Exciting Changes!!

The 51st Supplement to the AOU checklist was just released and includes some big changes for ABA region birders:

The following has been taken from the following sources: MASSBird and Xenospiza.com.

3 Splits have occurred and include the following:

1. “The Old and New World “races” of Black Scoter have been split.  The North American breeder is now known as the American Scoter (Melanitta americana).” {{Update: I just found out that “American Scoter” is a mistake. The New World race will actually be called Black Scoter while the Old World will be Common Scoter.}} MASSBird

2. “The nominate (Caprimulgus vociferus) and Arizona race of Whip-poor-will (C. v. arizonae) have been split into two species, the Eastern Whip-poor-will (C. vociferus) and Mexican Whip-poor-will (C. arizonae).” The Eastern breeds in the deciduous forests of Eastern North American while the Mexican in the Montane Pine Forests of the Southwestern US and Mexico. Xenospiza.com/MASSBird

3. “Winter Wren was split three ways: Winter Wren (Troglodytes hiemalis), Pacific Wren (T. pacificus), and Eurasian Wren (T. troglodytes). Winter Wren’s range roughly corresponds to that of Blue-headed Vireo; Pacific Wren’s is like that of Cassin’s Vireo; and Eurasian Wren (“The Wren”) is distributed across temperate Eurasia.” Xenospiza.com:

Some other genus, scientific name, etc. changes:

Greater Shearwater (Puffinus gravis) becomes Great Shearwater, to agree with usage elsewhere in the world.

“Blue-winged Warbler (now Vermivora cyanoptera, was V. pinus).

All other Vermivoras (Tennessee, Orange-crowned, Nashville, Colima,
Lucy’s, Flame-throated, and Crescent-chested) have been placed in the
genus Oreothlypis. Thus there are only two extant North American
warblers that remain in the genus Vermivora (Blue-and Golden-winged).
Bachman’s Warbler, presumed extinct, also remains in Vermivora.

Molecular studies now support the removal of the Parulids (Northern and
Tropical) from the genus Parula and the AOU has now placed them in the
Vermivora genus.

Both Waterthrushes (Northern and Louisiana) have been removed from the
genus Seirus and have been placed in their own genus Parkesia. Ovenbird
remains in Serius by itself.

The “brown” towhees (Canyon, California, Abert’s, and White-throated
(from Mexico) have been removed from the genus Pipilo and have been
placed in the genus Melozone. Spotted, Eastern, and Green-tailed
Towhees remain in Pipilo.

Cassin’s, Rufous-winged, Bachman’s, and Botteri’s Sparrows (and others
in Mexico) have been removed from the Aimophila genus and placed in the
genus Peucaea.

Five-striped Sparrow, which was previously in Aimophila, is now in the
genus Amphispiza with Sage and Black-throated Sparrows.

McCown’s Longspur has been removed from the genus Calcarius and has been
placed in the genus Rhynchophanes, which was previously recognized as
the proper genus for the species until 1957. Based on mitochondrial
data, Calcarius is paraphyletic and McCown’s Longspur is more closely
related to Snow and McKay’s Buntings than the other three species of
longspur. Paraphyletic basically means a taxa that contains its last
common ancestor but does not contain all the descendants of that
{{Update: I also just found the Longspurs and Buntings have been moved out of Emerberizidae and placed next to the New World Warblers}}

Ardeadae (the heron family) and Threskiornithidae (ibises and spoonbills) were transferred from Ciconiifrmes (the stork order) to Pelecaniformes (the pelican order).

Suliformes (gannets and boobies, cormorants, frigatebirds, and anhingas) were split from pelicans.

The genus Chamaea (Wrentit) is moved into the family Sylviidae (“classic” Old World warblers).

The Order of hawks (Falconiformes) has been split into Accipiteriformes and
Falconiformes. Accipiteriformes includes Vultures, Osprey, all
Buteoines, Accipiters, Harriers, Kites, and Eagles. Falconiformes now
only includes Falcons and Caracaras.”

Pandionidae (Osprey) split from hawks (Accipitridae).

Chesser, P.T., R.C. Banks, F. Keith Barker, C. Cicero, J.L. Dunn, A.W.
Kratter, I.J. Lovette, P.C. Rasmussen, J.V. Remsen, Jr., J.D. Rising,
D.F. Stotz, and K. Winkler. 2010. Fifty-First Supplement to the
American Ornithologists’ Union Checklist of North American Birds. Auk

I have posted all the North American changes here. To read more about changes outside North America visit: Xenospiza.com. The checklist should be up on the AOU website shortly. Click Here.

Some pretty cool stuff! Enjoy rewriting parts of your lists!


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2 Responses to Exciting Changes!!

  1. Betsy Hermann says:

    Hi Alex,

    Thanks for the updates on all the changes. Wow, what a lot to remember! How you retain all this new data is just amazing. I think I shall now refer to you as Professor Alex. Maybe P.A. for short. I like to think that I am never too old to learn. The hard part is remembering.

    Keep those postings coming. I love them.


    PS Evening Grossbeaks were at the feeder the other day. What beautiful birds. The Ruby Throated Humming Birds are loving my flower gardens but have have big competition with all the honey bees for the nectar. I”m wondering if a neighbor might have a bee hive. Never seen so many honey bees.

  2. Dave says:

    I just heard AND saw the Mexican Whip the day before this was published! Of course, we have to wait for the ABA to approve the changes before it’s officially a new ABA lifer…but they usually follow most of the AOU’s recommendations, don’t they?

    It’s going to be tough getting used to saying “Great Shearwater.” It doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily…

    I like how Bachman’s Warbler is still “presumed” to be extinct. So, let’s turn one up. It’s still possible if it’s only “presumed!”

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