[CT Birds] On this Date (1/25)
dennisvz at optonline.net
Mon Jan 25 06:54:16 EST 2010
1875 200 Snow Bunting Portland
1987 Little Gull Old Saybrook, South Cove
1988 Spotted Towhee Colchester
1988 Thayer's Gull West Haven Land Fill
1992 Barrow's Goldeneye Westport, Sherwood Is. St. Pk.
Since things are a little slow today I want to make a comment for the
"Newbies" (haven' been birding before the mid 80's)
Deciding what is a species or just a subspecies, until modern DNA
techniques, was subjective. The process from going from one species
to two is a continuum hence drawing a line is a matter of opinion
for species midway in the process. People who decide such thing fall
into two camps Lumpers and Splitters. And like political parties they
each have their ups and downs. In the 70's Lumpers ruled and we lost
many species from our life lists. In general they were eastern and
western forms of the same genetic background. Yellow/Red Shafted
Flicker became Northern Flicker, Baltimore/Bullocks Oriole became
Northern Oriole Rufous-sided/Spotted Towhee became Eastern Towhee
etc. Over the past 20 years Splitters have ascended and some of the
lumps have been split again, and new splits made (Saltmarsh/Nelson's
Sparrow). This has been good for the field guide business because
every change meant a new and "up to date" to be had every few years.
It has been tough on birders trying to keep track of what is a
species or not. And imagine the mess it makes of your field notes, or
the poor collection manager in a museum.
So, that explains why different guides (and birders) of different
ages use different terminology. (don't forget the just plain name
changes (Swainson/Olive-backed Thrush, Long-tailed/Oldsquaw Duck) For
myself, I have trouble keeping track of some of the less frequently
experienced changes. Which brings be to the point of this rambling.
Several weeks ago a Spotted Towhee was reported in some old banding
records (which turned out to be a typo). Today one was reported in
Colchester, and for the life of me I couldn't recall if the lump
stuck or was re-split.
According to the AOU Checklist and supplements to 2007 they are split
(American Ornithologist's Union the official arbitrator of what is a
species or not)
Pipilo maculatus Spotted Towhee
Pipilo erythrophthalmus Eastern Towhee (red-eyed towhee is an old
name I found in the literature)
I assume Greg Hanisek and Mark Szantyr will have more to say.
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