February 2011

Go directly to the updates & corrections

This is the fifth installment of Updates and Corrections to the sixth edition of The Clements Checklist of birds of the world. The entire checklist (including the 2010 Updates and Corrections), is available as a downloadable spreadsheet (in Excel and in csv); this year’s spreadsheet version is Clements Checklist 6.5. The spreadsheet contains 13 fields (data columns); the new columns are marked with an asterisk:

Sort 6.5 * reflecting the arrangement of species in this edition of Clements Checklist
Sort 6.4  * reflecting the arrangement of species in last year’s edition of Clements Checklist
Page 6.0 reflecting the position of the species in the last (sixth) print edition
Category reflecting whether the entry on that line is a species, a subspecies, or a group
Extinct an entry in this column means that the species or subspecies is extinct
Extinct year * reflects the year the species went extinct; “xxxx” is used when the date was not readily  accessible.
Scientific name
English name
Change * note on a change that occurred from Version 6.4
Change comment * an explanation for the change; these comments will appear also in the online, text version
As before, we make corrections to minor mistakes, such as spelling errors or other typographic mistakes. We add five recently described species, and also add two species that previously had not been recognized. The total number of species recognized in the Clements Checklist spreadsheet 6.5 is 10071, a net increase of 74 species over the total included in version 6.4 (9997 species). We also add several previously overlooked subspecies. As before, we update the taxonomy and nomenclature of species for North and South America, based on decisions of the North American Checklist Committee, or NACC, and of the South American Classification Committee, otherwise known as SACC. This year we also follow suit for Australia, based on the Royal Australasian  Ornithologists’ Union, or RAOU. These regional authorities do not always agree amongst themselves, of course, so where necessary the final decisions on taxonomy and nomenclature are made by the Clements Checklist team. In future updates we will focus more attention on additional geographic regions, especially Asia.

Most of our effort with regard to the 2009 Updates and Corrections was devoted to an overhaul of the classification of birds at the level of the family, especially among the oscine passerines. We introduce some new changes at the level of the family and even at the level of the order in this year’s revision, but most changes in this year’s revision are at the level of the genus and species.

We also continue to expand our coverage of “groups,” a new feature for Clements Checklist that we introduced in the 2008 updates. We do not document new groups in the Updates and Corrections pages; to find the groups, you will have to consult the downloadable spreadsheet. If our treatment of an existing group is revised, however, we document the changes.) The template for the group concepts is the eBird taxonomy,  which is used for eBird, the online checklist management system. To recapitulate, the group is a distinctive (field identifiable) subspecies or group of subspecies. The group is not a formal taxonomic unit; but, properly understood, the group is a valuable taxonomic tool for the birder. Often a unit that we identify as a group is a distinctive subspecies or set of subspecies that are prime candidates for a future split. It’s better to start now to track your sightings of many species by group, so that when a split does come, you’ll know which species you’ve seen! Becoming comfortable  with the group concept can add more joy to your birding, and make future life list revisions a lot easier.

We are aware that there are many corrections to be made in the short range descriptions in Clements Checklist. We try to make some progress on these, although our focus remains on the challenge of keeping the checklist’s taxonomy and nomenclature up-to-date. The most significant revision that we make this year is to revise the names of the islands in the Galapagos Islands; previously the Clements Checklist used a mixture of English and Spanish names for these islands, but we now have standardized the terminology and adopted the official (Spanish) names.

Please continue to report potential errors and corrections to Clements Checklist. We are well aware that we still have a large backlog of errors and corrections to process. We continue to make progress (even if slowly) on these revisions. Many of the errors that you find are ones that we would have taken a long time to notice, so we appreciate your help and we do want to hear from you.

Normand David provided sound advice on some details of nomenclature; we appreciate his assistance, and we also take full responsibility for any errors on this front. We also thank the following for their help in pointing out errors in Clements or directing us to important literature for our consideration: Don Roberson, who provided invaluable assistance in helping us to integrate the RAOU taxonomy and nomenclature into the Clements Checklist, and suggested our arrangements of groups for many species of Australian birds. Desmond Allen made many useful suggestions for resources on the taxonomy of Asian birds. Denis Lepage, who runs Avibase, has pointed out errors and helped with many taxonomic issues through this process; we anticipate the linkages that Denis creates to be very helpful for the future of the Clements list. We also thank the following for their help in pointing out errors in Clements or directing us to important literature for our consideration:

Nicholas H. Acheson, Richard Alcorn,  Phillip Bedient, Jerry Blinn,  Ken Burton, Steve Chalmers, Paul Clapham, Ken Cole, Andy Cubbon, Theo de Kok, Thomas Donegan, Andrew Duff,  Sid England,  Stefan Ericsson, Roger Evans, Kieran Fahy, Shawneen Finnegan, Adrian Fisher, Simon Gawn, Alan Grenon, Phil Gregory, Alan Grenon, Dale Herter, Wim Heylen, Jan Högberg, Rich Hoyer, Alvaro Jaramillo, Peter Kaestner, Niels Larsen, Jack Levene, Steve Lister, Robert Lockett, Glenn Mahler, Jonathan Meyer, Bill Maynard, Kevin McGowan, Matthew Medler, Glenn G Mertz, Jonathan Meyer, Michael Nielsen, Steve Olesen, Jan Pierson, Diane Porter, Gregg Recer, Colin Richardson, Peter Roberts, Philip Rostron, Justyn Stahl, Terry Stevenson,  Glen Tepke, Phil Tizzard, Gordon Tufts, Eric Tull, Peter Vercruijsse, George Wagner, Adam Winer, Noel Woodhead, James Yurchenco, and no doubt others whose names we have overlooked but who made suggestions and proposed corrections to the Clements Checklist.

Thanks to all for your support, and we look forward to your feedback.

Thomas S. Schulenberg (Avian Taxonomist), and Marshall J. Iliff, Brian L. Sullivan, and Christopher L. Wood (eBird Project Leaders)