American Ornithologists Union - Changes

Michael Gochfeld gochfeld at
Tue Sep 19 07:18:10 EDT 2000

There are additional snide remarks that the AOU committee deserves. 

For example the Old Squaw is not the only Long-tailed Duck. (e.g. 

Names that have been well established for 50+ years (two generations of 
scientists) are changed because of generic lumping or splitting (very 
subjective), losing track of the fact that the reason we like scientific 
names is because of their communication virtues. 

For example 
     "Black - Capped Chickadee"  is  "Poecile atricapilla"

      "Boreal Chickadee"  is  "Poecile hudsonica" .
Both have been in the genus Parus for decades. 

Splitting at the species level is presumed to represent some level of 
biological differentiation, althought that too must often be subjective 
when completely allopatric taxa are involved.  In the last six weeks 
I've been magpies in both U.S. and Holland.  I don't believe that 
amorous males and females would be impressed by the subtle differences 
on which the splitting is based (so I won't be checking off a second 
species just yet). 

Mike Gochfeld

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