2021-C-1: Revise the classification of the Antillean Piculet Nesoctites micromegas

(a) YES. This excellent proposal clearly lays out the reasons why Nesoctites micromegas should be removed from Picumninae based on molecular, morphological, and behavioral characters. (b) YES. I could go either way, but it seems reasonable to recognize the species in the monospecific family Nesoctitinae based on the striking morphological and behavioral differences with typical woodpeckers.

(a) YES. it clearly must be moved from Picumninae. (b) NO. This may turn out to be the best solution but the data aren’t clear and it would have knock-on effects such as the need to create Hemicircini and to reevaluate the subfamily status of the Old World piculets. There is already a lot of diversity in Picinae, from pygmy woodpeckers to Imperial, and I don’t think adding Nesoctites makes the subfamily outrageously disparate. It never occurred to me before that Hemicircus aren’t real woodpeckers, even if they look like toys.

(a) YES. Multiple phylogenetic studies that show Nesoctites micromegas is more closely related to the Picinae than to the rest of the piculets. (b) NO. I was initially leaning toward voting yes for this, as its position seemed to make this a good course of action, but other comments had me reconsider, and I am voting NO to create a separate subfamily for this species, but instead place it in Picinae.

(a) YES. (b) A weak YES following the reasoning of one NACC member. They seem very distinct on many fronts, although I’ve never seen this species and Hispaniola is very isolated from other piculets. 

(a) YES. Required by phylogenetic position confirmed by several analyses. (b) YES. I think the morphological uniqueness and phylogenetic position of Nesoctites indicates that a separate taxon level between genus and family is warranted (maybe with Hemicircus if confirmed by other studies).

(a) YES. Genetic data require reassignment of taxon rank for this very distinctive lineage, evidently sheltered from “mainstream” picid evolution on Hispaniola. (b) NO. Some sort of higher rank is justified by its antiquity and is reflected in its utterly un-woodpecker-like behavior and morphology, but given the comments of other committee members, I think we should have a separate proposal that re-evaluates higher ranks in the family.

(a) YES. (b). NO. While erecting a new monogeneric subfamily for it might prove to be best, we will soon see large-scale genomic data on this that should produce more confidence.

(a) YES. (b) NO, until we assess higher ranks within the family due to potential issues with subfamilies raised by others. For now, I think it makes more sense to have Nesoctites within Picinae at the top of the sequence.

(a) YES. Nesoctites clearly needs to be removed from Picuminae based on multiple analyes; (b) NO. Let’s wait to see the position of Nesoctites and Hemicircus relative to other wooodpeckers. If Nesoctites and Hemicircus turn out to be sister taxa, I would be less inclined to name a subfamily for Nesoctites.

(a) YES. (b) YES. It is not a huge surprise that Nesoctites is not closely related to Picumnus; that has been suggested for a long time. I think we are probably best served by recognizing its distinctiveness and placing it in a monotypic subfamily, rather than losing it into Picinae.

(a) YES. (b) YES. The evidence is strong for these movements.

2021-C-2: Transfer Flammulated Flycatcher Deltarhynchus flammulatus to Ramphotrigon

YES. The multiple, independent genetic studies support the transfer of D. flammulatus to Ramphotrigon.

YES. Nice to see multiple corroborating studies. 

YES. The phylogenetic evidence consistently places the species within Ramphotrigon, and based on noted morphological similarities, transferring Deltarhynchus into Ramphotrigon seems the best approach.

YES. For the reasons articulated in the motion, notably the genetic reasons. I’m not familiar with the South American species listed, but it looks like Flammulated will fit right in. I have seen Flammulated a few times in southwest Mexico.

YES. All molecular studies show Deltarhynchus within Ramphotrigon.

YES. The new genetic data require a revision of generic limits, and merging this into Ramphotrigon makes sense morphologically as well. (The age of the split suggests to me that a separate genus is required for R. megacephalum, but as stated in the proposal, that’s not a NACC issue).

YES. I agree that the data indicate that the monotypic D. flammulatus is best considered in the genus Rhamphotrigon

YES. Straightforward fix based on multiple phylogenies.

YES. Straightforward case of genus name change needed, given topology of new phylogeny.

YES. Deltarhynchus has always been a problem. This study seems to make clear its placement in Ramphotrigon.

YES. I recommend transferring D. flammulatus to Ramphotrigon.

2021-C-3: Treat Cistothorus stellaris as a separate species from C. platensis 

YES. Although it is based on less than perfect datasets and analyses, these congruently confirm that N American birds differ in numerous ways typical of species, as well as in being paraphyletic. Also makes our treatment consistent with SACC’s. Looks from the tree like we may be making a future split of the Mesoamerican taxa, too. YES to retaining the name Sedge Wren for stellaris.

YES (weak). I agree with some of the misgivings expressed in the SACC votes, notably that the paraphyly noted is only seen in the mtDNA (since the two isolated taxa were not sampled with nuclear DNA), which is notorious for not always showing species-level relationships. However, the phylogenetic data combined with the behavior data noted by Kroodsma, and the analyses done by Boesman (2016) seem to support the idea that North American stellaris is reproductively isolated from the South American taxa, and these differences are all consistent with species-level differences.

YES. I listened to one sing and call in a small field in Costa Rica and heard nothing remotely familiar to stellaris. I played stellaris to our very experienced Costa Rican guide, and he had no idea what the bird was. The North American species has complex movements, much like eastern Marsh Wrens, with perhaps multiple nestings in a single season from geographically well-separated locations. I doubt if stellaris has laid eyes on other “subspecies” to the south. I don’t feel tasked with figuring the systematics in Middle and South America, just splitting out stellaris. Let the SACC figure out the other splits, if needed. 

YES (weak). Although the genetic data are suggestive of species level differences, reciprocal monophyphly is not, in and of itself, species defining. In the same vein, differences in migration and mating systems are suggestive of species level differences, but need not be reproductively isolating . There are plenty of examples of variation of both migration status and mating systems within species. In this proposal, the vocal differences are the strongest indicator of species level differences. Of course, with the caveat that these are Oscine passerines. In addition, that meridae and apolinari are recognized as species, based largely on vocalizations, argues that stellaris should be recognized as well. I think, in sum, these differences argue for species status for stellaris. I listened to online songs of stellaris, and platensis, and I think that Boesman’s summary correctly summarized the differences. I also listened to meridae and apolinari, which are very different.

YES. I vote yes despite the absence of a comprehensive analysis. The outlier in the group is stellaris, and if meridae and apolinari are treated as species, then so should stellaris.

YES. To me, multiple life history difference (mating system, migration) and variation in song combined with mtDNA are strongly suggestive of reproductive isolation and separate species status. As noted by others, if mieridae and apolinari are split, then stellaris should also be split from platensis in my opinion.

YES (weak). Splitting stellaris from the rest of the group solves the paraphyly problem created by the position of meridae and apolinari. However, this is based on a single gene. In addition, the song data are not presented as rigorously as I would like to see.

YES. The South American forms remain a mess, but I think the evidence to support splitting the migratory North American form is strong.

YES. I vote recognizing stellaris as separate species and retained the name Sedge Wren.

NO. While the mtDNA data provide a good first-pass overview, using this single-locus perspective for determining species limits is notoriously unreliable. And splitting these at this time in a taxon with learned song would be premature in my view.

NO (for now). The data are clearly suggestive of a split, but I think the evidence falls short based on only mtDNA sequences examined and the need for a more rigorous quantitative analysis of vocal differences including playbacks.

2021-C-4: Elevate Turdus rufopalliatus graysoni to species rank

YES (weak). Putting aside the issue of whether or not this taxon occurs on the mainland (it probably does not), we are left with deep molecular divergence on the islands versus the mainland. I went back and looked at the original paper and I was actually surprised to see how deep the divergence is, compared to divergence seen among other populations/subspecies. Coupled with reciprocal monophyly, it puts in my mind that these taxa are probably biological species. I think the sampling is sufficient to detect this reciprocal monophyly and lack of gene flow. It’s hard for me to imagine how these could behave as one biological species now or in the future. However, we do lack vocal evidence which is important for ascertaining biological species. Therefore, I appreciate why others have voted NO for this proposal. For me, this is more of a gray area, but I would still vote YES, but I’m fine with it not passing.

NO. Reasons given in the proposal.

NO. In my opinion unless a future analysis of vocalizations shows otherwise, this is better treated as a subspecies, in contrast to Turdus [m.] confinis, which we really need to reconsider.

NO. Reasons laid out in the proposal. This could very well represent a good species, however, as noted in the proposal, there is not currently enough data to make the decision (notably vocal data).

NO. Reasons articulated in the motion. Breeding of graysoni from the mainland is not substantiated. The Tres Marias seem conducive to endemism, at least in having morphologically distinct subspecies. It wouldn’t surprise me if Philips and others are right about graysoni, but much better evidence is needed. In looking at Phillips (1991) color plate, graysoni is certainly drabber with no visible rufous on the back, but overall the pattern looks similar to the other subspecies of T. rufopalliatus. Although Phillips (1991) continued to recognize it as a distinct species he says that “biological data are still badly needed.” Indeed. I believe that the Tres Marias Islands has a federal prison and that access is very difficult. Too bad. 

Phillips, A.R. 1991. Known birds of North and Middle America, Part II. Published by the author. 

NO. I agree with the recommendation of the proposal. We should not give much weight to one anomalous June record from the mainland, and graysoni likely does not breed on the mainland. Otherwise, we’re depending on some genetic differences, which do not, in and of themselves, indicate species status, and rather weak plumage differences. I agree that a study of vocalizations could help clarify taxonomic status.

NO. Vocal data are essential, in my opinion, for evaluating species limits in thrushes. See, for example, O’Neill, Lane, and Naka in Condor 2011 for the classic case of Turdus sanchezorum.

NO. This seems to be an updated version of 2017-B-3, and I’ll repeat my comments from then: I agree that until more data are obtained, this is a subspecies. The genetics reflect island isolation, as expected. Same with the morphological traits. The mainland occurrences are intriguing, but seasonal movements with subspecies in sympatry part of the year without interbreeding are common.

NO. Reasons stated by other NACC members.

NO. I think that we have not really made much headway since we previously considered this split. We still have a island taxon that is only weakly distinguishable morphologically, with no real evidence of potential isolating mechanisms. There are breeding season individuals of the island form on the mainland, but no evidence regarding breeding of those birds. It remains at least premature to split graysoni

NO. I vote not to elevate T. rufopalliatus graysoni to species. I recommend to wait for other data to support that separation.

2021-C-5: Treat Eurasian Blackbird Turdus merula as four species

YES. This proposal affects mostly non-North American taxa, and I think it makes sense for consistency with other world bird lists.

YES. Reasons stated in the proposal.

YES. Reasons laid out in the proposal. This is in following all other global checklists.

YES. Reasons well-articulated in the proposal. The newly split species T. mandarinus could occur in Alaska as it does make it to Japan. I’ve seen it there and also in southern Thailand. It can travel far out-of-range. After finding out that ssp. intermedius belongs with T. merula, Eurasian Blackbird is a perfectly acceptable English name. 

YES. I agree with A: a four-way split. The proposal lays out very well how behind the times we are in our treatment. The phylogeny of Nylander et al. (2008) shows that these four taxa are only remotely related, and that a lump of any two taxa would still be polyphyletic. 

YES. Reasons stated in the proposal.

YES. The evidence seems strong for the split, and this is an extralimital for us. Yes, keep the English name.

YES. This is a largely extralimital vagrant, and the Nylander et al. (2008) data are convincing these are separate species.

YES. This puts us in line with other world lists for a taxa that don’t regularly occur here. I appreciate Pam writing this proposal to correct this apparent oversight. 

YES. I think the details provided in the proposal are persuasive that Turdus merula should be split into four species, and that the English name Eurasian Blackbird should be maintained for T. merula.

NO. Do not split the Turdus merula complex.

2021-C-6: Revise the taxonomy of the Estrildidae

(a-c) YES. (d) NO. Reasons stated in the proposal.

(a-c) YES. (d) NO. Reasons stated in the proposal.

(a) YES. This seems well-supported by the phylogenetic data. (b) YES. This seems reasonable given the clade age and the distinctiveness of the taxon compared to the other members of Lonchura. (c) NO. In this case, given the age of the clade, I prefer the alternative suggestion of using Brunhilda for the entire clade. I’m not very strongly attached to this vote, but I also prefer the option that does not result in more monospecific genera. (d) NO. Reasons outlined in the proposal.

(a-c) YES. (d) NO. Reasons stated in the proposal.

(a) YES. (b) NO. (c) YES.  But I feel that the recommendations of Olsson and Alström (2020) erect too many genera. I would favor the more inclusive Brunhilda (and what a fun name!) for caerulescens , but that is not an option. Therefore YES to placing in Glaucestrilda. (d) NO. 

I really do not want to undo a change we made in 2014 (move oryzivora back into Padda). I think that sort of back and forth makes us appear too eager to change based on the newest paper that has slightly more taxa or genes or a new type of analysis. It is easy to get by with oryzivora remaining in Lonchura, albeit with a somewhat different morphology. The other changes make better sense.

(a) YES. Spot-checking – nothing to dispute. (b) YES. This is a subjective decision, but trying to make it as objective as possible, phenotypically the two ex-Padda are outliers in the expanded Lonchura, albeit not by much, and the degree of divergence Lonchura is more in line with that of other estrildid lineages treated as genera, e.g. all genera in the figure except for the “Lonchurabicolor group, transferred to Spermestes by Olsson and Alström. The Miocene-Pliocene boundary is consistently coming out as the boundary between lineages we already call different genera vs. congeners in so many calibrated phylogenies. (c) YES. Required by the new genetic data. (d) NO. This proposed change is the “type specimen” of what I consider recreational probing of original manuscripts by hobbyists hoping to discover some novel, destabilizing trivia, even if it requires a magnifying glass, literally in this case, to see it. This accomplishes nothing, has no relevance to science, and only makes obsolete thousands of published items that used caerulescens. Fortunately, the Code was established with stability as a guiding theme and with the prescience to have provisions for Prevailing Usage. Regardless of problems with defining the latter, we all “know stability when we see it” (with homage to Justice Potter Stewart’s view on pornography).

(a-c) YES. (d) NO.

(a) YES. Straightforward based on phylogeny. (b) YES. Subjective, but I agree with proposal this makes most sense based on new data at hand. (c) YES. Updated topology requires this change, although I do appreciate the sentiment that these are small genera and I could be in favor of a more broadly defined Brunhilda if that gained support. (d) NO.

(a) YES. The proposed linear sequence matches the phylogeny; I double-checked this and got the same result as presented in the proposal. (b) NO. The topology doesn’t require a change in genus name, so I would prefer to retain the current name for stability. (c) YES. Topology dictates that change in generic name is needed; this is a good solution. (d) NO. Long-time, widespread use of the current spelling.

(a-c) YES. (d) NO.

(a-c) YES. (d) NO.

2021-C-7: Add Amazilia Hummingbird Amazilis amazilia to the Main List

YES. Very interesting discussion (thanks for attaching the appendices). This record has been vetted and accepted by the Panama Records Committee, and apparently natural vagrancy is not unusual in hummingbirds.

YES. In sum, putting together 1) the unlikelihood of ship assistance; 2) the other odd vagrant hummingbirds showing up in strange places; 3) the fact that this is an adaptable dry-forest and town bird that has made it across the Andes; and 4) the fact that the Panama Records Committee accepted it without hesitation, sways my vote.

YES. Add Amazilia Hummingbird (Amazilis amazilia) to the main list as a vagrant.

YES. I vote yes but am uneasy about this, not for origin regions but on identification. I don’t worry about the origin. I don’t know this taxon, or any South American hummingbirds for that matter, but these photos are not very good, and I’m having trouble deciphering the rather mediocre (at best) photos. The white on the underparts doesn’t seem to match (location or extent) what I’m seeing on the illustration for leucophoea in Schulenberg et al. (Peru field guide). The white seems restricted on the one photo with wings out and seems to be on the sides of the throat. Hard to tell. The way folks are endorsing this record with extensive South American experience tells me that I’m wrong in my worries. Still, since I don’t know what’s on file in the Panama committee, I think some comments justifying the identification from other knowledgeable (not me) committee members would be helpful. It is a significant first North American record. I’m not suggesting it is any other hummingbird species, but we usually get better evidence to evaluate. 

I have relooked at this (23 March) and guess I can get something close to the white patch on the white chest to the illustration in the Peru guide of leucophoea. At least on my monitor, I just don’t see rufous on the belly below that, but note that in the description. Probably all fine. I have not checked SACC as the current treatment of the subspecies alticola from the Andes, but note the footnote in Dickinson and Remsen (2013). 

YES. ID looks solid. As for provenance, non-migratory Xantus’s Hummingbird (Hylocharis xantusii) has shown up in SW British Columbia (winter 1997-98), ca. 2500 km N of its Baja range (as well as Ventura Co., CA, 1988, and Anza-Borrego, CA, 1986). Non-migratory Amethyst-throated Mountain-gem (Lampornis amethystinus) has shown up in interior Quebec, ca. 3400 km NE of its northernmost limit in NE Mexico. Non-migratory Green-breasted Mango (Anthracothorax prevostii) has now shown up something like 8 times in the USA, including in Wisconsin and North Carolina, 2000+ km from its normal range. Etc. This is now a pattern: non-migratory hummingbirds can show up at remarkable places far from their normal range. I think we should treat this record the same way we do the others despite the existence of an aviary trade in Amazilis amazilia. The compound low-probability events required for an “escapee” scenario are well-outlined in the proposal (although hummingbirds are not nearly as difficult to maintain in captivity as alleged therein), and I think burden-of-proof lies with those in favor of the “escapee” hypothesis, although of course we’ll never know for sure. The “natural origin” hypothesis requires only two low-probability events (bird disperses far beyond range and is then also detected and documented by observer), but we have so many examples of this, not just in hummingbirds but birds in general, that we may have to revise our probability estimates upwards!

I suspect that all hummingbirds will be found to show seasonal movements in response to seasonal flower phenology (except perhaps most hermits), and so dispersal is built into hummingbird biology. That such dispersal occasionally can “get carried away” to the degree of 1000+ km is indeed a surprise but seems substantiated by the growing N of examples.

YES. And thanks to all involved for the excellent discussions in the Appendices.

YES. I agree with the ID, and given that the local Panama Records Committee has accepted it and deem hummingbirds as unlikely escapees from shipping lines, I think this should be added as a vagrant to the NACC list.

YES. Sticking with my original vote and explanation: Accepted by Panama Records Committee. Although the distance between this species and home range is far, the idea of it being kept in captivity for the length of time needed to reach this area also seems unlikely.

YES. I think the evidence to suggest an escaped captive bird is purely speculative, and this seems consistent with other examples of long-distance vagrants among all sorts of hummingbirds including some that are resident species.

YES. I vote to add Amazilia amazilia to the main list as a vagrant.

NO. I feel that there are too many question marks surrounding this species’ occurrence in Panama. I would like to see some history of long-distance vagrancy. Although southwestern US and northwestern Mexican hummingbirds regularly show long-distance vagrancy, the same cannot be said for the sedentary western South American hummingbirds. I feel, given the proximity of both the origin and site of observation to major shipping lines, and the history of aviculture of this species in Peru, that questions of captive origin cannot be ignored.

2021-C-8: Treat Cinereous Owl Strix sartorii as a separate species from Barred Owl S. varia

YES. The combination of genetic and vocal differences, as well as plumage and habitat, support this treatment.

YES. I vote to split based on its distinctive song coupled with the paraphyly. YES to the English name Cinereous Owl.

YES. Reasons outlined in the proposal. I also vote to adopt the English name “Cinereous Owl.” Particularly convincing was the detailed vocal analysis, which is diagnostic from Strix varia in the US and Canada.

YES. Reasons articulated in the proposal, especially the vocal differences. Also, for biogeographical reasons; it makes little sense to have this taxon with Barred Owl given the significant distance away from the closest Barred Owls in Texas. 

YES. Listening to the suite of Strix owls in North America (excluding Great Gray), sartorii definitely seems closest to varia in tone and pattern, and not to fulvescens. But the pattern is quite different, and very different than any population of varia across its rather wide distribution. In comparison to Glaucidium owls, I find the differences between varia and sartorii more noticeable. Although the genetics indicate a closer relationship with fulvescens, these analyses were based entirely on mtDNA, which can offer erroneous histories.

YES.. The combination of documented vocal differences and preliminary genetic data places burden-of-proof on continued treatment of sartorii as a subspecies of S. varia. YES to Cinereous Owl also; calling it “Mexican Barred Owl” implies that it is more closely related to varia, which current data suggests is incorrect.

YES. While there are shortcomings of this proposal, such as the N = 1 for the song analyses and the reliance on mtDNA, it is roughly equidistant from fulvescens in mtDNA divergence. Strix vocalizations do seem rather stereotyped though, so I’m more inclined to take these qualitative differences in song as evidence of vocal divergence compared to other taxa. Complementary differences in plumage and habitat further convince me these deserve recognition as separate species under an integrative BSC framework.

YES. Genetic information further supported by vocal information. I understand other’s concerns about mtDNA, but the number of substitutions between sartorii and others is large. The vocalizations (although only one sample) also support the split. At this point, I think there is more evidence for separating sartorii than continuing to keep it part of varia

YES. Between the vocal differences described and the somewhat inadequate genetic information, I am convinced that splitting this taxon is the best approach

YES. I vote to treat Cinereous Owl Strix sartorii as separate species from Barred Owl S. varia and use “Cinereous Owl”.

NO. This seems premature to me. It very well might prove that there are biological species limits here, but there is not a lot of strong evidence yet. As the mtDNA haplotype network shows, mtDNA monophyly is not a reliable indicator of biological species limits (note two divergent haplotypes in varia, likely remixing following secondary contact). I agree with Barrowclough et al. that sartorii is a phylogenetic species. But genetic diagnosability and monophyly at some loci (especially mtDNA, with its smaller effective population size) is easily achieved in isolation, and paraphyly among biological species at single loci is fairly common. N = 1 on song is intriguing, as are mentions of subsequent recordings. The whole group, including occidentalis, is ripe for a full comparative analysis.

2021-C-9(A): Treat Euphonia godmani as a separate species from Scrub Euphonia E. affinis

YES. The evidence is concordant in suggesting that species status is warranted. The morphology is suggestive but could go either way. Judging from sonagrams on xeno-canto, affinis s.s. has highly varied vocalizations, including a few that are not dissimilar to those usually given by godmani, but they are mostly quite different, and godmani seems to give a much narrower range of vocalization types. The depth of divergence between affinis s.s. and godmani is similar to that between some unquestioned species. And, biogeographically it conforms to a common pattern.

YES. Very nice proposal. The integrative approach based on morphology, song, genetics, and ecological niche, combined with the biogeography, makes this a convincing case for separate treatment. 

YES. Reasons articulated in the motion, especially the vocal differences and this fits just another split from East and West Mexico. At some point someone should examine the differences between the somewhat isolated Colaptes rubiginosus aeruginosus from the many other subspecies within Colaptes rubiginosus. Howell and Webb (1995) describe distinct vocal differences of aeruginosus. I’m unaware of genetic studies. 

YES. A well written proposal. Although this genus is noted for its conservatism in plumage evolution, the differences between godmani and affinis are comparatively striking (to me more so than slight differences in the yellow forecrown patch that separate other species of Euphonia). The genetic and niche modelling results indicate that these two taxa have had long trajectories of separate evolutions, but still occupy similar habitats. The vocal differences are striking, but difficult to interpret given the degree and mimicry and variation found in some species of Euphonia

YES. Among-species differences in plumage in many Euphonia species are so slight that I personally have a tough time keeping them straight. I don’t put much stock in comparative genetic distances, but at least in this case they are consistent with species rank in the genus. Statements about reciprocal monophyly, given the small N of individuals sampled, are premature in my opinion and always just one additional sample away from falsification; in addition, with respect to neutral loci, reciprocal monophyly just reflects time and effective population sizes rather than anything intrinsically different about the populations. The vocal data, however, are convincing – non-overlapping in two analyses (nice analyses!), which strongly supports species rank. As for English names, however, I think we need a separate proposal — this one requires careful consideration: a sister species split with both daughters having roughly comparable range sizes.

YES. I have concerns about the discrepancies in timing and topology between this paper and the Imfeld paper, but the genetic divergence appears consistent across multiple loci. Differences in plumage and song also contribute to premating barriers in Euphonia more generally, while the biogeographic areas these two lineages occupy correspond to well known areas of endemism and splits among Mexican birds.

YES. Multiple lines of evidence suggest species status including genetics, song, and plumage. I was perhaps most impressed by reciprocal monophyly of the particular nuclear loci studied, something not often seen within species. This suggests to me that these taxa have long been separated. Well written, clear proposal.

YES. Genetics, song and plumage all correspond in indicating that these two taxa should be considered distinct species. 

YES. I vote to treat Euphonia godmani as a separate species from Scrub Euphonia e. Affinis.

NO. If the Imfeld et al. (2020) and Vázquez-López et al. (2020) studies corroborated each other, this would be an easier decision. As it is, there is clearly something more going on when more nuclear data are analyzed (and the Imfeld et al. mtDNA tree in this respect matches the topology of the nuclear tree). In other words, it looks like the loci used here are not effectively tracking the species tree of this lineage and its closest relatives – a key factor when using few loci to infer species limits (contrasting Imfeld et al. 2020 Figs. 2 & 3 and Vázquez-López et al. 2020 Fig. 5). Allopatric taxa are inherently difficult to determine species limits in, but there are molecular patterns that can be equivocal, so that “This suggests a considerable period of independent evolution between these lineages” has to also be considered as being locus-specific and also possible through isolation by distance as occurs commonly in nonallopatric populations of biological species. Again, if these results matched the mitochondrial and nuclear species trees of Imfeld et al. (2020), we could have more confidence in the gene signal here reflecting the species tree, but there are other ways these patterns can arise that do not indicate species limits. The dramatic difference in estimated ages is also important. This is far from a clear cut case. So I am left wondering whether these are subspecies-level differences, as currently recognized, or species-level differences as the proposal suggests. Diagnosability and monophyly of one or a few loci are common attributes of allopatric taxa at both subspecies and species levels. More extensive phenotypic contrast with species limits in other euphonias (beyond the undertail coverts subjective statement) would have been helpful.

NO (weak). The evidence is certainly suggestive of divergence, but I’m not sure if the evidence is strong enough to suggest species-level divergence. I’m also concerned about the discrepancies between the divergence times estimated in Vázquez-López et al. (2020) and Imfeld et al. (2020). The niche differences are also not very strong.

2021-C-9(B) (a): Retain English name Scrub Euphonia for E. affinis sensu stricto
(b): Adopt English name West Mexican Euphonia for E. godmani

(a) YES. (b) YES. 4 without comment.

(a) YES. (b) NO. I vote for Sinaloa Euphonia for godmani.

(a) YES. (b) YES. I think West Mexican for godmani is adequate, and better than Godman’s, who would need to be completely vetted to be acceptable. Also, if Scrub Euphonia is used for affinis (s.s.), using the very specific “West Mexican” is more clear, as “Godman’s” would not have any meaning unless someone is versed in the history of west Mexican ornithology. For affinis (s.s.) I think there is just enough of a range asymmetry to maintain use of Scrub Euphonia.

(a) YES. (b) NO. I prefer Mazatlan Euphonia or Sinaloa Euphonia for godmani.

(a) YES. (b) YES. I think West Mexican Euphonia and Scrub Euphonia are the way to go.

(a) YES. (b) YES. I vote to use West Mexican Euphonia for godmani and Scrub Euphonia for affinis.

(a) NO. (b) YES. I think it would be better to come up with a new name for affinis, and like Black-throated Euphonia. It is descriptive, and don’t both species occur in ‘scrub’ ? I am ok (but not crazy about) West Mexican Euphonia for godmani. I agree that it’s better than Godman’s.

(a) NO. (b) YES. I am okay with “West Mexican Euphonia” for godmani, though I am not a huge fan of the name. I prefer to come up with a new name for affinis given the fairly similar range sizes of the two groups, such as “Black-throated Euphonia” as others have stated. However, I am okay with retaining “Scrub Euphonia” for affinis if it is predominantly used historically for affinis sensu stricto

2021-C-10: Subsume Pseudoscops into Asio, transferring Jamaican Owl P. grammicus and Striped Owl P. clamator

YES. Glad to see this move that makes this clade monophyletic. Incidentally, although it’s not as obvious to me that the Jamaican Owl fits in this clade just based on appearance, Nesasio looks very like a Short-eared Owl.

YES. The independent molecular data sets support this treatment, and that seems like the best option of the ones presented in the proposal.

YES. Reasons outlined in the proposal.

YES. I’ve not seen that species, but those that have suggested that it belongs in Asio and some, eg. Howell and Webb (1995) and Konig (1999) treat it that way. As for the island endemic, P. grammicus, I am uneasy, especially as the genetic evidence doesn’t compel one to make a generic change. I watched one for an hour. It was larger and much plumper than I expected. It came in and sat close by and gave frog-like croaks, as described by Koenig. I looked for behavioral information to see whether it suggested an Asio and found little, even in Jamaican and West Indian literature. 

My preference was to maintain Pseudoscops, for Jamaican, but an NACC member has explained the difficulty with that arrangement and the consequences. I don’t know Jamaican Owl well, so defer. Konig et al. (1999) do say under remarks: “The relationships of this owl are not clear. We believe that it may be related to owls of the genus Asio, which have rather similar contact calls, but this may be due to convergence. Molecular-biological studies are needed to shed light on this.” 

YES. Although this clade has striking plumage and morphological evolution (for owls), it seems best to lump them in the same genus. An alternative that recognized that diversity would end up with each species having a separate genus. Asio otus and A. flammeus seem fairly similar but aren’t each other’s closest relatives. The trees in Salter et al. (2020) reveal lots of paraphyly in other parts of the Strigid phylogeny. 

YES. Salter et al.’s (2020) solid study clinches this one. Clamator is already treated in Asio by many. The species grammicus and solomonensis are just routine examples of rapid phenotypic divergence of insular taxa that results in monotypic genera recognized by non-phylogenetic reasoning. For all the reasons convincingly outlined in the proposal, broad Asio is the best classification in my opinion. 

YES. This seems to be well supported by these new data and the resulting phylogeny.

YES. Reasons in the proposal.

YES. Topology of the phylogeny requires this change. Merging these into Asio is better than alternatives because it provides the most stability. 

YES. While Striped Owl has often been treated in Asio, I have never been entirely comfortable with that. While this study doesn’t entirely make me comfortable, it does lead to the inescapable conclusion that it belongs in Asio. Based on the phylogeny of Salter et al. moving grammicus into Asio seems straightforward as well.

YES. I vote to transfer grammicus and clamator from Pseudoscops to Asio.

2021-C-11: Transfer Spruce Grouse Falcipennis canadensis to Canachites

YES (Option 2, resurrect Canachites). Since monophyly with falcipennis is equivocal, this is the better option as it does not indicate relationships that are not well-supported.

YES (Option 2). I agree that this is a better option, for reasons given in the proposal.

YES. While I am generally against changes that increase the number of monospecific genera, this seems like the best option, as an expanded Tetrao does not seem appropriate for these grouse.

YES. The paraphyly of Falcipennis requires action and moving canadensis to Canachites makes the most sense. A merged Tetrao would include an incredibly diverse assemblage of morphotypes and displays. It would help to know the estimated ages of the nodes in this clade.

YES. The genetic data require a revision of generic limits. For the reasons in the proposal, it seems that resurrecting Canachites is the best option if for no other reason that the other taxa are outside the borders of NACC. Also, this seems to better match comparative divergence times in other clades treated as genera. However, much of the divergent morphology can be attributed to strong sexual selection on male ornamentation in lekking Tetrao and Lysurus, so I don’t put much stock in that per se; differences among female plumages are likely much less, although that assessment would require an objective analysis.

YES (Option 2). While I dislike monotypic genera, the alternative of an expanded Tetrao disregards too much genus-level morphological variation.

YES (Option 2). I think option 2 is the best solution to resolve the paraphyly in Falcipennis rather than an expanded Tetrao

YES. The phylogenies require some kind of action and resurrecting Canachites seems like the best approach with the least disruption. 

YES (Option 2). Placing canadensis in Canachites seems like a much preferable approach than creating a very heterogeneous Tetrao.

YES. I vote to transfer Spruce Grouse to Canachites.

NO. Leave in Falcipennis with Siberian Grouse. I do not know much about and have never seen Siberian, Sharp-winged or the Siberian Sharp-winged Grouse, but note from Johnsgard (1983) that it’s found in a very similar habitat in Russia and has nearly identical courtship displays, as well as resemblances in adult plumage, eggs, and downy young. Johnsgard (1983) quotes Short (1967) in stating that “falcipennis should be considered a full species closely related to canadensis but that future studies might indicate that the two forms should be regarded as subspecies.” These are the sorts of comments that make one uneasy about putting these two in different genera. There is a nice illustration in Johnsgard (1983) that shows black-and-white illustrations of display postures of both (males) along with the spread wing (very similar shape) and the 8th primary, slightly thinner and more pointed for Sharp-winged Grouse. I can see that the various studies don’t all agree, so given the above, I prefer to maintain the status quo. 

I note that the genetic studies conflict, or at least the older ones conflict with the most recent. Given that, I still resist a change given all of the reasons mentioned above, although I realize I might need to change my vote. 

Johnsgard, P. A. 1983. The Grouse of the World. University of Nebraska Press. 

2021-C-12: Transfer Five-striped Sparrow Amphispiza quinquestriata to Amphispizopsis

YES. 1 without comment.

YES. I prefer to recognize monospecific genera when the divergences are this deep rather than to create highly heterogeneous genera, which would necessitate other destabilizing moves.

YES. Morphological and behavioral differences, combined with the deep divergence based on different genetic data sets, support moving quinquestriata out of Amphispiza. The proposal gives good rationale for recognizing monotypic genera in this case.

YES. Reasons articulated in the proposal. I guess it comes down to the ongoing debate of what constitutes recognizing a separate genus. I have a more parsimonious view and believe in this case with distinct behavior and vocal differences (including call notes), taking Five-striped out of Amphispiza. I think most that have spent any time with Five-striped do not see any similarity to Black-throated in any way. As noted the genetic support for these two is not strong, and just because they seem closest to each other does not mean they need to be in the same genus. 

YES (weak). Usually I am one to keep things as they are in the allocation of genera, if the status quo maintains monophyletic genera. But I think that if we keep Chondestes and Calamospiza as genera, we need to also recognize Amphispizopsis, as its split from Amphispiza is less deep than that of Chondestes and Calamospiza, and the morphological and behavioral differences are on a par with those genera. My fear, however, is some later analyses will show less divergence and the Committee would then be inclined to lump them back together.

YES. I vote yes based on comparative genetic divergence and the many phenotypic differences outlined in the proposal. For anyone familiar with the two species, trying to find similarities between them is much harder than differences, and at the qualitative level, these two do not fall into the subjective, gut-feeling “congener” category, and this is now backed by genetic data.

YES. I think this is the best treatment for this still enigmatic species.

YES. I vote to transfer Amphispiza quinquestriata to Amphispizopsis.

NO. While the authors of the proposal do present good arguments for moving Five-striped Sparrow to Amphispizopsis, I still do not agree that another monospecific genus is necessarily the right course of action here. While the node support isn’t the strongest uniting quinquestriata and bilineata, most analyses do find them to be sister taxa, and at least to my eye, it does not seem unreasonable to treat them in the same genus.

NO. This is a difficult case, but I don’t think four monotypic genera is an optimal solution. We’ve had discussions of emphasizing time depth for families, though we are still floundering there in my view, with highly variable depths among orders. In genera we’re still I think struggling with phenotype versus relative molecular depths. There should be incongruity between lineage age and the effects of selection on phenotype, and I know we’ve wrestled with this in many past cases (some reviewed in this excellent proposal). But when generic morphological characters become just species-level characters again and again, I’m not sure we’re implementing the best use of what “genus” means. Another consideration is that we tend to look to nearest relatives and not across orders, where we’ll find much older nodes within what we currently consider perfectly reasonable genera.

NO. Well-written proposal, but I agree with other “NO” votes that a clade of four monotypic genera doesn’t strike me as a useful genus-level classification for this clade. Yes, they have long terminal branch lengths, but these taxa are already sister species. So this change is also introducing taxonomic instability for a criterion that doesn’t seem to be consistently applied across orders and families of birds. Should both the Rhynchospiza be separate genera? They have long terminal branch lengths as well. I worry that this is oversplitting the Passerellidae genera.

NO. I follow all the arguments in the proposal, and I appreciate that the plumage similarities between Five-striped and Black-throated Sparrows might be superficial and obscure substantial biological differences. Nevertheless, there is more evidence supporting a sister taxon relationship between these two species than any other relationship. Thus, I am not in favor of using a new genus in this case. In the interest of stability, I prefer to only apply new or resurrected generic names when a change in topology requires that a new name be applied.

2021-C-13: Elevate Melopyrrha portoricensis grandis to species status

YES. I see no justification for maintaining grandis as a race of portoricensis.

YES. Given the dramatic differences between the two taxa, which are on the same level as differences between M. portoricensis and other members of the genus, it seems reasonable that these taxa are in fact distinct species. I agree with the suggested name of St. Kitt’s Bullfinch for the English name of the species.

YES. I can’t imagine that these two are the same species. Lawrence gave no reason why he considered them subspecies rather than full species and Ridgway and Cory felt no reason to follow Lawrence, so why should we, given the size and plumage differences? The very restricted habitat on top of the mountain suggests other differences too. Calling it the St. Kitts Bullfinch makes perfect sense to me. 

YES. The proposal does a great job of assembling all the evidence pro and con, and although in the end the decision is somewhat arbitrary, as the proposal points out, all available evidence fits better the two species treatment, especially in the framework of current Loxigilla species limits. St. Kitts Bullfinch seems like a better choice than the historical English names of Ridgway and Hellmayr, which likely were used very few times in print anyway.

YES. The contrasts (albeit limited) with species limits in relatives convinces me that these are good species. The putative lack of sexual size dimorphism is almost certainly due to limited sample size. YES also to St. Kitts Bullfinch. (Aside: There is little more depressing than taxonomically shuffling recently extinct birds.)

YES. The differences described in this proposal are more consistent with what is seen between rather than within species. Lack of overlap in size is perhaps most compelling. In Fig. 2 of Garrido and Wiley (2003) (not shown in the proposal), the bills appear not only to differ in size, but shape as well. Sad that this species may be recognized but is already extinct. 

YES. There seems to be many diagnostic characters that are commensurate with species limits among related taxa. I also like St. Kitts Bullfinch. Bill size and body size can exhibit considerable developmental plasticity, but the differences in these and other characters (plumage, possibly habitat) solidify them as separate species in my eyes.

YES. Given that this taxon seems as distinctive as other Caribbean bullfinches makes splitting it seem like the best treatment.

YES. I vote to elevate M. portoricensi grandis to species status and use the English name St. Kitts Bullfinch.

NO. It would be nice to recognize this putatively extinct taxon as a separate species, and it certainly differs morphologically from nominate portoricensis, but I’m not convinced that these are more than just good subspecies.

NO. It looks like I voted No on this in 2005, so I will continue with that as no new information is given. Before voting in 2005, I read Garrido and Wiley (2003), so whatever weaknesses in the proposal would have been eased by reading the original paper. Differences in size are often not considered useful for assessing species status; for instance, we consider the giant Song Sparrows and Gray-headed Rosy-finches in the Aleutians subspecies of more widespread mainland forms. Still trying to access my comments from that proposal.

2021-C-14: Treat Bahama Nuthatch Sitta insularis as a separate species from Brown-headed Nuthatch S. pusilla 

YES. I vote yes primarily on the basis of new evidence from vocalizations. The vocal analyses are convincing in showing that insularis differs considerably in several or all of its vocalizations from pusilla, and strongly suggesting that they don’t respond readily to playback of the other taxon. 

(a) YES. As noted in the proposal, the strongest evidence for splitting insularis comes from the vocal data, including playbacks, as well as the high Fst separating insularis from mainland pusilla based on microsatellites. (b) YES. The proposed English names are fine with me.

(a) YES. For me, the most convincing evidence are the various playback experiments, showing that S. pusilla reacts to S. insularis at similar levels of intensity as it does to S. pygmaea. These responses strongly suggest isolation from each other. Further, the vocal analyses of Boesman and Collar (2020) also suggest strong divergence, noting that the differences do not simply seem to be a different dialect, and that the differences are too great for that. While the genetic data certainly does suggest isolation, the level of divergence and the morphological differences alone are not enough to support the split. (b) YES. Adopt the English name Bahama Nuthatch for S. insularis, and retain Brown-headed Nuthatch for S. pusilla sensu stricto.

(a) YES. I vote yes based on vocal differences and playback experiments. (b) YES. I accept the English name of Bahama Nuthatch and see no reason to change the English name for the widespread Brown-headed Nuthatch across the Southeast. This follows with our treatment in adopting Bahama Warbler for Setophaga flavescens and retaining Yellow-throated Warbler for the widespread species in eastern North America.

Does Bahama Nuthatch still hang on? They were down to just a few, before the last hurricane made a direct hit on Grand Bahama. We tried several times to see them, and used playback, but played pusilla from the U.S. Maybe that’s why none came in!

YES. The morphometric and plumage differences are more of a subspecific defining character, but the vocal data strongly supports species status for insularis. The genetic distance is higher than I would have expected between taxa that are in fairly close proximity in the present (mainland to west end 105 km) and were even more so in the past (about 55 km during low water periods of the late Pleistocene), thus indicating reproductive isolation for 100K’s of years in the face of possible gene flow events. The playback experiments were thoughtfully carried out and give good evidence that these taxa would be reproductively isolated in contact.

YES. The new vocal data indicate that the differences “matter” to both taxa, and place burden-of-proof, in my opinion, on their continued treatment as conspecific. “Bahama Nuthatch” seems like the obvious English name for insularis, which is a peripheral isolate of much more widespread S. pusilla, therefore avoiding the need to invent a new name for S. pusilla sensu stricto.

YES (weak). The genetic data are not convincing, given how we treat this level and type of divergence in other decisions. The vocal data, coupled with the playback experiments, seem to be the best support. Taking everything together, I am fine with splitting this taxa and the suggested names are appropriate. 

YES. The most compelling evidence is the different voice, with evidence that S. pusilla is far less responsive to calls of insularis than other pusilla.

(a) YES. Split S. insularis from S. pusilla. (b) YES. Use the English names Bahama Nuthatch and Brown-headed Nuthatch, respectively.

NO. This also seems a relatively shallow split with pretty low sample sizes to say these things are really genetically divergent. The playback data are the most convincing line of evidence, but there is still a stronger response to the congeneric, putative sister taxon than there is to the control T. aedon playback stimulus, suggesting some level of recognition. With that in mind, I’m not sure we can safely assume that these things are reproductively isolated given the shallow level of genetic divergence—they seem like subspecies in my mind. If the vote does go through, Bahama Nuthatch is an apt name as others have mentioned.

NO. These seem to be mainland and island subspecies to me. Genetic differentiation and high Fst are easily achieved in small allopatric populations, and playback experiments are of less value in determining species limits than presently seems fashionable. Differential responses are common between subspecies (Parker et al. 2018), and the results of such experiments are not likely to be diagnostic of degrees of reproductive isolation (especially when the differences are less stark than present-absent). “…have diverged significantly and may affect interactions if the populations were to come into contact” is not a diagnosis for species limits. The divergence in vocal characters is very interesting, but the playbacks indicate that there continue to be substantial levels of recognition between the two populations. In sum, these look like subspecies-level differences.

2021-C-15: Add Common Wood-Pigeon Columba palumbus to the Main List

YES. This is uncontroversial.

YES. Clear photo documentation and unanimous acceptance by other record committees.

YES. Use the name Common Wood-Pigeon.

YES. The numerous records from Iceland (hundreds) leave little doubt about the validity of this record. The location of the one that landed on a ship off Newfoundland in the early 20th century is unknown. It may have been more than 200 nautical miles off Newfoundland. 

YES. The bird is correctly identified, even though there is only one good shot of it. However, even the blurry flight shots show the white band in the outer coverts and the pale tail band flanked by darker bands basally and distally. The clear shot shows the orangish bill, gray head and white neck bands, and pinkish brown underparts. Looking on eBird, Common Wood Pigeon is a regular vagrant to Iceland with many records (including many in spring). A pattern of vagrancy is certainly established. The only concern is provenance. Unfortunately, the images are not detailed enough to assess if there is feather or bill/foot wear associated with captivity. Pigeons are widely kept in zoos and private aviaries, and I would bet that Columba palumbus is as well. However, La Romaine a small native American village in Quebec, is way off the beaten path and not near any large settlements. The chances are remote for an escape from a private aviary. The village does lie along the St. Lawrence seaway, but most ship traffic goes south of Anticosti Island.

YES. ID solid, published photo, and with an endorsement of wild origin by Quebec BRC and by ABA, this one seems non-controversial. And as is widely known, pigeons are champion dispersers and ocean-crossers. The hyphen needs to be dropped unless “Wood-Pigeon” can be established as a monophyletic group.

YES. This looks very solid.

YES. Seems a straightforward record.

YES. Given the information presented in the proposal. 

YES. I am less convinced than on some records about this being a natural occurrence, but I have no specific basis for doubt. In general, I am disinclined to second guess the ABA Checklist Committee on the validity of vagrant records in establishing the occurrence of species in North America in the absence of some compelling reason to challenge such a record.

There is an issue with the English name. If we include a hyphen, so Common Wood-Pigeon, then according to our rules, we are considering C. palumbus as part of a monophyletic unit with the other Wood-Pigeons. Although these pigeons are all in Columba, in current linear sequences they are not close together, and morphologically to me appear unlikely to be a clade. I haven’t found anybody who has done genetic work with all of Columba. Incomplete species sampling I have found places palumbus in a clade with non Wood-Pigeons including Rock Pigeon and Stock Dove. I recommend that we use the English name Common Wood Pigeon in the absence of evidence of Common Wood-Pigeon being part of a clade with other Wood-Pigeons (which probably are not a clade either). 

 YES. I vote to recommend add Common Wood-Pigeon Columba palumbus to the Main List.

2021-C-16: Add Pallas’s Gull Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus to the Main List

YES. Backed up by a vouchered specimen, this is a good record. I agree with the proposal author on the English name (Pallas’s).

YES. Nice to see a vouchered specimen to support the record and I agree with the author on the English name too.

YES. Based on information provided in the proposal. I am fine with Pallas’s as the name, given its use in other parts of the world. 

YES. I am fine with using Pallas’s Gull for reasons given in the proposal, but agree that we should note the alternative English name Great Black-headed Gull.

YES. Add Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus to the Main List.

YES. I vote for acceptance.

YES. I vote to accept Pallas’s Gull to the ABA list. Identification is as easy as it gets for large gulls: large size, black head, large yellow bill with distal black and red adjacent at the tip, two white eye arcs, medium gray mantle and wings, bright gold legs. Photos of a live bird and later specimen salvaged and prepared. Nothing fishy about origin.

English name: Although I initially thought that we should be careful of accepting the eponym Pallas’s without some sort of research on Pallas, especially because there already is an alternative name, I now agree that we should more strictly keep to our policy of using the widespread English names for species that are accidental to our area. I do not think we have the global authority to be at the forefront of waging this type of battle for a species that had showed up literally once in our area. 

YES. Specimen from the Aleutians seems like a reasonable basis for adding to North American list.

YES. I vote to add Icthyaetus icthyaetus to the Main List.

YES. The record is not controversial in any regards. I’m neutral on the English name, and would likely support Great Black-headed Gull, but with the comments regarding continuing global usage of Pallas’s, I will vote for Pallas’s Gull. I’m uneasy about changing English names for accidental Old World species. It would be a legit question to ask IOC/Clements why they don’t want to go back to Great Black-headed Gull given its more widespread usage? I’m curious about where the English name of Pallas’s Gull even came from. What was wrong with the English name of Great Black-headed Gull? 

YES. Archived specimen, and gulls have a track record of showing up almost anywhere. As for English names, a separate proposal is needed. I like Great Black-headed Gull for the reason mentioned in the proposal. The problem is that we would also then have to revert to Common Black-headed Gull for Chroicocephalus ridibundus, which has recently been liberated from that clunky name by use of Pallas’s. Better, how about we remand this decision to the new IOC committee, especially because both species are basically Eurasian taxa.

2021-C-17: Add Pallas’s Grasshopper-Warbler Helopsaltes certhiola to the Main List

YES. 1 without comment.

YES. Decision based on information provided in the proposal. I am fine with the name Pallas’s, given its use in other parts of the world. 

YES. This also looks like a solid record. I agree with the proposal author on the English name (Pallas’s).

YES. Yes on identification. I guess the issue is moot on the English name and it will be Pallas’s. I’ve looked again at Shirrahai and Svensson (2018) and my attention is drawn to the strong streaks on the back and lower rump/upper tail coverts, rather than the ground color. And yes, different genera now, so having “grasshopper” in the name means little now. I did try in my revamped motion on English names to show a symmetry with the English names for the three species that Kennerley and Pearson (2010) say are closely related. Should IOC/Clements visit the issue of eponymous names more closely, these decisions can always be changed. Until then I think it is better to go with the widely used English names.

YES. I vote to accept Pallas’s Grasshopper-Warbler to our list. Excellent photos and supportive good written notes from field observers, Alaska RC members, and outside experts (Peter Kennerley and Chris Gooddie).

The bird is much more strongly marked on the upper sides (crown, mantle, upper-tail coverts) than Middendorff’s, and the rump is more reddish. The tertials are more strongly marked, and have distinctive white dots on the inner webs. Other characters are more subtle (bill size and shape, supercilium, underparts, primary length), but all are typical of Pallas’s. Nothing seems to indicate any hybridization with Middendorff’s.

English name. Although I initially thought that we should be careful of accepting the eponym Pallas’s without some sort of research on Pallas, especially because there already is an alternative name, I now agree that we should more strictly keep to our policy of using the widespread English names for species that are accidental to our area. I do not think we have the global authority to be at the forefront of waging this type of battle for a species that had showed up literally once in our area.

YES. ID solid and endorsed by experts on Alaska CL and ABA CC. (We should make it clear that the photographs are published and where, however.)

YES. Seems well-supported ID.

YES. Photograph of individual on Bering Sea island is convincing evidence for its natural occurrence in North America. 

YES. I vote to add Helopsaltes certhiola to the Main List.

YES. Accepted by experts and other records committees. I will defer to global experts on the name Pallas’s, although it seems like there are also good reasons to use Rusty-rumped Warbler.

YES. I will also defer to global lists on the name Pallas’s, but I do like the idea of using Rusty-rumped Warbler if other lists begin using it.

2021-C-18: Add Tricolored Munia Lonchura malacca to the U.S. List

YES. 2 without comment.

YES. Seems clear.

YES. Reasons given in the proposal.

YES. I remain still a bit unsure about its establishment in Cuba, but don’t bird those rice fields much. 

YES. Looking at the status of the munia in Cuba, there cannot be any doubt that it is established in the vast agricultural areas WSW of Havana. Some lists have 100s of birds reported, and they are reported over a stretch of several 100 kms. 

The repeated occurrences in the Dry Tortugas indicate a pattern of vagrancy to this migrant trap, far from any human settlements and do not indicate escapes of captivity. Munias have great dispersal abilities and seem to show up far from their established population centers (though this pattern may be fogged in some areas by releases from captivity). With the established pattern, the Florida records in Shark Valley (July 2015) and Lucky Hammock (a known vagrant trap) in November 2019 are probably legit as well. 

YES. Endorsed by Florida OSRC and ABA CC, so we’re on solid ground.

YES. Multiple good records make this case clear.

YES. Seems straightforward. Already accepted by FOSRC and ABA-CLC.

YES. Multiple records supported at least by identifiable photographs.

YES. I vote to add Muni Lonchura malacca to the U.S. list 

2021-C-19: Treat Catharus swainsoni as a separate species from C. ustulatus

NO. I think this is at best premature, given the relatively free gene flow and the even less clear situation in Alaska with ongoing work, as well as the seemingly minor differences on song and morphology.

NO. There has obviously been a lot of great work done on this species, but I think it’s premature to split these groups given additional supposedly ongoing work, lack of published data across most of the hybrid zone, and relatively minor differences in song plus a lack of quantitative playbacks.

NO. While I was initially leaning towards voting yes for this proposal, I am ultimately going to vote no for now, at least until more research comes out. I am particularly intrigued by the hybrid zone data that does show quite a narrow zone with apparently moderate levels of selection. In other systems, this level of selection would certainly be enough to support species status. However, the situation in other parts of the contact zone is enough for me to hesitate on coming down fully on the side of species status for Catharus swainsoni.

NO (for now). The case for a split for C. swainsoni may be as strong as for C. bicknelli, but I’ve always wondered about that split. Joe Marshall often complained to me in the 1990’s at the USNM about that split and said that Henri Ouellet’s data was flawed and it should not have been split. I never sat down to listen, but suspect that others on the Committee heard from him. In any event I played bicknelli to alciae Gray-cheeks on the Denali Highway, Alaska, on occasions, and always had a very rigorous playback response, one occasion the bird came in and fluttered around in circles a few feet from me. The Denali Highway is several thousand miles away from Atlantic Canada and the northeast U.S.

It is worth noting the long discussion in Phillips (1991) by Phillips and by Ramos. Phillips notes the lack of hybrid specimens in existence. This is no longer the case, or at least interades are now known from British Columbia and in southeast Alaska. Both complain about the lack of documented records of swainsoni from mid-winter (January-February), from Panama, thus the gap in winter ranges of the two groups (multiple subspecies in both groups) is likely greater than is generally appreciated. 

I have long wondered if the contact notes are more different than the songs, at least some of the calls from the swainsoni group sounding sharper. This, to my knowledge, has not been carefully studied, or at least not quantified (spectrograms). Contact notes may be even more important than songs for speciation, the latter to my ear sound very similar, probably along the lines of Bicknell’s and Gray-cheeked. 

Phillips, A.R. 1991, The Known birds of North and Middle America, Part II. Published by the author. 

NO. I agree with the rationale given in the proposal regarding the many facets of this case. The narrow hybrid zone and potentially strong selection against hybrids certainly argues for species status, but given the possibility that other areas of hybridization may be wider and more mixed makes me want to wait to hear more on these other areas.

NO. In the absence of playback experiments, a decision to split is premature in my opinion. Further, the small contact zone is insufficiently characterized because of lack of voucher specimens, and the genetic differences are far below those typically associated with species rank. Finally, knowing that additional studies are underway in other contact zones makes it imperative, in my opinion, to wait for those results.

NO. These two taxa are much better considered as subspecies under the biological species concept (BSC). They do not meet the BSC criterion of essential reproductive isolation. In addition to the information in the proposal, I might add that hybridization between Catharus species is noteworthy in this clade and rather widespread across the genus (Everson et al. 2019). Comparing levels of gene flow between lineages is instructive in this case. Levels of gene flow among species in the closely related C. fuscescens-minimus-bicknelli clade were less than ~1 individual per generation (Everson et al. 2019, table 2). In contrast, levels of gene flow between ustulatus and swainsoni appear to be substantially higher (studies cited in the proposal). Nuclear genomic divergence (FST ) is relatively low (median value 0.08 vs >0.16 among C. fuscescens-minimus-bicknelli, using UCEs; Everson et al. 2019). The population of hybrid breeding adults at Hyder, Alaska, suggests that postmating reproductive isolation between ustulatus and swainsoni is not especially strong, at least in that area.

NO. Reasons mentioned by others.

NO. This is an incredible body of work, and that holds true regardless of whether we considered these species or subspecies. Given the definition of the Biological Species Concept that the committee follows, these would still be considered one species. The vocal differences are interesting, but as others on the committee have noted, there is a lack of playback experiments. It’s great we have a window into what’s going on in an area of hybridization, but the area of potential contact is quite large, and more information would be needed from those regions. 

NO. Certainly at least premature, but based on the reported evidence seems likely not worthy of being split even when all the evidence is in.NO. I vote no on treating Catharus swainsoni and C. ustulatus as separate species.