of the modern birder: She’s an unrepentant lister, an S&D (“status and distribution”) junkie, and a widely published author (including new-media offerings like DVDs about penguins). Okay, she’s the essence of a particularly ambitious and energetic sort of modern birder.

                      There’s more. Davidson was the only woman on [read more...]

                      Birders know well that the healthiest, most dynamic choruses contain many different voices. The birding community encompasses a wide variety of interests, talents, and convictions. All are welcome.
                      If you like birding, we want to hear from you.
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