Re: Help with Southern African Species

Subject: Re: Help with Southern African Species
From: Eric Hocking <>
Date: Sun, 04 Jan 1998 18:58:08 +1100
Gil, did a trip in SE Africa last year and returned with two books, "SASOL
Birds of Southern Africa" (SASOL being the South African Ornithological
Society) and "Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania, Zimmerman, Turner,
Pearson.  The latter being a much more useful reference than the SASOL in my


> Black Kite/Yellow-billed Kite:  HANZAB Volume 2 suggests to me that the
> Yellow-billed Kite is M. migrans parasitus, a subspecies of the Black Kite.
>  Is this the case?

Zimmerman et al list the birds as Black Kite (Yellow-billed Kite) and M. m.
migrans (palearctic), M. m. parasitus (Afrotropical race) respectively, SASOL
lists them as merely Milvus migrans and Milvus parasitus.  So would to me
indicate supporting the HANZAB listing.

> Forest/Steppe/Common Buzzard:  Sinclair has a Forest Buzzard, Buteo
> tachardus, and a Steppe Buzzard, B. buteo which must be the local
> subspecies of the Common Buzzard.  Is the Forest Buzzard a full species?

Zimmerman: Common (Steppe) Buzzard B. b. vulpinus and Mountain (Forest) Buzzard
B. oreophilus and doesn't list B. tachardus.SASOL: Forest Buzzard B. tachardus,
Steppe Buzzard B. buteo and doesn't list the Common under the same taxonomy as

>From the notes in both books I'd take the Common (or Steppe) Buzzard to be a
distinct species form the Mountain (Forest) Buzzard.

We did Kenya, Zimbabwe and Botswana and found many birds common to both regions
that were referred to by different names depending on the area (and sometimes,
the guide).

> Mossie/Cape Sparrow:  BirdBase calls Passer melanurus the Mossie and P.
> diffusus the Cape Sparrow.  Sinclair has P. melanurus as the Cape Sparrow
> and no P. diffusus.  What is the correct common name?

Zimmerman: P. melanurus not listed and only P. diffusus mosambicus as a
Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, and this with some degree of misgivings, due to
the frequency of intermediate birds.  Probably for this book these birds are
out of it's coverage area.SASOL: P. melanurus as the Cape Sparrow and doesn't
have P.diffusus.

Not a great help on that one really.

> Regards,
> Gil Langfield
> Melbourne, Australia

FWIW Zimmermans main reference for English names appears to be "Birds of East
Africa by the East Africa Natural History Society, and is a very thorough
reference book.

SASOL uses the classification used by the Southern African Ornithological
Society with the English names from "Robert's Birds of Southern Africa" Maclean
1984 and with updates by the SAOS List Committee.  This is more in the form of
a field guide with no species notes at the back and perfuctory notes by the

Hope this has bee of some help, even if it is to get a second opinion.

BTW, only been on the mailing list one day, but have been participating on
Usenet for some time now.

Eric Hocking "A closed mouth gathers no feet."
Remove "nospam." from address to email.

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