All The Birds of the World: Review

To: Geoffrey Dabb <>
Subject: All The Birds of the World: Review
From: Phil Gregory <>
Date: Tue, 10 Nov 2020 11:40:30 +1000
I was indeed referring to BirdLife International (BLI), and their is used by various legal and conservation bodies so it is still quite significant, though now somewhat in need of an update. Unfortunately their taxonomy will be shoe-horned into the Clements version by Cornell / E-bird, a great pity but there we are, presumably HBWAlive was simply not financially viable and this takeover was a way of saving much of it.
IOC remains the next most progressive after BLI, and is updated twice per year, whilst the Clements updates for this year have been postponed until 2021. Good to see the new Lynx single volume deals with the 4 major world taxonomies, I await my copy with great interest.
Phil Gregory
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On 10 Nov 2020, at 11:21 AM, Geoffrey Dabb <> wrote:

Yes.  We are talking about the strange and shifting world of global lists.  Noel mentioned different global lists, and Phil commented on different taxonomic approaches, including ‘Birdlife’.  This must mean Birdlife International (BLI), as Birdlife Australia makes no independent taxonomic judgments. Until version 9.1 in 2017 BLI offered a checklist (no subspecies), stating on its website that it did not have the resources to be a taxonomic authority (and giving its views on various taxonomic issues) .  In December 2017 BLI published a joint checklist with Lynx Edicions, the last of that series being in December 2019. (This can be found in Avibase, with no subspecies.)  Birdlife Australia has adopted the species and subspecies published in the 2-volume BLI/HBW (Lynx Edicions) checklist.  Since then Lynx Edicions has taken its ‘Birds of the World’ label (and its subspecies) and joined forces with Cornell Lab (Clements/eBird etc).  I do not know what BLI will do about maintaining its checklist, but when last on their own they had no interest in subspecies.
I am sorry for the very compressed message below.   This was intended to draw attention to the untidy position (admitted on the Cornell Lab website) that the Cornell Lab/HBW merger is now in .  This affects, for example, ‘Grey Whistler P. simplex’ which might or might not be an Australian endemic, depending which part of the species entry on the Cornell Lab website you read.
I might further strain the patience of subscribers by mentioning yet another twist. When BLI/HBW split the P. simplex complex they kept the English name ‘Grey  Whistler’ for the Northern Territory whistlers.  When it was pointed out that those particular whistlers were brown, Birdlife Australia used ‘Brown Whistler’ for P. simplex in its ‘Working List’.  However in Australian Bird Guide they remain ‘Grey’ because the complex is not split in the IOC list which ABG follows.  (Nonetheless the NT range is coloured brown in the range map.) 
But BirdLife Australia does do subspecies!
Birdlife by itself did not do subspecies.  Cornell Lab has now swallowed HBW but the digestion process has its difficulties. Look at the jumbled entry for ‘Grey Whistler P. simplex’.  Has it been counted as an Australian endemic species?  Consider also the shrike-tits.
Birdlife hands down, then IOC…...
Shades of that old cold war question: ‘Who has the best Germans?’  Who has the most creative taxonomists?
Hmm, I don’t agree with those endemic totals no matter which checklist you follow, Papua New Guinea actually has something like 415 and the whole New Guinea region 481, and that’s not with the BirdLife taxonomy which would be higher, I’d place Australia third after Indonesia then PNG.
t is also possible to download a list of endemics for each country. Australia ranks second for (369) behind Indonesia (557)

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