Taxonomic changes to Western Palearctic birds (Nov 14)

21 November 2014

Taxonomic changes to Western Palearctic birds

In the January issue of the BOU’s journal Ibis, the BOU Records Committee’s Taxonomic-subcommittee present their latest taxonomic recommendations for Western Palearctic birds.

The items are summarised below, but for full details of each item please see the full paper. View paper (free to view from 24 Nov) (Sangster et al. 2014).

Newly recognized species

The status of species on the British List is indicated by their category (e.g. Category A).

Ostrich Struthio camelus to be treated as two species:
• Common Ostrich Struthio camelus (recorded in the Western Palearctic)
• Somali Ostrich Struthio molybdophanes (extralimital)

Shy Albatross Thalassarche cauta to be treated as three species:
• Shy Albatross Thalassarche cauta (recorded in the Western Palearctic)
• Chatham Albatross Thalassarche eremita (extralimital)
• Salvin’s Albatross Thalassarche salvini (extralimital)

Sombre Tit Poecile lugubris to be treated as two species:
• Sombre Tit Poecile lugubris (recorded in the Western Palearctic)
• Caspian Tit Poecile hyrcana (recorded in the Western Palearctic)

Pale-legged Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus tenellipes to be treated as two species:
• Pale-legged Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus tenellipes (extralimital)
• Sakhalin Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus borealoides (extralimital)
(A warbler photographed at Southwell, Portland, Dorset, on 22 October 2012 has been accepted by BOURC as either Phylloscopus tenellipes or P. borealoides)

Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans to be treated as two species:
• Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans (Category A)
• Moltoni’s Warbler Sylvia subalpina (Category A)

Mourning Wheatear Oenanthe lugens to be treated as three species:
• Eastern Mourning Wheatear Oenanthe lugens (recorded in the Western Palearctic)
• Arabian Wheatear Oenanthe lugentoides (extralimital)
• Abyssinian Wheatear Oenanthe lugubris (extralimital)

Italian Sparrow Passer italiae
Italian Sparrow is now recognised as a full species (of hybrid origin), distinct from both House Sparrow Passer domesticus and Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis. Italian Sparrow is endemic to the Western Palearctic.

New superfamily

Penduline tits (Remizidae) and tits (Paridae) are removed from Sylvioidea and placed in their own superfamily, Paroidea, based on new information about their evolutionary relationships.

Taxonomic sequence

The taxonomic sequence of the species of larks (Alaudidae) and accentors (Prunellidae) is revised based on new insights into their evolutionary relationships.

Generic changes

Note the new generic names.

White-winged Lark Alauda leucoptera (Category A)
Lesser Short-toed Lark Alaudala rufescens (Category A)


Sangster, G., Collinson, M., Crochet, P.-A., Kirwan, G.M., Knox, A.G., Parkin, D.T. & Votier, S.C. 2014. Taxonomic recommendations for Western Palearctic birds: 10th Report. Ibis DOI: 10.1111/ibi.12221.