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Tit confirmation, Guangxi, China (1 Viewer)

johnallcock

Well-known member
With Parus minor now including the whole of eastern Asia, the English name 'Japanese Tit' is starting to look a bit improper . . .

100% agree. It always was a bad name, given that a large part of the range of minor is outside Japan. As more subspecies are added, it gets even worse. Contrast this with the refusal of most authorities to use Chinese Bulbul for Pycnonotus sinensis with a common excuse being that it's range is not restricted to China.

Edit 3: hhm, no, it's even worse - the name cinereus (1818) is older than minor (1848) - so all the currently P. minor subspecies become P. cinereus subspecies (so Hainan stays with P. cinereus hainanus, and commixta reverts to P. cinereus commixta, but Japan's birds become P. cinereus minor). India's still need a new name, though.

My interpretation of the paper was that a simple split between East Asian and South Asian birds is not the whole picture. They could be interpreted as a single species, or up to three different species (with one representing the Eastern Himalayas).

I think it's important to find some stability and agreement on species limits before reaching to any conclusions about nomenclature. IMO the current problems arose because the species was split too hastily, based on insufficient data and without establishing the relationships between different populations across the entire range. It will only make the situation more confusing if the entire taxonomy changes with every published paper, until there is some clearer agreement on the way these taxa should be treated.
 

MacNara

Well-known member
Japan
Direct link to paper:
https://sci-hub.st/10.1111/jbi.13863

Basically, it's all going tits-up :-O

Or in my case, tits-down (by one), as the thread has prompted me to notice that I still have Cinereous Tit on my Japan list, as I have seen what seems to be now P. minor nigriloris on Iriomote island, and I trusted Brazil's East Asia which lumps nigriloris, P. major/minor commixtus and P. cinereus all as 'Southern Great Tit' aka Cinereous Tit. It's a very different looking bird to the ones on the main islands, so I thought all was good.

I think Brazil may have jumped the gun on this a bit, as none of my Japanese-language books have Cinereous Tit. Older ones have not yet split P. minor from major, and newer ones include nigriloris in P. minor.

I also just looked these birds up on Birds of the World (BW), the Cornell site that recently absorbed Handbook of Birds of the World, and it seems that HBW was still lumping everything under P. major. Although BW has created separate entries for the three (?) species, the description under each is the same lumped account of P. major Great Tit.

Thanks for the link, Nutcracker.
 
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johnallcock

Well-known member
I think Brazil may have jumped the gun on this a bit, as non of my Japanese-language books have Cinereous Tit. Older ones have not yet split P. minor from major, and newer ones include nigriloris in P. minor.

I think nigriloris had a similar history to commixtus, initially placed in Cinereous when the split was first adopted and then reassigned to Japanese after a year or two.


I also just looked these birds up on Birds of the World (BW), the Cornell site that recently absorbed Handbook of Birds of the World, and it seems that HBW was still lumping everything under P. major. Although BW has created separate entries for the three (?) species, the description under each is the same lumped account of P. major Great Tit.

I think that's right, HBW didn't adopt the split from Great Tit, perhaps waiting until more data were available. Clements/eBird did adopt the split, so now that these two lists are combined, the split has been adopted.

This species has been a headache for me for a few years. Hong Kong Bird Watching Society still treat birds here as Cinereous, which means many people in HK and South China enter them as Cinereous on eBird - of course this is then flagged as a rarity by the filters and I have to explain this complicated situation during the eBird review process.
 

Nutcracker

Stop Brexit!
Yep, it's all under Great Tit Parus major in HBW vol. 12 page 739, the last holdout for the combination Parus major minor :t:

If it goes as the new paper suggests that ssps. cinereus and minor are conspecific, then presumably the English name Cinereous Tit will displace Japanese Tit as the standard name for Parus cinereus sensu lato. The remaining separate group(s) on the Indian subcontinent will then get new names.
 

MacNara

Well-known member
Japan
Yep, it's all under Great Tit Parus major in HBW vol. 12 page 739, the last holdout for the combination Parus major minor :t:

If it goes as the new paper suggests that ssps. cinereus and minor are conspecific, then presumably the English name Cinereous Tit will displace Japanese Tit as the standard name for Parus cinereus sensu lato. The remaining separate group(s) on the Indian subcontinent will then get new names.

If this happened, I wouldn't have a problem with the name 'Japanese Tit' going - after all this is an English name thing. The Japanese language name - ShijuuGara - literally means 40-Sparrow, but the 'shijuu' part has nothing to do with 40 as a number, but is a transcription of one of its calls, just as (I think) chickadee is in America for Poecile tits.

But since 'cinereous' means 'ashy-coloured', and the majority of ssp seem not to be particularly like this (nigriloris very much is, however), it seems not helpful to rename in this way.

Is it a fixed rule that after a split, one of the 'new' species has to keep the old name? In a thread a week or two ago, I commented that I think it's a pity that when 'Arctic Warbler' was split, one of the three results of the split kept the name, given that the three splitees are only really distinguishable on call and breeding location. I think it would have been better to keep 'Arctic' for the three-bird complex, and call the bird that is post-split 'Arctic' Boreal Warbler, which fits with its binomial.

Well anyway. I expect the distribution of all of these birds, sadly, will be changing as the climate does. Today was the second-hottest maximum November day ever in my city in Japan, and if the forecast works out, tonight will be the fourth hottest minimum (but the previous records are almost three weeks earlier). I'm typing this in just a t-shirt, when normally we'd have the heating on in the evening.
 

Nutcracker

Stop Brexit!
If this happened, I wouldn't have a problem with the name 'Japanese Tit' going - after all this is an English name thing. The Japanese language name - ShijuuGara - literally means 40-Sparrow, but the 'shijuu' part has nothing to do with 40 as a number, but is a transcription of one of its calls, just as (I think) chickadee is in America for Poecile tits.

But since 'cinereous' means 'ashy-coloured', and the majority of ssp seem not to be particularly like this (nigriloris very much is, however), it seems not helpful to rename in this way.

Is it a fixed rule that after a split, one of the 'new' species has to keep the old name? In a thread a week or two ago, I commented that I think it's a pity that when 'Arctic Warbler' was split, one of the three results of the split kept the name, given that the three splitees are only really distinguishable on call and breeding location. I think it would have been better to keep 'Arctic' for the three-bird complex, and call the bird that is post-split 'Arctic' Boreal Warbler, which fits with its binomial.
Yep, 'shijuu' does sound onomatopoeic, like the 'teacher' call of Parus major s.str. (and yes, 'chickadee' is onomatopoeic from Poecile atricapillus calls).

Most Parus cinereus sspp are fairly pale grey; certainly a far better use of 'cinereous' than the ridiculous misuse for [Eurasian] Black Vulture!

There's no fixed rule about English names used in a split; it depends on the split. If just a small island population is split off, generally the name of the species it is split from isn't changed, like Varied Tit stayed Varied Tit after Iriomote Tit was split. When it's a more equal split down the middle, then they do both get new names, like Plain Titmouse -> Oak T and Juniper T. It's just whatever is most pragmatic that gets done.
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

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