Working for birds in Africa

Main changes in the May 2009 version

Wed, 11/21/2012 - 12:18 -- abc_admin


This new revision (May 2009) is updated to end of February 2009.

Summary of changes incorporated
1) It takes account of vol 13 of Handbook of the Birds of the World, the most recent updates of the Clements checklist, the revised versions of the International Ornithological Congress list and BirdLife list, the Roberts VII book (previously only the species list on the website had been seen) and, courtesy of Nigel Redman, sight of a proof copy of the new Helm guide to the birds of the Horn of Africa.
2) A review of taxonomy and scientific names, mainly in the light of these new sources and some comments from correspondents.
3) A fairly comprehensive review of English names and a brief one of French names.

More details of all these follow and at the end is a full list of the changes to preferred names since the previous version, dated January 2008.

Updates included

Volume 13 of Handbook of the Birds of the World was published in October 2008. Families of interest in this include Penduline Tits, Sunbirds, White-eyes, Orioles, true Shrikes (Laniidae) and a few smaller ones.

Changes noted in the most recent update to the 6th edition of the Clements checklist (published November 2008), those in the revised (version 2.0) list from the International Ornithological Congress ( and those in the Birdlife checklist (version 1 dated May 2008) have been included.

Roberts VII is now incorporated fully whereas, for previous versions of this ABC list, I only had sight of their species list available on the web. In several cases the book notes a total number of races they accept for Africa (or the world) which is different from the number noted here. As the book usually only notes specifically those which occur in southern Africa (although sometimes there is some more explanation of those occurring outside of this area) it is not always clear which others in the list are accepted or not. Hence there are some notes such as 'ROB only has 5 races in Africa' whereas the ABC list has 4 or 6 (or other numbers) and I am not sure which ones are included. ROB now refers to: Hockey, P.A.R., Dean W.R.J. & Ryan P.G. 2005. Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa. 7th Edition. John Voelcker Bird Book Fund.

Nigel Redman has kindly let me see a proof copy of the new Helm Guide to the birds of the Horn of Africa, due to be published in spring 2009. This book states that it largely follows this African Bird Club list for nomenclature and incorporates some of the changes which are made to this new version. The actual differences are noted but those noted in the book as incipient, eg Upupa (epops) africana, are not.

This is referred to as RSF: Redman N, Stevenson T & Fanshawe J 2009 Birds of the Horn of Africa. Christopher Helm.

All references to HBW, CMT, IOC and BL now refer to the most recent version as per the above (i.e. including corrections and updates on the websites noted). All relevant notes are included and they have been allowed for in deciding on any of the changes in preferred names noted.

Reviews of taxonomy, scientific names and English names

For this update I have quite extensively reviewed the names used by the various lists referred to in the compilation of this list.

Some changes to scientific names and some splitting and lumping have been incorporated where there is clear evidence that these are now generally accepted. There are several others (listed at the end under g) where there is clearly still considerable argument between sources as to the correct nomenclature and taxonomic status. These have been left as is for the present, pending clarification, although obviously they will remain under review.

For this new version I have carried out an extensive review of English names and a less extensive one of French names. For this all those species in the previous version of the list for which alternatives were listed have been reviewed and changes to the preferred name(s) have been made where it is clear that the wrong choice was previously the preferred. In most cases the previously preferred name is now among the alternatives. In addition to these noted below in a few cases other alternative names have been deleted as it was found they were not used in any of the works consulted as their preferred name -- they were among their alternatives.

I would like to put on record here that some of the changes, both of taxonomy and English names, and indeed some of the preferred names and taxonomy which have been retained, grate with my personal views and preferences. However I have tried to remain objective, and I am well aware that English names in particular are major causes of argument and potentially confusion. Whatever names are chosen will not be liked by everyone.

For this revision I am grateful to the following for pointing out errors and / or making various suggestions and with apologies to anyone I have inadvertently left out:
Nik Borrow, Bill Clark, Callan Cohen, Ron Demey, the late Ian Hinze, Moldovan Istvan, Guy Kirwan, Paul Meierhofer, Chris Merkord, Johann du Preez, Nigel Redman, Kevin Vang, and especially John Caddick who, among other things, tries to keep the Country checklists in synchrony and finds various anomalies as a result.

Main Changes since the revision of January 2008

The following changes to preferred names have been made in this new version (with changes to the accompanying notes as necessary).

In addition as details of the occurrence of some vagrants became known several species are no longer recorded as in brackets.

The new names (where appropriate) are in bold

I have split these changes into
a) Additions and Deletions; b) Splitting and Lumping; c) Family Moves; d) Changes to Scientific Names; e) Changes to English Names; f) Changes to French Names; and g) Changes which were considered but not implemented.

a) Additions and Deletions

[Puffinus atrodorsalis Mascarene Shearwater] deleted -- now agreed that it is P. lherminieri bailloni

[Caprimulgus solala Nechisar Nightjar Engoulevent de Nechisar] is placed into square brackets as there is uncertainty as to its validity

Coracias benghalensis Indian Roller Rollier indien is added

[Mirafra degodiensis Degodi Lark Alouette de Degodi] is placed into square brackets as recent evidence suggests it is synonymous with Mirafra gilletti.

Saxicola caprata Pied Bushchat is added

Hippolais rama Sykes's Warbler is added

Batis crypta Dark Batis Pririt obscure is added

[Laniarius liberatus Bulo Burti Shrike Gonolek de Bulo Burti] is placed into square brackets as recent evidence suggests it is a colour morph of Laniarius aethiopicus erlangeri (which may itself be a separate species)

b) Splitting and Lumping

Chlamydotis macqueenii MacQueen's Bustard is split off from Chlamydotis undulata Houbara Bustard Outarde houbara

Apus balstoni Madagascar Swift Martinet malgache is split off from Apus barbatus African Black Swift

Upupa marginata Madagascar Hoopoe Huppe malgache is split off from Upupa epops Hoopoe. (Note that U. e. africana is retained within Upupa epops for the present.)

Bycanistes albotibialis White-thighed Hornbill Calao à cuisses blanches is split off from Bycanistes cylindricus Brown-cheeked Hornbill

Mirafra fasciolata Eastern Clapper Lark Alouette fasciée is split off from Mirafra apiata Clapper Lark (which becomes Cape Clapper Lark as a result)

Anthus richardi Richard's Pipit Pipit de Richard is split off from Anthus cinnamomeus African Pipit (Grassland Pipit)

Nesillas lantzii Subdesert Brush Warbler Nésille de Lantz is split off from Nesillas typica Madagascar Brush Warbler

Hippolais opaca Western Olivaceous Warbler Hippolais obscure is split off from Hippolais pallida Olivaceous Warbler (which becomes Eastern Olivaceous Warbler as a result)

Parus guineensis White-shouldered Black Tit Mésange galonnée is split off from Parus leucomelas White-winged Black Tit

Deleornis axillaris Grey-headed Sunbird Souimanga à tête grise is split off from Deleornis fraseri Fraser's Sunbird

Lanius marwitzi Uhehe Fiscal Pie-grièche de Tanzanie is split off from Lanius collaris Common Fiscal

Estrilda kandti Kandt's Waxbill Astrild de kandt is subsumed into Estrilda atricapilla Black-headed Waxbill

c) Family moves

Phyllolais pulchella Buff-bellied Warbler Phyllolais à ventre fauve is moved into Cisticolidae (from Sylviidae)

Pseudobias wardi Ward's Flycatcher Bias de Ward is moved into Vangidae (from Platysteiridae)

d) Changes to Scientific Names

Note that some of these have necessitated a change of order of species to ensure that species now in one genus remain together. Such changes have, however, been kept to the minimum necessary.

i) for these few there seems to be general agreement now that changes were necessary

Margaroperdix madagascarensis Madagascar Partridge Perdrix de Madagascar becomes Margaroperdix madagascariensis

(Micropalama himantopus Stilt Sandpiper Bécasseau échasses) becomes Calidris himantopus

Halcyon chloris Collared Kingfisher Martin-chasseur à collier blanc becomes Todirhamphus chloris

Mirafra africanoides Fawn-coloured Lark Alouette fauve, Mirafra alopex Foxy Lark Alouette abyssinienne, Mirafra poecilosterna Pink-breasted Lark Alouette à poitrine rose and Mirafra sabota Sabota Lark Alouette sabota become Calendulauda africanoides, Calendulauda alopex, Calendulauda poecilosterna and Calendulauda sabota respectively

Certhilauda albescens Karoo Lark Alouette du Karroo, Certhilauda erythrochlamys Dune Lark Alouette à dos roux, Certhilauda barlowi Barlow's Lark Alouette de Barlow and Certhilauda burra Red Lark Alouette ferrugineuse become Calendulauda albescens, Calendulauda erythrochlamys, Calendulauda barlowi and Calendulauda burra respectively

Eremalauda starki Stark's Lark Alouette de Stark becomes Spizocorys starki

Oenanthe bifasciata Buff-streaked Chat Traquet bifascié becomes Campicoloides bifasciatus

Pseudocossyphus imerina Littoral Rock Thrush Monticole du littoral, Pseudocossyphus sharpei Forest Rock Thrush Monticole de forêt and Pseudocossyphus bensoni Benson's Rock Thrush Monticole de Benson become Monticola imerina, Monticola sharpei and Monticola bensoni respectively

Poliolais lopesi White-tailed Warbler Poliolais à queue blanche becomes Poliolais lopezi

Hyliota usambara Usambara Hyliota Hyliote des Usambara becomes Hyliota usambarae

Chaetops pycnopygius Rockrunner Achétopse à flancs roux becomes Achaetops pycnopygius

Hedydipna pallidigastra Amani Sunbird Souimanga d'Amani becomes Hedydipna pallidigaster

Cinnyris coccinigaster Splendid Sunbird Souimanga éclatant becomes Cinnyris coccinigastrus

Lanius excubitoroides Grey-backed Fiscal Pie-grièche à dos gris becomes Lanius excubitorius

ii) corrections to typing errors in previously noted names. All were pointed out to me by correspondents.

Aphodroma brevirostris Kerguelen Petrel becomes Aphrodroma brevirostris
Tropicanus albocristatus White-crested Hornbill becomes Tropicranus albocristatus
Tricholaema lachrymosa Spot-flanked Barbet Barbican funèbre becomes Tricholaema lacrymosa
Urohipis rufifrons Red-fronted Warbler Apalis à front roux becomes Urorhipis rufifrons
Euplectes macrourus Yellow-mantled Widowbird Euplecte à dos d'or becomes Euplectes macroura (and race macrourus becomes macroura)
Carpodacus sinoicus Pale Rosefinch Roselin du Sinai becomes Carpodacus synoicus

e) Changes to English Names

Daption capense Pintado Petrel becomes Cape Petrel
Pterodroma arminjoniana Herald Petrel becomes Trinidade Petrel
Pterodroma aterrima Mascarene Black Petrel becomes Mascarene Petrel

Spheniscus demersus African Penguin becomes Jackass Penguin

Podiceps auritus Slavonian Grebe becomes Horned Grebe

Morus serrator Australian Gannet becomes Australasian Gannet

Phalacrocorax africanus Long-tailed Cormorant becomes Reed Cormorant

Fregata minor Greater Frigatebird becomes Great Frigatebird

Botaurus stellaris Great Bittern becomes Eurasian Bittern
Egretta alba Great White Egret becomes Great Egret
Ardea humbloti Madagascar Heron becomes Humblot's Heron

Anastomus lamelligerus African Openbill Stork becomes African Openbill
Ciconia ciconia European White Stork becomes White Stork

Sarkidiornis melanotos Knob-billed Duck becomes Comb Duck
Anas erythrorhyncha Red-billed Teal becomes Red-billed Duck
Melanitta nigra Common Scoter becomes Black Scoter
Mergus merganser Goosander becomes Common Merganser

Gyps rueppellii Rüppell's Griffon Vulture becomes Rüppell's Vulture
Gyps fulvus Eurasian Griffon Vulture becomes Griffon Vulture
Circus maillardi Madagascar Marsh Harrier becomes Réunion Harrier

Pavo cristatus Common Peacock becomes Indian Peafowl
Coturnix adansonii African Blue Quail becomes Blue Quail
Francolinus lathami Latham's Forest Francolin becomes Forest Francolin
Francolinus swainsonii Swainson's Francolin becomes Swainson's Spurfowl
Xenoperdix udzungwensis Udzungwa Partridge becomes Udzungwa Forest Partridge

Rallus caerulescens African Water Rail becomes African Rail
Gallinula nesiotis Gough Moorhen becomes Tristan Moorhen (see below for French name change)

Burhinus oedicnemus Stone-curlew becomes Eurasian Thick-knee

Pluvialis apricaria European Golden Plover becomes Eurasian Golden Plover

Larus canus Common Gull becomes Mew Gull

Gygis alba Fairy Tern becomes White Tern

Uria aalge Common Guillemot becomes Common Murre
Uria lomvia Brunnich's Guillemot becomes Thick-billed Murre

Columba bollii Bolle's Pigeon becomes Dark-tailed Laurel Pigeon

Poicephalus rufiventris African Orange-bellied Parrot becomes Red-bellied Parrot

Tauraco ruspolii Prince Ruspoli's Turaco becomes Ruspoli's Turaco

Chrysococcyx caprius Didric Cuckoo becomes Dideric Cuckoo

Strix butleri Hume's Tawny Owl becomes Hume's Owl

Caprimulgus poliocephalus Mountain Nightjar becomes Abyssinian Nightjar

Apus alexandri Cape Verde Swift becomes Alexander's Swift
Apus pacificus Pacific Swift becomes Fork-tailed Swift

Brachypteracias squamiger Scaled Ground Roller becomes Scaly Ground Roller

Pseudocalyptomena graueri African Green Broadbill becomes Grauer's Broadbill

Neodrepanis coruscans Wattled Asity becomes Common Sunbird-Asity
Neodrepanis hypoxantha Yellow-bellied Asity becomes Yellow-bellied Sunbird-Asity

Petrochelidon pyrrhonota American Cliff Swallow becomes Cliff Swallow

Anthus cinnamomeus Grassland Pipit Pipit africain becomes African Pipit
Anthus petrosus European Rock Pipit becomes Rock Pipit
Anthus rubescens American Pipit becomes Buff-bellied Pipit

Baeopogon clamans Sjöstedt's Honeyguide Greenbul becomes Sjöstedt's Greenbul
Phyllastrephus flavostriatus Yellow-streaked Bulbul becomes Yellow-streaked Greenbul
Hypsipetes borbonicus Olivaceous Bulbul becomes Réunion Bulbul

Hypocolius ampelinus Grey Hypocolius becomes Hypocolius

Saxicola dacotiae Canary Island Chat becomes Canary Islands Stonechat
Myrmecocichla arnotti Arnott's Chat becomes White-headed Black Chat
Sheppardia aurantiithorax Rubeha Akalat Rougegorge de Tanzanie becomes Rubeho Akalat (typo)

Bradypterus carpalis White-winged Warbler becomes White-winged Swamp Warbler
Bradypterus grandis Dja River Warbler becomes Dja River Scrub Warbler
Melocichla mentalis African Moustached Warbler becomes Moustached Grass Warbler
Sphenoeacus afer Grassbird becomes Cape Grassbird
Schoenicola brevirostris Fan-tailed Warbler becomes Fan-tailed Grassbird
Locustella fluviatilis Eurasian River Warbler becomes River Warbler
Sylvietta philippae Somali Short-billed Crombec becomes Phillippa's Crombec
Phylloscopus proregulus Pallas's Warbler becomes Pallas's Leaf Warbler
Phylloscopus humei Hume's Yellow-browed Warbler becomes Hume's Leaf Warbler

Bernieria madagascariensis Long-billed Tetraka becomes Long-billed Bernieria
Neomixis tenella Madagascar Jery becomes Common Jery

Cisticola aberrans Rock-loving Cisticola becomes Lazy Cisticola
Cisticola rufilatus Grey Cisticola becomes Tinkling Cisticola
Cisticola brachypterus Siffling Cisticola becomes Short-winged Cisticola
Cisticola melanurus Slender-tailed Cisticola becomes Black-tailed Cisticola
Oreophilais robertsi Briar Warbler becomes Roberts's Warbler
Apalis binotata Lowland Masked Apalis becomes Masked Apalis

Humblotia flavirostris Grand Comoro Flycatcher becomes Humblot's Flycatcher

Batis fratrum Woodward's Batis becomes Woodwards' Batis

Turdoides sharpei Sharpe's Pied Babbler becomes Black-lored Babbler

Achaetops pycnopygius (previously Chaetops see above) Damara Rockjumper becomes Rockrunner
Chaetops frenatus Rufous Rockjumper becomes Cape Rockjumper

Parus afer Southern Grey Tit becomes Grey Tit
Parus thruppi Northern Grey Tit becomes Acacia Tit

Anthreptes rubritorques Banded Sunbird becomes Banded Green Sunbird
Anthreptes gabonicus Brown Sunbird becomes Mouse-brown Sunbird
Cyanomitra veroxii Grey Sunbird becomes Mouse-coloured Sunbird
Cinnyris stuhlmanni Stuhlmann's Double-collared Sunbird becomes Ruwenzori Double-collared Sunbird
Cinnyris ludovicensis Montane Double-collared Sunbird becomes Ludwig's Double-collared Sunbird
Cinnyris mariquensis Marico Sunbird becomes Mariqua Sunbird
Cinnyris tsavoensis Tsavo Purple-banded Sunbird becomes Tsavo Sunbird
Cinnyris notatus Madagascar Green Sunbird becomes Long-billed Green Sunbird

Zosterops mayottensis Chestnut-sided White-eye becomes Mayotte White-eye
Zosterops mouroniensis Karthala White-eye becomes Mount Karthala White-eye
Zosterops borbonicus Mascarene Grey White-eye becomes Mascarene White-eye

Telophorus bocagei Bocage's Bush-Shrike becomes Grey-green Bush-Shrike
Telophorus sulfureopectus Sulphur-breasted Bush-Shrike becomes Orange-breasted Bush-Shrike
Laniarius leucorhynchus Lowland Sooty Boubou becomes Sooty Boubou

Pica pica Common Magpie becomes Eurasian Magpie

Onychognathus tristramii Tristram's Grackle becomes Tristram's Starling

Amblyospiza albifrons Thick-billed Weaver becomes Grosbeak Weaver
Euplectes nigroventris Zanzibar Bishop becomes Zanzibar Red Bishop
Euplectes psammocromius Mountain Marsh Widowbird becomes Montane Marsh Widowbird
Foudia madagascariensis Madagascar Red Fody becomes Red Fody

Nigrita canicapillus Grey-crowned Negrofinch becomes Grey-headed Negrofinch
Uraeginthus angolensis Southern Blue Waxbill becomes Blue Waxbill
Hypargos niveoguttatus Red-throated Twinspot becomes Peters's Twinspot
Lagonosticta landanae Landana Firefinch becomes Pale-billed Firefinch

Fringilla coelebs Common Chaffinch becomes Chaffinch

Rowettia goughensis Gough Bunting becomes Gough Finch
Nesospiza acunhae Tristan Bunting becomes Tristan Finch
Nesospiza wilkinsi Grosbeak Bunting becomes Wilkins's Finch

f) Changes to French Names

Note that for several species which have recently been described or recently split I have not yet found a French name.

Egretta intermedia Héron intermédiaire becomes Aigrette intermédiaire

Gallinula nesiotis Gallinule de Gough becomes Gallinule de Tristan (see above for English name change)

Eurystomus glaucurus Rollier violet becomes Rolle violet

Anthus cinnamomeus Pipit africaine becomes Pipit africain

Coracina pectoralis Echenilleur à ventre blanche becomes Echenilleur à ventre blanc

Cossypha heuglini Cossyphe d'Heuglin becomes Cossyphe de Heuglin

Turdoides jardineii Cratérope fleche becomes Cratérope fléché

Anthreptes orientalis Souimanga de Kenya becomes Souimanga du Kenya

Serinus atrogularis Serin à gorge noir becomes Serin à gorge noire

g) Changes which were considered but have NOT been implemented

The following changes were also seriously considered but to avoid extra changes when there seems to be little agreement between authors they have been left for the present.
The order of families is retained broadly following Birds of Africa rather than adopting the new order used by HM, IOC and others

raise Calonectris edwardsii from within C. diomedea
Egretta alba could be placed in Ardea or Casmerodius
raise Phoenicopterus roseus from within P. ruber
Sterna nilotica could be placed in Gelochelidon
all Catharacta spp could be placed in Stercorarius
raise Apus sladeniae from within A. barbatus
place Bucorvus spp into Bucorvidae not Bucerotidae
subsume Campethera scriptoricauda into C. bennettii
subsume Dendropicos lugubris into D. gabonensis
subsume Dendropicos spodocephalus into D. goertae
raise Ptyonoprogne obsoleta from within P. fuligula
all 'chats' could be placed in Muscicapidae retaining only the 'true thrushes' in Turdidae
all Cercotrichas spp (except C. podobe) could be placed in Erythropygia
subsume Eremomela salvadorii into E. icteropygialis
Amaurocichla bocagei to be spelt A. bocagii
all Parisoma spp could be placed in Sylvia
raise Regulus madeirensis from within R. ignicapilla
subsume Cinnyris obscura into C. olivacea
raise Corvus cornix from within Corvus corone
subsume Corvus edithae into C. ruficollis
raise Lamprotornis elisabeth from within Lamprotornis chloropterus
Pseudochloroptila totta and P. symonsi could be placed in Serinus or Crithagra
Carduelis ankoberensis could be placed in Serinus or Crithagra

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