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ABA Releases Much Anticipated Checklist Update

This year’s much anticipated release of the American Birding Association Checklist is here!

In version 8.0 there are 105 species added due last year’s inclusion of Hawaii in the ABA Area–33 of which are ABA  rarity code 6. Also added are 4 vagrants accepted by the Checklist Committee: Common Shelduck, Amethyst-throated Hummingbird, Pine Flycatcher, and Cuban Vireo, as well as one added (Cassia Crossbill) and one subtracted (Thayer’s Gull) based on AOS taxonomic decisions. This results in a total number species on the checklist of 1102.

The ABA would like to thank the volunteer Checklist Committee – Peter Pyle (Chairman), Mary Gustafson, Tom Johnson, Andrew W. Kratter, Aaron Lang, Mark W. Lockwood, Ron Pittaway, and David Sibley – for managing a Herculean job that included revising the ABA Rarity Codes, and adding the 4-letter alpha code for each species.

The checklist can be downloaded in CSV, PDF or XLS at Listing Central by clicking here >>

Hawaii’s inclusion in the ABA Area includes the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

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Greg Neise

Greg Neise

Web Development at American Birding Association
Greg Neise developed his interests in birds, photography and conservation as a youngster growing up in Chicago, across the street from Lincoln Park Zoo. At the age of 13, he worked alongside Dr. William S. Beecher, then Director of the Chicago Academy of Sciences and a pioneering ornithologist, and learned to photograph wildlife, an interest that developed into a career supplying images for magazines, newspapers, institutions and books, including National Geographic (print, web and television), Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Boston Globe, Nature, Lincoln Park Zoo, Miami Zoo, Jacksonville Zoo, The Field Museum and a host of others. He has served as President of the Rainforest Conservation Fund, a volunteer organization dedicated to preserving the world's tropical rainforests. Greg is a web developer for the ABA, and of course, a fanatical birder.
Greg Neise

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  • Frederick Ruckersfeldt

    HOORAY!! Thanks to the ABA team for putting this together. I really appreciate the effort to update some of the codes too. It does look like there are a few typos in the codes, though, for example Ruffed Grouse and Orange-crowned Warbler are both listed as Code 3.

    • Steve

      And Wood Sandpiper is listed as Code 2 😉

      • Frederick Ruckersfeldt

        To be fair, Wood Sandpiper has always been a Code 2. Not so much a typo…more a difference of opinion 😉

        • Yes, that’s the “Alaska issue”. 😉

          • SarahMarie

            But all the other Alaska bird codes make sense…. Wood Sandpiper is the only really Eurasian shorebird that is Code 2 – even Common Ringed Plover is now Code 3.

      • Morgan Churchill

        Yeah there are a few code things that I would have liked to see updated. Pink-footed and Barnacle Goose both really deserve to be downgraded to code 3 ,while I would raise Red-billed Pigeon to code 3 from code 2

        • Steve

          But on the plus side, note that Brown Booby is now Code 2 instead of Code 3 – appropriate in my opinion.

  • Morgan Churchill

    Wait…was it already announced that the Common Shelduck got put on the list? (and as a code 4 at that!)

    • Tim H

      I’m confused about the Code 4 status of the Shelduck. Sure, there have been plenty of birds observed in North America, but we only just had the first accepted record. Even though other recent birds may follow suit, and some unaccepted sightings were presumably legitimate vagrants, isn’t this by definition a Code 5 bird at present?

  • Cole G.

    Great to finally see this! Why was Common Ringed Plover changed from Code 2 to Code 3? Has their arctic population decreased? Also, why is Hawaiian Petrel, a species that exclusively breeds in the ABA now a Code 3, especially considering that other Hawaiian pelagics with no ABA breeding population nor mainland ABA records are the same code? Additionally curious about why some Hawaiian exotics are Code 1 without any mainland ABA populations.

    • We’ll have more on the specific changes in the next couple weeks. We wanted to get the official list out as soon as we could.

      • Cole G.

        Great to hear. Again, thanks for releasing this!

    • Steve

      Other Hawaiian curiosities I noticed
      – Nihoa Finch is Code 3. While this is a native breeding bird, it is also currently unattainable for anyone except researchers, which seems to throw a wrench into the code system
      – Exotic species I expected on the list but did not see: Japanese Quail, Indian Peafowl, Lavender Waxbill, Orange-cheeked Waxbill

      • Mark Lockwood

        There are a small number of exotics that are still being debated whether they meet the criteria to be included in the Checklist. The birds on your list are part of that group.

  • Aaron Maizlish

    This is awesome! 710 Code 1-2 birds and 350 Codes 3-5.
    Without second guessing any of the coding decisions, I see at least three birds that are probably errors. Orange-crowned Warbler (not a Code 3), Ruffed Grouse (not a Code 3), and Bristle-thighed Curlew (with the addition of HI, not a Code 3.) Please let me know whether there will be a quick revision with these kinds of things, or if this list is set in stone for the next year.

  • Tom Benson

    Shouldn’t Esstrildidae have only one “s”?

  • CJL

    The word Flycatcher is misspelled in 2 different locations in the list (ex. Pine Flycacther and Monarch Flycacthers).

  • David Pettee

    Why is the Budgerigar missing? Plenty of other Code 6 birds on the list.

    • Mark Lockwood

      Budgerigar was removed from the ABA Checklist when the population in Florida disappeared.

      • David Pettee

        Ok, in the same manner as the Crested Myna…

      • Justin Bosler

        But, as far as I recall, Budgerigar remains countable if observers saw them in their original, established population in FL.

  • Paul Clapham

    A couple of things: First, the front cover of the December 2016 issue of Birding says “Chatham Albatross added to ABA Checklist”. But Chatham Albatross isn’t in this checklist. Did that decision get reversed or is this just a timing issue?

    And second, Black Francolin is in the checklist, presumably because it’s present in Hawaii. So does that mean it is removed from the Extirpated Exotics appendix, or is it going to have some more nuanced status?

  • Carlton S

    Is there a list posted elsewhere of just the Hawaii birds that have been added to the checklist? Thanks.

  • Greg Neise

    Quick update: as has been pointed out, there are some typos, errors, and misaligned rarity codes. These are being reviewed and fixed, and we’ll let you know here (and in the usual channels) when updated files are available.

  • Greg Neise

    Version 8.0.1 of the ABA Checklist is now ready. This maintenance release corrects typos, data alignment errors, and includes a species that was accidentally omitted: Chatham Albatross. This brings the number of species to 1103.

    A couple of questions that were asked:

    Why is Common Shelduck a Code 4?
    The Checklist Committee is assuming that many of the 40+ records of the shelduck over the past 20 years (see Brinkley Changing Seasons in NAB 64:20-31, 2010) are probably wild birds, enough to drop it from code 5.

    Why isn’t Hawaiian Goose “Nene”?
    The ABA Checklist follows AOS nomenclature, and AOS has the species listed as Hawaiian Goose.

    • France Davis

      That was going to be my question: why are some Hawaiian birds given English names (when they already have widely accepted Hawaiian ones) while others get to keep their original Hawaiian names? Guess that’s a question for the AOS.

  • Danny

    Are there any North American field guides in the works that include Hawaii?

    • Paul Norwood

      Your question neatly illustrates the problem here: Hawai’i is not in North America; it’s not going to be in North America, and no checklist or foreseeable tectonic activity will change that. Such a field guide would be a biogeographical absurdity.

      • So-called “North American” field guides already are biogeographical absurdities because they don’t include all the birds found in Mexico through Panama. Including the state of Hawaii seems like small potatoes compared to that.

      • Danny

        If you claim it is a biogeographical absurdity, the ABA’s decision to include Hawaii in the ABA area is in itself a biogeographical absurdity, and I think we can all agree that is it certainly not. The birds of North America field guides have up to this point followed the boundaries of the ABA area, not the typical boundaries of North America (including Mexico south to Panama), and I do not see why this should change any time soon, as the ABA would not have added Hawaii if this was a “biogeographical absurdity”

      • Steve

        The aforementioned “biogeographical absurdity” is called the Peterson Guide to Western Birds, Second Edition.

  • Mel Goff

    Where can I see a list of the Hawaii birds that were added to the ABA checklist? Thanks, Greg.

  • AlexC

    I see Rose-ringed Parakeet on the new 8.0.1 version – is this now an ABA countable species for self-sustaining populations? Has not been in the past.

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