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VTBIRD  July 2011

VTBIRD July 2011

Subject:

Time to update your bird guides - 2011 changes

From:

William Scott Schwenk <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Vermont Birds <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 28 Jul 2011 10:35:42 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (70 lines)

Once again, the American Ornithologists' Union (AOU) has released its annual
supplement to the official Check-list of North American Birds, and I thought
Vermont birders might be interested in the changes. The full report
has just been posted to the AOU website (www.aou.org). Genetics data
continue to lead to better understanding of how species are related to
each other, resulting in changes to common and especially scientific
names. Here are some highlights:

A) Change to common name:

    'Our' "Common Moorhen" has been re-named "Common Gallinule," and
the scientific name changed to Gallinula galeata. This represents a
split from the Common Moorhen found in Eurasia. Basis: vocalizations
and structure of the bill and shield. This continues a trend in recent
years of splitting related New World and Old World species (you may
recall last year's splits of Black Scoter and Winter Wren).

B) Changes to scientific names - Eastern species -
    Drastic changes to warbler names (only genus name changes unless noted)

      1) No more genus Dendroica (all species re-named Setophaga)
Genetics data indicate that American Redstart belongs in the same
genus as the large group of familiar warblers heretofore classified as
Dendroica. Apparently the redstart was named first scientifically, so
it gets to keep its genus Setophaga, and all the other species also
become Setophaga.

      2) No more genus Parula (all species re-named Setophaga)
Northern Parula is also considered closely related to dendroica type
warblers and joins the Setophaga genus.

      3) No more genus Wilsonia
          i) Hooded Warbler moves to Setophaga
          ii) Wilson's and Canada Warblers move to genus Cardellina

      4) Changes to genus Oporornis
Mourning, Kentucky, and MacGillivray's Warblers are now considered
more closely related to Common Yellowthroat than Connecticut Warbler
and so receive the genus name Geothlypis. For Latin gender agreement,
Kentucky Warbler is now Geothlypis formosa. Connecticut W. remains
Oporornis (and incidentally is still considered closely related to its
former generic sisters).

C) Changes further afield

      1) Snowy Plover is now Charadrius nivosus, reflecting a split
from C. alexandrius, which 'across the pond' is called Kentish Plover.

      2) Mexican Jay (once Gray-breasted Jay) is now Aphelocoma
wollweberi, reflecting a species split. A. ultramarina refers to a
form found only in Mexico, now called Transvolcanic Jay.

      3) The form of Yellow-throated Warbler that lives year-round in
the Bahamas is now considered a full species based on song, structure,
ecology, and genetic evidence. Name: Bahama Warbler, Setophaga
flavescens.

D) Higher level taxonomic changes
     We didn't see the major changes to orders and families seen in
prior years, but there has been some tinkering with species mostly out
of our region. For example, Northern Wheatear and some relatives have
been moved out of the thrush family (Turdidae) to the family
Muscicapidae. Becards and Tityras get their own family, Tityridae. The
AOU now recognizes Sandgrouse as deserving their own order,
Pteroclidiformes; the affinities of this small group of unusual birds
have long been debated.

   -- Scott Schwenk
      University of Vermont

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