2017-C-1: Revise the linear sequence of genera in Fringillidae, and transfer Serinus mozambicus to Crithagra

YES. 3 without comment.

YES. Reasons stated in the proposal.

YES. These changes are supported by the available data.

YES. I like the congruence among the studies. Good work on writing the proposal, too, making a complex situation more easily followed.

YES. This is a well-crafted proposal that brings the list up to date on some changes that are warranted based on the best available phylogenetic evidence.

YES. Thanks to the authors for putting this complex set of data together in a coherent proposal.

YES. I’m not sure if we are being asked to elevate Common Rosefinch to its own genus Erythrina (Erythrina erythrina). Perhaps this will take a separate proposal?  In any event, if the genetic evidence justifies it, let’s do it now rather than revisit the issue in a year.  Dickinson and Christidis (2014) have already made this change.

YES to revising the sequence, but with modification. I am having trouble seeing how the proposed sequence reflects phylogeny. The clade (A) that contains Carpodacus and dreps is sister to the clade (B) that has all the siskins, Leucositcte, Pine Grosbeak, bullfinches, and Haemorhous. Clade A had fewer taxa than B and should go first. Within Clade A, the clade with Carpodacus (A1) has fewer taxa then the dreps (A2), so should go first. Within B, the clade (B1) with bullfinches, Pine Grosbeak, and rosy-finches has fewer species than its sister clade (B2) with all the siskins, Haemorhous etc. Within B1, Pine Grosbeak is sister and basal to bullfinches, and should go first.  Within B2, Haemorhous is sister to all others.

So the sequence should be:

I agree to placing Serinus mozambicus in the genus Crithagra.

2017-C-2: Split Brown Creeper (Certhia americana) into two species

YES. Reasons well outlined in the proposal.

YES. I don’t like keeping Brown Creeper for only one of the two, but I also don’t like mesoamerican Creeper. Rather pedantic. Leave it to a majority vote.

YES. I suspect that this will get a mix of votes and I think either outcome is fairly reasonable. The thing that tipped me towards YES is the pattern of genetic variation in the sky islands area where the northern and southern forms are close to one another (though separated by habitat and not therefore in breeding sympatry). I’ll admit that this is a weak line of evidence, but the clear genomic division in that area in a bird with strong dispersal capacity suggests that something biological has been keeping them separate. It could be differential habitat selection or behavioral mating isolation; we don’t know. I’ll also add that 2% fixed SNPs might sound like a low number, but it is actually quite high for variation at this taxonomic level.

NO. Not at this time. “Prevalence of local dialect formation near the contact zone” but the lack of demonstrated vocal differences or playback experiments doesn’t automatically lead to the conclusion that these are separate species. Maybe, but further evidence is needed.

NO. These new data are great and have set the stage for definitive research. Although the two main lineages may come within 50 km of one another, they are allopatric, separated by many miles of unsuitable habitat; therefore, in the absence of a contact zone to study, the question becomes …. have these two lineages diverged to the point associated with known species-level differences in Certhia? Thielcke’s classic study showed that vocal differences are important barriers to gene flow in this genus. I suspect that formal analyses of vocalizations accompanied by playback experiments will reveal that these two lineages have diverged to a comparable level as between, say C. americana and C. familiaris (although C. brachydactyla actually sounds more similar to C. americana from what I can hear on xeno-canto). Such analyses should not assume that other Middle American taxa have the same song as albescensalticolapernigra, and extima should all be treated as separate units in the analysis.

NO (for now). I’m torn on this one. The molecular data and its concordance with the desert break between northern and southern flora and fauna strongly suggest that these two should be split, but I would like to know more about phenotypic as well as vocal variation across the relatively narrow zone of contact.

NO. I don’t see sufficient coverage of the phenotypic differences and would like at least to see that song differed (the easiest to differ, given its cultural evolution component in oscines). Species-level phenotypic differences would likely convince me; the Marshall (1956, which I do not have access to) description of intergrades is of interest. While I found the proposal’s statement that there was no evidence of gene flow interesting, upon inspection of Manthey et al 2016 (clued in by the fact that the Fig. 4 citation is not a credible demonstration of this) I do not find that they examined that question adequately, stopping with diagnosability and 90% probability assignments rather than using more sophisticated analytical methods to actually estimate levels of gene flow. Rather than “a lack of hybridization,” I read between the lines and see instead that they didn’t find an obvious F1 or F2. If with more thorough analyses they could show that m is really low (e.g., < 1.0) and that there are effective phenotypic species-level diagnosable characters, I’d probably be happy to change my vote. (Note: the overlap of southern birds with northern wintering birds also in Sonora; Russell et al. 1998, The Birds of Sonora).

NO. It is not really clear what may be reproductively isolating the northern and southern populations. The differences in morphology and plumage are barely discussed, and the vocal differences do not really address the issue either. In Eurasia, multiple species of Certhia overlap in many places. How different are morphology and vocalizations in these cases? In Marshall’s work, he found a mixture of northern and southern creepers in the Rincon Mountains. This range was not surveyed by Manthey et al.

NO. I think eventually we will split Brown Creeper in to at least two species, and while these data are suggestive, without any vocal support, I think it is premature to make this split.

NO (for now). I can appreciate the genetic differences and perhaps the habitat differences are distinct too. Brown Creepers are a fixture of those humid oak-sycamore canyons at mid-elevations in the Santa Rita and the Huachuca Mountains. They are also in Cave Creek Canyon where pines are admixed. I agree that the birds in the Animas Mountains would likely fit into the Mexican clade and I would add that those (if present) in the Peloncillo Mountains would too. In fact I think I’ve seen Brown Creepers in Clanton Canyon.

I can concur the appearance of albescens is distinctive. Phillips et al. (1964) has a nice account that states that it “breeds and remains in the forests and uppermost heavy oak stands of the Santa Rita and Huachuca Mountains, and from there down into Mexico.” They go on: “Anyone who has seen specimens of this beautiful, soft colored little bird will agree that it is a real taxonomic treat to contemplate such distinctness and such stability of characters over its wide range – contrasting abruptly with the equally stable montana immediately to the north. As noted earlier, the birds from the Rincon and Chiricahua Mountains offer rather bizarre amalgamations of the contrasting traits – an instance of intergradation notable for its narrow restriction geographically.” Earlier in the account they quote Marshall (Condor 58:93-94) and state these intergrades (Rincons and Chiricahuas) are “peculiar in that they encompass various motley combinations of characters of extreme montana and extreme albescens.” They list collections housing specimens from both regions.

My hesitation in endorsing this split now is based on the non-distinct vocalizations, surely an important reproductive isolating mechanism. “Local dialects” doesn’t inspire much confidence that they are that different. I have played Brown Creeper songs back within the breeding range of the species and they are very responsive. I am not sure if play-backs have been tried yet from each group. One commercial set of recordings (Stokes, I think) has both types. I can tell the albescens group because of the Elegant Trogon calling in the background!

More importantly, I gather one of the ranges showing intermediate birds, the Chiricahuas, is well isolated from the ranges to the north where montana is, yet genetically they fit much better within albescens. Here though I’m wondering about the habitat separation. I know they are numerous in Cave Creek and South Fork Canyons, an area dominated by oak-sycamore, but aren’t they also up at Rustler Park, some 8000′ and nearly all pines? I don’t see any discussion of that. I also am surprised there was no analysis of the Rincon Mountains, geographically more proximate to the Santa Catalina Mountains than to the Santa Rita Mountains to the south. My reading of Phillips et al. (1964) would tell me that is the first place I’d want to go. I’ve never been there, but driving by them on I-10 to the south, those mountains seem to be rather connected to the Santa Catalinas, though maybe there is a zone of lower habitats with no Brown Creepers. Still, that may be the one range where this breaks down as indicated by Phillips et al. (1964), and this is important as the “sky islands” are isolating mechanisms by themselves. Still, the range separation of these two creepers pretty much matches the separation between Rocky Mountain and Mountain Pygmy-Owls. Anyway, I come home with a different interpretation from reading Phillips et al. (1964) of the situation than I do from this motion that states: “slight intergradation in plumage coloration across several isolated mountain ranges.”

As for English names if they are split, I certainly do not favor the names proposed. Honestly, Brown Creeper is so well-established for the northern birds that I don’t want to change that. And they are browner above than albescens which are more blackish above. Using Brown Creeper for the southern species would be very confusing. And Nearctic Creeper for the northern birds, that would be about as popular as changing Common Loon to Great Northern Loon. How about Brown Creeper for the northern group, and Mexican Creeper for the southern birds, even though I acknowledge that their range extends farther south than Mexico?

2017-C-3: Transfer Violet-bellied Hummingbird from Damophila to Juliamyia

YES. 6 without comment.

YES. Reasons are well-stated in the proposal.

YES. Action is definitely needed because Damoplia is pre-occupied by a Lepidoptera.

YES. Looks like we have to do this.

YES. I guess I can live with this, but knowing how oversplit hummingbirds are at the generic level it would be nice to lump this monotypic genus with an appropriate group at the same time.

2017-C-4: Elevate Colaptes auratus mexicanoides to species rank

YES. I support this split based on its much greater divergence from the other taxa, especially chrysoides which we treat as specifically distinct. It is not surprising that this level of genetic and vocal divergence would be coincident with the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, which commonly separates species-level taxa. To me the vocalizations sound moderately different, even if this hasn’t been quantified.

YES. I don’t like Mesoamerican.  Why not stay with Guatemalan?

YES. The combination of data including vocalization differences, and its position outside of Gilded Flicker relative to Northern Flicker indicate that this is best considered a separate species. I think Guatemalan Flicker is an established, appropriate name.

NO. The best support for this split is probably the ddRAD SNP data that seem to show mexicanoides having a very high % of fixed differences relative to the other taxa. However, in looking at the original SNP paper, mexicanoides was represented in that genomic dataset by only two samples, and the other taxa by 2, 4, and 5 samples. With this low number of samples it will always be impossible to distinguish real differences among populations from sampling artifacts. There also seem to be some coverage/quality issues with the ddRAD data, as the number of SNPs recovered seems low and the amount of missing data high. It is intriguing that mexicanoides falls out as most differentiated; this is congruent with the mtDNA results and could well be the true pattern, but all told I don’t think that these genomic data are sufficient as the foundation on which to base this split.

NO (barely). The only additional data I would want for a YES would be a formal comparison of homologous vocalizations. Vocal differences are strongly associated with absence or reduction of gene flow in woodpeckers. If what I hear on xeno-canto and Macaulay represents typical calls (e.g. http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/523342), then treating them as separate species would be appropriate. However, the song (e.g. http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/523558) sounds fairly similar. Looking forward to a formal analysis. It’s also time for a re-evaluation of species rank for Gilded Flicker!

NO. The relatively small sample sizes, combined with the lack of a study of vocal differences (differences noted in the proposal are anectodal), don’t convince me yet to support this split. More work is needed on the complex.

NO. Although there are plumage, genetic, and apparent vocalization differences, I would feel more comfortable with this split if more than 2 individuals could have been included for mexicanoides.

NO. A large part of this new view is done through genetic diagnosability of just two individuals. We expect allopatric populations to have such diagnosability, and while this fits well with their phenotypic diagnosability and thus makes them a clear phylogenetic species (together with phenotypic evidence), it does not tell us how this form would behave in relation to the other forms in which opportunities for gene flow occur—and where it seems to occur at least between auratus and cafer sufficiently that genomically the Manthey et al. (2016) work finds a lot of admixture. In other words, this situation fits our expectation of allopatric subspecies in this group as a polytypic  biological species. The lack of gene flow can be attributed to allopatry rather than to sufficient differentiation to preclude it upon potential contact. This is of course one of the weakest aspects of the BSC (ascertaining species limits among allopatric forms), but given the phenotypic evidence of divergence among forms in this complex that do interbreed on contact (auratus and cafer), the ranking of this form as a subspecies seems appropriate. If we could get at characteristics that seem to promote assortative mating in chrysoides at contact zones with auratus and find those or similar characteristics in mexicanoides, I’d agree that species status is warranted. Those data do not appear to exist, though. (Note: The distribution of mexicanoides is Middle American, not Mesoamerican – see Kirschoff’s 1943 Acta Americana  map and definition of the term Mesoamerica. Mesoamerica excludes much of Honduras and Nicaragua, and thus a substantial portion of this form’s distribution as I see it in Howell & Webb 1995).

NO. I think I’d rather lump Colaptes chrysoides first. Let’s see that one got lumped in 1973, than split again for some reason, and now it appears that was a mistake? In this case, the primary factor for me in voting to split would be the vocalizations and I note the wording in the proposal: “Its unique vocalizations are not shared with any member of the Colaptes auratus complex. The sources given are the sound libraries and Wetmore (1941) and he states: “most of their high-pitched chattering laughing calls are quite different from the notes of the northern species, and only occasionally did my ear catch a sound from them that indicated their flicker relationship.” This is compelling, if accurate. I listened to all available sounds of mexicanoides at xeno-canto and the situation seemed more complicated to me. What was most important to me was the advertising series of notes (the “song”) given during the breeding season sounded pretty similar. Yes, mexicanoides was higher pitched, and maybe delivered with a faster delivery, but it sounded to my ear the same basic song, different, yes, but not “unique.” On the other hand, one recording has some scratchy harsh calls (jay-like) that I can’t recall hearing with the northern group. The standard year-round call note, the loud shrill “clear” note is not on these recordings. Does mexicanoides give that note? I will readily admit that I need to learn more about the vocalizations of mexicanoides. A bit more discussion from the authors on what makes the vocalizations distinctive would be helpful, but from view at the moment the differences are over-stated. Oh, for the record Howell and Webb (1995) don’t advocate splitting this taxon. They list it as a separate group and that’s it. They don’t even detail any difference in its vocalizations. If this is split, please stick with Guatemalan Flicker for the English name.  It is pretty well-established.

NO. I am not sure if the vocal and plumage differences are indicative that mexicanoides would be reproductively isolated from cafer. Wetmore states “most of their high pitched, chattering, laughing calls are quite different than the notes of the northern species, and only occasionally did my ear catch a sound from them that indicated a flicker relationship.” However, I listened to the MacCaulay and Xeno-Canto recordings (about 15 total) and these sound very flicker-like to me, but higher pitched. Those sources did not have any mexicanoides giving the common “flicker” call. The plumage differences are distinct, but not to any degree greater than those between Red-shafted and Yellow-shafted.  This flicker is hypervariable in plumage (BNA account, Moore 1995), and hybrid derivation has been suggested.  The species shares habitat with cafer (upland pine/oak woodland) but is separated from cafer by the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. One of the strongest reasons for reproductive isolation between cafer and chrysoides is habitat differences, but cafer and mexicanoides do not share this difference. 

2017-C-5: Split Nashville Warbler (Oreothlypis ruficapilla) into two species

YES. Reasons given in the proposal.

YES. How about Nashville for the eastern one and Calaveras for the western one. Or Eastern Nasnville and Western Nashville, like Wood Pewees and Meadowlarks?

YES. Regarding English names: YES to “Calaveras Warbler” for ridgwayi owing to precedence. NO to “Rusty-capped Warbler” for ruficapilla; I think that retaining “Nashville Warbler” is preferable. As an aside, it is a little ironic to say that Nashville is not a useful name for the eastern species but to then name the western species after a tiny part of its overall range…

YES. There are plumage, vocal, behavioral, and mophological differences. Strong genetic differences, coupled with separate phylogenetic positions among “Vermivora,” strengthen the argument for separate species. Although not mentioned in the proposal, this paper by the late Nedra Klein contains relevant information: Klein, N. K., K. J. Burns, S. J. Hacket, and C. S. Griffiths. 2004.   Molecular phylogenetic relationships among the wood warblers (Parulidae) and historical biogeography in the Caribbean basin.  Journal of Caribbean Ornithology Vol. 17, Special Issue Honoring Nedra Klein: 3-17. I believe that it is the only phylogenetic study to include both ridgwayi and ruficapilla and all other relevant Vermivora. Probably the most important figure is Figure 3 (Bayesian analysis) which shows ridgwayi (labeled ruficapilla 3&4) clustering with V. virginiae/V. luciae. The eastern taxa (labeled ruficapilla 1&2) is sister to a clade containing those taxa plus V. crissalis. Thus the two forms are polyphyletic in the tree.

YES. I think this split is long-overdue. I like Calaveras Warbler for the western birds because of its long-standing usage. Like others, I prefer Nashville Warbler for the eastern birds over Rusty-capped Warbler, although I am open to other suggestions if committee members feel that we need to come up with a new name.

YES. I would prefer a more definitive study looking at the birds in the field and analyzing the vocalizations a little more, but I agree with the proposal’s summary and conclusions. I have thought about and discussed this issue for more than two decades. I agree that the primary songs are quite different. Western Nashvilles (ridgwayi) do sound to my ear more like Virginia’s Warbler, a species I don’t know that well on the breeding grounds. But I think western Nashvilles are variable. I see little in the way of variation in the songs of the nominate subspecies. Generally the two are easily diagnosable by song alone, although perhaps ridgwayi can give songs like the nominate subspecies. I vaguely recall hearing one or two such birds, but am not certain. A matter for a graduate student making lots of recordings from multiple places within the range. The chip note does indeed sound sharper, more ringing, in ridgwayi. In the nominate ssp. it is duller, almost half-way to Orange-crowned. The call of ridgwayi to my ear is closer to Virginia’s (or Lucy’s) than to nominate ruficapilla.

These two ssp. are allopatric and do (on average) occupy different habitats. Within the Sierra Nevada ridgwayi shows a strong preference for the black oak zone on the west side at mid-elevations, though in the Northwest they are in emerging growth after clear cuts. Eastern birds are found in a variety of forest types, but also in forest cuts too.

There is certainly something to behavior. The western birds (ridgwayi) do pretty constantly bob their tails, and this is something I simply don’t see, or don’t see much from the nominate ssp. But I can’t say that ridgwayi always bobs their tail, and the nominate ssp. never does. Thus, that reason alone is not a reason for identifying a bird, especially out-of-range.

Given all of the factors listed above, I’m not surprised that ridgwayi may be closer to Virginia’s genetically than ruficapilla.

If the NACC does vote to split ridgwayi now, I agree that Calaveras is a perfect name for ridgwayi, It has long been in use and reflects a county in central California where plenty breed in the western Sierra Nevada. Those who have read Mark Twain extensively (and I am not one) will know that county for the “jumping frogs.” But as for the eastern bird, I can’t go with Rusty-capped Warblers, as all of these related warblers have rusty crowns. It is not helpful. Most folks will know that Nashville is in the East! And only nominate ruficapilla is thereAnd Nashville is in the heart of the migrant range for this taxon and is near where the type specimen was taken and for which Wilson based his description of the species in 1811. The great majority migrate west of the Appalachians, especially in spring.

Regarding migration, ruficapilla is a circum-Gulf migrant so very common in central Texas, including the Hill Country and regular in small numbers in the Trans-Pecos, a few in eastern New Mexico. Western ridgwayi migrates from Mexico up through the Southwest, but only from Sierra Vista (San Pedro River) west, and through southern California. In fall they are regular in southwest New Mexico. So, New Mexico is one of those states that has both taxa in migration, depending on the location and the season.

NO (barely). The genetic data are solely from mtDNA and thus potentially a gene tree, not a species tree (not addressed in the proposal). The reported difference in behavior (tail-wagging) between eastern and western Nashville, and the similarity of the latter to Virginia’s strongly suggests to me, however, that the genetic data are not just a gene tree. Evidently, there is no contact zone to study, so the stage is set for a study on song and call note differences, accompanied by playback experiments. Also, the reported difference in tail movements needs to be quantified – otherwise these are just assertions.

NO. Although some of these characters (song, plumage, and behavior) may be significant as far as reproductive isolation, none of these differences has been cast in a light that shows this. How do these differences compare to other closely related pairs? Also, it looks like these taxa get pretty close in eastern Alberta; what is going on there is of upmost importance. The genetic differences and closer relationship of ridgwayi to virginiae have no bearing on the species status question.

NO. I view it as problematic because of the reliance of limited sampling (and mostly mtDNA) in determining species limits. I appreciate the phenotypic differences, but are they of species level? mtDNA paraphyly is well known (Funk & Omland 2003 Ann Rev Ecol Evol Syst). If we had followed the Brits in a similar way with Green-winged Teal, we would have gotten it wrong, as later nuclear DNA work showed. So for now, I think subspecies remain warranted.

NO. This is a change that has been long talked about, and is probably correct. However, the genetic data are very suggestive, but not sufficient by themselves. The strength of the non-genetic data is very weak, and the lack of any studies done in the contact zone make me think that it is premature to make this change.

2017-C-6: Adopt new English names for Melozone biarcuata and Melozone cabanisi

YES (option 1).

YES (option 1). Return to the Ridgway names but either option is acceptable.

YES (option 1). I have a slight preference for Prevost’s and Cabanis’s, because I think White-faced can be confused with White-eared. However, either option should be fine.

YES (option 1). I slightly favor returning to Ridgway’s names, but am fine with option 2.

YES (option 1). I don’t see why an accepted older name needs to be sacrificed because our committee has waffled back and forth on species limits over time. Given the complexities of getting shallow species right, we could be creating a long chain of ever-changing names with little or no historic continuity.

YES (option 2). 3 without comment.

YES (option 2). I vote for White-faced for the northern taxon, and Cabanis’s for the southern taxon. It would restore an English name to Cabanis after his near endemic tanager was changed to Azure-rumped Tanager. I am also perfectly happy to use Prevost’s for the northern bird, but White-faced is so descriptive and accurate.

YES (option 2). White-faced for biarcuata, and Cabanis’s for cabinisi.

YES (option 2). New names for daughter species, both of them with precedent.

2017-C-7: Lump Thayer’s Gull (Larus thayeri) with Iceland Gull (Larus glaucoides)

YES. 1 without comment.

YES. Thanks for the detailed proposal, which does an excellent job of laying out the rationale for lumping these taxa.

YES. Reasons outlined in the motion. All would become known by the English name of Iceland Gull with two sspp, glaucoides and thayeri.

YES. I appreciate the detailed historical review of the situation provided in this proposal. Lumping seems long overdue.

YES. And yes to retention of Iceland Gull. I read this literature assiduously from the mid-80s on, and am happy to be on the committee now to rectify the taxonomy with present information.

YES. Concerning concerns over whether Thayer’s and Iceland are sisters …. Only three people have studied this thoroughly: McPherson, Weber, and Snell (see proposal citations). Although based entirely on phenotypic data and common sense biogeography, all three concluded not only that they were sister taxa but that they were conspecific, with kumlieni either an intermediate subspecies or a zone of intergradation. This, in my opinion, should be the status quo (and that the AOU did not adopt it as such 20 years ago is more of an historical artifact than a conscious decision). Therefore, I also think that burden of proof should fall on those who dispute this relationship (one supported by virtually all field biologists with any reasonable degree of familiarity with the taxa involved). Badly needed is a real study of the contact zone – too bad the logistics are a formidable obstacle (previously circumvented only by mendacious fantasies).

YES. I agree we have to set Smith’s work aside and look at the issue based on other evidence. While not as compelling as one would like, it does seem that Thayer’s is a dark wing-tipped extreme of glaucoides bridged by the variable kumlieni.

YES. This is a very complete and well presented proposal. In the past I have read the entire literature surrounding the N. Smith studies and my independent assessment is that they were indeed fraudulent. Discount those studies and the weight of the real evidence is rather strongly on the lumping side.

YES. Very interesting proposal, although there really is nothing new here. The original 1973 AOU decision to split Thayer’s from Herring Gull is certainly correct. But is treating thayeri as a species separate from glaucoides correct? That decision was justified based on Smith (1966). But if we discount Smith (1966), as many suggest, then what evidence is there to support species status for thayeri? There has been little defense of either Smith’s (1966) methods or of its results (Kumlien’s and Thayer’s are reproductively isolated). Interestingly, this cry for lumping comes a time when other gulls are being split and an extreme interest in the nuances of gull identification and taxonomy, so it is hardly a bandwagon mentality among the proponents of lumping. It seems the only reason for maintaining species status for thayeri is historical momentum, not biology. Although we have much to learn about this taxon, I think the situation calls for lumping thayeri and glaucoides.      

YES. I have been back and forth on this and remain unconvinced that my Yes vote is the correct one. I could probably still be talked into voting No on this. The problem I have with this is we really do not know what is going on in the Arctic, which is what really matters. In many ways this looks like a version of the problem we see with Hoary and Common Redpoll, weak genetic differentiation and weak morphological differentiation too. This being said, I think that there is sufficient data from a handful of breeding sites to indicate that these species do not breed assortatively. If we throw out Smith 1966, there is really no evidence that suggests Thayer’s and Kumlien’s act as distinct species when in contact, and there is at least some evidence suggesting that they do not breed assortatively.

2017-C-8: Change the spelling of the English names of Le Conte’s Thrasher (Toxostoma lecontei) and Le Conte’s Sparrow (Ammodramus leconteii)

YES. 6 without comment.

YES. Interesting and well-researched proposal.

YES. Reasons outlined in the proposal.

YES. Agree with the rationale in the proposal.

YES. I look forward to deleting that extra space henceforth.

2017-C-9: Add Common Scoter (Melanitta nigra) to the Main List

YES. 6 without comment.

YES. Reasons outlined in the proposal.

YES. Documentation extensive and diagnostic.

YES. Specimens plus published, diagnostic, expert-verified photos.

YES. Based on specimen from Greenland and photos from California and Oregon.

2017-C-10: Add Blyth’s Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus dumetorum) to the Main List

YES. 5 without comment.

YES. Reasons outlined in the proposal.

YES. Tricky identification. Given the votes of confidence of experts on this genus, I will go along with them. I’m not sure I can see the pp extension as any shorter than Reed Water, and I sure can’t see the emargination in p4 in the photos I was able to access. 

YES, although relying 100% on expert opinion on the photos.

YES. Based on acceptance by ABA Checklist committee. In general, unless there is a compelling reason to take issue with the ABA committee, I think we should follow their treatment on the acceptance of vagrant records.

YES. And, yes, hatch-year (or first-year) would be more appropriate for age.

2017-C-11: Add Chatham Albatross (Thalassarche eremita) to the Main List

YES. 6 without comment.

YES. Reasons outlined in the proposal.

YES. And yes also to wording changes and citation recommendation.

YES, although relying 100% on expert opinion on the photos.

NO. Like the reed-warbler, I am not sure that the photograph referenced (in Birding) clearly shows the characters supporting Chatham’s vs. Salvin’s Albatross. The bill in that photo looks similar to bills some photographs of Salvin’s in Howell (2012; photographs A7.8 and A7.9; p. 324). I would like to see the ABA-CLCs comments before making up my mind. These votes to add based on the ABA-CLCs decisions are becoming close to rubber-stamping without any appraisal, but maybe that is okay?.

2017-C-12: Add Red-legged Honeycreeper (Cyanerpes cyaneus) to the U.S. list

YES. 5 without comment.

YES. Reasons outlined in the motion.

YES. No reason to dispute Texas BRC and ABA CLC decision.

YES. What took them so long?

YES. We have dealt with the issue of natural vagrant vs. escaped captive for this species in Florida. Most Florida records have been adult males, which should be much more common in captivity. Fortunately, the Texas bird is a female. A Red-legged Honeycreepermaking it to south Texas seems more likely than one from Cuba making it to the Florida. No signs of captivity. If the ABA-CLC is okay with this, I guess I am as well.

YES. Given the acceptance by the Texas committee and by the ABA, we should accept it from The US list. Frankly, I think that the Florida committee should reconsider its unwillingness to accept the records there, but that is a different issue. I should further say that the 7th edition’s characterization of Cuban birds as “Records from Cuba (where possibly established) … probably based on escaped cage birds” is inadequate. This is a widespread species and locally quite common. This was already true as of Birds of Cuba published in 2000, which incidentally does not mention introduction to Cuba for this species. However, the Field Museum, which has pretty good Cuban collections from early in 20th century has no Cuban specimens. That does suggest that they arrived later in the 1900s, how and exactly when seems unclear. Since we have to write something to go into the distribution account, I would suggest rewriting the section on occurrence in the Caribbean.

(a)Add 9 species recorded from Greenland to the Main List
(b)Taxonomy and English name for what was Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus) in AOU 1998
(c)Taxonomy for what was Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix) in AOU 1957 and Carrion Crow
(d)Taxonomy for White’s Thrush (Zoothera dauma aurea or Zoothera aurea)

(a) YES. (b) YES. (c) YES. (d) YES.

(a) YES. (b) YES. (c) YES. (d) YES (option 1). Thanks to the proposal authors for gathering all these details.

(a) YES. (b) YES. (c) YES. (d) YES. This is all fine provided that we put our rationale for expanding back to include Greenland in this Supplement. That is spelled out well in the proposal’s Background and Discussion. Great work on the proposal.

(a) YES. (b)(c)(d) YES to the recommendations outlined within the proposal regarding White’s Thrush, Hooded Crow, and Western Water Rail.

(a) YES to all. (b) I like English names Water Rail and Brown-cheeked Rail best. (c) YES to cornix and corone as separate species. (d) YES to option 1, follow prevailing treatment. Although I would like to see photographs of the specimens, it seems like Boertmann is a good careful scientist and the specimens are in a leading museum. It just feels a bit odd accepting records without the least bit of review. Thanks to the proposal authors for doing the taxonomic background for the tricky cases. I have no problem following other authorities for subspecific arrangements within these tricky cases, and I don’t have the time or desire to figure out what is going on in largely Old World taxa, when others have already spent eons.

(a) YES to all 9 as detailed in the motion. (b) YES. Split the Water Rails and use Western and Eastern Water Rails for the English names of the two split species. (c) YES (weakly) to splitting Hooded from Carrion Crow, mostly to follow most prevailing Old Treatments including from the BOU. (d) YES to splitting the aurea group (with only tortatugumi included as a ssp.), assuming the song differences are distinct from nominate dauma as indicated by Collar.

(a) YES, add all 9 species to the main list. (b) YES. Recognize the split and use Western Water Rail. (c) YES. Follow the prevailing treatment and recognize Hooded Crow as separate from Carrion Crow. (d) YES. Follow option 1 which is in line with the prevailing global treatment.

(a) YES to all 9 – or 8, depending on how the redpolls are classified. (b) YES to the recommendation in the proposal. (c) YES to this from among the available options: “Another viable option would be to continue to treat cornix as a subspecies of corone, as in the seventh edition (AOU 1998).” The recent genomic evidence for widespread introgression across and beyond the hybrid zone in Europe is strong. That paper also associates the phenotypic variation in these forms with a particular chromosomal region, probably an inversion or other mutation that inhibits recombination of only that region. This kind of situation doesn’t really match any of our standard species criteria but we will be faced more and more with taxonomic judgement calls based in these kinds of genomic patterns. But in this case the subject is really an old-world complex so best to save those deep deliberations for a situation that involves NACC taxa. (d) YES to the recommendation in the proposal.

(a) YES. (b) YES. For Water Rail, I go for the split of aquaticus from indicus. Of the current English name options, I favor Western Water-Rail, although I am less than enthusiastic about it. I think we’d be better off with something new Rail and Brown-cheeked Rail than Western and Eastern Water-Rails. My only idea is Aquatic Rail for aquaticus. One thing I would note is the title of the proposal in the proposal set is “Western Water Rail (Rallus hibernans) [Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus) in AOU 1998].”  Seems like the name should be aquaticus not hibernans. (c) YES. (d) YES. I agree that we should consider Zoothera aurea as consisting of nominate aurea plus toratugami. I think we can punt on the treatment of the other taxa in the dauma complex, but should probably mention the mess in the supplement.

(a) YES. (b) YES. Although not mentioned in the proposal, Rasmussen & Anderton 2005 were the first to publish on the considerable vocal differences between the water rails. This, back in pre-xeno-canto days, was based on comparisons between commercial recordings from Europe and Japan and was a total surprise. (c) YES, in conformity with BOU treatment. (d) YESZoothera aurea and dauma differ dramatically in song.

2017-C-14: Split Bell’s Vireo (Vireo bellii) into two species

YES. I vote for the split and the proposed English names.

YES. Bell’s Vireo and Least Vireo are ok.

YES. They are evidently more divergent in morphology, voice, and behavior than some other vireo species. Why not Eastern and Western Bell’s for common names?

YES. I am not seeing actual estimates of levels of gene flow, and the contact zone in Texas seems not to have been sampled. Diagnosability in genotype and phenotype can occur between subspecies; what pushes me over the edge here is the situation in relation to other vireos.

YES. Reasons outlined in the proposal. Regarding the comment on New Mexico — Permission was denied to collect any materia from New Mexico: tissues, blood, feathers, etc. Effort to get mtDNA out of some older toepads was unsuccessful. To me, there is more evidence arguing for separate biological species than one biological species. If you look at eBird records from June in New Mexico, you can see that the habitat is not as continuous as it might look. Most populations are either in western New Mexico (arizonae) or follow the Rio Grande north (medius). If there was gene flow happening across New Mexico, I don’t think we would see the strong genetic patterns that we do. Mantel test indicates a barrier rather than isolation by distance can explain the genetic differences.

NO (for now). New Mexico, New Mexico, New Mexico! The state isn’t even listed in the outlined ranges for arizonae and medius and both breed there.This may well be a valid split, but I think more work is needed. I don’t think any tissue from specimens was examined from New Mexico. Why not? That’s the obvious place to look. Phillips was on to the fact that it was all non arizonae from the Rio Grande, thus medius and from the map it looks like the Gila drainage south to Hidalgo County must all be arizonae. Thus the Continental Divide must be the separating line and there must be a zone where neither taxon breeds. And this is reflected on the map in NGS 6th. But there are some breeding splotches far to the north and a bit to the west. To which taxon do these locations belong? Song differences are mentioned but not described; analysis should also include looking at contact notes. I think the behavior differences may well be very important, but I think they need better documentation. I’m pretty comfortable with arizonae/pusillus waving around their tails around in a manner suggestive of a gnatcatcher. The bobbing tail of eastern birds may all come from a vagrant at Cape May (eastern type) that bobbed its tail from time to time. I’d like to see a larger N number. One eastern one that wintered in Oceanside was not seen to bob its tail. I watched it for over five minutes and didn’t see a single downward bob. On the other hand it held its tail perfectly still at a slightly upturned angle and didn’t wave it around, unlike the bird that attempted to winter just north of Bishop (slightly greenish, I think it was likely arizonae and it waved its tail around a good deal in a Bewick’s Wren or gnatcatcher like fashion. Tail lengths are certainly different (from Pyle I think mean tail length of arizonae and pusillus was 50 mm, while in nominate belli it was 44 mm, but medius was more intermediate at 46 mm). I expect to eventually support this split. As for English names, I don’t know, but NOT Least Vireo for the two western taxa. Least means it is the smallest vireo, and I believe that is Dwarf Vireo or Black-capped Vireo.

NO. The lack of data from the contact zone in New Mexico concerns me as does the lack of any analysis of voice. I think there is a good chance that treatment as separate species is the appropriate treatment for these birds, but there is insufficient information at this point for me to make this jump.

NO. Although the western and eastern clades have been long split apart, with some morphological and plumage evolution, I do not see any evidence that they are reproductively isolated.

NO. This case reminds me in one way of similar studies on Crissal and LeConte’s thrashers: suggestive but lacking the necessary study of the contact zone. But in this case, however, rejection by New Mexico DGF of permit applications, not weak sampling design, evidently was the cause. Let’s hope for continued lobbying for judicious collecting of samples that are the key to resolving the taxonomic status of the threatened western taxa, with likely increased conservation efforts if the western taxa are elevated to species rank. Meanwhile, nothing is stopping the formal study of vocal differences. Differences in song are associated with reduction or absence of gene flow in vireos. Also, the reported difference in tail movements needs to be quantified – otherwise these are just assertions. Klicka et al. (2016) have done a great job setting the stage for the definitive studies — I am really looking forward to how they turn out. However, at this point inferences concerning “evolutionary independence” are premature without sampling the ca. 300 km gap and studying the contact zone.

NO (for now). I think that the data are strongly suggestive of separate species, but I – like others – have been bothered by the lack of information from a potential contact zone between eastern and western populations in New Mexico. It would be nice to have genetic sampling in the gap between southeastern Arizona and western Texas. If that is not possible due to permitting, then at least some data on song would be informative to support whether these differentiated populations are reproductively isolated.