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Birds of the Middle East 2 (1 Viewer)

Richard Klim

Porter & Aspinall 2010. Helm Field Guides: Birds of the Middle East. 2nd Edition.

Received my copy yesterday. Once again with the publication of a new edition of a book, I've amused myself by generating a synopsis of splits since the previous edition (1996), giving a snapshot of some of the changes in the intervening 14 years. The field guide largely follows the taxonomy of the OSME Region List (ORL):

In the list below, trinomials with square brackets represent splits with "universal agreement", fully adopted by Porter & Aspinall (using binomials); those with curved brackets represent splits where P&A acknowledge that there's still debate over species status. In a handful of cases, splits that were previously fully recognised have backtracked to debatable status in the new edition. Apologies if I've missed any!


  • Cygnus (columbianus) bewickii - Bewick's Swan
  • Branta [bernicla] bernicla - Dark-bellied Brent Goose
  • Anas [crecca] crecca - Eurasian Teal
  • Anas [poecilorhyncha] poecilorhyncha - Indian Spot-billed Duck
  • Calonectris (diomedea) diomedea - Scopoli's Shearwater
  • Calonectris (diomedea) borealis - Cory's Shearwater
  • Puffinus [yelkouan] yelkouan - Yelkouan Shearwater
  • Puffinus [yelkouan] mauretanicus - Balearic Shearwater
  • Puffinus [assimilis] baroli - Macaronesian Shearwater
  • Puffinus [lherminieri] bailloni - Tropical Shearwater
  • Puffinus [lherminieri] persicus - Persian Shearwater
  • Phoenicopterus [ruber] roseus - Greater Flamingo
  • Ciconia [ciconia] ciconia - Western White Stork [1]
  • Threskiornis [aethiopicus] aethiopicus - African Sacred Ibis
  • Bubulcus (ibis) ibis - Western Cattle Egret
  • Bubulcus (ibis) coromandus - Eastern Cattle Egret
  • Egretta [alba] alba - Western Great Egret
  • Milvus ([migrans] migrans) migrans - Black Kite
  • Milvus ([migrans] migrans) lineatus - Black-eared Kite
  • Milvus [migrans] aegyptius - Yellow-billed Kite
  • Circus [aeruginosus] aeruginosus - Western Marsh Harrier
  • Buteo [buteo] buteo - Common Buzzard
  • Buteo [buteo] socotraensis - Socotra Buzzard
  • Aquila (rapax) rapax - Tawny Eagle
  • Aquila (rapax) vindhiana - Indian Tawny Eagle
  • Falco (peregrinus) peregrinus - Peregrine Falcon
  • Falco (peregrinus) pelegrinoides - Barbary Falcon (full split retracted)
  • Chlamydotis [undulata] macqueenii - Macqueen's Bustard
  • Porphyrio [porphyrio] porphyrio - Purple Swamphen
  • Porphyrio [porphyrio] madagascariensis - African Swamphen
  • Larus [fuscus] fuscus - Lesser Black-backed Gull
  • Larus [fuscus] heuglini - Heuglin's Gull
  • Larus [fuscus] barabensis - Steppe Gull
  • Larus [cachinnans] cachinnans - Caspian Gull
  • Larus [cachinnans] michahellis - Yellow-legged Gull
  • Sternula (albifrons) albifrons - Little Tern
  • Sternula (albifrons) saundersi - Saunders's Tern (full split retracted)
  • Streptopelia (orientalis) meena - Rufous Turtle Dove
  • Cuculus [saturatus] optatus - Oriental Cuckoo
  • Eudynamys [scolopaceus] scolopaceus - Asian Koel
  • Otus ([senegalensis] senegalensis) pamelae - Arabian Scops Owl
  • Otus [senegalensis] socotranus - Socotra Scops Owl
  • Bubo [bubo] bubo - Eurasian Eagle Owl
  • Bubo [bubo] ascalaphus - Pharaoh Eagle Owl
  • Bubo (africanus) milesi - Arabian Spotted Eagle Owl
  • Athene (noctua) noctua - Little Owl
  • Athene (noctua) lilith - Lilith Owl [2]
  • Merops [superciliosus] persicus - Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
  • Upupa [epops] epops - Eurasian Hoopoe

  1. The novel split of Western (nominate) from Eastern (asiatica) White Stork is suggested by ORL.
  2. Athene (noctua) lilith Lilith Owl follows König & Weick 2008, contra Dutch Birding which splits A glaux (including lilith & indigena) as Lilith's Owl (following Wink 2008).
Other potential/incipient species mentioned in the introduction:

  • Hydrobates (pelagicus) melitensis - Mediterranean Storm Petrel
  • Egretta (gularis) schistacea - Indian Reef Heron
  • Larus michahellis x armenicus - 'Beysehir Gull'
  • Athene (noctua) indigena - Byzantine Little Owl
Also of interest: P&A follow, eg, Grieve, Jennings & Tibbett in treating 'Dhofar Swift' (breeding in Dhofar & S Yemen) as Apus berliozi Forbes-Watson's Swift.

Birds of the Middle East 2 (continued)


  • Lanius (isabellinus) isabellinus - Daurian Shrike
  • Lanius (isabellinus) phoenicuroides - Turkestan Shrike
  • Lanius [excubitor] excubitor - Great Grey Shrike
  • Lanius ([excubitor] meridionalis) meridionalis - Southern Grey Shrike
  • Lanius ([excubitor] meridionalis) pallidirostris - Steppe Grey Shrike
  • Pica [pica] pica - Eurasian Magpie
  • Corvus ([corone] corone) corone - Carrion Crow
  • Corvus ([corone] corone) orientalis - Oriental Crow
  • Corvus ([corone] cornix) cornix - Hooded Crow
  • Corvus ([corone] cornix) capellanus - Mesopotamian Crow
  • Cyanistes (cyanus) flavipectus - Yellow-breasted Tit
  • Parus (major) major - Great Tit
  • Parus (major) bokharensis - Turkestan Tit (full split retracted)
  • Parus (major) intermedius - Cinereous Tit [1]
  • Poecile (lugubris) lugubris - Sombre Tit
  • Poecile (lugubris) hyrcanus - Caspian Tit
  • Remiz (pendulinus) pendulinus - Eurasian Penduline Tit
  • Remiz (pendulinus) macronyx - Black-headed Penduline Tit
  • Remiz (pendulinus) coronatus - White-crowned Penduline Tit
  • Calandrella [cinerea] blanfordi - Blanford's Short-toed Lark
  • Calandrella (rufescens) rufescens - Lesser Short-toed Lark
  • Calandrella (rufescens) cheleensis - Asian Short-toed Lark
  • Pycnonotus (leucogenys) leucotis - White-eared Bulbul
  • Riparia (riparia) riparia - Sand Martin
  • Riparia (riparia) diluta - Pale Martin
  • Ptyonoprogne (fuligula) obsoleta - Pale Crag Martin
  • Delichon (urbicum) urbicum - Common House Martin
  • Delichon (urbicum) dasypus - Asian House Martin [2]
  • Phylloscopus [trochiloides] viridanus - Greenish Warbler [3]
  • Phylloscopus [bonelli] orientalis - Eastern Bonelli's Warbler
  • Phylloscopus (sindianus) lorenzii - Caucasian Mountain Chiffchaff
  • Iduna [pallida] pallida - Eastern Olivaceous Warbler
  • Iduna [caligata] caligata - Booted Warbler
  • Iduna [caligata] rama - Sykes's Warbler
  • Acrocephalus (scirpaceus) scirpaceus - Eurasian Reed Warbler
  • Acrocephalus (scirpaceus) avicenniae - Mangrove Reed Warbler (ex-A baeticatus ssp)
  • Acrocephalus (stentoreus) stentoreus - Clamorous Reed Warbler
  • Acrocephalus (stentoreus) brunnescens - Indian Reed Warbler
  • Acrocephalus [arundinaceus] arundinaceus - Great Reed Warbler
  • Acrocephalus [arundinaceus] orientalis - Oriental Reed Warbler
  • Turdoides (caudata) huttoni - Afghan Babbler
  • Sylvia [curruca] curruca - Lesser Whitethroat
  • Sylvia [curruca] minula - Desert Whitethroat
  • Sylvia [curruca] althaea - Hume's Whitethroat
  • Sylvia [hortensis] crassirostris - Eastern Orphean Warbler
  • Sylvia [nana] nana - Asian Desert Warbler
  • Sylvia (cantillans) albistriata - Eastern Subalpine Warbler
  • Zoothera [dauma] aurea - White's Thrush
  • Turdus [naumanni] naumanni - Naumann's Thrush
  • Turdus [naumanni] eunomus - Dusky Thrush
  • Turdus [ruficollis] ruficollis - Red-throated Thrush
  • Turdus [ruficollis] atrogularis - Black-throated Thrush
  • Luscinia (megarhynchos) megarhynchos - Common Nightingale
  • Luscinia (megarhynchos) golzii - Eastern Nightingale
  • Saxicola [torquatus] torquatus - African Stonechat
  • Saxicola [torquatus] rubicola - European Stonechat
  • Saxicola [torquatus] maurus - Siberian Stonechat
  • Oenanthe (hispanica) melanoleuca - Eastern Black-eared Wheatear
  • Oenanthe ([lugens] lugens) lugens - Eastern Mourning Wheatear
  • Oenanthe ([lugens] lugens) lugentoides - Arabian Wheatear (full split retracted)
  • Oenanthe [xanthoprymna] xanthoprymna - Kurdistan Wheatear
  • Oenanthe [xanthoprymna] chrysopygia - Red-tailed Wheatear
  • Ficedula [parva] parva - Red-breasted Flycatcher
  • Ficedula [parva] albicilla - Taiga Flycatcher
  • Passer (domesticus) domesticus - House Sparrow
  • Passer (domesticus) indicus - Indian House Sparrow
  • Passer (moabiticus) moabiticus - Dead Sea Sparrow
  • Passer (moabiticus) yatii - Afghan Scrub Sparrow
  • Passer [insularis] insularis - Socotra Sparrow
  • Passer [insularis] hemileucus - Abd al Kuri Sparrow
  • Passer (simplex) zarudnyi - Asian Desert Sparrow
  • Motacilla (flava) flava - Yellow Wagtail
  • Motacilla (flava) feldegg - Black-headed Wagtail
  • Motacilla (alba) alba - White Wagtail
  • Motacilla (alba) yarrellii - Pied Wagtail
  • Motacilla (alba) leucopsis - Amur Wagtail
  • Motacilla (alba) personata - Masked Wagtail
  • Anthus (novaeseelandiae) richardi - Richard's Pipit (full split retracted)
  • Anthus (novaeseelandiae) cinnamomeus - African Pipit
  • Anthus (rubescens) japonicus - Buff-bellied Pipit
  • Rhynchostruthus [socotranus] socotranus - Socotra Golden-winged Grosbeak
  • Rhynchostruthus [socotranus] percivali - Arabian Golden-winged Grosbeak
  • Carduelis (carduelis) carduelis - European Goldfinch
  • Carduelis (carduelis) caniceps - Eastern Goldfinch
  • Rhodopechys [sanguineus] sanguineus - Eurasian Crimson-winged Finch
  • Carpodacus [rubicilla] rubicilla - Caucasian Great Rosefinch
  • Emberiza [striolata] striolata - Striolated Bunting
  • Emberiza (cineracea) cineracea - Western Cinereous Bunting
  • Emberiza (cineracea) semenowi - Eastern Cinereous Bunting

  1. The split of Parus (major) intermedius as Cinereous Tit follows ORL. P [m] cinereus is split by Eck & Martens 2006, IOC and China Bird Report (and was listed as a potential split by Monroe & Sibley 1993). E&M 2006 notes that it's uncertain whether intermedius is part of the major/bokharensis group or the cinereus group.
  2. Treating the split of Delichon dasypus Asian House Martin as debatable follows ORL, despite widespread recognition by just about all relevant authors/authorities that I'm aware of.
  3. The ORL split of Phylloscopus [trochiloides] viridanus as Greenish Warbler (and the treatment of plumbeitarsus as a ssp of P viridanus) is unusual.
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As I'm part of the group that maintains the OSME region list, I'll chip in with a reply to three of Richard (K)'s comments. What I'm not sure of is which version of the OSME list Richard (P) and Simon used for their book, or if they chose any alternative approaches for some taxa.

1) The possible split of White Stork - we have a stated aim of not making taxonomic innovations ourselves, so if this proposal is genuinely novel, something's gone wrong somewhere. My understanding is that this split has been proposed before, but I don't have the details to hand. I'll try to find out more.

2) The "retracted splits" shouldn't be thought of as splits we don't have confidence in - in some cases they are simply cases that haven't worked their way to the top of our to do pile yet (we've made a conscious effort to focus on species for which the Middle East / Central Asia has a special responsibility, and look at others as a lower priority at a later date). That said, if Asian House Martin is pretty much universally accepted as a split, that should be an easy one for us to tackle in our next revision.

3) The approach with the Greenish Warblers looks like an error: my understanding is that we had adopted the same approach as the BOU. Thanks for flagging that up.

Steve's pretty well summarised the ORL approach. I'm grateful for Richard K's listing of 'splits', although most of them have been on the OSME website for some time, but I would like to emphasise that the ORL team's general view is that with much of the OSME Region being exceedingly remote, we will serve birders better by alloting separate entries for taxa that otherwise might be beneath the radar; the corollary is that once populations are better-known and become better-researched (molecular and non-molecular methods), then we may have to revise our views conservatively at times!
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