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Missouri birders:

The American Ornithological Society, or AOS (formerly the AOU), has just
published the 59th supplement to its Checklist of North and Middle American
Birds. This supplement, which used to be occasional, has become annual
because new information is accruing so fast and producing regular changes
in our understanding of bird relationships.

As far as Missouri goes, the 2018 supplement has produced no species splits
or lumps that would affect our list. In fact, the only one that affects
North America at all is the split of the White-collared Seedeater into two
species, with the one found in Texas now being named Morelet's Seedeater.

Some of our names, however, have changed. This includes one English name:
"Gray Jay" has reverted to "Canada Jay," which was that bird's name in days
of yore (and Peterson's first three editions).

The other name changes are at the genus level, due to a breakup of one
genus into two or three to reflect new information about relationships:

1) The woodpeckers of the genus *Picoides* have been divided into two
genera: the American Three-toed and Black-backed Woodpeckers remain in
*Picoides*, while the Downy, Red-cockaded, and Hairy (in that order) are
placed in a new genus, *Dryobates*, along with some others. Their species
names remain the same; e.g., the Hairy is now *Dryobates villosus* instead
of *Picoides villosus*.

2) Similarly, the genus of "grass-running" sparrows, *Ammodramus*, has been
split up to reflect the fact that these birds are not all derived from the
same lineage. The only one left in *Ammodramus* is the Grasshopper Sparrow,
while Baird's and Henslow's Sparrows are now in a new genus, *Centronyx*,
and LeConte's and Nelson's are in another new one, *Ammospiza*, along with
the coastal Seaside and Saltmarsh Sparrows. Again, all of them keep their
specific names.

Another type of rearrangement involves the order in which birds are listed
within a family, without affecting them at the species or genus level. This
reflects how closely related they are to other birds in the same family.

3) Some of our raptors have been reorganized in this way: no changes in
species or genera, but some changes to the sequence. Most curious is the
fact that White-tailed, Swallow-tailed, and Mississippi Kites are now
considered to belong to three different subfamilies—i.e., they aren't
closely related! (White-tailed and Swallow-tailed still happen to end up
next to each other in our list, but Mississippi is far from them.)

4) A similar rearrangement of subfamilies among the flycatchers has
substantially reordered our list without creating any changes that would
raise an eyebrow.

]
That's all that matters for Missouri. The Annotated Checklist of Missouri
Birds, on line at http://mobirds.org/Birds/MOChecklist.aspx, reflects all
the above changes.

For those who want more detail, including the changes for Middle America,
here is Michael Retter's explanation on the ABA web site:

http://blog.aba.org/2018/06/aos2018.html


Bill Rowe

Secretary, MBRC

St. Louis

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