2019 eBird Taxonomy Update

Subject: 2019 eBird Taxonomy Update
From: Tony Russell <>
Date: Mon, 12 Aug 2019 10:43:33 +0930
Well I must say I'm amazed and pleased that many of you have picked up on this taxonomy stuff. From responses received it's obviously of various interest levels to different people depending on their angle of birding approach. I was dubious about putting the subject up , expecting a stream of criticism and even abuse. But no, you all put your own views clearly and that is constructive , thank you. 
As some of you have suggested I perhaps might do, I have recently extracted all my ssp records from my species/ssp list and my remaing list of only 771 ( as per the IOC amendments of July 2019) species is now easier to manage without the complications brought in by binomial and in some cases trinomial taxonomic nightmares involved in subspecies (accuracy ??). Yuk. Maybe some of my present attitude to all this is a function of my inexorable aging and ever reducing ability to get around like I used to, let alone getting  home to obscure taxonomic variables which test my imagination to sort out. -- and what for ?

Love to all.  Tony.

On Mon, 12 Aug 2019 at 01:24, Jason Polak <> wrote:
I happen to really love taxonomy. I think it's fascinating. I'm also
really glad people are hard working on it because it helps conservation
and scientific advancement. It also helps much more than hurts my
ability to track species, even though it has nothing to do with twitching.

However, I am also a twitcher, and it is true that my species list
actually does differ a little from some of the latests lists. My process
is that I keep a spreadsheet as my master list, getting the
classification and name from I just copy
the birds I've seen along with the date into a new life list
spreadsheet. If something changes I might try and correct it, but
otherwise I just leave it as it is.

It seems that from the rate of change on the lists, the number of birds
I quote that I've seen (which is only 433 right now, I'm sure it will
get worse), will probably only be at most plus or minus 5 birds away
from any given list even in a decade from now. Even if its plus or minus
10, that is pretty close to any given list that I'm happy.

And think about this, even if you adhere perfectly to the latest list of
your choosing, I guarantee that if you had perfect knowledge of the
genetic code for all the birds of the world and every ornithologist
working together on it with unlimited funds, you'd again get a different
list. And then that list might change again in a hundred years due to
some slight evolutionary change or even a geographical change (we all
know that happens) or simply a choice of algorithm to analyse said
genetic data. That's just because species isn't a well-defined concept
with a guaranteed answer of same or different for any two individual birds.

What I say is do your best, keep on enjoying the birds, and if that rare
species you saw two years ago gets split and you don't have enough
information to identify how it fits in the new list, just keep it as it
is in the old list. Your total will still be good enough, and it
shouldn't rob you of the experience in seeing that bird.


On 2019-08-10 7:13 p.m., Tony Russell wrote:
> hi All, I'm finding these incessant alterations to avian taxonomies a
> real pain in the lower regions. I try to keep my records right but some
> of the ( proposed ) changes are quite complex and often inadequately
> described such that the outcome is a muddle, hence the frequent lengthy
> debates over who is right and who is wrong.  I'm sick of it, as I'm sure
> many others are too. Of course your attempts are meant to help people
> keep accurate records in regards to their species/subspecies listings
> but I've got to the point of "who gives a stuff any longer".  I know
> which birds I've seen where and for me that's all that matters.  
> Bye.
> Tony.
> On Sun, 11 Aug 2019 at 08:24, calyptorhynchus .
> < <mailto:m("","calyptorhynchus");" target="_blank">>> wrote:
>     Except that at the moment we’re in a splitting phase so you’re in
>     little danger of losing ticks!
>     My main beef is why have different taxonomies: HBW, IOC, EBird ?
>     Everyone should agree to follow one taxonomy. These changes you’re
>     talking about on EBird were made years ago in the other two.
>     John Leonard
>     On Sun, 11 Aug 2019 at 08:40 Bill Stent <
>     <>> wrote:
>         Personally, speaking as someone whose job it is to enthuse
>         people in a hobby (in this case my other love, astronomy), I
>         think there are few more efficient ways of sucking the enjoyment
>         out of birding than taxonomy.
>         You know that bird you celebrated ticking off last year? Doesn’t
>         count any more, it got lumped. Sure, the trip and the hunt and
>         the observation were still great, but it’s one fewer enjoyable
>         aspect of birding.
>         Bill

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