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Old Thursday 29th July 2010, 06:11   #51
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Would anyone with access to the BioOne article like to PM me so I can give you my e-mail to receive it? I'd really appreciate it.
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Old Thursday 29th July 2010, 06:49   #52
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The order of things

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Mountjoy View Post
The current position of the Fringillidae, directly following the 'nine-primaried' passerines, is compatible with a sister group relationship (if that is correct), again assuming that the AOU is not following a rule of larger taxon last for the order of sister groups.
True, but if only Fringillidae was dead last? Passeridae and Ploceidae are there to, and they're involved in a grade. According to TOL they're in the wrong place:
http://www.tolweb.org/Passeroidea/67278

which makes the "proper" order something like:

Olive Warbler, Accentors, Ploceidae, Passeridae, Motacillidae, Fringillidae, Calcariidae, the rest.

Quote:
A bigger issue is why the accentors and wagtails/pipits are still sandwiched between Sturnidae and Bombycillidae when I think it is clear that they belong somewhere among the Fringillidae/Passeridae/nine-primaried passerines (the Passerida). Perhaps they are waiting for a 'definitive' answer as to where exactly they fit, or perhaps it is simply ' so many proposals, so little time'.
Or 'oops, didn't think of that'? To me, that points to a problem with the method of proposals (generally a much better method than, say, the Swedish way where a committee once every three-four years publishes changes coming from the blue no one has had an insight into). What if changes in the arrangement coming from one proposal also has an effect on other families, but there is no proposal to rearrange them as well, do you have to wait another year? I mean, the material is right there. The studies that reveal the relationships of the old Sylviidae also show where some other families go.

I have a few other arrangement-worries. Not seeing the full new checklist, for me it's a guessing game when reading the supplement.

* Where does the whole wren+gnatcatcher clade go? If in it's current position (before the former Sylviidae), then it's most certainly dead wrong. Isn't that clade (including the creepers and nuthatches) sister to the thrushes (+mimids and starlings)?

* If the dippers stay in the same place, they're too way off – also belonging to the thrushes.

* Where does Paridae+Remizidae go after the Sylvid break-up? Hopefully in front (right after the monarchs), as it seems to be basal there
seem to Where does the whole Wren+Gnatcatcher complex go in the list?
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Old Thursday 29th July 2010, 07:54   #53
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Supplement

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Originally Posted by AlexC View Post
Would anyone with access to the BioOne article like to PM me so I can give you my e-mail to receive it? I'd really appreciate it.
Patrick posted a link:
http://www.birdforum.net/showpost.ph...3&postcount=46

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Old Thursday 29th July 2010, 09:02   #54
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I have a few other arrangement-worries. Not seeing the full new checklist, for me it's a guessing game when reading the supplement.
My understanding is that there are no changes in list sequence other than what's specifically published in the supplement. At least that's the assumption I've been going on in attempting to update the California list. See also Andy Kratter's earlier post.
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Old Thursday 29th July 2010, 10:01   #55
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FYI my own life list (which uses a family/order classification of my own choosing) follows the Hackett tree in arrangements. I can understand why an official checklist should be somewhat hesitant though, since many field guides use these lists for formatting, and if you are going to do a major change like moving falcons near songbirds and away from hawks, you better make sure you do it right the first time
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Old Thursday 29th July 2010, 15:38   #56
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Winter Wren

David Sibley also has concerns about the wren names:
http://www.sibleyguides.com/2010/07/...ist-supplement

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Old Thursday 29th July 2010, 16:29   #57
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AOU policy on English names

Here is the AOU's written policy on English names from page xiii of the 7th edition.

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When a species was divided into two or more distinct species, we have used former English names, if available, for the resultant taxa. In general, we have followed the policy that no English name should be used for both a combined species and one of the components (Groups). However, we often have retained a well-known English name for a widespread North American form when a taxon that is either extralimital or restricted in distribution is separated from it. An example is the retention of the name Red-winged Blackbird for Agelaius phoeniceus when the Cuban population was separated as A. assimilis and named the Red-shouldered Blackbird.
Perhaps I don't understand, but it sounds to me like the Pacific Wren is comparable to the Red-shouldered Blackbird in distribution, allowing retention of "Winter Wren" for the widespread North American population.

Trying to avoid another Mel Gibson lapse here, but it's not easy.
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Old Thursday 29th July 2010, 17:17   #58
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Winter Wren

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmorlan View Post
Here is the AOU's written policy on English names from page xiii of the 7th edition.
Quote:
...An example is the retention of the name Red-winged Blackbird for Agelaius phoeniceus when the Cuban population was separated as A. assimilis and named the Red-shouldered Blackbird.
The blackbird case is an example of the splitting off a restricted-range form extralimital to North America, and retaining the original species name for the widespread North American parent species. No problem.

In the case of the wren, the local North American forms have been split from a widespread Holarctic species, but AOU has unilaterally reassigned the English name of the parent species to one of the new local species, creating scope for confusion. Outside the AOU area, 'Winter Wren' still refers to T troglodytes.

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Old Thursday 29th July 2010, 17:36   #59
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Following on what Richard said, is the range of Pacific Wren really suitable for description as 'restricted' anyway? If it were found only in California, perhaps (& better still if only found in one area of the state, such as with the Island Scrub-Jay or California Gnatcatcher), but for a species found breeding from Alaska to central California & into the northern mountain states I think that's pushing it.
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Old Thursday 29th July 2010, 17:44   #60
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Naming policies

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Originally Posted by Richard Klim View Post
In the case of the wren, the local North American forms have been split from a widespread Holarctic species, but AOU has unilaterally reassigned the English name of the parent species to one of the new local species, creating scope for confusion. In Eurasia, Winter Wren still means T troglodytes.
But maybe it's fair payback for Greater Flamingo. When AERC/BOURC split Phoenicopteres roseus from P ruber, they pre-emptively 'stole' the original species name for the new Palearctic species, requiring the American parent species to be assigned a new name.

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Old Thursday 29th July 2010, 18:14   #61
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For the wren, I have a difficult time seeing a controversy across the Atlantic, who have ever used Winter Wren to describe a bird seen in the UK or Denmark?

Regarding the US names, I think I have stated before that I would prefer not to reuse Winter Wren for part of the population -- but I don't have a vote in the forum. I have read somewhere that there are still people who hate the name Pacific Wren.

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Old Thursday 29th July 2010, 19:03   #62
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Originally Posted by Richard Klim View Post
Outside the AOU area, 'Winter Wren' still refers to T troglodytes.
The supplement calls that the "Eurasian Wren."
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Old Thursday 29th July 2010, 19:45   #63
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'Eurasian Wren'

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Originally Posted by jmorlan View Post
The supplement calls that the "Eurasian Wren."
I know that. But AOU has minimal influence on what European/Asian birders call their native birds. Except for World listers, most will remain totally unaware of (or disinterested in) AOU's 51st supplement. A large body of European birding literature will continue to refer to T troglodytes as Winter Wren for years to come (irrespective of the fact that the full name is rarely used in casual conversation).

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Old Thursday 29th July 2010, 20:10   #64
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I wasn't aware that the name "Winter Wren" was in much use in Europe. I thought it was usually called simply "Wren" in British literature. Checking, I see Howard & Moore do call it "Winter Wren."

I agree that AOU decisions are not likely to carry much weight across the pond.
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Old Thursday 29th July 2010, 20:30   #65
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Wrens

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Originally Posted by jmorlan View Post
I wasn't aware that the name "Winter Wren" was in much use in Europe. I thought it was usually called simply "Wren" in British literature. Checking, I see Howard & Moore do call it "Winter Wren."
It's true that straight 'Wren' is almost universally used in conversation, and also frequently in informal non-specialist literature (as it's our only wren species). But almost all recent 'serious' birding literature (journals, field guides, checklists, annual reports, regional avifaunas etc) uses 'Winter Wren'.

One very notable exception is Birds of the Western Palearctic (1977-1994), which uses simplistic names like Wren, Blackbird, Starling despite being an otherwise scholarly work (but presumably that was still common practice when the project was established?).

Richard

PS: Despite the pitfalls, I admit that I still prefer 'Eurasian' for troglodytes, 'Winter' for hiemalis.
Now what did Niels say in post #21...?

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Old Friday 30th July 2010, 08:43   #66
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Winter Wren and other wren names

I have to add my voice to the apparent minority (on this forum) who are pleased that the NACC has kept Winter Wren for the eastern North American form. My primary reason for liking this decision is simply the conviction that stability is extremely important in English names. This is, as I recall (the 6th edition is at the office...), the first principle listed by the AOU in its policy regarding English names. Stability of English names is at conflict with the policy stated in the 7th edition that both components of a split species should normally receive new names, as this is certainly not a recipe for stability. Fortunately, the AOU has not always followed the 'new names for both splits' policy, not only for splits of 'extralimital' species but also for splits involving a less widespread species, such as the split of Bicknell's Thrush from Gray-cheeked Thrush.

I believe that the idea that 'wisdom begins with putting the right name on a thing' stems largely from the fact that having a name for a thing (whether it is a species, an object or an abstract theory, etc.) allows you to associate the knowledge you have accumulated with the particular thing, and to communicate that knowledge to others. A name for a species serves as a way to file all of our knowledge about the species, whether it is knowledge about natural history, ecology, distribution, physiology, etc. A new name for a species makes that knowledge harder to access, because that knowledge is filed in the literature under the old name, and many people in the future will be unfamiliar with the old name. In the case of the Winter Wren, this name has been in continuous use dating back at least to the 'American Ornithology' of Alexander Wilson, and changing the name risks breaking the link between the bird and the accumulated writings about it over at least two centuries.

Of course, any species split means that the resulting new recognized species are not exactly the same as the 'species' that we thought we knew. But when one of the new splits clearly makes up the majority of the population of the former species, then it is likely better to retain the former species name for the 'biggest' of the new species.

The new Troglodytes hiemalis is not the largest chunk of the former Troglodytes troglodytes, I admit, but it is the largest chunk of the North American forms that have routinely been referred to as 'Winter Wren'. There have been some nods toward the name 'Winter Wren' in Europe, but I don't think it has been used enough to pose a major issue. The official British list admits to the existence of this name as the 'International English Name', but retains 'Wren' as the 'British Vernacular Name'. (I think 'dragged kicking and screaming' sums up their attitude toward such names). In North America, the Pacific Wren does not have a very restricted range, but it seems that it occupies a range maybe only about 50% as large as the Winter Wren.

Changing the English name of a species will cause more confusion when it occurs simultaneously with a change in the scientific name. What reason would a budding ornithologist 10 or 15 years from now have for thinking that a Boreal Wren (to use Joseph Morlan's suggestion),Troglodytes hiemalis, is the same species as the Winter Wren, Troglodytes troglodytes?

The argument that retaining the name 'Winter Wren' for the eastern species will cause problems for records committees in western regions trying to judge reports of vagrants is not very compelling. For a start, the 'hard core birders' who are likely to submit such reports are probably the constituency most likely to be aware of such name changes. Furthermore, it should not be difficult for a committee to put an asterisk beside Winter Wren in a review list to explain that only records of the eastern form are requested, or to immediately reject reports that do not detail how the bird differed from a Pacific Wren.

I do not always agree with the decisions made by the AOU with respect to English names, but I think that in this case they got it right.
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Old Friday 30th July 2010, 11:45   #67
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My primary reason for liking this decision is simply the conviction that stability is extremely important in English names.
There is nothing stable about changing the meaning of a name. Don't get me wrong. I love the name "Winter Wren" for the energetic little bird that I hear singing in my local thickets and which I have called "Winter Wren" for a lifetime. I don't want to have to call it "Pacific Wren." It would have been so satisfying and stable to keep my beloved songster as "Winter Wren" and just change the name of it's Eastern sibling to something else. That's it. Let's leave the name for my bird as Winter Wren because of the conviction that stability is important for me. Let them change the other bird to Eastern Wren. Then we would have stability....at least I would have stability. How satisfying for me to be able to keep Winter Wren.

Is that argument any good? Of course not. It's very simple really. In the honor of "stability" the "Winter Wren" should continue to mean exactly what it has meant in the past. It should apply to the whole species group or superspecies. To change its meaning is inherently to introduce INSTABILITY and confusion into the mix.

When Trail's Flycatcher was split, in the name of stability, we could have called the northern bird the Trail's Flycatcher and renamed just the southern one the Willow Flycatcher. When Western Flycatcher was split, we could have retained Western Flycatcher for just the Pacific-slope birds and renamed the interior birds "Cordilleran Flycatcher." Would either of those been really in the interest of stability? Or would such choices have caused confusion?

I'm sorry, but there is no logic to changing the meaning of a word and claiming that it is in the interest of "stability." Fortunately when I look at distributional data for Trail's Flycatcher or Western Flycatcher, I know exactly what was meant. These are data that apply to the species pair which is exactly what those names meant then, and exactly what they still mean today.

But dealing with old data attributed to Western Grebe, Canada Goose, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and now Winter Wren? Sorry I don't know what species those data really apply to.

Thanks for the suggestion that we add an asterisk to Winter Wren so that people will know that we're not talking about the old Winter Wren, but the California list already uses an asterisk to mean something else (Review Species Bird). And thanks for the suggestion that we add (Eastern) to the name Winter Wren on our list, but we have a rule that we strictly follow AOU in the California list and there is no parenthesis in the English name of anything. Parentheses are used to bracket scientific names.
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Old Friday 30th July 2010, 13:57   #68
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And I would like to point out once more that this is not just a data issue for western bird records committees, but also for eastern bird records committees who will have a hard time knowing if records pertain to the Winter Wren sensu stricto or to a vagrant Pacific Wren - a record which would have been important, but may now be obscured under the name confusion. In the west we have the issue of false positives, while in the east you'll be getting false negatives - neither good for accurate data.
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Old Friday 30th July 2010, 14:00   #69
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Winter Wren

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Mountjoy View Post
The new Troglodytes hiemalis is not the largest chunk of the former Troglodytes troglodytes, I admit, but it is the largest chunk of the North American forms that have routinely been referred to as 'Winter Wren'. There have been some nods toward the name 'Winter Wren' in Europe, but I don't think it has been used enough to pose a major issue. The official British list admits to the existence of this name as the 'International English Name', but retains 'Wren' as the 'British Vernacular Name'. (I think 'dragged kicking and screaming' sums up their attitude toward such names).
There seems to be a widespread misunderstanding in North America about the common practice in Europe of using abbreviated vernacular names in a local context (ie, where there's no ambiguity). But the fact remains that for many years (even before the IOC initiative), a more explicit international English name has generally also been recognised (with little kicking or screaming!) for use in wider contexts – in the case of Troglodytes troglodytes, 'Winter Wren' remains by far the most widely-used full name for the species in the Eurasian region (although 'Northern Wren' has been used by a minority of authors).

To illustrate that point, I've just made a quick check on the Eurasian bibliography referenced for my own checklist. The following (at least) use the English name 'Winter Wren' for T troglodytes:
  • Association of European Records and Rarities Committees - Taxonomic Advisory Committee 2004. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, with distributional notes on subspecies. 15th Draft.
  • Beaman, M. 1994. Palearctic Birds: A Checklist of the Birds of Europe, North Africa & Asia north of the foothills of the Himalayas. Harrier Publications, Stonyhurst, Lancs.
  • Beaman, M, & Madge, S. 1998. The Handbook of Bird Identification for Europe and the Western Palearctic. Christopher Helm, London.
  • van den Berg, A.B. 2010. Dutch Birding bird names: list of Western Palearctic bird species. Dutch Birding Association, Amsterdam.
  • van den Berg, A.B. 2010. Progressive list of Dutch bird species. Dutch Birding Association, Amsterdam.
  • van den Berg, A.B. & Bosman, C.A.W. 1999. Rare birds of the Netherlands with complete list of all species. Pica Press, Robertsbridge, E. Sussex.
  • Bergier, P. & Thévenot, M. 2010. Liste des oiseaux du Maroc. Mise à jour février 2010 (rév. 3.0). Go-South Bull. 7: 15-55.
  • BirdLife International 2010. The BirdLife checklist of the birds of the world with conservation status and taxonomic sources. Version 3.
  • Blair, M., Porter, R., Preddy, S. & Aspinall, S. 2009. OSME Regional List of Bird Taxa. Version 2.1. Ornithological Society of the Middle East, Caucasus and Central Asia.
  • Brazil, M.A. 1991. The Birds of Japan. Christopher Helm, London.
  • Brazil, M. 2009. Field Guide to the Birds of East Asia. Christopher Helm, London.
  • Brewer, D. & MacKay B.K. 2001. Helm Identification Guides: Wrens, Dippers and Thrashers. Christopher Helm, London.
  • China Bird Report 2010. The CBR Checklist of Birds of China. v1.1.
  • China Ornithological Society 2004-2008. China Bird Reports 2003-2007. China Ornithological Society, Beijing.
  • Clarke, T. 2006. Field Guide to the Birds of the Atlantic Islands. Christopher Helm, London.
  • Dickinson, E.C. (editor) 2003. The Howard & Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World. 3rd Edition. Christopher Helm, London.
  • Dudley, S.P., Gee, M., Kehoe, C., Melling, T.M. & the British Ornithologists' Union Records Committee 2006. The British List: A Checklist of Birds of Britain. 7th Edition. Ibis 148 (3), 526-563.
  • Gregory, G. 2005. The Birds of the State of Kuwait. Gregory, Skegness, Lincs.
  • Grimmett, R., Inskipp, C. & Inskipp, T. 1998. Helm Identification Guides: Birds of the Indian Subcontinent. Christopher Helm, London.
  • Grimmett, R., Inskipp, C. & Inskipp, T. 2009. Helm Field Guides: Birds of Nepal. 2nd Edition. Christopher Helm, London.
  • Grimmett, R. & Inskipp, T. 2003. Helm Field Guides: Birds of Northern India. Christopher Helm, London.
  • Grimmett, R., Roberts, T. & Inskipp, T. 2008. Helm Field Guides: Birds of Pakistan. Christopher Helm, London.
  • Harper, C. 2009. Checklist of the Birds of Japan. Kantori Lode, Japan.
  • Inskipp, C., Inskipp, T. & Grimmett, R. 2004. Helm Field Guides: Birds of Bhutan. Reprint with corrections. Christopher Helm, London.
  • Inskipp, T. 2009. Checklist of birds of the region covered by the Oriental Bird Club. Oriental Bird Club, Sandy, Beds.
  • Inskipp, T., Lindsey, N. & Duckworth, W. 1996. An Annotated Checklist of the Birds of the Oriental Region. Oriental Bird Club, Sandy, Beds.
  • Kazmierczak, K. & Singh, R. 1998. A Birdwatchers' Guide to India. Prion, Sandy, Beds.
  • Kirihara, M., Yamagata, N. & Yoshino, T. 2000. 550 Birds of Japan. Vols. 1 & 2. Bunichi, Japan.
  • Kirwan, G.M., Boyla, K.A., Castell, P., Demirci, B., Özen, M., Welch, H. & Marlow, T. 2008. The Birds of Turkey. Christopher Helm, London.
  • Kirwan, G.M., Martins, R.P., Eken, G. & Davidson, P. 1999. A checklist of the birds of Turkey. Sandgrouse Supplement 1, 1-31.
  • Lack, P. 2010. ABC African Checklist. Apr 2010 version. African Bird Club, Cambridge.
  • Lee, W.-S., Koo, T.-H. & Park, J.-Y. 2000. A Field Guide to the Birds of Korea. LG Evergreen Foundation, Seoul.
  • MacKinnon, J. & Phillipps, K. 2000. A Field Guide to the Birds of China. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Moores, N., Park, J.-G. & Kim, A. 2009. The Birds Korea Checklist: 2009. Birds Korea.
  • Parkin, D.T. & Knox, A.G. 2010. The Status of Birds in Britain & Ireland. Christopher Helm, London.
  • Pfister, O. 2004. Birds and Mammals of Ladakh. Oxford University Press, New Delhi.
  • Porter, R., Aspinall, S., Preddy, S. & Blair, M. 2010. The simplified OSME list of bird taxa. v01. Ornithological Society of the Middle East, Caucasus and Central Asia.
  • Rasmussen, P.C. & Anderton, J.C. 2005. Birds of South Asia. The Ripley Guide. Vols. 1 & 2. Smithsonian Institution & Lynx Edicions, Washington, D.C. & Barcelona.
  • Robson, C. 2000. A Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia. New Holland, London.
  • Scott, D.A. & Adhami, A. 2006. An Updated Checklist of the Birds of Iran. Podoces 1 (1/2), 1-13.
  • Shimba, T. 2007. A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Japan and North-east Asia. Christopher Helm, London.
  • Al-Sirhan, A. 2010. Kuwait Annotated Checklist of Birds. v1.1. Kuwait Ornithological Rarities Committee.
  • Spierenburg, P. 2005. Birds in Bhutan: Status and Distribution. Oriental Bird Club, Beds.
  • Svensson, L., Mullarney, K. & Zetterström, D. 2009. Collins Bird Guide: The most complete guide to the birds of Britain and Europe. 2nd Edition. HarperCollins, London.
  • Thévenot, M., Vernon, R. & Bergier, P. 2003. BOU Checklist No. 20: The Birds of Morocco. British Ornithologists' Union, Tring, Herts.
  • Thibault, J.-C. & Bonaccorsi, G. 1999. BOU Checklist No. 17: The Birds of Corsica. British Ornithologists' Union, Tring, Herts.
  • Wassink, A. & Oreel, G.J. 2007. The Birds of Kazakhstan. Wassink, Texel, Netherlands.
  • Wheatley, N. 2000. Where to watch birds in Europe & Russia. Christopher Helm, London.
Richard

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Old Friday 30th July 2010, 14:01   #70
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Mountjoy View Post
I have to add my voice to the apparent minority (on this forum) who are pleased that the NACC has kept Winter Wren for the eastern North American form. My primary reason for liking this decision is simply the conviction that stability is extremely important in English names. This is, as I recall (the 6th edition is at the office...), the first principle listed by the AOU in its policy regarding English names. Stability of English names is at conflict with the policy stated in the 7th edition that both components of a split species should normally receive new names, as this is certainly not a recipe for stability. Fortunately, the AOU has not always followed the 'new names for both splits' policy, not only for splits of 'extralimital' species but also for splits involving a less widespread species, such as the split of Bicknell's Thrush from Gray-cheeked Thrush.

I believe that the idea that 'wisdom begins with putting the right name on a thing' stems largely from the fact that having a name for a thing (whether it is a species, an object or an abstract theory, etc.) allows you to associate the knowledge you have accumulated with the particular thing, and to communicate that knowledge to others. A name for a species serves as a way to file all of our knowledge about the species, whether it is knowledge about natural history, ecology, distribution, physiology, etc. A new name for a species makes that knowledge harder to access, because that knowledge is filed in the literature under the old name, and many people in the future will be unfamiliar with the old name. In the case of the Winter Wren, this name has been in continuous use dating back at least to the 'American Ornithology' of Alexander Wilson, and changing the name risks breaking the link between the bird and the accumulated writings about it over at least two centuries.

Of course, any species split means that the resulting new recognized species are not exactly the same as the 'species' that we thought we knew. But when one of the new splits clearly makes up the majority of the population of the former species, then it is likely better to retain the former species name for the 'biggest' of the new species.

The new Troglodytes hiemalis is not the largest chunk of the former Troglodytes troglodytes, I admit, but it is the largest chunk of the North American forms that have routinely been referred to as 'Winter Wren'. There have been some nods toward the name 'Winter Wren' in Europe, but I don't think it has been used enough to pose a major issue. The official British list admits to the existence of this name as the 'International English Name', but retains 'Wren' as the 'British Vernacular Name'. (I think 'dragged kicking and screaming' sums up their attitude toward such names). In North America, the Pacific Wren does not have a very restricted range, but it seems that it occupies a range maybe only about 50% as large as the Winter Wren.

Changing the English name of a species will cause more confusion when it occurs simultaneously with a change in the scientific name. What reason would a budding ornithologist 10 or 15 years from now have for thinking that a Boreal Wren (to use Joseph Morlan's suggestion),Troglodytes hiemalis, is the same species as the Winter Wren, Troglodytes troglodytes?

The argument that retaining the name 'Winter Wren' for the eastern species will cause problems for records committees in western regions trying to judge reports of vagrants is not very compelling. For a start, the 'hard core birders' who are likely to submit such reports are probably the constituency most likely to be aware of such name changes. Furthermore, it should not be difficult for a committee to put an asterisk beside Winter Wren in a review list to explain that only records of the eastern form are requested, or to immediately reject reports that do not detail how the bird differed from a Pacific Wren.

I do not always agree with the decisions made by the AOU with respect to English names, but I think that in this case they got it right.
I agree with all of this. Also, IMO the convenience of hobbyist organizations like rare bird committees should have no weight at all in the naming of birds.
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Old Friday 30th July 2010, 14:10   #71
Jim Mountjoy
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Originally Posted by jmorlan View Post
I'm sorry, but there is no logic to changing the meaning of a word and claiming that it is in the interest of "stability." Fortunately when I look at distributional data for Trail's Flycatcher or Western Flycatcher, I know exactly what was meant. These are data that apply to the species pair which is exactly what those names meant then, and exactly what they still mean today.

But dealing with old data attributed to Western Grebe, Canada Goose, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and now Winter Wren? Sorry I don't know what species those data really apply to.

(parts deleted)

Thanks for the suggestion that we add an asterisk to Winter Wren so that people will know that we're not talking about the old Winter Wren, but the California list already uses an asterisk to mean something else (Review Species Bird).
I am afraid that your argument doesn't work for me. You actually have the same information available from these old data regardless of whether one taxon retains the old name or not after a split. When you look at distributional data for Traill's Flycatcher you only know that it refers to EITHER Willow or Alder Flycatcher, two distinct species with different breeding ranges, wintering ranges, migration timing, etc. When you have an old record for Yellow-bellied Sapsucker you only know that it refers to EITHER a Red-breasted, Red-naped or Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. No difference really.

And although I do not see any asterisks used in the online version of the California review list, I am sure that a pound symbol, double asterisks, or some other symbol could substitute for an asterisk.
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Old Friday 30th July 2010, 14:19   #72
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Originally Posted by Jim Mountjoy View Post
I am afraid that your argument doesn't work for me. You actually have the same information available from these old data regardless of whether one taxon retains the old name or not after a split. When you look at distributional data for Traill's Flycatcher you only know that it refers to EITHER Willow or Alder Flycatcher, two distinct species with different breeding ranges, wintering ranges, migration timing, etc. When you have an old record for Yellow-bellied Sapsucker you only know that it refers to EITHER a Red-breasted, Red-naped or Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. No difference really.

And although I do not see any asterisks used in the online version of the California review list, I am sure that a pound symbol, double asterisks, or some other symbol could substitute for an asterisk.
Not true.

If it is kept for the species pair, you know Traill's flycatcher is either alder or willow regardless of when it is. If alder was called Traill's then you would have to figure out when the report is from and ensure whoever reporting knows about the split, otherwise you do not know whether it is a Traill's (alder) or a Traill's (alder/willow). The point is not the old data, but the data since the split, where retaining the name can cause confusion as to whether the person is referring to a specific species or the group.
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Old Friday 30th July 2010, 14:40   #73
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I agree with Joseph. It's not just rare bird record committees, as has been pointed out several times already, eBird--which is likely to become the central repository of U.S. (perhaps even world) bird records in the not too distant future--is also affected. Can't really see any concrete advantage to retaining "Winter Wren" for a single species. Surely the goal of retaining "stability in English names" refers primarily to situations in which the underlying taxonomy is unchanged, and is trumped in this instance by the goal of avoiding chronic problems with ambiguity in English names in all future bird reports.

Best,
Jim

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Old Friday 30th July 2010, 14:51   #74
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Originally Posted by Reuven_M View Post
Not true.

If it is kept for the species pair, you know Traill's flycatcher is either alder or willow regardless of when it is. If alder was called Traill's then you would have to figure out when the report is from and ensure whoever reporting knows about the split, otherwise you do not know whether it is a Traill's (alder) or a Traill's (alder/willow). The point is not the old data, but the data since the split, where retaining the name can cause confusion as to whether the person is referring to a specific species or the group.
This is a BETTER argument than the one advanced by Joe Morlan (which specifically referred to pre-split records), but I don't feel that the potential for confusion here really outweighs the confusion of new names across the board. With the current wren names, a Winter Wren reported in Illinois can be assumed to be a Winter with a high degree of certainty (probably as high as assuming that those Chimney Swifts that were reported were not Vaux's). A birder reporting a Winter Wren in California will need to append '(not a Pacific Wren!)' to their report if they wish to get people's attention, but a birder knowledgeable enough to identify a vagrant Winter Wren will presumably know about the potential for confusion. But how often will a vagrant Winter Wren actually show up in California? And, although I am a somewhat obsessive lister and a former rarity committee member, I have to question whether these records are even of great significance in the big picture. Certainly English names are not the concern only of rarity committees and serious listers. They are used by a great range of people, from ornithologists to district foresters to casual birders and poets, etc. Decisions on name changes need to bear all these groups in mind.
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Old Friday 30th July 2010, 15:02   #75
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Looking back at some posts, I think I should clarify that I would NOT support retaining the old name for one of the split species in all cases. For example, new names for Alder and Willow Flycatchers was clearly the correct decision because of their broadly overlapping ranges and relatively similar range and population sizes. Each case needs to be judged on it own merits and the cost and benefits of each option weighed. But no split can be made without causing some confusion along the way...
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