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To Be a Species or Not To Be a Species?

This year’s issue of Birder’s Guide to Listing & Taxonomy features an article by Alan Knue called “To Be a Species or Not to Be a Species?” Within, Alan explains how scientists decide whether a bird population, such as the “Haida Gwaii” Saw-whet Owl, is a species or “just” a subspecies. At the end of the article, he has produced an extensive, helpful table of possible future lumps and splits, keyed out with with references listing some of the most recent scientific work on them, so you can dive right in if you want to learn more. With Alan’s article in hand, you can make sure when you visit a new location that you are paying attention to birds which might one day be split as separate species, as happened with the scrub-jays earlier this year.

But wait–there’s more! The electronic version of this issue has expanded content from Alan, including another list of possible extralimital splits and lumps and the list of references noted in the tables. Just click here to access.

Are there possible future splits and lumps that you didn’t see mentioned in the article? Do you have questions or comments for Alan? Please let us know in the comment section below.

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Michael Retter
Michael L. P. Retter is the editor of the ABA's newest magazine, Birder's Guide, and the author of The ABA Field Guide to Birds of Illinois. When not at home gardening, Michael is often leading tours for BRANT Nature Tours in Middle America (Mexico through Panama). He currently lives with his husband, Matt, in Fort Worth, Texas. Michael also runs QBNA, the continent's informal club for LGBTQ+ birders. A former chair of the Indiana records committee, he is an eBird reviewer for Mexico, Illinois, and Indiana.
Michael Retter

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