Recent Taxonomy Updates to the Official Illinois State List of Birds

The American Ornithological Society (AOS) recently issued its 58th Supplement to its Check-list of North American Birds. Since the Illinois Ornithological Records Committee (IORC, a committee of the Illinois Ornithological Society) follows the AOS taxonomy in keeping the official Illinois State List of Birds, all relevant changes from the 58th supplement get reflected in the Illinois list. These changes are summarized below.

  • Thayer’s Gull was lumped into Iceland Gull. Thayer’s Gull thus no longer appears on the Illinois list.
  • The genus Chen was merged into Anser. Thus, Snow Goose and Ross’s Goose have a scientific name change, and they move ahead of Greater White-fronted Goose in the taxonomic sequence.
  • The puddle duck genus Anas was split into a few separate genera, and the taxonomic sequence of the species was changed. Garganey, Blue-winged Teal, Cinnamon Teal, and Northern Shoveler become part of Spatula; and Gadwall, Eurasian Wigeon, and American Wigeon become part of Mareca.
  • The sequence for the Sandpiper family (Scolopacidae) changed, resulting in Whimbrel moving ahead of Eskimo Curlew, American Woodcock moving ahead of Wilson’s Snipe, and Lesser Yellowlegs and Greater Yellowlegs swapping positions.
  • Northern Harrier was split into Hen Harrier (in the Old World) and Northern Harrier (in the New World). Our Northern Harrier retains its common name, but gets a new scientific name, Circus hudsonias.
  • Northern Shrike is split into Northern Shrike (New World and northeast Asia) and Great Gray Shrike (Old World). Our Northern Shrike retains its common name but gets a new scientific name, Lanius borealis.
  • The taxonomic sequence of the finch family (Fringillidae) changed.
  • Our sparrows and towhees were split out of the Emberizid family into a family all their own: Passerellidae, the New World Sparrows. The position of this new family is different in the new sequence.
  • The common name for Ammodramus leconteii changed from Le Conte’s Sparrow to LeConte’s Sparrow. This change was made to agree with how John Lawrence LeConte, after whom the sparrow is named, wrote his surname.
  • The Yellow-breasted Chat is moved out of the wood-warblers and into its very own family, Icteriidae, the Yellow-breasted Chats. Don’t confuse this family with Icteridae, the Blackbirds, in front of which the Icteriidae is positioned in the new taxonomic sequence. The Yellow-breasted Chat is the only species in the new family.
  • In addition to the Blackbird family being moved up in the taxonomic sequence, the order of the species within it also was changed.

The new taxonomic sequence, name changes both common and scientific, and the disappearance of Thayer’s Gull from the Illinois list are all reflected in an updated version of the Birds of Illinois.

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