[CT Birds] "Common" name change?

Roy Harvey rmharvey at snet.net
Mon Dec 26 22:25:07 EST 2016


This sort or change is normally the result of a species being split (or lumped).  The American Ornithologists' Union (AOU) decided that what we had been calling Rufous-sided Towhee was actually two species, not one.  Since they both shared the rufous-sided coloration the old name no longer could be used to tell them apart.  The western species has spots and became Spotted Towhee.  The eastern does not, so it became Eastern Towhee.

I wouldn't say it happens frequently, at least not to birds we see often, but it isn't uncommon.  Western Flycatcher was split into Pacific-slope Flycatcher and Cordilleran Flycatcher for another example.  You can read about some more recent name activity here:

This article by David Sibley is also interesting, and overlaps a bit with the previous one.


Roy Harvey
Beacon Falls, CT
From: David Carey via CTBirds <ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org>
To: CT Birds <ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org> 
Sent: Monday, December 26, 2016 6:23 PM
Subject: [CT Birds] "Common" name change?

For the past 25 years I have had a bird frequent the wooded area around the feeders.  I first identified him as a Rufous-sided Towhee, using my Field Guide to Birds by Roger Tory Peterson, copyright 1980, fourth addition.  But when I turned in the sighting last week for the Christmas count our leader said he was not able to find it in any of his listings/guides and wondered if I meant an Eastern Towhee.  After referring to some newer guides I have, specifically The Sibley Field Guide to Birds by David Allen Sibley; first addition, copy right and published in 2003.  I noticed that while the Latin name was still the same, the common name appears to have changed.  I wondered how often that may happen?  
 Captain Dave
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