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English names for Troglodytes splits (1 Viewer)

Kratter

Well-known member
The AOU-CLC seeks opinions on English names for the possible upcoming split of Troglodytes troglodytes into:
Troglodytes hiemalis (eastern North America)
Troglodytes pacificus (western North America)
Old World forms

There are some of us who favor the group name Winter-Wren, which would include:
hiemalis: Eastern Winter-Wren,
pacificus: Western Winter-Wren, Pacific Winter-Wren, Baird's Winter-Wren


And some of us favor retaining Winter Wren for hiemalis and not dealing with the group names:
hiemalis: Winter Wren,
pacificus: Pacific Wren, Baird's Wren, Redwood Wren

The Old World forms are another matter, but this taxon lies outside our purview (no records from the AOU area).

I'd like to hear some opinions on what you may favor. Give reasoning if so desired.
Andy
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
You may be aware that there was a discussion of that topic in the last part of this thread. However, I also realize that some of the responses there were less than serious ;)

I personally find that any name including "Winter Wren" (hyphenated or not) sounds wrong for a species that is resident in central California. Another argument against the hyphenated forms is that I strongly doubt that the Eurasian form would get to carry such a name (Eurasian Wren just sounds so obvious); trying to be taxonomically informative if only two of three offspring species carry that form defeats the purpose.

Have you considered leaving behind the "Winter Wren" designation completely and use two new names? That would certainly make it easier in reading accounts of the birds to know if the person was talking about the pre-split or the post-split species. That would allow you to use any of the three forms for pacificus mentioned: Pacific Wren, Baird's Wren, Redwood Wren, but force another name for hiemalis: I think Taiga Wren was mentioned even if in gist.

Thanks for asking!
Niels
 

Richard Klim

-------------------------
The AOU-CLC seeks opinions on English names for the possible upcoming split of Troglodytes troglodytes into:
Troglodytes hiemalis (eastern North America)
Troglodytes pacificus (western North America)
Old World forms
I would be comfortable with the proposed Nearctic species assuming sole ownership of the name 'Winter Wren' (preferably without an AOU hyphen ;)), ie T. hiemalis 'Eastern Winter Wren', and T. pacificus 'Western (or Pacific) Winter Wren'. 'Winter Wren' has never really achieved popular usage amongst birders in the Old World (given that it's our only wren!), whereas it's been in common use in North America (as a distinction from the numerous other New World wrens) since the 19th century at least.

That would probably leave T. troglodytes sensu stricto with the obvious and appropriate name 'Eurasian Wren', [which might subsequently be further split into perhaps 'European' (troglodytes), 'Caucasian' (hyrcanus), 'Nepal' (nipalensis) and 'Oriental' (fumigatus), subject to further research...].

[T. pacificus should probably include pallescens (Commander Is.).]

Richard
 
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Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
I favor Pacific Wren for Pacific Northwest form, and Taiga Wren for the Eastern form

Reasons:
"Eastern" and "Western" Winter Wren are not really very descriptive for a holarctic distributed bird genus

Pacific follows a naming trend in the Pacific Northwest animals, including Pacific Chorus Frog, Pacific Giant Salamander, Pacific Jumping Mouse, etc. So there is a precedent, and I don't think it would cause all that much confusion for people.

Pacific and Taiga Wrens are both short names, and roll off the tongue

Getting rid of winter would lesson confusion in the literature, since one wouldn't have to ponder what definition of winter the authors are using.
 
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fugl

Well-known member
And I support Richard Klim's (and would definitely drop the hyphen!). Winter Wren is an esthetically pleasing name which I would hate to see disappear. With regard to the western form, I would go with "Pacific Winter Wren" in preference to "Western Winter Wren".
 

Snapdragyn

Well-known member
I favor Pacific Wren for the (north)western species. For the eastern species, Taiga Wren doesn't seem that appropriate for a bird I've seen wintering in east Texas (granted, winter range & not breeding range, but still). Perhaps Northern Wren?

I would not wish to see Winter Wren retained for one part of a split; this creates confusion in the literature, as others have mentioned. I even seem to recall an A.O.U. guideline seeking to avoid such in the case of splits (not that it stopped the Canada vs. Canada Goose case - hmm, which one is referring to which?).

I am wholly opposed to a non-hyphenated trinomial common name, e.g. 'Pacific Winter Wren'. What if this is later split again? Do we then end up with 'Bob's Pacific Winter Wren' & 'Harry's Pacific Winter Wren'? Either hyphenate a group name (which I do not favor here for the mentioned reason that it will never be adopted for the Eurasian species) or just drop to 2 names. We just got rid of the atrocious Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow tongue-twister; let's not start down that road again.
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
I think Northern Wren is an old term for Winter Wren in the err...Old World. I have seen it mentioned in Brazil's Birdfinding guide to Japan, from 1987 I think?
 

Kratter

Well-known member
Another new name that I kind of like has popped up for pacificus, and that is Northwestern Wren (or Northwestern Winter-Wren if we have the group name). Note that the the AOU-CLC strongly disagrees with the IOC in using hyphens for group names that reflect close relationship; we favor the hyphen when the members sharing the name are closely related.

Andy
 
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Kirk Roth

Well-known member
I feel strongly that “Pacific Wren” is proper for T. pacificus. This is the name suggested by the authors Toews and Irwin and is a concise, descriptive name. Further, it is in concordance with the latin name. I find arguments concerning confusion with Asian wrens not to be very compelling. By similar logic, the Pacific Golden-plover could be renamed because it is not the only golden-plover on the Pacific Ocean. This is in addition to Mysticete’s point that the “Pacific” moniker is not a problem or issue in other vertebrate taxa. I have not seen a case in which “Pacific” or “Atlantic” descriptors become an issue of confusion, depending on which side of the ocean an animal or plant occurs. Certainly not amongst any scientists I’ve read. Scientists are generally an adaptable bunch - give us some credit!

I feel that “Winter Wren” should be retained for T. hiemalis. “Hiemalis” is latin for “winter,” and the term “Winter Wren” originally and properly belongs to this taxon. Technically, “Winter Wren” as first described, is not applicable to the western non-migratory populations, nor to the Eurasian Troglodytes. I feel that retaining this name preserves common usage for both American and European ornithologists. As for retaining (or ascribing – for us purists!) “Winter Wren” for pacificus due to potential confusion, I find this argument not to be compelling. Again, I don’t think this is a serious problem that many, if any, scientists would have. Even amongst “laymen” birders, the retainment of the Canada Goose vs. the Cackling have been widely and quickly understood, and this is a much more confusing taxa to separate than our wren. To summarize, I do not think that confusion between Winter and Pacific Wrens would present a longstanding or important problem.

Eastern and Western Winter-Wren seem like problematic names. As I’ve just stated, “Winter-Wren” is not really proper for the western populations that are mostly non-migratory. (“Year-round Wren,” anyone?) In addition, these are long “clunky” names, begging to be whittled away in the future, just as the sharp-tailed sparrows have recently endured. I am generally not impressed with “Eastern” and “Western” names, especially when they are not the only taxa in a group. For example, we may have “Eastern Winter-Wren,” which would not be the easternmost of the Winter Wrens (that would be the not necessarily northern “Northern Winter-wren” of Eurasia?) In the very real possibility of a split of the Aleutian subspecies in the future, the “Western Winter-Wren” would not be the westernmost winter-wren either.

“Taiga Wren" or "Taiga Winter-Wren" may be unfortunate choices, considering the Appalachian populations and those that breed in southern Canada, Michigan, Maine, etc. Although taiga is technically correct for the habitat, here in America we tend to refer to these habitats as “boreal” and reserve taiga for the areas closer to tree line. However, I’m not advocating “Boreal Wren” either, which is too similar to the Eurasian “Northern Wren,” in my opinion. I feel it is difficult to come up with a good biogeographical name without confusion or conflict. I don’t suppose that “Canada Wren” would be very popular!

I can see the merit of the “Northwestern Wren.” My only concern is that it seems to be a slap in the face of Toews and Irwin to give an alternate name to their suggestion – one which has nearly the same meaning (again, assuming that very few will be really confused by “Pacific Wren”). Also, I generally feel that concordance between Latin and English names is more often than not a good thing. Northwestern Wren, I suppose, would be my second choice for pacificus. Unfortunately, I cannot find another name for T. hiemalis that I believe is appropriate.

I would be remiss not to point out that the German name for the wren is “Zaunkoenig,” which essentially translates to “King of Quarrels.” If this debate escalates as many do in the taxonomic world, it may become the most appropriate name yet!
 

Richard Klim

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I feel that “Winter Wren” should be retained for T. hiemalis.
There's a definite logic to that suggestion. The downside is that references in popular birding literature to 'Winter Wren' would often be ambiguous: pre-2010 Winter Wren = T. troglodytes sensu lato; post-2010 Winter Wren = T. hiemalis for AOU/ABA/Clements, but probably still T. troglodytes s.l. for others. But the same problem has resulted from many other splits...

Richard
 
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njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
Kirk,
welcome to birdforum!

I would be surprised if Northern Wren becomes the norm for the Eurasian form, and therefore, I don't think that Boreal Wren would be such a bad name for T. hiemalis. Having thought about it, I would prefer none of the daughter species keeping the "Winter Wren" designation.

Niels
 

jmorlan

Hmmm. That's funny
Opus Editor
United States
Whatever you do PLEASE do not retain the name "Winter Wren" for one taxon and change the name of the other. That leads to rampant confusion and makes analysis of old records impossible. The name "Winter Wren" must be reserved for the combined species pair for clarity.

The AOU has a written policy on this, but has ignored it in several notorious cases such as Canada Goose, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Western Grebe, etc. Looking at old Christmas bird counts in which these taxa refer to pre-split species groups requires precise knowledge of which bird the specific English name applies to.

Then there will inevitably be birders using old field guides entering names like "Common Snipe" into their eBird lists and when prompted that that species is very unusual will verify it because they've never seen one before.

This is not just a matter of preference. It is absolutely imperative in my view.
 

Kirk Roth

Well-known member
The downside is that references in popular birding literature to 'Winter Wren' would often be ambiguous:

That leads to rampant confusion and makes analysis of old records impossible. The name "Winter Wren" must be reserved for the combined species pair for clarity.

This is a problem with the original data entry, not naming. No matter what we call T. hiemalis, if previous data were not recorded to subspecific clarity, we have no idea to what taxon it refers. I dare say that analysis of old records would still be impossible, if information regarding hiemalis vs. pacificus is the issue. That said, I'll state again that I have yet to see this become a major problem for researchers, if not most birders.

But this brings me to something I didn't bring up in my first "Wren Wrant," so at the risk of getting too far off topic, here goes: Ideally, the AOU is a scientific organization and the ABA is a birding organization. I understand that this isn't exactly true, but I feel it certainly should be. It is risky to combine the scientific and birding worlds, and it results in data such as "Common Snipe" still being reported all over Indiana, for example. However, most scientists are willing to put a little effort into correcting the data in order to take advantage of the opportunities that citizen science has to offer. Again, if this has not caused incredible confusion for the Canada Goose, it won't for the Winter Wren. I'll stop now, but I still hold that the common name won't pose a major obstacle for most, and the rest will catch up - just as has happened for numerous vertebrate species.

Also, do not confuse the purpose of a common name with that for a scientific name. In leaving Winter Wren as is, we are still retaining the common usage for the bulk of the population of the birds.

I would be surprised if Northern Wren becomes the norm for the Eurasian form, and therefore, I don't think that Boreal Wren would be such a bad name for T. hiemalis.

After all that ranting, I do have to admit that "Boreal Wren" has grown on me a bit. For me, the sticking point would be the extent of current usage or assocation of "Northern Wren." If nobody, worldwide, uses or plans to use "Northern Wren" for anything (I'm looking at you, IOC), then I would feel much more comfortable with Boreal Wren. Being the sheltered traveler I am, I suppose I can't weigh in much more than that.
 

Daniel Philippe

Well-known member
I would be remiss not to point out that the German name for the wren is “Zaunkoenig,” which essentially translates to “King of Quarrels.” If this debate escalates as many do in the taxonomic world, it may become the most appropriate name yet!

But the Frenchs ignored its bad temper, looked at it from another angle and named it "Troglodyte mignon", which translates to "Cute Wren" : keep this in mind to cool down the debate !!
 

jmorlan

Hmmm. That's funny
Opus Editor
United States
For decades in California, I've had to deal with claims of Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Arctic Loon, Boat-tailed Grackle, etc. reported by people unaware that the species is unusual or unrecorded. Why? Because they are using a copy of Peterson's field guide they got many years ago and where they keep their life list. I assure you these claims are not identified to subspecies.

Now we are on the brink of yet another such debacle. As soon as this split becomes final, we could have to deal with years and years of reports of "Winter Wren!" Each claim will have to be dealt with somehow. "Winter Wren" will automatically go from being a common breeder in California to a Bird Records Committee Review Species! The Committee still routinely receives reports of "Arctic Loon" in which the observers are unaware there has been a split.

Leaving "Winter Wren" for the eastern bird will be a considerable headache for me personally and for the many others in the far West.

This can easily be resolved by renaming the eastern bird and retaining "Winter Wren" for the species pair. There can be no possible advantage to do otherwise.
 
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Xenospiza

Distracted
Supporter
I would be remiss not to point out that the German name for the wren is “Zaunkoenig,” which essentially translates to “King of Quarrels.” If this debate escalates as many do in the taxonomic world, it may become the most appropriate name yet!
Unfortunately, it means "King of the fence" (Zaun = fence).

In Dutch, all wrens are called "Winter King" (winterkoning).

Although I like Taiga Wren, I agree that Boreal Wren has the merit of following Boreal Owl (when will that be split from Tengmalm's?) and Boreal Chickadee. It's not a bad idea to keep "Taiga" restricted to (birds in the) Old World boreal forests.
 
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dantheman

Bah humbug
Leaving the ball park almost entirely, I quite like the idea of 'Tiger Wren'. Fiesty little beast... (Better than Boreal, Wood, or even Tiger Wood Wren IMO) Since Tigers are not known to reside as natives in the geographical zone of incidence, no-one could complain that it was partially inappropriate to some sub-sections of the populations (it would just be wholly inappropriate ;) )

The western version could become Pacific Wren as mentioned, or maybe renamed Grizzly Wren. Or Sabre-toothed Wren. Or something...
 

fugl

Well-known member
This can easily be resolved by renaming the eastern bird and retaining "Winter Wren" for the species pair. There can be no possible advantage to do otherwise.

As, indeed, would “Eastern Winter Wren” vs. “Pacific (or whatever) Winter Wren” for that matter.

More generally, whether traditional names should be jettisoned solely for the convenience of hobbyists is a question which has been debated ad nauseam in previous threads. But I can understand your frustration.
 

jmorlan

Hmmm. That's funny
Opus Editor
United States
whether traditional names should be jettisoned solely for the convenience of hobbyists is a question....
What better way to deal with the split than to honor the tradition of the name "Winter Wren" by applying it to the entire group exactly as it was in the traditional past?

The traditional name is NOT jettisoned. It is retained for the traditional species pair or species complex when it was a single species. In my view, to do otherwise is to dishonor the tradition.

Also I don't think it's a matter of either convenience or hobbyists. It's a matter of clarity, and precision, and to help ensure that data gathered by hobbyists will have value and meaning to all ornithologists who use data gathered via citizen science.
 

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