The North American Classification Committee (NACC) evaluates and codifies the latest scientific developments in the systematics, classification, nomenclature, and distribution of North and Middle American birds. The Committee produces the official Check-list of North American Birds as well as annual supplements to the latest edition, which are published in the The Auk: Ornithological Advances.

General Philosophy

The NACC operates under the philosophy and procedures outlined in the Preface to the 7th edition of the Check-list. Although the committee recognizes the controversy over species concepts in ornithology, it generally adheres to the principles of the Biological Species Concept. Multiple lines of evidence (e.g., multiple genetic loci, or genes plus other traits) are favored over single data sets for taxonomic changes at species and higher levels. The committee prefers to act conservatively in its treatments of taxonomy and nomenclature; thus, proposals that suggest but do not strongly support taxonomic change, or that cause instability, may be rejected pending further data. The NACC generally requires at least two independent datasets for making changes at higher-level classifications.

Proposals

The NACC operates on a proposal basis. Proposals are submitted and reviewed for taxonomic changes, English name changes, acceptance of distributional records, and other items related to the charge of the committee. Taxonomic and distributional proposals should be based on previously published data. Proposals that address English name changes should follow the Committee’s policy for English names (see below).

Members of the committee as well as non-members may submit proposals following the committee’s Proposal Guidelines. Proposals are submitted to the Chair of the committee, and sets of proposals are distributed to the committee periodically each year for discussion and voting. Proposals must receive a two-thirds favorable vote to pass.

Proposals reviewed each year form the basis for publication of the annual supplements to the Check-list. Proposals and votes may be subject to change until the annual supplement is published, if new data are brought to the attention of the Committee. Proposals that do not pass may be resubmitted at a later date if additional data are published in favor of the proposal. 

In documenting species’ distribution, the Committee generally defers to state committees and to the American Birding Association for acceptance of records. 

Current & Prior NACC Proposals

English Names

The Committee has established Guidelines for English Bird Names that it follows when reviewing proposals. Authors of proposals also should consider these guidelines when submitting a proposal that would result in an English name change. 

Additional guidelines and comments on English names can be found here:

A Guide to Forming and Capitalizing Compound Names of Birds in English – Auk 1978

Spelling rules – IOC World Bird List

Use of hyphens in group bird name – South American Classification Committee

On hyphens and phylogeny – WJO 2009

From the field

I also use small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS, aka drones) in my work in conservation as well as in work for the electric industry unrelated to conservation. Drones can cause much less disturbance than traditional methods when checking the nests of raptors. Drones can also be used to install line markers to reduce avian collisions, to inspect nests for entanglement hazards, or to quantify wildlife. I even get to fly drones in high voltage environments where a person would be killed if they entered! It's been fun taking over the AOS Instagram account this week — if you have questions about my work, you can reach me at jdwyer@edmlink.com! #birds #ornithology #science #conservation #wildlife #drones #powerlines
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A big thank you to #AOSMember James Dwyer for his posts this week! If you're an AOS member and would like to be featured here, please send us a message.The Avian Collision Avoidance System (ACAS), which I posted about earlier this week, is just one way of addressing avian collisions with power lines. Other methods involve “line marking,” which uses attachments on wires to increase line visibility. Unfortunately, these methods are not as reliable as we would like. In the attached photos, a Green-winged Teal in Colorado, a sparrow in Colorado, a sparrow in Wyoming, a warbler in California, and a Ring-billed Gull in California illustrate the range of species and habitats where collisions occur. #ornithology #birds #science #wildlife #conservation #powerlines
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[Thank you to #AOSMember James Dwyer, who's taking over our account this week — keep following along!]Avian electrocutions can be prevented. Electrocutions can cause power outages, damage expensive equipment, start wildfires, and violate state and federal conservation laws. I tend to emphasize the first three concerns when working with utilities because unplanned outages, equipment replacement, and wildfire controls or restitution can be used in sound business cases for investing in avian electrocution mitigation regardless of the political climate. In the attached photos, an electrocuted Black-billed Magpie in Idaho (burned feet), Common Raven in California (burned beak), Bald Eagle in Colorado (burned neck and back), and Great Horned Owl in Arizona (burned wing) illustrate the range of species and habitats where electrocutions occur. All photos by me. #ornithology #birds #conservation #science #wildlife
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[Thank you to #AOSMember James Dwyer, who's taking over our account this week — keep following along!]I’ve had great opportunities to work in avian conservation internationally in Africa, Canada, the Dominican Republic, the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), Hungary, and Spain. In these photos, a Griffon Vulture in South Africa feeds in front of a power line (out of image frame) where numerous vultures have been electrocuted, a Ridgeway’s Hawk in the Dominican Republic jumps through the air gap around a power line to land on a conductor cover installed to prevent avian electrocutions, and an electrocuted Common Buzzard and Griffon Vulture can be seen on pylons. All photos by me. #ornithology #birds #science #conservation #wildlife #raptors #birdsofprey #powerlines
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[Thank you to #AOSMember James Dwyer, who's taking over our account this week — keep following along!]In addition to my research, I give back by contributing to the leadership of the Raptor Research Foundation. I am the current Chair of the Conservation Committee, the former (and founding) Chair of the Code of Conduct Committee, a former Chair (and current member) of the Scientific Committee, and a former Board Member. I’m also an Associate Editor for the Journal of Raptor Research (JRR), and right now I’m working on a special issue of JRR focused on raptors’ interactions with power lines. Here are some photos of my experiences handling and banding raptors, by Angela Dwyer, Melissa Landon, and myself. #ornithology #science #birds #conservation #wildlife #raptors #birdsofprey
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[Thank you to #AOSMember James Dwyer, who's taking over our account this week — keep following along!]In addition to having a peer-reviewed scientific article on the Avian Collision Avoidance System published in The Condor (see my last post!), I was lucky enough to publish an article about it in an electric industry trade magazine. Though not always emphasized in academia, encouraging communications with industry can have important conservation implications! #ornithology #birds #science #wildlife #conservation #scicomm #sandhillcrane #powerlines
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[Thank you to #AOSMember James Dwyer, who's taking over our account this week — keep following along!]I was part of the team that developed the Avian Collision Avoidance System (ACAS), described in a recent publication in The Condor. This system shines UV lights on power lines to make them more visible to Sandhill Cranes, and tests showed that it reduces crane collisions with power lines by 98%. The video clip included in this post shows what can happen when cranes encounter power lines WITHOUT a system like ACAS in place. Photos by me, video by Laura McHale. #ornithology #birds #science #sandhillcrane #wildlife #conservation #powerlines
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[Thank you to #AOSMember James Dwyer, who's taking over our account this week — keep following along!]
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