2015-B-1: Add Waved Albatross Phoebastria irrorata to the main list

YES. 9 without comment.

YES. Photo utterly diagnostic and yes, and there should be a short article with the published photo.

YES. Very long straw yellow bill, white head, pale brown nape, and brown back together are distinctive. Not unexpected stray from waters around the Galapagos Islands.

YES. Photographic evidence is archived and unimpeachable. If the photo is not published in Obando-Calderón et al. (2014), then I would encourage Chacón to published it separately, perhaps in Zeledonia or Cotinga. For the permanent record, the citation to Obando-Calderón et al. (2014) needs to be inserted into the “Committee Decision” section.

2015-B-2: Change the species epithet of Wilson’s Plover Charadrius wilsonia from wilsonia to wilsonius –


2015-B-3a: Revise the Hawaiian honeycreepers: Divide Hemignathus into four genera

YES. 7 without comment.

YES. More importantly than “morphotypes” the genus Hemignathus (s.l.) is not monophyletic according to the tree in Lerner et al.

YES, on the basis that it has been shown to be paraphyletic.

YES. Genetic data indicate that Hemignathus is not monophyletic, so it can no longer be maintained as a taxon. Pratt’s recommendations are in line with genetic and morphological data. Dickinson & Christidis (2014, “Howard-Moore” world list), by the way, followed Pratt on this.

2015-B-3b: Revise the Hawaiian honeycreepers: Separate the monotypic genus Manucerthia from Loxops

YES. 2 without comment.

NO. 1 without comment.

NO. The comments by Olson were convincing.

NO, after reading the comments and especially Olson’s.

NO. I agree largely with Olson that it does not amount to generic differences.

NO, given their very recent separation and lack of major differences. As Storrs points out the tongue difference may be pedomorphic.

NO. I wasn’t impressed with evidence to begin with, despite adoption by Dickinson & Christidis (2014), but Olson’s comments are nail-in-coffin.

NO. I agree with Olson’s arguments and am not personally concerned about the fact Loxops as defined would be older than other genera, if Pratt’s estimate of its age is accurate, a debatable proposition according to Olson. I remain in general skeptical of monotypic genera.

NO. Olson’s comments are helpful here.

2015-B-3c: Revise the Hawaiian honeycreepers: Merge Drepanis and Vestiaria

YES. 5 without comments.

YES. So, it’s Drepanis by priority. So maybe Scarlet Mamo for a new English name (NOT serious)?

YES, given their morphological similarities and lack of compelling differences. The argument that Himatione and Palmeri also need to be merged would have to be the subject of a separate proposal, and although the existence of a hybrid does not strongly support congeneric status (how many intergeneric warbler hybrids are known?), the low genetic divergence between them does.

YES. Olson (2012) and Knowlton et al. (2014) also need to be cited in the rationale. Also, a follow-up proposal is needed to include also Himatione and Palmeria, as indicated in Olson’s comments. I would vote for this now based on Olson (2012), but I reckon a separate proposal is needed.

YES, although future revision seems likely.

2015-B-3d: Revise the Hawaiian honeycreepers: Change the specific epithet of the Akiapolaau from munroi to wilsoni

YES. 7 without comments.

YES, but only if division of Hemignathus is approved.

YES. This follows from a yes on (b) above.

2015-B-3e: Revise the Hawaiian honeycreepers: Change the linear sequence

YES to the amended linear sequence – 9 without comment.

YES. I note that part “e” mentions that it doesn’t follow the convention of arrangement for sister clades where the clade with more species is listed after the clade with fewer species. It doesn’t really bother me, but I thought I would point it out. I think this just affects DrepanisHimatione, and Palmeria?

Amended sequence: YES.

YES to the amended linear sequence. The originally proposed sequence as far as I can tell is not adequately explained or documented. The typical convention for sequencing, i.e. the one that we have used consistently since we have revised sequences, is to list least-diverse (at subsequent taxonomic level) branch first, and so on successively through the phylogeny (as presented in Pratt 2014, Fig. 1). The originally proposed sequence seems to follow this convention from Melamprosops through Oreomystis, from then on, there are problems and errors, although of course we do not know exactly where the extinct species fall. Sister genera Telespiza and Loxioides should be reversed (4 species vs. 2). Ditto sister genera Pseudonestor and Hemignathus. Group F with Drepanis through Ciridops (4 genera) should precede the more diverse Group E (at least 5 genera). As long as we’re going to change the sequence, we should do it according to convention.

NO. I think that it mangles our conventions for sequence. Current sequence doesn’t reflect current thinking of generic relationships, so we should fix it; but this isn’t the fix.

2015-B-4a: Revise species limits in three extinct complexes of Hawaiian honeycreepers: Split Nukupuu Hemignathus lucidus into three species

YES. 7 without comment.

YES. Given that there were past sympatries within this genus and that we do not know the relationships, it seems best to consider these at the species level.

YES. The plumage differences are comparable to some other species-level taxa, and there is evidently high genetic divergence between taxa. Split by Dickinson and Christidis, but not by IOC.

YES, for reasons outlined in the proposal. Dickinson & Christidis (2014) followed Pratt on this and used the same English names suggested in the proposal.

YES. Key for me is this “given interisland plumage differences greater than those among the three species of amakihi.

2015-B-4b: Revise species limits in three extinct complexes of Hawaiian honeycreepers: Split Greater Akialoa Hemignathus [Akialoa] ellisianus into three species

YES. 7 without comment.

YES. On a side issue, and one that especially applies to Nukupuu, when can we treat these species as extinct? I guess we wait for the USFWS to make that decision. We even call them “extinct” in this motion! I can think of three North American species that should be treated as goners too.

YES. Given that there were past sympatries within this genus and that we do not know the relationships, it seems best to consider these at the species level.

NO. No compelling evidence for this is presented. There evidently aren’t enough specimens from two of the islands to interpret the variation, and there is considerable intra-island variability within the larger sample from Kauai. Split by Dickinson and Christidis, but not by IOC.

YES, for reasons outlined in the proposal. Dickinson & Christidis (2014) followed Olson & James and Pratt on this, but used “Lanai Akialoa” for lanaiensis. I like Pratt’s suggested name better for reason explained in proposal.

2015-B-4c: Revise species limits in three extinct complexes of Hawaiian honeycreepers: Split Akepa Loxops coccineus into three species

YES. 6 without comment.

YES. This is a bit less clear than the two above, but given that their differences equal those of other honeycreepers already considered species, it seems best to consider them separate species.

NO. Evidence for this is weak. The Oahu bird is more distinct in plumage but perhaps that could be related to local environmental conditions, as it is a carotenoid pigment? Seems best to await publication of genetic data. Split by Dickinson and Christidis, but not by IOC.

YES, for reasons outlined in the proposal, especially applying comparative standards of coloration differences from current taxa treated as separate species in the dreps. Dickinson & Christidis (2014) followed Pratt on this, including English names.

YES. Genetic distances I don’t consider useful here. This is key regarding plumage: “These differences are certainly as large as those observed among several other species groups of honeycreepers.”

YES, barely. First, only half of the complex is extinct (title of the motion). More seriously, it seems to me when it comes to Hawaii, it’s “splitville.” This is probably the worst of them in this batch. We have nothing in terms of vocalizations, call notes, etc. We have unpublished genetic evidence, but even so these things are all on separate islands so should be different. I’m left wondering what polytypic passerines in the Hawaiian chain haven’t been split. Let’s see we have the Hawaii Amakihi (C. v. wilsoni on Molokai and Maui and C. v. virens, the nominate race on Hawaii). We split the birds on Oahu (C. flava). Oh, we have three Elepaios on the big island (Hawaii) that are colored differently, thus seeming to meet the “species standard” for the Hawaiian Islands, except they don’t fit the definition of separate species. The Hawaii Akepas are a darker red, the ones on Maui are complicated, but half (?) look like Hawaii birds. “Limited evidence” suggests there was a difference in nest placement, a “key factor” in the split of the Akekee (Kauai) from the Akepa on Hawaii. How about the fact that they are strikingly differently colored and have a very different face pattern? And if nest placement is suddenly an important character we better split Cardellina pusilla chryseola and Oreothlypis celata sordida. And, if the split is adopted, do we have different English names for each, I mean Hawaiian names, each obscuring their overall relationship? Why didn’t we stick with Kauai Akepa?

I’m left wondering why the Iiwi and Apapane are widespread, yet monotypic? I suppose the spread is a more recent event.

So, it’s species status for nearly every passerine taxon in Hawaii. But what does this say about island biogeography in general? Do we have a different species standard for islands in the western Pacific? I’m thinking in particular of Zosterops japonicas, but there must be dozens of other cases.

I’m left feeling uneasy about much of this, but why stop the train when it’s almost reached its destination (i.e. there’s nothing left to split). Still, I wonder if some of this, especially the Akepas. It seems it could have been handled with footnotes.

2015-B-5: Adopt American spelling of words in bird names for which British and American spellings differ

NO. 1 without comment.

NO. Leave english names alone!!

NO. I think we should use American spelling where reasonable but I don’t think we should implement a strict policy on this.

YES. I think this would be the most consistent approach.

NO. Universalized rules like this are too inflexible, and it is important to realize that the “American” in the name AOU indicates a geographic region, not the USA or any political/cultural entity.

NO. Although we already use some US-American spellings, and most ornithologists in the NACC region are from/in the US, I don’t see the need to further exacerbate regional ill-will by enacting this policy.

YES. Use American spellings whenever reasonable.

NO. So this is about mitred, sabre, ochre and moustached. I prefer the spellings mitred, ochre and moustache. I feel like I have seldom to never seen ocher as a spelling, and moustache looks better than mustache. I hadn’t realized there was an alternative to mitre until this discussion. Saber is the spelling I am used to for the sword, but it is interesting based on Jon’s comments how late it came into use. I am a total believer in gray rather than grey, and -or rather than -our for color, honor, etc.  So I am totally inconsistent and willing to remain so with English names.

NO. I do not support this. I view the American Ornithologists’ Union as being American, and not U.S. Although I learned during the SFO discussions that the Union was founded with the notion that American = U.S., I think that is the wrong focus for today. Thus, while we can choose to use exclusively U.S. spellings in the Check-list if we wish, the shadow of the former British Empire looms large on this issue, and we should not insist that non-U.S., English-speaking users in the Americas adopt U.S. spelling for species they are already spelling differently. If U.S. users can’t figure this out, then we can help educate them that American (= U.S.) English is not the world’s only English language. That said, I strongly prefer our spelling and will continue to use it and recommend that The Auk use it as well.

YES. These are not major name changes, just application of common-sense consistency to our names, i.e., make them all American English. Why perpetuate these British spellings given that their use is basically an oversight that should have been corrected, like others, when AOU (1983) expanded south of the USA border. No sensible person should be offended by this, any more than our use of Slate-colored Grosbeak instead of Slate-coloured Grosbeak, etc., should offend someone. Would we be offended if the Brits made a similar change to a Palearctic name that had somehow hung on to an American spelling? Of course not. It’s just a convention, not a true name change. As is, it looks like AOUCLC was not paying any attention or doesn’t realize that the current names are, as Pratt noted, a hodge-podge. Further, the British spellings are less phonetic and more difficult to use by non-English-first people in the tropics, e.g. “sabre” instead of saber, “ochre” instead of ocher. Even English-first people often have no clue how to pronounce “Mitred” Parakeet – I know this from extensive first-hand experience (contra statement in letter from Bieber et al). Might as well fix all these now, for once and forever. To make our policy consistent, a grand total of only 8 names would be changed, none by more than a 1-letter switch or deletion, and none native to USA. The species that would be changed would be Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, Ochre-breasted Antpitta, 4 species of Sabrewing, Moustached Antwren, and the godawful Mitred Parakeet.

The letter from Bieber et al. does not mention that ornithologists in all of the English-speaking countries listed that use British spellings have somehow managed to keep their self-esteem despite having to deal with AOU names that use “gray” instead of “grey”, or “–colored” instead of “-coloured”. Presumably, therefore, we would not have to “tread lightly” to change the above 8 names, especially since none of the species affected occurs in any of the former British colonies in our area except Belize. Maybe I’m just naïve, but I can’t imagine Belizean birders or ornithologists rising in protest over a change in the names of the 3 species of their birds affected (Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, Wedge-tailed Sabrewing, Violet Sabrewing). This all has the aroma of Tempest in Teapot Syndrome. Finally, if birders in these countries, much less visiting Brits and so on, can (and do) spell the names however they want, including in their home country publications. The AOU is not going to dish out punishment to offenders! The only “impact” of Pratt’s proposal would be that the journals that follow AOU CL would use these slight spelling changes for the sake of consistency.

Bieber et al. included “sulphur” as one that need to be changed, but Pratt pointed out that in contrast to the other case, “sulphur” is given as an alternative spelling (presumably because it is ok phonetically?)

NO. The arguments in favor of this proposal are compelling and I was ready to go along with them, especially since it necessitated only eight changes, but then started thinking about all of this and did some research (Google is a wonderful thing) and found myself siding against this proposal in the end.

So, some comments and I have no idea about Mitred (that one I might vote for, actually I will vote YES, if I can learn the new spelling, took me forever to learn “mitred”). The Old English Graég existed for hundreds of years. The word “grey” gained ascendancy in all varieties of English in the early 18th century. The word “gray” became vogue in the U.S. in 1825 about the time the last of our Founding Fathers were “moving on.” Had they been more focused on forming an AOU and coming up with a Check-List, I’m sure it would have been Grey Catbird, but they for some reason seemed more interested in creating a Constitution, including a Bill of Rights. It remained “grey” everywhere else. Onwards….

The word “color” is more complicated and such stalwarts as William Shakespeare in his first follies spelled it “color” and “center” (not centre). By the 17th century, “colour” prevailed. The word “color” didn’t appear until the middle of the 19th century and apparently we can thank the lexicographer Noah Webster. One of the goals stated was rampant nationalism…..linguistic cleansing.

Finally, we have sabre. Indeed if I was asked how to spell it, I would probably have spelled it sabre, probably because I’ve looked at those large hummers too often in the field guides. So, the word “sabre” refers to the curved blade of the sword of Turko Mongol origin. The English word derives from the French sabre. The name seems perfect, why did we have to tamper with the spelling? And apparently sabre was just fine in America until the early 20th century when a U.S. Army manual changed it to “saber.” I would imagine if we actually had a sabrewing in the U.S. the Committee that prepared the first and second editions of the Check-List would have spelled it the British way, because that was how it was spelled!

Of course, it’s not just the Brits and the Americans. We have the Australians (but no sabrewings there). They have adopted many of our spellings and this is not surprising. Remember Britain sent folks there for permanent warehousing, a penal colony. And there were such events as Tobruk and Singapore in 1941, Gallipoli in 1915–1916 accusations of cannon fodder come to mind, and it doesn’t lead to reverence of the Mother Country. And what of the Canadians? Well, true to their culture they didn’t take a stand and use both British and American spellings. After all they weren’t cranky like us when they got their independence in 1867 (Newfoundland stayed loyal until 1949). And half of our area north of Mexico is Canada with a hybrid English language, not to mention lots of French, and south of the US border, they speak mostly Spanish, some Portuguese, a little French, and a little bit of British English. I doubt if they give a hoot at all about any of these names.

So, I can live with a little remaining diversity. I could even live with Grey Wagtail and Grey Heron. It sends a signal that if one turns up it is something different, maybe a signal that it is from the Old World, where proper English is spoken.

I realize the Brits are not going to be reciprocal in their treatment of our birds that make it over there (Gray Jay seems unlikely), but I can live with that.

In the end it’s a close call for me despite the hyperbole, but a little diversity doesn’t hurt, especially for long-standing English spellings.

I close in jest and with apologies to Pink Floyd…”Hey, Committee, leave our remaining English names alone!”

2015-B-6a: Split Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis into six species

NO. I would vote to recognize carneus, but others are not distinct.

NO, although YES to carneus. However, I would probably be open to a proposal that has igneusmariaecarneus, and a combined saturatus and coccineus. I would have liked to have seen the nuclear data analyzed with a species delimitation method such as BPP.

NO. This proposal is based primarily on mtDNA differences between groups, with additional phenotypic differences suggesting distinctiveness of carneus from the others. Although it’s possible that more than one species is involved here, additional molecular data as well as vocal analyses and sampling across contact zones are needed to determine whether these groups are reproductively isolated. The phenotypic differences that distinguish carneus are not enough to justify species status.

NO, including not splitting C. c. carneus. Another PSC split. Nothing on vocalizations, especially call notes. I can’t speak to C. phoeniceus and its vocalizations, but comparing our C. cardinalis to C. sinuatus, I can be easily confused with the songs given the individual variation, but can always tell the call notes apart, the calls of the latter being much sharper. The reason for no Northern Cardinals over much of southern New Mexico is a lack of habitat. Just drive Interstate 10 from the Arizona border to near El Paso. It’s high and bleak. And, different habitats chosen between west Mexico and east Mexico could just be just what is available. I certainly see them in pretty arid Sonoran Desert in Arizona and I think in arid habitats in south Texas. They seem to be pretty catholic in where they are found. I had thought the ones in southern Arizona (formerly into southeast CA) C. c. superbus were known by the English name the “Long-crested Cardinal.” They do have a longer crest and less black around the bill, and are a lighter, more intense red. To my ear I hear no differences, either in their songs or call note.

NO. This proposal is based on the misguided view that allopatry and lack of gene flow equals reproductive isolation, and therefore satisfies criteria to species status using the biological species concept. A thorough study logo-auk-aou.png” border=”0″ width=”240″ height=”146″ at contact zones would need to be sampled, using more markers. The differences between carneus and cardinalis do not amount to species level.

NO. This proposed split is based almost entirely on modest mtDNA differentiation among allopatric populations. In this budding era of genomic-scale comparisons, we are likely to be rapidly transitioning away from this kind of single-locus inference. And the proposal does not seem to fully consider the issue of reproductive isolation in the places where these forms do potentially come into contact. However, I vote YES for splitting carneus from the rest of the cardinalis group.

NO. However, YES for the recognition of C. carneus, a very divergent taxon. I think that the best way to reflect the genetic differentiation, reproductive isolation, and biogeographic history of the remainder of the group is the recognition of C. cardinalis (including saturatus and coccineus) and C. igneus (including mariae) as biological species.

NO. The geographic variation is more or less consistent with what would be expected for a widely distributed bird. Isolation on islands does not automatically equate to species status due to reproductive isolation, and the presence on islands of some endemic species does not mean the others are specifically distinct too. However, the West Mexican form carneus IS highly distinct, and there had been a mechanism in this proposal to vote for its specific distinctness I would have done so.

NO. I do not support this proposal. Allopatry and lack of gene flow do not equal reproductive isolation in terms of the biological species concept. Contact zones need to be sampled here using more markers. MtDNA divergence percentages are not useful here.

NO. However, I think that a good case for separation of carneus from the others; mariae is probably also good. I think that the most questionable one is coccineus.  I am anxious to see what others, more familiar with the western birds than I, comment. If we accept any or all of these splits, I think that his proposed vernacular names are ok.

NO. There is really nothing in this proposal to support splitting these species beyond being monophyletic units based on mitochodrial DNA. I would not currently vote for any split, but could imagine splitting carneus with some data on voice. The other possible split would seem to be igneus (along with mariae), but the lack of any morphological or vocal data make that purely speculative.

A couple of additional comments. Looks like saturatus is imbedded in coccineus, so not a separate monophyletic group. Also the names used in the text for the groups does not agree with the figure, and for a couple of groups are not the oldest names. The groups as defined in the text do not agree with the groups as mapped on the figure, making it hard to make sense of what would be the groupming the type description references are correct, only nominate cardinals actuals. The big issues are in the Yucatan.  Finally the account has the authorities for the names in parens, but assuming the type description references are correct, only nominate cardinals actually should be in parens.

NO (but see carneus below). The Smith et al. paper is terrific and contains a wealth of interesting data on population differentiation in Cardinalis cardinalis. However, there is nothing definitive in that paper that would warrant a change in species-level taxonomy. Unless we adopt a species concept based on primarily on mtDNA gene trees, there are no data relevant to species limits in the proposal. In fact, the plumage differences are generally omitted because the author admits that they are of questionable utility, except for carneus. So that you have an idea of the differences among the males, pasted in below are photos of some of the proposed species, plus C. phoeniceus at the bottom (check out that bill!); carneus is the 2nd from the bottom.

The author of the proposals, as in a past proposal, continues to use “reproductive isolation” repeatedly in a misleading and erroneous way, although not entirely his fault, because this same erroneous inclusion of geographical isolation is perpetuated elsewhere. In terms of the BSC, geographic isolation is not reproductive isolation. Otherwise, every insular population of bird, from mountaintops to islands (as in the Cerralvo I. cardinal) would be “reproductively isolated” and thus treated as separate species. “Reproductive isolation” refers to situations in which populations are NOT geographically isolated, but instead are reproductively isolated by behavior, morphology, temporal differences in breeding, gametic incompatibility etc. etc. The proposal also cites a 1999 paper for support that 3% sequence divergence is consistent with genetic distances between pairs of species, but does not point out that that paper deals only with Toxostoma thrashers. Use of comparative genetic distances is a minefield of problems and certainly not something that we should get into. Nonetheless, a brief skim through papers on genetic distances among sedentary birds like cardinals will show that differences of 3% are routine among populations classified (for better or worse) as subspecies and not unusual among populations not known to differ phenotypically.

This is not to say that C. cardinalis might consist of two or more species. Hopefully, the Smith et al. study should provoke additional studies that focus on vocal differences among the populations. In the East, cardinals are notorious for local dialects and multiple song types, so sampling would have to be extensive. The two pairs of parapatric sister species in the cardinalines that have been studied in details were found to mate assortatively differ and to differ in song and call (Black-headed/Rose-breasted Grosbeak) or song (Lazuli/Indigo buntings). That’s a place to start.

As for carneus as a species …. Also a NO, but not as emphatically. Not mentioned in the proposal is that carneus was ranked as a species (“Colima Cardinal”) by Ridgway (1901), whose species-level taxonomy has often aligned better with modern data than that of the Lumperama Era. It was lumped with C. cardinalis by Hellmayr (1938) with the following statement:

It is geographically isolated, but much less so than, say, the two North American populations of Red-shouldered Hawk. The 4.9% sequence divergence falls right in line with plenty of sedentary taxa ranked as subspecies. The bill shape differences are biologically interesting but taxonomically of uncertain relevance – bill shape is one of the most plastic features in bird morphology. And the differences are subtle – see the photos. The plumage differences are minor, and carneus also appears to be the end of a step cline in some of the characters mentioned in the proposal. The crest length difference is not impressive – think differences among Steller’s Jay subspecies. The thorn scrub habitat may be unlike that of adjacent taxa, but the proposal does not point out that cardinals elsewhere are at home in thorn scrub or its structural equivalent. Unless one goes with the recent HBW (2014) philosophy that species rank can be measured by summing the number of differences to see if they surpass a threshold number, there are no data directly relevant to species limits. No vocal data are presented. To my ear, Colima Cardinal (based on N=1: http://www.xeno-canto.org/31676) sounds more like my backyard Northern Cardinals than the latter do to some regional dialects here in the Southeast. Obviously, a comprehensive analysis may reveal important differences.

If carneus is treated as a species, then we need a separate proposal on English name, given the competing historical name Colima Cardinal.

2015-B-7: Revise the subfamilial classification of the Falconidae (SACC #281)

YES. 7 without comment.

YES. This seems well-supported.

YES. Our present classification certainly needs to be changed. Good support for these changes. A case could be made to treat the two tribes (Falconini, Polyborini) in Falconinae as subfamilies.

YES. This seems straightforward and well-supported.

YES. SACC passed a proposal on this in 2007, with Dr. Griffiths input.

YES. Support for these changes seems strong.

2015-B-8: Split Calliphlox lyrura from C. evelynae (Bahama Woodstar)

YES. 2 without comment.

YES. Anything lumped by Bond and Peters without comment should be split. They were wrong more often than right.

YES. Several lines of evidence provide good support for this split.

YES. The case for a split here is better, much better, than splitting Selasphorus rufus and S. sasin. If I understand correctly we hold off on English names until there is a separate motion, but I think Clark has proposed remedies to an existing problem, i.e. these aren’t the “woodstars” of South America. If there is no second motion soon on English names, do we stick with Bahama Woodstar and use Inagua Woodstar? Why not go with Bahama Sheartail and Inagua Sheartail now, as Clark suggests, rather than give a new English name which we change in a year or two? Obviously I need to catch up on genera differences in these hummers and the latest work. Do we stick with Calliphlox?

YES. I think the study did a good job in logo-auk-aou.png” border=”0″ width=”240″ height=”146″ at how morphological structure results in behavioral and sound producing differences, both of which are involved in courtship displays. The vocalizations and male coloration differ as well. I am happy with with Bahamas Woodstar and Inagua Woodstar for now, given these were their names prior to lumping.

YES. I was a bit skeptical of this split going in, but the evidence summarized in the proposal has changed my opinion. The multifaceted evidence for differentiation a behavioral, morphological, vocal, and genetic levels is convincing.

YES. This seems a clear-cut case of morphological differences leading to reproductive isolation. The differences in songs, calls, tail length and feather shape, and iridescence badges, as well as genetics, all point to species status. A variety of English name options have been put forward in the popular media (which consistently and erroneously dubs the Inagua form a “new” species), but I favor keeping their group names the same (as suggested in the proposal), so Bahama Sheartail and Inagua Sheartail seem fitting.

YES. Vocal, morphological, and display differences between the two taxa are, as pointed out in the proposal, greater than those between Selasphorus rufus and S. sasin. I think we should wait for a separate proposal on English names with respect to changing Woodstar to Sheartail.

YES. Although the differences are not large, with affect probable species recognition factors, and may well function as isolating mechanisms.

YES.  I have no problem with this split. I do have a problem with the English name. The proposal says that evelynae and lyrura are not true woodstars, so suggests that lyrura by called a Sheartail. Given that the evidence that these are not woodstars is at least partially unpublished, I personally would be inclined to call them both woodstars until the rearrangement of these small hummingbirds is clear and something is published

YES. I am on the fence on this one though lean toward yes because key differences are present in sexually selected characters. A series of small differences normally suggest subspecies to me, however, and the proposal lacks a key component: how do small differences like these play out in other sister hummingbird taxa where they come into contact?

2015-B-9: Separate Phaethornis mexicanus from P. longirostris

YES. Also YES to the English name Long-billed Hermit for longirostris sensu stricto.

YES. Also YES to the English name Long-billed Hermit for longirostris sensu stricto.

YES. I vote for the English name Long-billed Hermit for longirostris sensu stricto.

YES. A strong yes and lots of BSC reasons given. Use Mexican Hermit for English name.

YES. Seems to be a preponderance of evidence to treat mexicanus as separate from longirostris. Stick with Long-billed Hermit for longirostris. Because of the comparatively limited distribution of mexicanus, retaining Long-billed will not create too much confusion.

YES. Here again there are multiple lines of evidence in support of this split. YES on Long-billed Hermit for the English name.

YES. Use English name Long-billed Hermit for longirostris sensu stricto.

YES. Clearly requires treatment as a separate species. I vote for Long-billed Hermit for the English name.

YES. Vocal differences (published sonograms) strongly support species rank for mexicanus, as do the plumage and bare-part differences, which are comparable to those among other for-sure species in Phaethornis. The genetic data are biologically important but, in my opinion, not taxonomically relevant because the two are sister allopatric taxa, between which genetic distances are enormously variable in sedentary taxa ranked as species. Tempting as it to use genetic distances, this represents a minefield of problems. I vote for the English name Long-billed Hermit for longirostris sensu stricto.

YES. We have been heading in that direction. Also YES to the English name Long-billed Hermit for longirostris sensu stricto.

YES. Feels overdue. Data look good.

YES. I am more confident here because I know the birds. Also YES to the English name Long-billed Hermit for longirostris sensu stricto.

2015-B-10: Split Stercorarius antarcticus (incl. lonnbergi) from S. skua

YES. 5 without comment.

YES. Two questions. Most, but not all (e.g. Sibley and Monroe), merge lonnbergi into antarcticus. Any questions on that? I wonder if Pierre Devillers is still on board with that treatment, if he even thinks about skuas anymore (since late 1970’s). Second, at least visually I miss Catharacta and was startled when it was merged into Stercorarius. The two are so different in overall shape, etc. I wonder if there is anything new to call that treatment in question.

YES. Among skuas, S. skua is the most distinctive. Unless we treat all as one species, then we should treat skua separate form antarcticus/lonnbergi.

ABSTAIN.  I’m agnostic about this proposal. The range disjunction by itself is not a good reason for this split. I don’t know these birds well myself and can’t glean enough from the proposal to tip me towards one outcome or the other.

YES. It makes little sense to maintain these morphologically well-differentiated forms with their highly divergent breeding ranges and migratory patterns as a single species, when some of the other forms have evolved reproductive isolation in sympatry. And after all, skua andantarcticus/lonnbergi are temporally reproductively isolated, not just allopatric.

YES. By the comparative method, this is the only sensible treatment. Burden-of-proof should be on treatment as separate species.

YES. I hadn’t quite realized that our taxonomy didn’t do this. I think the combination of all the other skua splits, along with skua sympatry in the southern hemisphere and the distinct breeding season of antarcticus make this an easy change.

YES. Its disjunct range is not a valid criterion, as noted, but the evidence for reproductive isolation between less divergent relatives is compelling, as is the added note by one committee member that their breeding seasons are also poles apart in timing.

2015-B-11: Add Whistling Heron Syrigma sibilatrix to the Main List

YES. 8 without comment.

YES. Distinctive photos.

YES. Archived and unimpeachable photographic evidence.

YES. Obviously.

YES. Straightforward ID based on photos.

2015-B-12: Move Choco Toucan Ramphastos brevis from Appendix 1 to the Main List

NO. 1 without comment.

NO. 5 comments: Wait for publication.

NO, or really a pend waiting for a published article, although I’m on the fence and could still vote yes given the spectrograms in the motion (if they fit).

NO. As far as I can tell, the photos are not published and the recordings not vouchered. Neither the photos nor the vocalizations by themselves are diagnostic, so both must be vouchered.

NO. I agree withe members of the committee that propose to have records adequately.

NO (but on a technicality, albeit an important one). Although the photo is certainly correctly identified, the photo as far as I can tell is unpublished other than at a private web page and is not archived. Likewise, the recording is not archived nor is a sonogram published. Even the endorsement of the Panama BRC is based essentially on hearsay rather than a published report. Under “Criteria for Inclusion” (AOU 1998; xiii), our rules state that photographs are to be deposited “in a museum or photographic archive.” Therefore, the documentation does not meet our minimum standards. These rules may seem picky, but the rationale should be obvious, as is our obligation to follow the rules – without archived evidence, independent verification is not guaranteed. Martin Michener and George Angehr should be encouraged to publish a note on the new evidence as well as the problems associated with the old record – perfect for BBOC or Cotinga. I recommend we not send out proposals on additions to NACC area unless based on published data.

NO. I think that it is, in reality, a YES, but we should follow guidelines about waiting until formal publication. Get it next time.

NO until formally published. It is clearly identified correctly.

2015-B-13a: Revise the Thraupidae: Transfer 14 genera from the Emberizidae to the Thraupidae

YES. 10 without comment.

YES. Overdue. SACC has already done this.

2015-B-13b: Revise the Thraupidae: Transfer Saltator and Coereba from incertae sedis to the Thraupidae

YES. 10 without comment.

YES. Overdue. Data now conclusive.

2015-B-13c: Revise the Thraupidae: Temporarily transfer six genera from the Thraupidae to incertae sedis

YES. 9 without comment.

YES, with the expectation of a future proposal regarding Family-level considerations of these lineages.

YES. Data mandate that these be removed from Thraupidae.

2015-B-13d: Revise the Thraupidae: Change the linear sequence of genera

YES. 6 without comment.

YES. I support a revision of the linear sequence, pending a revised proposal for the sequence.

NO. I double-checked and the sequence is not correct. According to Fig. 1, the first genus should be Coereba, the second, Tiaris, and so on. I have no idea why Emberizoides, deeply embedded in the outer branches of the richest clade, comes first, for example. Obviously, I’m going to have to get together and work this out with authors of the proposal.

YES. I vote for revising the linear sequence of these taxa, but leave it to others to reach a consensus on what that rearrangement looks like.

2015-B-13e: Revise the Thraupidae: Change the linear sequence of species in Ramphocelus

YES. 9 without comment.

YES. I double-checked, and the sequence matches the phylogeny using standard conventions.

2015-B-13f: Revise the Thraupidae: Change the linear sequence of species in Sporophila

YES. 5 without comment.

YES. I support a revision of the linear sequence, pending a revised proposal for the sequence.

NO. I double-checked and the sequence is not correct. For example, according to Fig. B, the second and third species should be nuttingi and crassirostris. I’m all for sequencing according to convention and the phylogeny, so I will be happy to work with authors of the proposal to present a “correct” linear sequence.

YES. I vote for revising the linear sequence of these taxa, but leave it to others to reach a consensus on what that rearrangement looks like.

NO. We just changed the sequence last year. How did we not get it right? Given the low support for many nodes and the few taxa in our area, by collapsing unsupported nodes you could almost use any sequence, as long as the first three are:


You could throw funereus next to keep it near the other “Oryzoborous,” and then the others. This is not what is proposed though.