2007-D-1: Move Sapayoa aenigma to Eurylaimidae

YES. The molecular evidence for this is convincing, and limited morphological data (some unpublished) support it as well.

YES. Independent genetic data sets support this placement.

YES, although it’s hard to think of Broadbills as anything other than Old World.

YES, although I think it’s likely that Eurylaimidae will be split into three families eventually.

YES. I’m guessing that this will ultimately go the three-family route, though.

YES. It’s no harder for me to accept this than that all trogons (with a similar global distribution) for example are in a single family.

YES. Two independent datasets now support inclusion in Eurylaimidae, and maintenance of Sapayoidae would render Eurylaimidae paraphyletic. [As an aside, Burt Monroe predicted all this 20 years ago].

YES, although this makes no biogeographic sense to me.

YES. I really don’t want to vote in favor of this, it just seems too bizarre. But Sapayoa has floated around for a couple of decades without a home and the molecular data looks strong. It just seems hard to imagine biogeographically.


2007-D-2: Split Icterus spurius into two species

NO. Nothing here persuades me that spurius and fuertes are two distinct biological species.

NO. I agree with the recommendation of the proposal that these are best treated as subspecies for now. Many species have both migratory and non-migratory populations, and neither the genetic nor color data provide evidence for reproductive isolation. I don’t see anything in the proposal that warrants elevation to species rank.

NO. Handling this as a subspecies seems consistent in the manner in which we have treated other polytypic species within Icterus. I haven’t seen anything to indicate that there are any distinct vocal differences between the two taxa. Moreover, the plumage differences between other polytypic orioles, most notably Icterus graduacauda (nominate graduacauda versus dickeyae), are more striking than between the Orchard Orioles.

NO. There has not been any demonstration that the differences in plumage color would lead to reproductive isolation.

Lovette: NO. Differentiation is modest and confined to plumage, so far as we know.

NO, sadly.

NO. That color variation within fuertesi is not clinal still does nothing to affect species limits. The two are diagnosably distinct, and we knew that 100+ years ago. That one is migratory and the other is not is not a species-level character; this can vary within individual birds within the life span of that bird, to say nothing of species that have migratory and resident populations (e.g., N. Mockingbird in e USA). That they are genetically very close is no surprise, but provides no conclusive evidence on taxon rank. Most Galapagos finches, for example, are very close.

NO (again).

NO. The evidence supporting species status is weak; even the genetic evidence is weak.

NOI. s. fuertesi seems to me to be a good subspecies (and an ESU).

2007-D-3: Resurrect the genus Rupornis for the Roadside Hawk

NO. Although two molecular studies support the differentiation of Roadside Hawk from selected other Buteo species, the taxon sampling in the nuclear study is poor and mitochondrial data can be unreliable at higher taxonomic levels. I would prefer to wait for more complete studies to be published rather than taking a piecemeal approach to reclassifying Buteo species and close relatives.

NO. Although two independent studies using different markes provide similar results, I agree with Van that we should wait until the additional data are published rather than making changes piecemeal.

A weak YES. This species seems more distinct to me from other Buteos than say Parabuteo is.

NO. Although magnirostris may not belong in Buteo, the Riesing et al. paper and the Griffiths et al. paper differ dramatically in placement of magnirostris relative to other Buteoine taxa, so that I think it’s premature to move it now. Riesing et al. have maginirostris as sister to Buteo [with Asturina] + Geranoaetus, but without great support. Collapsing nodes with <50% support gives a polytomy with five clades of Buteoines:

  • Buteo (with Asturnia)
  • Buteo albicauduatus/ B. polysoma/ Geranoaetus
  • Buteo magnirostris
  • Buteo leucorrhous
  • Parabuteo
  • Buteogallus

Griffiths et al have magnirostris as sister to Parabuteo and those as sister to an enlarged clade of Buteoine taxa including Buteo, Leucopternis, Asturina, Geranoaetus, Buteogallus, and Harpyhaliaetus. The very different placements of key taxa like AsturinaButeogallus and Geranoaetus in the two studies, as well as their different taxon sampling, makes me leery to draw parallels.


NO. Although it may be warranted, since work is ongoing that should provide a more complete picture, let’s wait it out.

NO. With ongoing work in at least three labs, let’s let this one incubate for a while. Published results are converging on Roadside Hawk as basal within a buteonine group, but one likely taxonomic outcome of all of this is the expansion of the genus Buteo to include Parabuteo and several Leucopternis. Personally, I like that better purely as a matter of taste (and so does Hawk Guy David Mindell). When I see Roadside Hawk, Harris’s Hawk, the Buteo-like species of Leucopternis (e.g., White Hawk), I wonder why these were ever split from Buteo in the first place. It’s not as if that genus does not already encompass a fair amount of heterogeneity already (e.g., just think Red-shouldered vs. Rough-legged vs. White-tailed etc.). So, rather than start splitting out genera from Buteo, let’s wait until all the data are in and then make the choice between a broader or narrower Buteo. As Dick noted, “can of worms” is a strong possibility here, so let’s keep the lid on the can for now.


NO. I am still concerned that important New World taxa are missing from the genetic studies. That allows me to go with my intuition that this is not really distinct from Buteo.

NO. The last word on Buteo limits is clearly not in, but something more solid is likely to come in the next few years. Rather than tinker now, let’s wait and do it all at once (and be more likely to get it right).

2007-D-4: Separate Caribbean and European Flamingos

YES on separating the two species, NO on the common name. It seems it was an arbitrary decision to merge these taxa to begin with. The data for species status isn’t great, either, but reversing the original arbitrary decision and bringing us in line with the BOU and other European groups seems to outweigh any hesitation. The proposed English name American Flamingo seems inappropriate. There are other flamingos in the Americas, so why should this one be designated the American Flamingo? I vote to keep Caribbean Flamingo.

YES. As the proposal notes, the merger appears to have been arbitrary and in this case I think it makes sense to follow the Europeans. I like American Flamingo, although Van’s comments about the Galapagos population are worth considering. I guess that I would follow the conservative route and keep “Caribbean Flamingo” for now.

YES. I favor the English name of American Flamingo.

YES. It would seem that plumage color and bill color are important in reproductive isolation in flamingos, given the sympatry of the three species in the Andes and their differences in these characters. Behavioral (mating) displays are probably also important. These differences, coupled with initially having very poor reason to merge them, provide enough support to treat them as two species. I prefer American Flamingo over Caribbean, though there are other “American” flamingoes.

YES. Also Yes on the change to ‘American’ Flamingo, given the new species’ distribution in the Galapagos (a tangent — it is interesting that finches, mockingbirds, and flamingos all show a Caribbean — Galapagos connection).

A strong YES. In my book I went with specific status, partly because they are vocally distinctly different. And NO on American Flamingo because of the existence of three other American flamingo species, the fact that they are primarily Caribbean, and that my impression is that Caribbean is the more entrenched name.

YES. Barely. Relevant data for split are weak, but as Dick noted, evidence for the lump is at least as weak. However, I think an English name proposal should be separate. I would vote NO on “American” because there is no reason to change the historical name for something slightly “better.” Or is it better? The vast majority of the range is indeed Caribbean, the Galapagos themselves have some surprising Caribbean connections, and some have proposed that the Galapagos population of flamingos warrants species rank (which would then cause a flip-flop back to Caribbean).

YES. Go with “American” Flamingo, although I don’t like it. There are at least 2 other “American” flamingos, if I recall correctly. I generally dislike adjectives like “American,” or “Common”, or “Northern” for names, but — again — go with what has been generally used, and Caribbean doesn’t work well.

YES. I prefer the English name of American Flamingo.

YES. I agree on arbitrariness historically and sufficient published evidence to consider original treatment as two species just as likely. I abstain on English name.

2007-D-5: Treat Buteogallus subtilis as a subspecies of B. anthracinus (SACC #294)

YES. The evidence presented by Clark (2007) seems compelling.

YES. The proposal (including comments by Robbins re: forthcoming molecular data) provides convincing evidence that this taxon is best treated as a subspecies.

YES. Folks couldn’t separate these anyway and I’m unaware of any vocal differences, and when considering birds from the Atlantic slope, no habitat differences either. The lump here will certainly make things easier as say would a lump of those so called Northwestern Crows.

YES. There seems little if any reason to maintain subtilis as a species. Subtilis probably does not occur north of eastern Panama. I am wondering if size differences between mangrove and inland birds even have a genetic basis.


YES. Seems to have been a comedy of errors in which its species status continued to be perpetuated only because influential people had said so.

YES. Burden of proof clearly on those who would maintain subtilis as a species (and perhaps even as a valid taxon).




2007-D-6: Change English name of Cnipodectes to Twistwing (SACC #298)

YES. This is a very appropriate change.

YES. I like the name “twistwing” and I think the proposal and SACC comments give good arguments for adopting it.

YES, following other recent treatments.

YES. Given the new taxon from Peru, this name captures well this distinct duo. Calling them “flycatchers” does not help in any way.


YES, especially now with the new one leaving little alternative. It’s an apt, memorable name.

YES. Grudgingly, if only to be consistent with SACC.

YES, go with Twistwing.

YES. I don’t really like twistwing, but the description of a new species in the genus in South America means impressive gymnastics would be needed to maintain flycatcher for the genus. Twistwing is used in many to all of the recent field guides.


2007-D-7: Lump the genera ArremonBuarremon, and Lysurus in an expanded genus Arrremon (SACC #289)

YES. Although there may be further refinements to relationships among these finches, this is the best arrangement given the current data.

YES. This seems like the best treatment given the phylogenetic data.


NO. I do not see why we cannot lump torquatus with Arremon, keep brunneinuchus and virenticeps together (they may need a new genus; I haven’t checked the synonymy and Buarremon goes with torquatus) and keep Lysurus. That would keep monophyly and preserve more the former checklist structure. In the proposal it says: “Second, because the sister relationship between Lysurus and B. brunneinucha – B. virenticeps is not very strongly supported, it seems that recognizing two genera (one for each of these clades) would not be the best option because support for the monophyly of one of the clades is weak.” But both these clades (Lysurus; B. brunneinuchus and virenticeps) show 100% support!


YES. Initially I regretted the loss of Lysurus until I noticed through the miracle of Google that it survives on as a genus of fungus, in the Order Phallales, no less.

YES, for reasons given in SACC proposal.



YES. This does seem to be a well supported monophyletic group.

2007-D-8: Change linear sequence in Tangara (SACC #291)

YES. The new sequence will reflect the most current published data on relationships within this genus.

YES. Our classification sequence should reflect phylogeny, and I am most convinced by Kevin Burns’ comments in the SACC proposal, where the addition of both taxa (e.g., Thraupis) and markers (nuclear as well as mtDNA) would not significantly change the proposed sequence of Tangara.


YES. The new sequence would be vastly superior, even if Thraupis is later inserted (and that would not change the sequence aside from the insertion, just the generic allocation of some taxa).


YES. Not a final sequence obviously but better than one probably supported only by intuition.

YES. Minor change to make our sequence consistent with comprehensive phylogeny of the genus.




2007-D-9: Change English name of Gallinula chloropus back from “Common Moorhen” to “Common Gallinule

YES. Voting in favor of a flip-flop makes me feel like a politician, but then that could just be the Washington influence. In this case “gallinule” seems so much more appropriate than “moorhen” that it justifies whatever slings and arrows we have to endure for such a volte-face.

YES. I don’t like to backtrack without good reason, but I have never gotten used to “moorhen” and the proposal makes some valid points (e.g., the name is not really standardized globally, and “gallinule” still is used in the Neotropics and by major books on South American birds). I likely would have voted “no” on the original proposal to change it to “moorhen,” but that also happened before I joined the Committee.

YES. Perhaps this will cause some confusion as well as grumbling about us changing back to an earlier name, just when folks, at least some folks, were getting used to Moorhen. But, I feel the name should never have been changed in the first place. Nothing else in the genus gets called a Moorhen, so if we retained Moorhen, why do we need to call it the Common Moorhen when there is only one?

The Brits call everything else in the genus Gallinule, including the Purple Swamphen, which usurped our species (so it’s American Purple Gallinule). Moreover, it’s lilac, not purple. I thumbed through the habitat section of Cramp and see nothing about Common Moorhens liking moors. They are found around water, like everywhere else, although I must admit it’s a bit startling to see them everywhere in the UK on park ponds, etc. But I’ve yet to see one on the moors. Red Grouse yes, but no Common Moorhens.

In weighing the various bad options, I’m persuaded to join Van’s (and others) cause and restore clarity. I suppose this will be seen as a shot across the bow to the IOC’s special committee. Maybe, but I think there is ample justification to return to the earlier name.

NO. We made our bed, and we need to lie in it. Too many have switched to the dark side, but it would give our committee a lot less credibility if we whimsically switch back and forth without any real reason aside from personal opinion.

NO. I grew up with “gallinule” and don’t like “moorhen” any more than the rest of you, but there is merit in globalizing names of widespread taxa, and there is a large cost (in terms of Committee credibility) to vacillating on changes like this that are effectively arbitrary.

NO, because I am pretty confident that when someone does a proper study on the matter, they will find that G. chloropus has to be split into Old World and New World species. The vocal differences are much greater than those between many species. The point is that eventually we will have to change the name we’ve just changed to “American Gallinule” or something similar, so let’s leave it be for now.


YES. I’m conflicted, but let’s revert to Common Gallinule.

NO. This should never have been changed to Moorhen in the first place, but it was in 1983 in the 6th edition. After many years of personally grumbling about it and calling it a Gallinule, I’ve finally gotten used to it. Most of the birding world has probably forgotten it was even a gallinule. Within Gallinula there are several other Old World Moorhens, which are basically a big allospecies complex. The species in Gallinula that are not called Moorhens are the Australian native-hens and the South American Spot-flanked Gallinule. I would say that these species are all outside of the true “moorhens,” which of course do not occur on moors, and I can imagine that Spot-flanked Gallinule might get resplit (no evidence, just a feeling). Given the range of moorhens out there, I really think it is a mistake to reverse ourselves on this. Moorhen is the status quo, and I am comfortable with it-finally.


2007-D-10: Add Pallas’s Warbler (Phylloscopus proregulus)

YES. This record is well-documented.

YES. I am fine with Pallas’s Leaf Warbler.

YES. The record is well-documented with photos. I favor the English name of Pallas’s Leaf-Warbler to avoid confusion with the Locustella.

YES. I voted so on the ABA Committee. Here is what I wrote then: “The bird is obviously a Phylloscopus Warbler. The two wing bars, yellowish supercilium, pale tertial edges, and prominent median crown stripe, all visible in photo, narrow the field to Pallas’s and a few others that are unlikely vagrants to Alaska. Yellow-browed lacks the median crown stripe, Eastern-Crowned Leaf Warbler has only one wingbar, Blyth’s Leaf Warbler lacks pale tertial edges (and has white in tail). The pale yellow rump that is also diagnostic for Pallas’s may be visible in the photo of the bird logo-auk-aou.png” border=”0″ width=”240″ height=”146″ away, but there is some exposure problems, with pale tertial edges bleeding into rump area. The pale rump is described well, however, and since the bird was seen hovering, it should have been seen well. The two-syllable described call matches Pallas’s (and not Yellow-browed).

No question on natural occurrence.


YES. I would prefer to use Pallas’s Leaf-warbler as the common name. I should point out however that most recent authors do use Rusty-rumped Warbler instead of Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler for L. certhiola, to avoid confusion between the two names.

YES. I trust the experts on the ID of this one.

YES, add Pallas’s Leaf-Warbler to the list. I prefer that to Pallas’s Leaf Warbler.