The new Slater guide

Subject: The new Slater guide
From: Lloyd Nielsen <>
Date: Wed, 07 Oct 2009 13:04:09 +1000
It is interesting that Peter has treated Lesser Sooty Owl and Paperbark Flycatcher as distinct species. Both are very distinct in the field. With Lesser Sooty Owl, the reason I heard/read that Sooty and Lesser Sooty were lumped was because DNA was identical. However, there are apparently other closely related Australian species which also have identical DNA which have been retained as good species.

A lumping which I find irksome is that of Gould's and Little Bronze-Cuckoo. Each are fairly easily identified in the field. In some areas, they occur side by side, in very different habitats, using different species of Gerygone as host parents. The so-called hybrid between the two northern taxa seems to occur only within the habitat of Gould's (I have never seen it within the drier habitat of Little) - the possibility that it is an 'age stage' of Gould's has never been considered. I have been told that DNA work has been done on these birds and is waiting to be written up. I believe that the three taxa are considered to be at the first stage of speciation. It will be interesting to see what the final conclusion will be.

I am not knocking the taxonomists but I would think a little consultation with some of us who spend a lot of time in the field would probably help the situation. There are a few other examples here in north Queensland which badly need attention.

I have not seen the new guide as yet - has Rusty-tailed Gerygone been retained? Interesting that there have been a few sightings by different people of a gerygone from mangroves up and down the Qld coast in the last 8 years or so with a complete red-brown upper surface to the tail despite the original specimens being shown by Schodde (Emu 85:49) to be examples of Yellow-bellied Gerygones (New Guinea etc) faded by preservative spirit.

Lloyd Nielsen
Mt Molloy, Nth Qld

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