Crested Shrike-tit

To: 'Mark Clayton' <>, "" <>
Subject: Crested Shrike-tit
From: Philip Veerman <>
Date: Sun, 22 Jul 2018 04:16:00 +0000

Thanks for the suggestion. Interesting. Though not especially surprising that Cayley got his names from an earlier source.  I wonder if that is an easily available book. Not sure I will. I already have several metres of shelves of bird books and journals, struggling to fit in a small room and not much money for new ones. Somewhat easier to obtain is the Australian Bird Names by Ian Fraser & Jeannie Gray, that mentions most of the ideas that have come forward, plus a few more. As for the Golden Whistler, I am guessing that is a far more complicated situation. Actually many of the geographically separated forms with slight colour differences that we now (surely correctly) regard as subspecies were given separate species names in the early days. The native finches have many examples.


That 3 forms of Shrike-tit should be regarded as separate species (again) seems to me curiously inconsistent though in juxtaposition of the strong advocacy of the Helmeted Honeyeater as conspecific with the Yellow-tufted Honeyeater. That said I have no observational experience of the northern and western forms and they might be more different than they appear in books.




From: Mark Clayton [
Sent: Sunday, 22 July, 2018 10:27 AM
Subject: Re: FW: [canberrabirds] Crested Shrike-tit



I suggest that you get hold of a copy of the old RAOU's 1926 checklist and read many of the names used there. This was published before Cayley's "What Bird is That" and uses the three names for the shrike-tit. There are many other names that make for interesting reading given some of the names we use today for our birds. No doubt many of the scientific names we now use will get changed to those in the document. Also of interest is the fact that the Eastern Cattle Egret was not yet introduced or otherwise recorded in Australia at the time of publication. Also in this day and age DNA/genetics is playing a stronger role in determining what is a species; for example see the "Golden Whistler" in Western Australia!



On 21/07/2018 11:24 AM, Geoffrey Dabb wrote:

David  -  I don’t think this is a good place to evauate different taxonomic approaches.  However, just on the CST, the Dictionary of Australian Birds, Schodde & Mason (1999) does indeed ‘revive’ ‘the three species arrangement of the second RAOU Australian checklist (1926)’ because ‘differences between them are more trenchant than previously appreciated’.




From: Dr David Rosalky
Sent: Saturday, 21 July 2018 10:11 AM
To: 'Philip Veerman' ; 'Alison' ; m("","canberrabirds");">
Subject: RE: [canberrabirds] Crested Shrike-tit


I’m not at home to check.  What does DAB say?  They are big on ultrataxa.


From: Philip Veerman
Sent: Friday, 20 July 2018 9:13 PM
To: 'Alison' <>;
Subject: RE: [canberrabirds] Crested Shrike-tit


That “latest Field Guide to the Birds of the ACT“ certainly has usefulness as a local field guide but it has so many errors that it sure isn’t a book that I would quote as a reference, Actually I assume you are referring to the Taylor & Day book of which I only know the original one. I did not detect any corrections made in the later edition. HANZAB and most other recent books list it as one species Crested Shrike-tit. I suspect that if HANZAB treated it as 3 species then it would describe one and for the next 2 simply have “nothing to add”. Neil Hermes’ new 2017 book (that goes into more than the usual detail of names and fairly describes the history, comes up with Crested Shriketit as the name, and gives the other names as alternatives (with the curious deletion of the hyphen, as with several others in that book). I was commenting largely on the idea that it is “soon to be ‘Eastern Shrike-tit’”, which would appear to be a reversion to an earlier name, rather than a new name, which may be why Mark “ has been calling them Eastern, Northern and Western Shrike-tits for years”. But that designation really only makes sense under a splitter mentality to reclassify isolated and slightly different races into separate species.




From: Alison
Sent: Friday, 20 July, 2018 7:44 PM
Subject: RE: [canberrabirds] Crested Shrike-tit


Thanks Philip,


However, the latest Field Guide to the Birds of the ACT , published in 2013, already lists this as the Eastern Shrike-tit.




From: Philip Veerman
Sent: Friday, 20 July 2018 2:07 PM
Subject: [canberrabirds] Crested Shrike-tit


Well since you ask everyone. Names are important but they are just labels. What matters is whether we understand the intent. Shrike-tit is one of those many annoying group names for something that is not a shrike nor a tit. But in our context that is what we call them. It is better than a translation of the genus name “Little Falcon”. The name doesn’t need any more than that, as there is nothing else called Shrike-tit. For whatever reason, the “Crested” was added and it is a good obvious feature, although an unnecessary extra word and nicer than uninspiring geographic descriptors. Curious to note that Cayley’s book (1932) used Eastern, Northern and Western Shrike-tits as though they should be regarded as different species. Although I had long since forgotten that. I wonder is there any basis to go back to regarding them as separate species again. The differences are trivial and they are geographically isolated. To me they should be the same species and I doubt that their behaviour differs in terms of how they react to a reflection.


I for one have never had any need for these names. It was 1981 when I was last in the range of a Northern Shrike-tit and I never have and likely never will be in the range of Western Shrike-tits.


In our area Crested Shrike-tit = Shrike-tit = Eastern Shrike-tit.  Although if anyone uses the latter, it won’t be instantly obvious.




From: Mark Clayton Sent: Friday, 20 July, 2018 9:37 AM  To:
Subject: Re: FW: [canberrabirds] Re: Spotted Pardalote attacking window


What has taken everyone so long, I have been calling them Eastern, Northern and Western Shrike-tits for years?!



On 20/07/2018 9:20 AM, Geoffrey Dabb wrote:

Excellent capture, Lindell.  (Soon to be ‘Eastern Shrike-tit’.)


From: Lindell Sent: Thursday, 19 July 2018 8:44 PM        To: Paul Taylor           Cc: Canberra Birds
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Re: Spotted Pardalote attacking window


Looks like the Crested Shrike-tit can be added to the list. This female was admiring (not attacking) herself in the window of my car last time I was at Diddam's Close to admire her!



Mawson ACT






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