2012 Clements Checklist updates released
by Nate Swick
The most recent update of the Clements Checklist of Birds of the World, the 7th for those keeping track, was announced by Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the organization tasked with keeping up with the splits, lumps, and taxonomic revisions since the death of James Clements in 2005.
You may ask youself, "why should this affect me?", but dear reader/member, not only is this is the official checklist of the American Birding Association, but to an increasing number of birders around the world it's simply, "the one eBird uses". So if you have sightings entered into the mighty mighty citizen science and listing program, you'll be impacted whether you're aware of it or not.
This newest edition adds 7 new species from new discoveries and 82 newly recognized "splits" - along with 7 "lumps" - bringing the grand total of avian diversity to 10,240 species in 227 families. The total number of subspecies listed doubles the total to 20,893, so if you ascribe to the phylogenetic species concept you may have much to look forward too.
The next update is scheduled for August of 2013.
As before, we update the taxonomy and nomenclature of species for North America, based on decisions of the North American Checklist Committee (NACC), through the Fifty-third supplement to the American Ornithologists' Union Check-list of North American Birds (July 2012). The most important change in North American birds is the split of Gray Hawk (Buteo nitidus) into two species, Gray Hawk (Buteo plagiatus) and Gray-lined Hawk (Buteo nitidus), and the split of Xantus's Murrelet (Synthliboramphus hypoleucus) into two species, Scripps's Murrelet (Synthliboramphus scrippsi), and Guadalupe Murrelet (Synthliboramphus hypoleucus). Also noteworthy is the addition of a recently described shearwater from the North Pacific, Bryan's Shearwater (Puffinus bryani).
We also are current with decisions of the South American Classification Committee (SACC) through June 2012. Among these changes are the addition of several recently described species (a few of which are still pending formal acceptance by SACC), and the split of Thrush-like Schiffornis (Schiffornis turdina) into five species.
We also reinstate as a species Italian Sparrow (Passer italiae), the taxonomy of which (species, subspecies, or taxonomic nonentity) has varied considerably over the years.
There are a large number of splits of Asian birds, especially from Indonesia, as well as the split of Stonechat (Saxicola torquatus) into three species, and the recognition of Azores Bullfinch (Pyrrhula murina) as a species, separate from Eurasian Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula).