American Ornithologists' Union
In July of every even numbered year, the AOU issues a Supplement to its Check-list. The Supplement published in the July 2000 issue of Auk (American Ornithologists' Union; Forty-second Supplement to the Check-list of North American Birds. Auk 117:847-858) is the first since the publication of the 7th edition of the checklist. The AOU is the authority in North America for setting names, both scientific and English, and decides on matters involving "splitting" or "lumping" of North American Birds.
This Supplement has fewer changes than has been the recent norm. Only in one split are both forms now elevated to species status found in the United States or Canada. The Sage Grouse has been divided into the Gunnison Sage-Grouse (found in the Gunnison Basin and in southwestern Colorado sooth of the Eagle and Colorado rivers and in adjacent southeastern Utah, east of the Colorado River) and the Greater Sage-Grouse (found locally in California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nevada, northern Utah and Northern Colorado).
One English name change -- already widely publicized -- is that of Oldsquaw to Long-tailed Duck. While this is easily rationalized as conforming to the long established name of the species in the rest of the world, the impetus for the change was a petition from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Biologists in Alaska. Long-tailed Duck numbers are declining in Alaska, and the biologists were concerned that the Oldsquaw name might be offensive to Native Americans whose cooperation they would be seeking to protect the species. However, "the Committee declines to consider political correctness alone in changing long-standing English names of birds but is willing in this instance to adopt an alternate name that is in use in much of the world."
Other splits which may add to your life list if you have birded in Latin America or Europe include the following: The Crested Caracara is split into three species, the Crested Caracara -- the species which occurs in the United States and most of Central America, the Guadeloupe Caracara (Guadalupe Island off Baja California) and a third species occurring in South America. The arizonae form of the Strickland's Woodpecker is elevated to full species status as the Arizona Woodpecker, reversing a previous "lumping"., leaving Strickland's Woodpecker as a species occurring only in Mexico. The North American form of the Black-billed Magpie has been separated from the Eurasian Magpie, which does not occur in North America. A few more complex changes affect a number of West Indian species. Certain populations, principally those in the Galapagos and Ecuador, of the Masked Booby are recognized as a separate species, the Nazca Booby. This latter form ranges at sea as far north as the southern Gulf of California.
As usual, there are changes in the scientific names of many other species. One perhaps of interest is the transfer of all the Skuas into the same genus, Stercorarius, as the Jaegers.
A related recent development has been the decision of the British Ornithologist's Union to classify the Green-winged Teal as two species, the Common Teal (the Eurasian crecca form) and the Green-winged Teal (the North American delawarensis form). Although the AOU does not list this as a current agenda item, the fact that the DNA in two mitochondrial genes differs by 5.8 percent surely means that it should be!. This is a very great difference -- humans and chimpanzees differ by only 3 percent, while Blue-winged and Cinnamon Teal differ by only 0.2 percent
Friends of Trinity River Refuge
A new group has been formed to support the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge. Here are the important details:
To support, expand, promote, and enhance the refuge and its use for recreational, educational, and scientific research purposes.
Purpose of the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge
To protect a remnant of the bottomland hardwood forest ecosystem along the lower Trinity River.
The President of the new group is Barbara Tilton, and the first meeting will be on Tuesday September 12 at 7:00 pm at the First Liberty National Bank, Dayton Financial Center, 109 East U.S. Highway 90, Dayton, Texas.
Regular membership is $10, family membership $15. Send along with your name, mailing address, telephone number and email address to Friends of Trinity River Refuge, P.O. Box 12, Liberty, Texas 77575. Web page http://fotrr.tripod.com
Subscription Renewal Reminder
Please check the mailing label on this issue. If the date on your label (or the date NOT prefixed by AU if there are two) has passed, please remit your contribution of $15 to Golden Triangle Audubon Society at P.O. Box 1292, Nederland, Texas 77627-1292. Although this contribution towards the cost of the Brown Pelican is voluntary for National Audubon Society members living in the official chapter territory, we will appreciate your support.