I received the following as a private enquiry but as I think others may be
equally confused think it should be shared.
"Mike, I write to you personally as if I post this on Birding-aus I fear of
With World lists, there seem to be a number. My first one was done using
Sibley and Monroe. Now I am faced with Clements, C&B (What ever that stands
for) and IOC.
I have attempted to wade through the Archives for a reasonable answer and
come up only with opinions. Or is that all there is??
What is a "consistent" list that I can adhere to. Is there a "recognised"
one for Birds of Australia?
Does this mean the Great Egret in Australia is now separate from the ones I
have seen in Africa? Similarly the Koel here different to the Singapore
one?? And are the Albatrosses seen off Wollongong actually only Wandering,
not Gibson's/wandering etc??"
I replied as follows
They all are just matters of opinion. Taxonomy is not an exact science. For
a world list Sibley & Monroe was a standard reference but is now well out of
date. But there were always various other authors of Checklists, Clements
being a very popular one but Howard & Moore seems to be gaining favour. Each
of these need updating frequently as new information is gained and opinions
change. Consistency is not possible. They are just work in progress.
Even within Australia there is more than one Checklist. The CSIRO has one,
as it is a dreadful document riddled with errors it is deservedly ignored,
the Department of Heritage and the Environment have another, this too has
flaws, but that with the most authority, generally regarded as the Official
Australian Checklist is that produced by Christidis & Boles (hence C & B).
Their latest list has just been published replacing the one issued in 1994,
thus initiating the current debate.
If you want to make a contribution in the birding world, it is essential to
own a copy. I used the previous edition almost daily.
With regard to your last paragraph, as to what are considered species, the
answers are yes, the Great Egrets and Koels are split, and yes, the
Wandering Albatrosses remain as one. They never were officially split! But
if one works just on which forms are regarded as species, one is going to
lose important information. Populations do differ in many ways. So one
should be aware and record which Wandering Albatross it is, which
subspecies, race, taxon or form. Giving them different names is a good idea
so that others know which is the subject form. If there are discernable
differences, recognise them. But don't call or count them as species.
30 Canadian Bay Road
Mount Eliza VIC 3930
Tel (03) 9787 7136
To unsubscribe from this mailing list,
send the message:
(in the body of the message, with no Subject line)