Nikon Monarch 7

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2013 AOU Check-List Changes

The July issue of The Auk has just been published by the American Ornithologists’ Union, and like every year, it contains a supplement to the AOU Check-List. The ABA Checklist automatically adopts changes in taxonomy adopted by the AOU, so these changes are in effect immediately with regard to the ABA Checklist.



The biggest news for ABA Area birders this year is that Sage Sparrow has been split into Sagebrush Sparrow (Artemisiospiza nevadensis) and Bell’s Sparrow (Artemisiospiza belli). The latter species includes the intermediate-looking, interior-California-breeding subspecies called canescens. It is hinted that this population may yet be split from Bell’s Sparrow and become a species of its own. Most if not all vagrant records of “Sage Sparrow” in the central and eastern parts of North America pertain to
Sagebrush Sparrow.


The newly split Bell’s Sparrow, this one from Baja California, Mexico, photo by Jorge Montejo via flickr

The “Little Shearwater” which occurs off eastern North America is now called Barolo Shearwater (Puffinis baroli). A record of “Little Shearwater” from California is no longer considered to have been identified unequivocally.


That’s it for species splits. Now onto the scientific name and checklist sequence changes.

The following species are now placed within Calidris, and their former monotypic genera disappear.

  • Surfbird (Aphriza virgata => Calidris virgata)
  • Spoon-billed Sandpiper (Eurynorhynchus pygmeus => Calidris pygmea)
  • Broad-billed Sandpiper (Limicola falcinellus => Calidris falcinellus)
  • Buff-breasted Sandpiper (Tryngites subruficollis => Calidris subruficollis)
  • Ruff (Philomachus pugnax => Calidris pugnax)

The sequence of species within the genus Calidris changes to the following, keeping in mind the genus’s new members outlined above.

  • Great Knot
  • Red Knot
  • Surfbird
  • Ruff
  • Broad-billed Sandpiper
  • Sharp-tailed Sandpiper
  • Stilt Sandpiper
  • Curlew Sandpiper
  • Temminck’s Stint
  • Long-toed Stint
  • Spoon-billed Sandpiper
  • Red-necked Stint
  • Sanderling
  • Dunlin
  • Rock Sandpiper
  • Purple Sandpiper
  • Baird’s Sandpiper
  • Little Stint
  • Least Sandpiper
  • White-rumped Sandpiper
  • Buff-breasted Sandpiper
  • Pectoral Sandpiper
  • Semipalmated Sandpiper
  • Western Sandpiper

Furthermore, the order Charadriiformes is reorganized, as follows

Suborder Charadrii

  • Family Burhinidae
  • Family Recurvirostridae
    (avocets and stilts)
  • Family Haematopodidae
  • Family Charadriidae

Suborder Scolopaci

  • Family Jacanidae
  • Family Scolopacidae

Suborder Lari

  • Family Glareolidae
    (pratincoles and coursers)
  • Family Stercorariidae
    (skuas and jaegers)
  • Family Alcidae
  • Family Laridae
    (gulls, terns, and skimmers)

The name for the sandgrouse order was changed from Pteroclidiformes to Pterocliformes.

Flammulated Owl is moved from the genus Otus (that of the Old World scops-owls) and placed in a new, monotypic genus. Its scientific name is now Psiloscops flammeolus.

The scientific names of some of the silky-flycatchers change. Genus Ptilogonys (including Gray Silky-flycatcher) changes to Ptiliogonys. The family, of which Phainopepla is also a member, changes from Ptilogonatidae to Ptiliogonatidae.

The sequence of species in the mimid family changes as follows. Species not currently on the ABA Checklist are marked with an asterisk.

  • Blue Mockingbird
  • Blue-and-white Mockingbird*
  • Black Catbird*
  • Gray Catbird
  • White-breasted Thrasher*
  • Scaly-breasted Thrasher*
  • Pearly-eyed Thrasher*
  • Brown Trembler*
  • Gray Trembler*
  • Curve-billed Thrasher
  • Ocellated Thrasher*
  • Brown Thrasher
  • Long-billed Thrasher
  • Cozumel Thrasher*
  • Bendire’s Thrasher
  • Gray Thrasher*
  • California Thrasher
  • Le Conte’s Thrasher
  • Crissal Thrasher
  • Sage Thrasher
  • Bahama Mockingbird
  • Socorro Mockingbird*
  • Tropical Mockingbird*
  • Northern Mockingbird

The sequence of the three Haemorhous (formerly Carpodacus) finches has changed to the following.

  • House Finch
  • Purple Finch
  • Cassin’s Finch

The subfamily Drepanidinae (Hawaiian honeycreepers) disappears, as it is subsumed into the subfamily Carduelinae. The Hawaiian  honeycreepers really just are, it seems, highly-diverged members of the goldfinch clan. Their position in the list changes, now coming immediately after Eurasian Bullfinch, but their internal sequence is unchanged.

Hawaiian Creeper, one of those aforementioned honeycreepers, gets a change of scientific name. It was formerly a member of a monotypic genus: Oreomystis. It is now Loxops mana. It shares this genus with ‘Akeke’e and ‘Ākepa, and it now precedes the former in the checklist sequence.



The Cuban endemic Bare-legged Owl has its monotypic genus changed. It is now Margarobyas lawrencii. Formerly known as Cuban Screech-Owl.

Green-crowned and Violet-crowned woodnymphs are lumped into Crowned Woodnymph (Thalurania colombica), based on apparent interbreeding in Colombia. In Pamama, however, the two are not known to come into contact.

Western Slaty-Antshrike has its common name changed to Black-crowned Antshrike. Genetic evidence shows it is not related to the South American slaty-antshrikes (sensu stricto).

Zeledon’s Antbird (Myrmeciza zeledoni), found from Costa Rica to Ecuador, is split from Immaculate Antbird (M. immaculata) of Colombia and Venezuela.

Rufous-rumped Antwren has a change of genus. It is now Euchrepomis callinota.

Thrush-like Schiffornis split into four species, among them two are found in North America: the dull, olivaceous Northern Schiffornis (Schiffornis veraepacis) and the more reddish Russet-winged Schiffornis (Schiffornis stenorhyncha). Northern Schiffornis is found from Mexico south into Peru. Russet-winged Schiffornis is found from central Panama to northern Venezuela. Where the two species are in close proximity, Northern is often found at higher elevations (with Cerro Pirre being a notable exception). The two species are visually and vocally distinct.

The genus Chloropipo is dissolved into Xenopipo. This impacts Green Manakin, now Xenopipo holochlora.

Golden-headed and Red-capped manakins are moved to a new genus. Red-capped Manakin changes from Pipra mentalis to Ceratopipra mentalis. and Golden-headed from Pipra erythrocephala to Ceratopipra erythrocephala.

The checklist sequence of the manakins also changes, as follows.

  • White-ruffed Manakin
  • Lance-tailed Manakin
  • Long-tailed Manakin
  • Green Manakin
  • White-crowned Manakin
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Golden-headed Manakin
  • White-collared Manakin
  • Orange-collared Manakin
  • Golden-collared Manakin
  • Blue-crowned Manakin

The scientific name of the (almost certainly paraphyletic but not-yet-split) Common Bush-Tanager changes from Chlorospingus ophthalmicus to Chlorospingus flavopectus.



A change in genus name for Yellow-crowned Night-Heron from Nyctanassa to Nyctherodius.

Split of American Thalasseus acuflavidus (Cabot’s Tern) from Sandwich Tern.

Split of Guatemalan Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium cobanense) from Northern Pygmy-Owl.

Split of Velasquez’s Woodpecker (Melanerpes santacruzi) from Golden-fronted Woodpecker.

Split of Myiarchus flavidior (Ridgway’s Flycatcher) from Nutting’s Flycatcher. Ridgway’s lives in seasonally wet habitats on the Pacific slope of Middle America from Chiapas to Costa Rica.

Further splitting of Canada Goose.

Split of White-breasted Nuthatch.

Lump of the three American-breeding rosy-finches into American Rosy-Finch (L. tephrocotis).



As a general policy, the AOU accepts as additions to the checklist, any species the ABA CLC (American Birding Association Checklist Committee) adds to its list which are not already on the AOU’s list. So these actions affect their checklist, not the ABA’s. This year, those species include:

Providence Petrel, on the basis on multiple birds photographed off Attu in 2011. Also known as Solander’s Petrel.

Fea’s Petrel

Common Moorhen (sensu stricto), based on 2010 Shemya I. record.

Rosy-faced Lovebird, based on the established population in the Phoenix, AZ area. Also known as Peach-faced Lovebird.

Nanday Parakeet, based on the established population in Florida. Also known as Black-hooded Parakeet.

Asian Rosy-Finch, based on the 2011 Adak record.

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Michael Retter
Michael L. P. Retter is the editor of the ABA's newest magazine, Birder's Guide. He also wears his ABA cap while working as a Technical Reviewer for Birding magazine. When not at home, Michael is often leading tours in Middle America (Mexico through Panama). He currently lives with his fiancé, Matt, in Fort Worth, Texas. In his fleeting free time there, he pursues interests in horticulture (especially orchids), music, cooking, and numismatics. Michael also runs GBNA, the continent's informal club and email list for LGBT birders.
  • Dick Latuchie

    I think I just heard a big sigh of relief from the people of Albuquerque.

  • Angus Wilson

    Michael, Thanks for posting the summary.

    I’m surprised proposal put forward by Richard Banks to split Cabot’s Tern (New World) and Sandwich Tern (Old World) was not embraced, especially as this pair has already been split by the BOU. Does the Checklist Supplement (which I don’t have easy access to) give the Committee’s reasoning? Do they consider the molecular study (Efe, M. A., E. S. Tavares, A. J. Baker, and S. L. Bonatto. 2009. Multigene phylogeny and DNA barcoding indicate that the Sandwich tern complex (Thalasseus sandvicensis, Laridae, Sternini) comprises two species. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 52: 263-267) insufficient?

  • Just wondering? Why do you think there a big sigh of relief from the people of Albuquerque.

  • Derek Courtney

    I would guess it was made in reference to the rosy-finch lump not passing.

  • Rob Parsons

    Adding my thanks, as well, Michael. Nice succinct summary.

    Heaving a huge sigh of relief over the Rosy-Finch decision, but I must confess my biggest emotion was surprise–guess I had concluded it was a done deal.

    Getting used to Ruff and Buff-breasted Sandpiper as Calidris, but not Upland Sandpiper, will take me awhile. Gotta love taxonomists!

  • Was Upland once Calidris?! It’s totally a short-billed curlew in morphology and voice!

  • Ted Floyd

    “It’s totally a short-billed curlew…”

    More or less:

  • Hi, Angus. The supplement does not give rationale for rejecting proposals. It just mentions that they were not accepted.

  • Dennis Serdehely

    Under Charadriiformes reorganization Haematopodidae should be oystercatchers and not stilts. I don’t think you meant to imply that the stilts and avocets were split into two families.

  • Thanks, Dennis. Other sharp-eyed folks have pointed out this error, as well. The post is the process of being updated.

  • Ken Allaire

    Thanks for this report, and for including Middle America! A couple of errors– the lumped woodnymph was formerly “Violet-crowned”, not “Purple Crowned”. I also disagree with this split, they do not overlap in Panama, and occupy very different habiats. Can’t wait to see what the logic is on that one. Also, you mixed up the Schiffonis elevations– S. veraepacis is a foothills bird (at least in Panama), and S. stenorhyncha is at lower elevations, the notable execption being Cerro Pirre, where it ranges higher.

  • Morgan Churchill

    The votes and rational for votes should eventually be up on the NACC checklist page, under past proposals. At least they always have in the past.

  • Bill Maynard

    Although you mention the split of Schiffornis into four species, it seems the South American Checklist Committee has suggested there are five species. Their comments on selecting the appropriate common names for these splits is hillarious and include Tetrasyllabic, Hesperian, Four-whistle, and Interjacene as suggestions for other new species from South America. Even settling on the name Schiffornis was not unanimous and even Whistling-bird was suggested by one committee member over Shiffornis. Using a compass direction, Northern Schiffornis, e.g., for any bird name is unimaginative and boring for me. Comments and a range map for each is here…

  • DLS

    Nice summary, Michael. One minor thing:

    > Western Slaty-Antshrike has its common name changed to Black-crowned Antshrike. Genetic evidence shows it is not related to the South American slaty-antshrikes.

    Since Thamnophilus atrinucha also has a substantial range in South America, it would perhaps be best to change “South American” in the above sentence to “eastern South American” or “cis-Andean”.

  • Thanks, Ken. And thanks again for that ground-cuckoo! 🙂

  • Thanks, Dave!

  • Bob Cates

    You aren’t kidding!!! We can only expect the Rufous-necked Wood Rail to hang out for so long.

    Feel bad about the rejection of Velasques Woodpecker though.

  • Ken Allaire

    My pleasure, Michael, but I can’t really take credit for the ground-cuckoo. Regarding the Checklist Supplement, one other question crossed my mind: the former Immaculate Antbird (M. immaculata, now M. zeledoni) occurs in western to west central Panama, then there is big gap and it is found again in extreme eastern Darien (Cana), suggesting that the split species’ range extends into Colombia as well. Is it possible that both species occur in Panama, or does M. zeledoni occur in S.A. as well, rather than just in Costa Rica and Panama, as you implied? I have inquiries out to Colombian authorities as well– I suppose many of my questions will be answered when I read the full text of the supplement.

  • The reason the Supplements do not include rationale for rejecting proposals is (besides space constraints) the rationale can be seen in the comments on individual proposals — for links to pdfs of comments on all proposals see:

    In general, many birders don’t understand that changes in things such as the expanded Calidris are not based on taxonomic whimsy but a fundamental requirement of classification, namely that a genus has to be monophyletic, i.e. all its members are more closely related to each other than to non-members, and that when solid DNA data reveal that an existing genus is not monophyletic, something has to be changed, no matter how uncomfortable.

    That said, the 54th Supplement comments are not yet uploaded, so briefly …

    Cabot’s Tern vs. Sandwich Tern — the “split” is based on small N, limited genetic sampling, and weak geographic sampling. The difference between a “gene tree” (which is what the original paper produced) and a “species tree” is complicated and not appreciated even by many ornithologists. Here are my own comments on this one:

    “NO. I think we need better sampling on this one in terms of both data and individuals. Their molecular argument rests largely on the combined data tree, but the number of individuals is small (only 3 sandvicensis, 3 acuflavidus, and 1 elegans; only 3 sandvicensis in the CO1 tree as well) and the geographic sampling is limited (all sandvicensis from the same locality). The authors are not very forthcoming about the nuclear tree, other than the reciprocal monophyly of sandvicensis and eurygnathus/acuflavidus at undisclosed but presumably weak bootstrap levels, making it difficult to assess the value of the nuclear genes as independent data. They evidently were not aware of Elegant X Sandwich tern hybridization, e.g., Charlie Collins’ paper (Western Birds 28: 169–173, 1997), that might complicate interpretations of genetic differences. I would not be surprised that three species should be recognized, but I think stronger data are needed in terms of sampling of genes and individuals. Sangster et al. (2011) cited a paper that outlined plumage differences between sandvicensis and acuflavidus, but these are presumably already part of the basis for designation as separate subspecies. What about voice? As far as I know, there are no closely related species of terns that do not also differ in voice; in fact, this is a major reason why we treated Sternula antillarum as a separate species from S. albifrons, for example. Elegans differs subtly from acuflavidus, and perhaps sandvicensis is at least as or more different? With all appropriate caveats concerning a superficial, qualitative tour through the recordings at xeno-canto (, I can’t detect any clear differences between sandvicensis and acuflavidus”


    On rosy finches, the authors of the original paper based most of their conclusions on color on breast color, which is nearly irrelevant, and even at that, the taxa do differ more abruptly than the paper’s interpretation of them would lead one to believe. Data supporting existing species limits in rosy-finches are weak, but the rationale for changing them is weaker. Below are my comments, not yet uploaded to the AOU CL site, with more gory detail than you need but …. :

    “NO. I have never been impressed with the differences among the taxa ranked as species in Leucosticte, and we maintain them as separate in part because of the unpublished views in the Johnson dissertation. Drovetski et al. used Johnson’s morphometric data and plumage data, but seem to have interpreted the results differently from Johnson. Not having easy access to Johnson (1973), perhaps Carla could summarize Johnson’s rationale, although he provided some of it in his BNA account of Black Rosy-Finch. Concerning the plumage data, the analysis really is not of overall plumage but ONLY OF A SINGLE FEATURE, breast color. The problem is that breast color is only useful in distinguishing Black from Gray-crowned, and appears in Ridgway’s (1901) key, for example, only in distinguishing Black from nominate Gray-crowned, and griseonucha (Aleutian) from littoralis (Hepburn’s), that latter two typically treated as conspecific with Gray-crowned. For Brown-capped, Ridgway stated “No distinct or clear gray markings on head” but in a footnote added:

    ”In very fresh plumage there is a quite well defined area covering exactly the same parts of the pileum as in L. tephrocotis tephrocotis and L. atrata, that is differently colored from the contiguous parts, but instead of this area being clear and perfectly uniform light ash gray the feathers are dusky brownish gray centrally, margined with light brownish gray, producing a more or less squamate or scale-like appearance; furthermore, the brown color which borders this somewhat grayish area is decidedly lighter and duller, or less rufescent, than in L. tephrocotis.”

    “So, I interpret this to mean that Brown-capped really does have the same head pattern as the others, but it’s just very faint. Nonetheless, I interpret Ridgway’s key to indicate that there are 5 diagnosable phenotypic units with little or no overlap once head color pattern is added to the analysis. If Johnson (1973) interpreted his data to support a 3-species treatment, then I assume that he also found this to be correct, but I am handicapped by lack of access.
    Drovetski et al. interpreted their analysis of Johnson’s data as follows: “The variation in breast color purity (F2) accounted for 15.6% of variance in the dataset and represented a taxonomically non-diagnostic, single continuum.” However, it’s not really a geographic continuum, because the geographic distribution of Black is between that of Gray-crowned and Brown-capped. Further, in Fig. 2, Blacks form a discrete, tight cluster, with lower scores on F2 than any other population, as noted by Drovetski et al.: “Although black rosy-finch F2 values did not overlap with the other two species, any combination of groups or taxa along this continuum would produce this lack of overlap in F2 values.” So, this is confusing to me – yes, the F2 scores themselves are distributed continuously, and Brown-capped definitely overlaps with Gray-crowned, but no one has ever claimed to my knowledge that breast color separates those two. However, the F2 scores for Black do not overlap with those of any other taxon, and depending on the interpretations of the individuals Johnson identified as hybrids, could be interpreted as evidence that atrata is a diagnosable unit. Certainly an analysis that also incorporated head pattern would reveal 5 clusters that are much more discrete than those in Fig. 2, and that it is likely that 5 diagnosable units warrant taxonomic rank, as in traditional classifications. Based on phenotype, one could interpret the data as evidence for 5 PSC species.
    Concerning the size data (F1), these are not relevant to species limits and seldom provide ways to diagnose taxa. However, in this case, the Aleutian birds are so much bigger than any others that one could argue for species rank for them, especially if their breast color does differ as described from that of littoralis to the degree described (although not evident in Fig. 2 because littoralis not identified as separate from tephrocotis. The BNA maps don’t really allow me to determine whether littoralis is actually parapatric with griseonucha; if they are, a good case could be made for species rank for Aleutian Rosy-Finch.

    “Concerning hybridization, unless there is evidence of total breakdown of barriers to gene flow, they do not negate ranking taxa as separate species under the BSC. Otherwise, we would lump Rose-breasted and Black-headed grosbeaks, Eastern and Western meadowlarks, and so on. Given that migratory cardueline finches are notorious wanderers with minimal site fidelity, one could predict a priori that some individuals of one taxon could wander into the breeding range of the adjacent taxon and that at least some low level of hybridization is expected. What counts is what happens where the taxa are parapatric. Here’s where details from Johnson’s dissertation would be nice to have, and he concentrated his efforts at the Black/Gray-crowned contact area in Idaho-Montana (see below). I assume Brown-capped is completely allopatric, but just looking at the BNA maps for the other taxa, the other taxa appear to be potentially parapatric or nearly so, with potential to assay the degree of gene flow. If these taxa were not essentially reproductively isolated, with levels of hybridization at or below the level between, say, Lazuli and Indigo buntings, I would expect there to be entire breeding populations that have intermediate characters. If that is indeed the case, then I would vote to YES, and would change my vote if those data exist.
    R. E. Johnson’s BNA account for Black Rosy-Finch, not cited by Drovetski et al., reports the following information on the Black/Gray-crowned contact zone in Idaho-Montana:

    “Hybrids between Black Rosy-Finch and L. t. tephrocotis first discovered in Bitterroot Range, along Montana-Idaho border (Mewaldt 1950), and subsequently in Seven Devils Mtns., ID (French 1959a); Little Belt Mtns., MT (Hoffmann 1960); and Cabinet Mtns., MT (Johnson 1972). Analysis of specimens from Bitterroot Range (n = 7) and Seven Devils Mtns. (n = 16) by French (1959a) showed a wide range of color, indicating that hybrids were viable and bred, leading to the conclusion that they were probably conspecific. Further study by Johnson (1972) with larger samples (Bitterroot, n = 33; Seven Devils, n = 59) showed bimodality of color (visual color, colorimetric purity) and of both mensural characters in which the pure forms differ significantly (bill length, toe plus tarsus length), indicating existence of reproductive isolating mechanisms and selection against hybrids between the 2, and indicating separate species status for each. Additional specimens (n = 39) collected since that time also support that conclusion (REJ).”

    “So these data seem to contradict the findings of Drovetski et al., and should have been addressed specifically by them. Until these findings are reconciled, I cannot see how the current proposal can pass.
    Concerning the genetic data, they obviously provide no support for maintaining three species. However, as Drovetski et al. noted, what they have is a single gene tree, with potentially insufficient time for lineage sorting. Low levels of hybridization and the occasional movement of breeding individuals would further complicate lineage sorting. Assuming that the plumage has a genetic basis, however, suggests that there are indeed discrete genetic differences among populations that we cannot yet measure.

    “As an aside, the BNA descriptions of vocalizations, although not written in a comparative way, makes them all sound suspiciously similar. The BNA accounts indicate or suggest that song in these birds is strictly used for mate attraction, not territorial defense … thus typical of carduelines. Whether playback experiments would be productive is uncertain but worthy of consideration, especially for the allopatric taxa.”

  • Thomas Donegan

    Hi Ken, On Woodnymphs, as you can see in this SACC proposal and publication references therein, violet and green-crowned birds intergrade in Colombia.

    There may be something else going on in this genus requiring some splits: hypochlora of the Choco is another long-mooted species-rank candidate; and as you note some of the C American lineages may be more ancient than has previously been thought. A molecular study is really needed here but in the absence of that, the 1992 split of these birds seem pretty poorly supported and single species treatment is the only one that makes any sense.

    Best wishes, Thomas

  • Thomas Donegan

    Here are some details of the immaculata split with a map on the latter link:

    You need a subscription to Bull BOC for the full story!!


  • Eugene Zielinski

    Think “Sandia Crest.”

  • Thanks for the summary, Michael. I guess I need to celebrate my ABA #700 from an armchair with the Bell’s/Sagebrush split! Is there a good map of the separation published on line? eBird has not yet indicated how they are implementing this change, either, on existing records there.

    • Michael Retter

      Jennifer, there are maps in the Check-list Redux in the current issue of Birder’s Guide.

  • Googling on my own, Michael, I found this page, which has great xenocanto files for sound, and a map that implies that Bell’s is really limited to California and Baja –

  • I am not aware of an online range map, but the newest edition of the Nat’l Geo guide includes subspecies range maps in the back.

  • Thomas Donegan

    The NACC detritus of some papers on South American birds seems surprisingly to be generating interest here. Some of the “hilarious” name alternatives you mention do not originate with the committee. The SACC spent a lot of time cogitating about English names for Schiffornis (more than on the important taxonomic issues). But there is a one-off opportunity to get things right and it is worth therefore considering all alternatives fully.

    Having said that, “Northern Schiffornis” for a species which has one of the most southern distributions of this genus is a spectacularly awful name! See my comments on Proposal 453A:

  • A. b. belli is indeed restricted to the Californias, but I believe A. b. canescens is a hibernal visitor to Arizona’s Colorado River area.

  • Van Remsen

    See my comments on the tern situation farther below. I’m surprised the BOU would make a split based on such flimsy evidence. The two may turn out to be separate species, the published evidence for this is weak.

  • Van Remsen

    Bill — everyone on SACC and NACC would agree with you on how boring it is to use a compass name such as “Northern”, but no one came up with an alternative, despite squandering an inordinate amount of time on E names of this group. The alternative was Donegan’s “Western,” equally uninspired. If anyone out there can do better, let us know before the name gains traction. This is an increasing problem as voice and DNA continue to reveal species-level differences among taxa that are nearly identical in plumage.

  • Van Remsen

    Thomas has entered therapy because of SACC’s choice of Northern over Western, and by all accounts, may not be making any progress. Northern was chosen over Western because of the biological significance that this taxon is, by far, the northernmost representative not just of the species complex but of the genus, despite Thomas’s point that a sliver of its range actually extends farther S than does the ranges of two other species. Northern is the only species in the genus that occurs N of central Panama, into North America as a continent, so perhaps “spectacularly awful” might be a little over the top.

  • Thomas Donegan

    Van, Yes, I’m in therapy about this one. And so am I!

  • tony gallucci


  • A breeding range map is in the Johnson and Marten paper at Questions arise as to identifying both “inland” taxa in winter on the Colorado Desert.

  • This just came through from Sibley’s website

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