2018-B-1: Split Fork-tailed Swift Apus pacificus into four species

NO. 3 without comment.

NO. There is probably something to be done in this group, but it does not appear that currently the data are sufficient to clearly delimit where species limits should be drawn.

NO. If this were just for cooki, I’d be a maybe, but the data here, while very interesting, are inadequate for species delimitation under the BSC.

NO. The data are not convincing at this point to make the split.

NO. Even Leader (2011) seems to hedge on whether these should be split on BSC grounds. The proposal documents why we should be cautious without further information

NO. I don’t support this following comments in the proposal and the awaiting of better evidence. The buzz I hear over in Asia is that cooki is the most worthy of being split, again along the lines in the proposal. Am I missing something in the English name here. There was a motion to change the name to Pacific Swift to be in line with most Old World authorities. I believe that motion (perhaps one that submitted) failed. I still favor the English name change, I realize a separate motion.

NO. I agree with all the points in the proposal for being conservative on this, particularly given the HBW comments. Being an extralimital problem, I especially hesitate to endorse any changes until stronger data are available.

NO. If the proposal were for splitting cooki vs. the others, I would probably vote yes. However, I vote NO on the proposed 4-way split, pending further confirmatory analyses. “Cook’s Swift A. cooki” is obviously distinct in breeding habitat, structure, and plumage. Additionally, there is the single cooki individual in the Paeckert et al. (2012) genetic analysis clustering with acuticauda, and (based on admittedly few and some circumstantially identified online recordings), it is apparently vocally distinct—very thin notes rather than harmonics-rich screeches of nominate pacificus. But we just don’t have enough data on the other taxa, except that they differ on average in some morphological characters and have different migration strategies.

2018-B-2: Restore Canada Jay as the English name of Perisoreus canadensis

YES. 4 without comment.

YES. The proposal makes a strong case for restoring the name Canada Jay for this species.

YES. My original inclination was to retain Gray Jay, since this has been the standard for 60 years. But the well researched history provided in the proposal indicates that the species name should have resorted to Canada Jay in 1957 after subspecies names were dropped. Canada Jay does have historical precedent, is, for the most part, accurate, and it is championed by the SCO and those currently working on this species. I do not see much if any opposition. The somewhat parallel situation with Mexican Jay is interesting, but given the short life of “Gray-breasted” Jay, not very germane here.

YES. It seems to have been an oversight that “Canada Jay” was not restored in the 1950s, when the names applied to the nominate subspecies were standardized for so many other species. In addition, the vast majority of the species’ range is in Canada, and with it being a serious contender as Canada’s national bird, it is timely to make this reversion now rather than have Canada recognize it under a different name than we use. This also would take care of the Grey vs. Gray awkwardness, since in Canada it would be spelled the former way. It is hard to argue that the name Canada will be too unfamiliar or confusing, especially since it is also the species’ scientific name.

YES. Although I usually side with stability, I think Strickland et al. have made a strong case that the change never should have happened in the first place. The “root cause” of this was almost certainly Eisenmann’s campaign to change to descriptive names for English names that weren’t geographically diagnostic. The outline in the proposal of what happened to Mexican Jay is a parallel example and provides a convincing precedent for reversal. Wherever an excuse could be found, Eisenmann got rid of non-diagnostic geographical names (Mexican Jay not found only in Mexico, Canada Jay not found only in Canada, Louisiana Heron not found only in Louisiana, etc.). Just within the jays, another victim was Omiltemi Jay of Ridgway, Hellmayr, and all pre-1955 Mexican bird literature, now known by Eisenmann’s insipid name White-throated Jay; Omiltemi is a historically important collecting locality, perhaps the most important in all of Mexico (fide Town Peterson).  Canada Goose, Canada Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush, and others evidently escaped the purge because of an absence of viable alternatives. Eisenmann, as chair of an AOU CLC whose members had minimal interest in, and in some cases outright disdain for, English names, got his way in these and many other cases.

YES. I would favor going to back to Canada Jay, even if it does not become Canada’s national bird. It should never have been changed in the first place. Canada, unlike American has too little recognition. And Canada Jay is at least as accurate as Canada Warbler which breeds south to Georgia. If Canada goes ahead and makes the English name change then where does that leave us? Let’s go along with the flow especially given the background information. By the way, there is another member of this genus, that is even more gray, rather slate gray, than this species, the Sichuan Jay Perisoreus internigrans. So, in the genus we have Siberian Jay Perisoreus infaustus, Sichua Jay, and Gray Jay Preisoreus canadensis. Two of these have geographical names reflecting where they are found (Siberian Jay occurs west to Scandinavia and east to Russian Far East and south to northeast China). And we had Canada Jay, so historically all reflected their ranges. Let’s go back to this and be cordial to the Canadians. At least someone from down here can be courteous. Too bad Jim can’t chime in on this. 

NO. In my view the fact that Gray Jay was called Canada Jay over a century ago, when there was basically no constituency for English names. Realistically the 5th edition is the starting point for English names for birds. This bird has been known as Gray Jay for 60 years, there is no taxonomic reason to make this change, and Gray Jay is a perfectly fine descriptive name. The fact that Gray Jay has been the name of this species for 60 years, gives it historic legitimacy to me, contrary to the argument in the proposal. To me this is more like changing Mexican Jay to Gray-breasted Jay than the other way around. The current name of Gray Jay is well-established, and the change to Canada Jay would seem like an arbitrary disruption of a well-established name, just like the change to Gray-breasted Jay in 1983 was. The fact that some people want to make this species the national bird of Canada is not a compelling reason for a change to me. 

2018-B-3: Recognize two genera in Stercorariidae

NO. 4 without comment.

NO, for reasons given in the proposal.

NO. Let’s wait for new, definitive evidence.

NO. Better to await more conclusive evidence. It still seems counterintuitive that Pomarine could be more closely related to the Catharacta skuas than to the smaller jaegers.

NO. I agree with the proposal that the current one genus treatment is the best approach. Given the similarity in plumage and structure between pomarinus and parasiticus/longicauduatus, maintaining one genus may be the best course regardless of further findings.

NO. I have a very hard time believing that Pomarine Jaeger is that different from the other two jaeger species when the juveniles present a very difficult identification challenge.

NO. This issue will be resolved sooner or later with stronger gene sampling. Let’s wait for those data so that we can make a maximally informed decision on generic limits.

2018-B-4: Split Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus) into two species

YES. 2 without comment.

YES. This seems well-supported and overdue. Although I take the point that several populations were unsampled, this is nearly inevitable in any study of such widespread taxa, and we could wait forever for all the subspecies to be included in an analysis. When and if analyses of such samples are forthcoming, we may be in for further changes (e.g. some resident or trans-Andean populations might be more divergent than generally assumed), but that doesn’t seem likely to change the big picture or result in a reversal.

YES. I can’t think of another case where there are northern hemisphere and southern hemisphere different breeding groups. But I’m wondering about vocalizations. If genetic relationships of southern birds better fit with V. altiloquus or V. flavoviridis, one would think that would be reflected in their songs. The two tropical species are easily separable by song from northern Red-eyed Vireos.

YES. Although I agree that there remain many holes in what we know in this complex, especially in regard to unsampled suspp. of chivi, the basic framework that Battey and Kicka (2017) provide seems robust and aligns strongly with biogeography and phenotype. Having sedentary and migratory subspecies within an austral migrant species like chivi is hardly unusual; in fact, I think most austral migrants have some sedentary populations.

YES. There are some incomplete sampling issues, as pointed out by others, but I still think the data are convincing enough to warrant a split at this time.

YES. This part of the complex appears to be sufficiently resolved to agree that there are biological species limits involved.

YES. As pointed out be others, some of the equatorial taxa have not been specifically looked at genetically. We have this type of problem in many of these types of studies for widespread taxa. However, if we are placing them incorrectly in Vireo chivi, we can fix that later. At the same time, geographically, morphologically and for some at least vocally they fit with chivi, so my expectation is that the are correctly placed.

YES. With respect to the comment about the sparse sampling of presumed chivi populations, Slager et al. 2014 sampled more of these populations with mtDNA sequencing and found all the chivi populations to be monophyletic. That said, interspecies relationships from Slager et al. 2014 (Fig. 2 in Battey and Klicka 2017) are quite a bit different than the genome-wide phylogeny (Fig. 1 in Battey and Klicka 2017), though it seems the pertinent results for this proposal (paraphyly of olivaceus) are recovered in both, even though the details of why the populations are paraphyletic are not consistent.

YES. The conclusions assume that all South American vireos are part of the V. chivi complex. As noted in the paper, the V. chivi group consists of highly migratory and totally sedentary subspecies, the latter largely restricted to riverine habitats (and thus the range map in the paper vastly over-states the actual range and especially the continuity of the breeding distribution). Yet the paper treats this complex as a monolithic unit based on what looks like only 9 geographic samples from what appears to be no more than 4 subspecies (for some reason I cannot access Table 1 in Supplemental Material), none of them from northwestern South America, where 4 unsampled subspecies also include isolated trans-Andean caucae and griseobarbatus. Thus, the taxon-sampling failed to include the majority of diversity in the complex (although Dave Slager’s paper covers this better). The assumption that these are all to closer nominate chivi than anything else is probably safe but rests on traditional but untested boundaries in the complex. So, I worry. The conclusion (that olivaceus is paraphyletic with respect altiloquus depends entirely on one node in Fig. 1C, and yet the support for monophyly of the morphologically uniform olivaceus group is weak. Finally, altiloquus itself consists of 6 subspecies, of which no more than 2 were sampled.

I asked Mike Harvey for an assessment of that node, and his response (quoted here with permission) soothes my reservations: “irst off, I would perhaps put less stock in the concatenated tree than the STRUCTURE results and perhaps the SNAPP tree. As you know, trees from concatenated genes can produce wonky results when gene trees are heterogeneous. We have reason to expect the gene trees in this case are heterogeneous, both because the mtDNA tree differs dramatically from the nuclear trees (suggesting at least some past horizontal gene flow) and because the nodes in the concatenated tree that are poorly supported are near each other deep in the tree, suggestive of mixed signals due to competing topologies in that part of the tree. However, although the likely explanation for those low support values is ancient hybridization, this occurred well in the past and I don’t think it in any way indicates that northern and southern olivaceus are not distinct. The STRUCTURE results suggest no recent admixture between the two populations, and the SNAPP tree suggests they aren’t sister at most of the genome. Given strong support for the monophyly of (S olivaceus+altiloquus+magister) in both concatenated and SNAPP trees, I doubt there has been any admixture between the two olivaceus populations since S olivaceus split from altiloquus and magister, thus they are unlikely to be sister at any part of the genome. The only small caveat here is that the sample sizes of individuals aren’t huge, although they aren’t horrible either. I doubt the inferences about olivaceus would change even with more individuals.

2018-B-5: Split Pseudobulweria from Pterodroma

YES. 4 without comment.

YES. I don’t see any reason not to go along with this split.

YES. The combination of morphological and genetic evidence seems to warrant this change.

YES, tentatively.

YES, for reasons stated in the proposal.

YES. As far as I can tell, all data support this change.

YES. Seems quite clear that Pseudobulweria is not close to Pterodoma. Figuring out where to place Pseudobulweria in the sequence might be tricky.

2018-B-6: Add Tadorna tadorna (Common Shelduck) to the Checklist

YES. 4 without comment.

YES, for the reasons outlined in the proposal, especially the increase in abundance in Iceland in recent decades and the Newfoundland records.

YES, for reasons given in the proposal.

YES. Although extralimital waterfowl records are always tainted with questions of origin, I think the evidence in this case favors wild origin for Newfoundland records.

YES. No reason to counter ABA-CLC vote.

YES. Appropriate to follow relevant records committees in this case.

YES. While it is likely to be hard or impossible to prove any individual record is of wild provenance, this species should occur naturally as a vagrant, especially now that it is well-established in Iceland.

2018-B-7: Add three species to the U.S. list

YES. 5 without comment.

YES. There is no reason not to accept these records that have already been accepted by the ABA Checklist.

YES. All are well-documented, not confusion risks, and not unexpected.

YES. No reason to counter ABA-CLC vote.

YES. Solid evidence, vetted and endorsed by ABA CC.

YES. Appropriate to follow ABA records committee in this case.

2018-B-8: Change the English names of the two species of Gallinula that occur in our area: (a) – Gallinula chloropus, (b) – Gallinula galeata

YES to (a) and (b). I can see no reasonable argument for maintaining Common Moorhen for the current Gallinula chloropus. I would prefer American Moorhen, but recognizing the lack of committee support for calling the New World species Moorhen, I accept that we may have to live with American Gallinule. However, we should not continue to use Common Gallinule.

We currently have an unfortunate situation where the two names we use for Gallinula chloropus  (as currently restricted) [Common Moorhen] and Gallinula  galeata [Common Gallinule]  are the two names that have competed for legitimacy for Gallinula chloropus when it included the two daughter species. I think we were distracted by the change to Gallinule, such that we didn’t think about the modifiers. If we had thought about them, I believe we would have followed our rule regarding daughter species, of changing the English name to something different. It is clear to me that the Old World Gallinula chloropus should be Eurasian Moorhen, like Eurasian Wigeon and many other Eurasian relatives of New World species. The obvious choice for Gallinula galeata is American Moorhen, since the rest of the species complex are known as Moorhens. But I am willing to accept that I have lost that particular battle, and am willing to live with Gallinule, but it should not be Common Gallinule. I think American Gallinule is the way to go. I am hoping the idea to resurrect Florida Gallinule is facetious, but who knows. I don’t believe that Florida Gallinule was used for the species as a whole (either chloropus sensu lata) or galeatus, but instead was applied to the North American subspecies cachinnans. That being said I would prefer Florida Gallinule to the current Common Gallinule.

YES to (a), especially given that Clements has already done this. (b) NO, but I would probably vote to change it to American Gallinule. I agree that the present situation is very confusing. The worst part is that both are “Common,” but seemingly of different groups. I doubt whether changing the Old World species away from Moorhen would achieve traction or anything other than ill-will—it is super-entrenched. Eurasian Moorhen would be a distinct improvement, however. Then we still have the problem of our Common Gallinule, which would be better and less controversially named American Gallinule than American Moorhen.

NO to (a) and (b) – 2 without comment.

NO to (a) and (b). Regarding (a), I think we should follow rather than lead on usage for taxa mostly outside our area (chloropus); if “Clements” becomes the global norm, we can follow. On (b), Gallinule remains most appropriate in North America, and either American or Florida would be fine with me.

NO to (a) and (b). It’s been a mess, but introducing new names may make it even more messy, especially in the near-term. I think the best course is to keep the two names we have. The names are distinct and I think most everyone knows to what taxon they are referring.

NO to (a) and (b). I think we should stick with “Gallinule” for the species in our area, for the reasons given by others, but am ok with restoring the name “Florida Gallinule” which I prefer over “Common Gallinule” or a new name “American Gallinule.” That has an historical basis and could help to reduce some of the confusion caused by having “Common” applied to both “Gallinule” and “Moorhen” in the two geographic regions.

NO to (a) and (b). We lived just fine with Common Gallinule for a very long time, and in fact we should never have changed it to Common Moorhen. Why the British call it moorhen remains a mystery, though I recall I have read explanations. They certainly don’t occur on the moors. In the Americas, we call these things gallinules. Yes, I agree having Common Moorhen on the Check-List as an accidental is confusing, but I see no solution that doesn’t cause and confusing situation to get worse. Stick with Common Gallinule, one that we should have stuck with before.

NO to (a) and (b). Despite the logical rationale, “American Moorhen” would perhaps spark open revolt. Not only would this disrupt, yet again, whatever stability exists but it would also concoct an unnecessary, novel name. Our Gallinula species has been known as a Gallinule for its entire history except for the 1983 and 1998 checklists, when we made the mistake, in my opinion, to opt for the British name. If any species on Planet Earth should be known as Gallinules, they should be in the genus Gallinula. Is there anyone out there who doesn’t get the connection between Gallinule and Gallinula? Changing back to Moorhen would return us to the nonsensical situation of a Porphyrula being called a Gallinule but a Gallinula not being called a Gallinule. By the way, “Florida Gallinule” was another one of Eisenmann’s victims (see Canada Jay proposal) — a name that had been in use since the dawn of English names was replaced by the insipid Common Gallinule. I would favor a return to Florida Gallinule before swallowing Anything “Moorhen”, which is unpopular in many birding circles in the USA.

NO to (a) and (b). I don’t think the situation is all that confusing or problematic, actually. We have gallinules here, they have moorhens there, and occasionally one of their moorhens shows up here. The name “Common” is not great for either, but I feel that way about all birds named “Common.” Given the situation, there is a certain symmetry that I like in preserving “Common” for both species as it serves to highlight the entrenched vernacular on either side of the pond (gallinule vs. moorhen) which is an interesting aspect of ornithological culture and history. That said, I came up only knowing the name Common Moorhen for the American bird, so I (and American birders/ornithologists my age) don’t share the same animosity towards the name moorhen as others on the committee who first leaned the bird back when it was gallinule originally. Now that chloropus and galeata are split, I am fine with the present naming. If “our” bird’s English name is to be changed again, I would prefer the return to the original Florida Gallinule over the introduction of a new name. If Canada and Mexico can get their jays back, why not Florida their gallinule?

2018-B-9: Change the English name of Leistes militaris to Red-breasted Meadowlark

YES. 2 without comment.

Yes, but only to conform to SACC.

YES, for reasons given in the proposal.

YES, but mostly for conformity with the SACC list.

YES, reluctantly but only to follow SACC. I positively dread a rash of English name proposals trying to bring them into line with phylogenies. Let’s avoid that.

YES. Although within the meadowlark clade, both English and scientific names have gone through various permutations involving “red-breasted,” I think it is okay not to jettison that name altogether, since militaris has used Red-breasted for quite some time. And using meadowlark will provide clarity, especially in contrast to “blackbird.”

YES. Although I see the point that other species have been known as the “Something Red-breasted Meadowlark,” I don’t think those names are very familiar or well-entrenched. There would likely be some confusion, but hopefully it would be minimal. And any confusion would probably be more than offset by the gain in clarity by referring to militaris with the same group name as the rest of its distinct clade. Plus, we should follow SACC on this.

YES, weakly. I’m open to more debate on this, but at the moment can’t warm to Military Meadowlark. 

YES. One problem is that other South American taxa of red-breasted meadowlarks used to have “Red-breasted” in their name and one in particular, Sturnella defilippii, was formerly known with the specific epithet as militaris. However, I don’t have a great alternative, and I can’t see any reason for us not to go with the SACC name.

2018-B-10: Revise generic assignments of woodpeckers of the genus Picoides

YES (option 1). Nice to see this resolved.

YES (option 1). I’m not completely happy with this, but it does seem like the genetic work says we need to make a change, and this seems the best choice.

YES (option 1). It seems a bit odd, but there are multiple studies that show that Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers are pretty different. There are two large species of woodpeckers in Asia that have very similar plumages, but are in different genera, the Greater Flameback (Chrysocolaptes lucidus) and Common Flameback (Dinopium javanense). 

YES (option 2).

YES (option 2). However, I think what is lost by this option is this classification doesn’t illustrate the convergent plumage evolution in Hairy and Downy that the trees clearly demonstrate.

YES (option 2). An expanded Dryobates seems like the best option to me.

YES (option 2). I see Dryobates as a sister genus to Dendrocopos, with Leuconotopicus and Veniliornis as subgenera. In part this is due to a desire to treat clades of similar age as roughly taxonomically equivalent, but in part it is due to seeing Hairy and Downy woodpeckers almost daily and scratching my head over why we would consider those to be in different genera.

YES (option 2). I prefer an expanded Dryobates, and I think it is appropriate.

YES (option 2). Phylogenetic data require either the proposed change or dramatic expansion of Dryobates. I actually favor the latter. This entire group shares many plumage and vocal characters, and all except Veniliornis have been considered congeneric for most of their taxonomic history. Replace the browns of Veniliornis with blacker plumage and you repeat many of the plumage patterns and vocal characters of northern species. Furthermore, fumigatus masqueraded as a Veniliornis for its entire taxonomic history, because it was brown and tropical, until DNA sequence data revealed that it was a “Picoides.” That Leuconotopicus fumigatus was never suspected of being anything but a Veniliornis tells you all you need to know about phenotypic similarity in this group. At a more familiar level, Hairy Woodpecker would be in Leuconotopicus (misspelled in Fig. 2 of Shakya et al.), whereas Downy Woodpecker would be in Dryobates s.s. Although plumage mimicry is likely involved in driving some of the similarity between these two (just as in Campephilus and Dryocopus), no one ever suspected that they were not congeners based on overall plumage and vocal characters (in contrast to Campephilus and Dryocopus).

Phenotypic considerations aside, what seals the deal for me is the time-calibrated phylogeny of Shakya et al., which predicts that this radiation is just 7 million years old, i.e. well within the age boundaries associated with taxa treated at the rank of genus, including widely recognized genera in the Shakya et al. tree. In fact, the node that would define Dryobates s.l. would be only slightly older than the nodes that define the other two genera in the group, Dendrocopos and Dendropicos, neither of which contain groups treated as separate genera and both of which contain internal nodes older than those that unite the 3 proposed genera.

Because classification at this level is to some degree subjective, I find it more useful to recognize a single genus that has speciated extensively and that shares many characters among component species than to recognize three genera, the composition of one of which (Leuconotopicus) doesn’t seem to make much “sense”, at least initially (e.g. Red-cockaded, Smoky-brown, and Hairy in same genus). But I don’t feel strongly about this. For example, Dryobates s.s. has a previously unrecognized appeal to me in uniting the small, short-billed, Old World Lesser Spotted and Crimson-breasted with our Downy-Ladder-backed-Nuttall’s.

NO. Although I don’t usually favor greatly expanded genera, in this case all of clade 4 being considered the single genus Dryobates seems more justified than breaking it up, especially given the recommended treatment of the two lineages of similar age, Dendropicos and Dendrocopos, by the same authors.

2018-B-11: Split the storm-petrels (Hydrobatidae) into two families

YES. 2 without comment.

YES. Studies using either dense taxonomic sampling or dense character sampling consistently show lack of monophyly.

YES, for reasons stated in the proposal. Again, we might wait a long time for further studies that may or may not help resolve the uncertain placement, and the fact that all these studies at least show the two groups to be highly divergent has got to count for something.

YES. The fact that multiple independent data sets corroborate the lack of a sister relationship between northern and southern storm-petrels suggests to me that this split is warranted.

YES. A split here seems warranted, even if the lineages remain incertae sedis.

YES. I have a feeling that eventually more data may show that the two Storm-Petrel families are sisters, but who knows when that will be. So I vote yes to keep up with other current taxonomies.

NO. I am concerned that the genetic studies seem to be all over the map in terms of what the relationships between the major groups are. I would favor as other have suggested, splitting the two groups into subfamilies to await more clarity.

NO. I’d like to hear what those familiar with problems with deep branches in tree topology say about this before voting yes. I appreciate the excellent point that there are no current genetic data that support the two taxa as sisters. I also recognize that the two groups ought to be treated as subfamilies, as they have been in other classifications based on morphology alone. Nonetheless, given the dramatic conflict among current data sets, is it not possible that additional, better data might also show that they indeed are sisters? Because of the remarkable phenotypic similarity of the two storm-petrel taxa compared to Procellariidae (with genera as dramatically different as Macronectes, Bulweria, and Pelecanoides, for example), I think we should be extra cautious on this one.

NO. I agree about being cautious here, given the morphological similarity between the northern and southern storm-petrels and the dissimilarity between the two taxa and other tubenoses. I think it would be best to first recognize the two subfamilies (we do not do so) and add in Notes that these may not be sister taxa.