Black-shouldered or Australian Kites? [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]

Subject: Black-shouldered or Australian Kites? [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]
Date: Wed, 30 Jan 2008 14:20:59 +0100
This comes from Roberts VII (2006) for Southern Africa and to the best
of my knowledge the latest common name usage in the region:

127     Black-shouldered Kite           Elanus caeruleus




Quoting martin butterfield <>:

Looking at my African guides, Zimmerman et al (Kenya and N Tanzania),
 Stevenson and Fanshawe (East Africa) and Newman (Southern Africa) all list
E caerulans as Black-shouldered Kite.  Demey and Borrow (Western Africa)
give Black-winged Kite as an alternate name, with Back-shouldered Kite as
the basic name.  I have enquired of a Tanzainan mate how they are currently
viewing this issue.


On Jan 30, 2008 6:04 PM, Oren, Yarden <>

 Interestingly, the first hit in Google for the BS Kite is the Wikipedia
which attempts to promote the usage of BS Kite for *axillaris* and BW Kite
for *caeruleus*

*From:* Geoffrey Dabb 
*Sent:* Wednesday, 30 January 2008 5:14 PM
*To:* 'canberrabirds chatline'
*Subject:* RE: [canberrabirds] Black-shouldered or Australian Kites?

 Worldwide, 'Black-shouldered Kite' for *axillaris* is gathering force, if
not yet quite incontestable.  Apart from C&B, it is given in Gill & Wright
(2006), the latest brave proposal for an internationally consistent set of
English names.  G&W give 'Black-winged' for *caeruleus*.  However, many
people look to the *Handbook of the Birds of the World* as the most useful
popular encyclopedia on world birds.  This gives 'Common Black-shouldered
Kite' for *caeruleus* and 'Australian Black-shouldered Kite' for *
axillaris*.  (Generally northern hemisphere watchers, as well, have to get
used to an additional adjective as part of the rationalising process.)
HBW's names are also used in its video library.   Recently its files under
'caeruleus' included footage of an Australian bird, rather surprisingly as
the footage was taken near Perth.  It turned out that the person submitting
had simply used the Australian label 'Black-shouldered Kite' and the editors
had indexed it under *caeruleus*.   The submitter had failed to observe
the HBW requirement that English names be as in HBW.   The moral is that
anyone conversing across borders should be aware of the possibility of

Many years ago, in fact about 40, I was watching a 'black-shouldered kite'
on the picturesque island of Daru on the PNG side of Torres Strait.  I
wasn't really sure what it was, but I decided to call it caeruleus.  This
was in accordance with Abbott's Law, under which, in cases of doubt, the
identification least likely to give rise to surprise or challenge is to be
preferred.  (Abbott's Law is named for a federal politician noted for his
timid and deferential manner.)

*From:* Julian Robinson 
*Sent:* Wednesday, 30 January 2008 10:42 AM
*To:* canberrabirds chatline
*Subject:* [canberrabirds] Black-shouldered or Australian Kites?

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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