The Lesser Sooty Owl and Sooty Owl?

To: <>, <>, <>, ? birding-aus <>, Mark Clayton <>
Subject: The Lesser Sooty Owl and Sooty Owl?
From: Peter Ewin <>
Date: Wed, 4 May 2011 12:48:33 +1000
I always record subspecies so I have a world list of species and subspecies 
(actually I have 4 based on different publications - though easy enough to 
update when species are recorded). Some are guesses (particualarly overseas) 
but one or two minor glitches I can live with.
Four points on this topic (please shoot me down if I am wrong or you diasgree)
The reason Sooty Owl and Lesser Sooty Owlhave been lumped is that for many 
years the southern Sooty Owl was lumped with a similar taxa in Papua New Guinea 
(different subspecies) with the smaller Lesser Sooty Owl in the middle. There 
are possibly strong arguments both ways to have one species or three but having 
two probably doesn't make much sense. However the most recent genetic works 
indicates that the three were equally different, but had not been separated 
long enough to be considered separate species. Given they are unlikely to 
interbreed eventually (unless climatic changes bring rainforests closer 
together again) they will be eventually be fgenetically distinct to be listed 
as three species. All this is detailed on Pages 166-7 of C&B.Conspecific simply 
means 'Member of the same species' - Penguin Dictionary of Biology (apologies 
if this is not what you mean).
The best place to get at least an idea of subspecies is from the 2006 
publication 'CSIRO List of Australian Vertebrates - A Reference with 
Conservation Status' by Clayton, Wombey, Mason, Chesser and Wells. This lists 
all subspecies so you can allocate to C&B species taxonomy - some will always 
be a guess (particularly in non-breeding season). Schodde & Mason (1999) also 
maps distributions for all subspecies of Australian passerines.C&B is the 
'official' list maintained by Birds Australia. However the official Australian 
List is maintained by the Australian Biological Resources Study (Australian 
Faunal Directory). More info here
 The CSIRO publication was an attempt update this list. I do believe they have 
updated to the C&B list so at the moment they may be the same but this will not 
be forever. The greatest limitation of C&B I think is the lack of subspecies. 
Good to IOC making Version 3.0 to ha
 ve this included - I suspect in the longer term this will become the standard 
list of species and taxa for Australia (particularly as it gets updated based 
on published papers relatively often).My two cents and apolgies if I am wrong.

> Date: Wed, 4 May 2011 11:01:13 +1000
> From: 
> To: ; ; 
> Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] The Lesser Sooty Owl and Sooty Owl?
> Hi All, 
> as Martin mentions, he keeps sub-species lists also in the off chance
> that one day they might be upgraded to a "tickable" full species.
> My only problem with that is, apart from maps in Simpson and Day, where
> else can I find a list of all Australian sub-species and their
> approximate distributions??
> Bring back the Lesser Sooty Owl!! My life list dropped with its lumping
> :-(
> Yours in all things "green"
> Regards
> John Harris
> Manager, Environment and Sustainability
> Donvale Christian College
> 155 Tindals Rd Donvale 3111
> 03 9844 2471  Ext 217
> 0409 090 955
> President, Field Naturalists Club of Victoria (FNCV)
> Past President, Victorian Association for Environmental Education
> (VAEE)
> >>> martin cachard <> 4/05/2011 10:39 AM >>>
> Hi Patrick
> When you come up to FNQ & hopefully observe the local Lesser Sooty Owl,
> you can't  'officially' count it as a new species tick (unless of
> course, you are yet to see a Sooty Owl further south!!).
> BUT, this 'lumping' by C&B 2008 is strongly disputed by many, including
> many of us up here more familiar with this bird in the field than some
> taxonomists. 
> So Patrick,  come up here, find & enjoy the bird, record that you've
> observed it, & in time,  I'm sure that you will find that this local
> bird will be split again from the Sooty Owl & given the full species
> recognition it deserves. Some of us up here are currently working on
> this to be rectified....but there is much work still to be done on this
> one....(amongst some other lumps/splits of FNQ birds).
> As for further answers to your questions about what is tickable (or
> not) due to a species' status, I'm sure someone else more qualified than
> me can help to explain this to you. 
> But for my own records list, I just make sure what birds I observe are
> recorded to sub-species level - changes in the taxonomy of our birds, &
> accordingly our official list (whatever the source of it), will continue
> to occur. For now, I keep my records as per the current C&B species list
> as it is defined in 2008 because this is the current official species
> list, like/agree with it or not. I can update my full species list as
> the changes to the official list occur since I have a record of the
> sub-species I have seen & where. I think you will find that most Aust
> birders do the same thing or similar.
> Someone else I'm certain, will add a better & more scientific
> explanation about your other questions - I,  for now, just wanted to put
> my gripe out there about the poor lumping of Lesser Sooty Owl on behalf
> of several other dismayed local FNQ birders !!
> Obviously Patrick, as it stands now I haven't got a Lesser Sooty Owl on
> my species list - just 2 sub-species/races of Sooty Owl....
> Cheers
> Martin Cachard
> Cairns
> 0428 782 808
> > Date: Wed, 4 May 2011 09:11:11 +1000
> > From: 
> > To: 
> > Subject: [Birding-Aus] The Lesser Sooty Owl and Sooty Owl?
> > 
> > Hi All,
> > After reading Sean Dooley's reply to Paul, I have been trying to
> figure out
> > what happened with the Christidis and Boles list with regards to the
> Lesser
> > Sooty Owl. In the guide books they are a different size and live in
> > different parts of the country, so why is the Lesser Sooty Owl no
> longer
> > counted as a separate species? Does this mean that if I am lucky
> enough to
> > see the owl formally known as the Lesser Sooty Owl on the Atherton
> > Tableland that I will be seeing the Sooty Owl? Can someone please
> explain
> > this to me or at least if it makes no sense to others then, what is
> the
> > official explanation? And I have been trying to figure out the
> conspecific
> > term. C & D still have some species as separate (tickable) but as
> > conspecific. Are they saying that as with the Western Wattlebird and
> Little
> > Wattlebird that at some stage millions of years ago they were one
> species?
> > Thanks,
> > Patrick Scully
> > ===============================
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