Figbird taxonomy

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Figbird taxonomy
From: Phil & Sue Gregory <>
Date: Sat, 29 Mar 2008 15:22:16 +1100
This is one that causes endless confusion amongst my American clients, as there is an error in the new Clements 7 (one of a distressingly long series, but let's not go there......), you have to use Clements with great caution as the English names are often an abomination ( see recent discussions on birding-aus), and the taxonomy is frequently shall we say muddied.

Clements 7 (2007) lists 3 species:
Wetar Figbird (Sphecotheres hypoleucos) from Wetar in the Lesser Sundas,
Green Figbird (S. viridis) from Timor, with two races , the nominate from Timor and flaviventris from WA, NT and Qld. This later must be in error as he also has this race under Aus Figbird. Australasian Figbird with races ashbyi, flaviventris (again though this time only in Qld!) and vieilloti.

The far better referenced albeit rather conservative Howard and Moore Checklist (2003) has it much better:
Timor Figbird S viridis from Timor and Roti
Wetar Figbird S. hypoleucos from Wetar
Australasian Figbird with salvadorii from se PNG ( omitted in Clements, it's a really distinctive taxon)
cucullatus from the Kai Is,
ashbyi from Northern WA, NT, Melville Is.
flavientris (yellow Fignird) from N Queensland and Torres Streait
vieilloti (Green Figbird) from coastal east -central Australia.

The latter H & M taxonomy is the one I'd go with, my upcoming checklist of the Birds of Australia and its Territories (2008) adopts a narrow species concept but has just the one species in Australia.
Hope this helps

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