Black-shouldered or Australian Kites?

To: canberrabirds chatline <>
Subject: Black-shouldered or Australian Kites?
From: Julian Robinson <>
Date: Wed, 30 Jan 2008 10:41:43 +1100
Does anyone know what the latest Christidis & Boles says about Elanus axillaris (Black-shouldered Kites)?  i.e. have they accepted a renaming of our bird to Australian Kite?

My understanding is there are 3 now-accepted distinct look-alike species - axillaris, caeruleus and leucurus.   I think the story is this...

Axillaris is endemic to and the only one found in Australia, majority agreed name is Black-shouldered Kite (if so, hurrah because it's a rare bird for which Oz gets to keep a well-used common name in competition with the old world).

Caeruleus - Africa and Europe - majority agreed name is Black-winged Kite (but formerly Black-shouldered).

Leucurus - Nth and Sth America - majority agreed name is White-tailed Kite (but formerly Black-shouldered also).

I know it has been a source of learned argument for some time but wondered if the world has agreed on the above or whether instead the forces of evil have pushed us to take on "Australian" and given "Black-shouldered" back to one of the others.

I am interested partly because I came upon the issue when posting a photo to a bird identification group, and partly because I've been looking for an example where the Australian species managed to keep the good moniker rather than have to skulk off with the slightly painful and always less descriptive "Australian" or "Australasian" name ("Clamorous" being our greatest loss, I think.  I'm not so worried about "Richard's" bec it wasn't so descriptive).

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