Bird Taxonomy

Index of articles about bird taxonomy, new and potential species splits, and related subjects. The focus is on North African birds.

Black-eared Wheatear split and new ‘melanoleuca’ record for Morocco

Eastern Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe melanoleuca) captured and ringed at Merzouga, south-east Morocco, 8 March 2020 (Marc Illa).

The ‘Black-eared Wheatear’ is split into two separate species by the ‘IOC World Bird List’ based on recent genetic research. The first modern record of the Eastern Black-eared Wheatear has arrived just in time. ‘Black-eared Wheatear’ split The ‘IOC World Bird List’ split the Black-eared Wheatear into two separate species in January 2020 (version 10.1): …

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Split of Western and Eastern Subalpine Warblers confirmed

Western Subalpine Warbler (Sylvia iberiae) photographed in Morocco by Phil Gower.

A new study confirmed that the ‘Subalpine Warbler’ complex is indeed composed of three different species (Moltoni’s Warbler, Western and Eastern Subalpine Warblers). The ‘IOC World Bird List’ accepted the split as proposed by the study. (Note: the main research about the “taxonomy of the Subalpine Warbler species complex” between mid-1990s and 2013 is well …

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DNA confirms Slender-billed Curlew is a valid species

Slender-billed Curlew (Numenius tenuirostris), Merja Zerga, Morocco, winter 1995 (Chris Gomersall)

The mitochondrial genome of the presumably extinct Slender-billed Curlew is sequenced for the first time. This confirmed that the species is genetically distinct from the related curlews. The Slender-billed Curlew (Numenius tenuirostris) is one of the rarest bird species in the Palearctic region. Despite its rarity, it’s still officially categorized as a “Critically Endangered” species …

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North African Buzzard is not a Long-legged but an allospecies of Common Buzzard

North African Buzzard / Buse du Maghreb (Buteo buteo cirtensis), Tinejdad, Morocco (Mustapha Houssaini‎)

The Atlas Long-legged Buzzard is more closely related to Common Buzzard than to Long-legged Buzzard according to a new study. The taxon cirtensis should be treated therefore as an allospecies of the Common Buzzard superspecies. Background The Old World buzzards of the genus Buteo are relatively a young radiation and poorly differentiated genetically. However, they …

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Atlas and Balearic crossbills genetic divergence

Atlas Crossbill / Bec-croisé du Maghreb (Loxia curvirostra poliogyna), north-east Algeria (Mourad Harzallah‎).

North African (or Atlas Crossbill) and Balearic crossbills are the most genetically divergent among all Common (Red) Crossbill subspecies in the Western Palearctic according to a new study. This divergence is even greater than between the Common and Parrot crossbills. Parmi toutes les sous-espèces du Bec-croisé des sapins (Loxia curvirostra) dans le Paléarctique occidental, le …

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Taxonomic status of ‘long-billed’ Crested Larks at Aousserd?

‘Long-billed’ Crested Lark, probably belonging to the senegallensis group of Galerida cristata, Aousserd, western Sahara, 21 Jan. 2018 (Lars Petersson).

To which taxa belong the ‘crested larks’ observed in the Aousserd region and in the adjacent northern Mauritania? First, which species: Maghreb Lark or Crested Lark sensu stricto? And also, which subspecies exactly? À quels taxons appartiennent les «cochevis huppées» observées dans la région d’Aousserd et dans le nord de la Mauritanie ? D’abord, quelle espèce : …

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African Reed Warbler in Morocco and the Iberian Peninsula

Acrocephalus (baeticatus) ambiguus, photographed in Morocco in March 2011 (Benoît Maire)

Two new taxa of ‘reed warbler’ in North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula Two studies published in 2016 ‘added’ two taxa of the Eurasian/African Reed Warbler complex to the avifauna of North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula. The first taxon from Morocco and Spain is either a subspecies – of the Eurasian or the African …

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A new Common Chaffinch subspecies in North Africa

Three subspecies of Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) in North Africa: F. c. africana, F. c. spodiogenys and F. c. harterti ssp. nov.

A new subspecies of Common Chaffinch endemic to north-east Libya was described by Lars Svensson in a recent paper. Below are the summary and the main conclusion taken from the paper: “A new subspecies of Common Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs in North Africa is described. It is restricted to northern Cyrenaica in north-east Libya. Differences from …

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Taxonomic status of the Barbary Falcon

Barbary Falcon (Falco pelegrinoides), Rissani, Morocco, April 2015 (David Walsh)

Below is a discussion about the identification of an interesting falcon observed in Morocco, and an update about the taxonomic status of the Barbary Falcon. Barbary Falcon with some Peregrine characteristics This falcon was photographed on the cliffs where the Barbary Falcons are known to breed near Rissani, Morocco, in mid-April 2015 by David Walsh. …

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