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semillama Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-01-10 12:03 PM
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Upcoming Taxonomic Changes
An interesting discussion of upcoming taxonomic changes - prepare to revise your lists!

From the Ohio-birds listserve today:

"A recent taxonomy update, posted to OKBirds by my spouse, Steve Schafer:

Given the interest in the recent discussion on this list of the systematics of the Yellow-rumped Warbler, I thought I'd summarize some of the more interesting changes that have either been recently approved by the AOU Check-List Committee, or will be so in the very near future:

1) The most surprising of the changes is the discovery of a new species of yellowlegs (genus _Tringa_), right beneath our noses, so to speak.
Genetic research has revealed that the larger, longer-billed individuals of what have previously been thought to be Lesser Yellowlegs (_T.
flavipes_), along with the smaller, shorter-billed individuals of what have previously been considered Greater Yellowlegs (_T. melanoleuca_), are actually both members of a third species, now known as Middler Yellowlegs (_T. intermedia_).

2) Gull taxonomy has undergone some radical changes. There are now five species of _Larus_ gull. Total. In the whole world. They are:

_L. melanodorsum_ - Black-backed Gull
_L. poliomaximus_ - Large Gray-backed Gull
_L. poliomedianus_ - Medium Gray-backed Gull
_L. poliominimus_ - Small Gray-backed Gull
_L. allothersi_ - Black-headed Gull-of-Any-Size

3) You may have heard that genetic evidence has shown that birds in the genus _Piranga_ (our North American tanagers, plus a couple of Central and South American species), aren't really tanagers, but rather cardinals. Conversely, South American cardinals of the genus _Paroaria_, including the Yellow-billed Cardinal (_P. capitata_) and Red-crested Cardinal (_P. coronata_), both introduced to and established in Hawai'i, are actually tanagers. Well, it seems that the ornithologists involved in the original classification of these birds aren't too happy about admitting their error, which has been described as a form of "bait and switch." Unfortunately, they also have a lot of seniority in the community, and collectively carry quite a bit of clout. So, in a fine CYA move, they have reached a compromise, destined to please no one, wherein the English names of the _Piranga_ species will henceforth be "{descriptive} Tanager-Cardinal," while those of _Paroaria_ will be "{descriptive} Cardinal-Tanager."

Or maybe it's the other way around.

4) Speaking of tanagers, the bird formerly known as Stripe-headed Tanager (genus _Spindalis_), and currently known as Western Spindalis (_S. zena_), has received a new English name: Western Stripe-headed Passeroid. The rationale for the change, according to one ornithologist close to the checklist revision process, was "Well, we have no idea what it really is, and what the hell kind of name is 'Western Spindalis,'
anyway?" That same ornithologist offered no comment in reply to the observation that "Western Stripe-Headed Passeroid" was hardly any better.

5) Finally, there were some gasps heard in the ornithological community a few years back when Least Pygmy-Owl (genus _Glaucidium_) underwent a five-way split, and birders across North America have been uneasy ever since it was announced that Red Crossbill (genus _Loxia_) may consist of as many as ten separate species in North America alone, with another half-dozen or more occurring in Eurasia. Those records have now been shattered by the upcoming split of Song Sparrow (genus _Melospiza_) into twenty-three species:

_M. adusta_ - Rio Lerma Song-Sparrow
_M. atlantica_ - Atlantic Coast Song-Sparrow
_M. caurina_ - Yakutat Song-Sparrow
_M. cleonensis_ - Cascade Song-Sparrow
_M. fallax_ - Desert Song-Sparrow
_M. goldmani_ - El Salto Song-Sparrow
_M. gouldii_ - Northern California Song-Sparrow
_M. graminea_ - Channel Islands Song-Sparrow (endangered)
_M. heermanni_ - Southern California Song-Sparrow (includes one
near-threatened subspecies)
_M. insignis_ - Bischoff Song-Sparrow
_M. kenaiensis_ - Kenai Song-Sparrow
_M. maxillaris_ - Suisun Song-Sparrow (near-threatened)
_M. maxima_ - Giant Song-Sparrow
_M. melodia_ - Eastern Song-Sparrow
_M. mexicana_ - Puebla Song-Sparrow
_M. montana_ - Plains Song-Sparrow
_M. morphna_ - Northwestern Song-Sparrow
_M. pusillula_ - Alameda Song-Sparrow (threatened) _M. rivularis_ - Baja California Song-Sparrow
_M. rufina_ - Sooty Song-Sparrow
_M. samuelis_ - San Pablo Song-Sparrow (near-threatened)
_M. sanaka_ - Aleutian Song-Sparrow
_M. villai_ - Toluca Song-Sparrow

Interestingly, all of the endangered, threatened and near-threatened populations are in California, and four of the five are in or near the San Francisco Bay Area. So, gas up the RV and head out there, before it's too late."
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XemaSab Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-05-10 02:02 AM
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1. OMG!!!
I missed this the other day, and it's TOO FUNNY!

Especially epic is the song sparrow split, given that I live in Northern California and I can imagine the horror... :o
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