Re: Ashmore expedition 2009

To: "Mike Carter" <>, <>
Subject: Re: Ashmore expedition 2009
From: "Peter Lansley" <>
Date: Thu, 19 Nov 2009 20:16:00 +1100
Hi Mike and Ashmore participants,
thanks for that clarification,
I accept your comments re Collared Kingfisher.
Regarding Cuckooshrikes, I was trying to point out that the taxonomy of the 
Black-faced Cuckooshrike group is actually more straightforward than many 
workers seem to realise. I suspect there are very few ornithologists in the 
world that have seen all eight taxa or even a majority of those considered to 
be related to BFCS by HANZAB and others (I have seen six and hope to observe a 
seventh in the next year or two) - so really without knowing the vocalisations 
and behaviour of all of them, it is simply lazy to lump them all.

It is noteworthy that I have found only one author since the early 1980's who 
lumps these into 'novaehollandiae' - Morten Strange in his A Photographic Guide 
to the Birds of Indonesia. So by weight of numbers the old taxonomy appears to 
have been discarded anyway.

This is what Rheindt & Hutchinson termed a 'wastebasket' species, i.e. a 
polytypic group of species that should be split, but haven't yet been 
universally accepted as such. In my experience vocalisations of most of these 
(supposedly BFCS-related taxa) more closely resemble White-bellied Cuckooshrike 
(which has a dark-headed morph) so why not consider them more closely related 
to the latter? I suppose I'm just not convinced by the 'old taxonomy' that 
ignores vocalisations and genetics. This is one of the more obvious cases, but 
there are many others. For those interested, see Rheindt & Hutchinson 2007, 
Birding Asia 7: 18--38, 'A photoshot odyssey through the confused avian 
taxonomy of Seram and Buru (southern Moluccas)' for an up-to-date viewpoint of 
how to resolve taxonomic issues in the region to the immediate north of 
Australia, where there are likely to be multiple splits in the near future, 
once the work is done.

Cheers, Peter.

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