April 28, 2019

Passerellidae (New World Sparrows) subspecies common name update overview

I spent a few days searching various databases of recorded names and descriptions of the subspecies within the new world sparrows. In this time I collected over 170 English common names for over 29 species. Around 100 of these names for about 20 species were not input into the iNaturalist taxonomy system. I spent some time adding these updates and below I would like to address my hopes for this as well as outline some of the more key entries that may aid in addressing some issues I’ve noticed in my time spent reviewing observations here on iNaturalist.

Goal -

My hopes in updating these common names, even though most are probably not well know, is to encourage more observations of identifiable subspecies to be ID’d to this level by the observer, by:

  1. Encouraging those with ability to ID to subspecies for their own personal observations to do so with the added help of being able to quickly access said subspecies through an easy to remember the name.
  2. Encouraging users who are not familiar with subspecies in their area to perhaps take the opportunity to learn. It’s been my experience that even easily separable subspecies that don’t have common names associated often get overlooked simply by the lack of common association with a name for which to remember, share and discuss the knowledge with others.

I hope over time as these names are seen and used by more they will become more widely known and help shift the attention of discussion and observation in their favor. Latin names are great and serve their purpose well, but many “casual” birders steer away from learning or incorporating them in everyday use and thought, and sources for them are not as abundant as species.

Issues I attempted to address -

  1. The “Oregon” Junco
    Throughout most birding culture, in guides, and other reporting services, the Dark-eyed Junco is split into distinct population “groups”. This translates into an issue with many of the various other subspecies from the Oregon group being ID’d as the nominate group subspecies; the Oregon Juno (J. h. oreganus), even though the group contains 6 other fairly identical subspecies. When one would search for “Oregon Junco”, the only option that would appear for selection this way was said subspecies. I’ve updated the other 6 subspecies with their common names and added the Oregon group descriptor. For example, I updated “Townsend’s Junco” (J. h. ridgwayi) to “Townsend’s Oregon Junco” to help show at a quick glance which subspecies “group” each is associated with.

  2. Fox Sparrows
    Similar to the situation with junco populations in terms of distinct groups is the Fox Sparrow. I’ve updated the taxonomy of Fox Sparrow subspecies to reflect which group they are commonly lumped with. For example “Alberta Fox Sparrow” is extended to “Alberta Slate-colored Fox Sparrow”, again hoping to help those more in line with group culture get the feel for individual subspecies.

Existing or more recognized common names -

Many common names were already in place within the iNaturalist tree for subspecies; these were not changed or given a lesser priority if I found another name that differed from said current stored common name. This was as to not disrupt and current reference and relations to those who've made or intend to make observations as the goal is to hopefully improve the ease of use and re-establish commonly used common names. I did, however, add the additional names to the database for those who may be more familiar with those names are come across them in research/online publications. In the case were subspecies had many names, I attempted to stick with the most representative name and avoid cryptic and duplicated names in reference to parent species

Concluding thoughts -

In summary, although many names were updated in accordance with how they were documented, I would like a healthy debate on this family's subspecies names. It's my thoughts that a consensus regarding representative common names that engages regional and national experts will encourage avid naturalists to identify to subspecies when possible, improving the overall data quality in iNaturalist and our understanding of many lesser know subspecies.

A list of subspecies common names as they were entered into the iNaturalist taxon can be found here: https://www.inaturalist.org/journal/joecoolbrew/24186-passerellidae-new-world-sparrows-subspecies-common-name-update-list
A small portion was already entered into the taxon and some are no longer recognized as valid subspecies. These were left in the list simply because I wasn't editing the list as I was entering (hindsight I should have).

A very special thanks to @valerietheblonde for her editorial contribution, initiation, insight, and continued support on the project.

Posted on April 28, 2019 05:27 AM by joecoolbrew joecoolbrew | 1 comment | Leave a comment

Passerellidae (New World Sparrows) subspecies common name update list

Subspecies are listed below their parent species. Scientific names are arranged to the left with their associated common names displayed to the right. As noted in the overview for this update some subspecies are no longer valid or recognized by the prioritized authorities. A few others were already updated into the system but I attempted to remove those from the list. This list reflects most changes in arragments and phrasing but does not reflect subspecific group naming (i.e. the Kodiak Sooty Fox Sparrow is listed as Kodiak Fox Sparrow below).

Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus)
grammacus Eastern Lark Sparrow
strigatus Western Lark Sparrow

Black-chinned Sparrow (Spizella atrogularis)
atrogularis Mexican Black-chinned Sparrow
evura Arizona Black-chinned Sparrow
caurina San Francisco Black-chinned Sparrow
cana California Black-chinned Sparrow

Olive Sparrow (Arremonops rufivirgatus)
rufivirgatus Texas Olive Sparrow
verticalis Yucatán Olive Sparrow
superciliosus Pacific Olive Sparrow

Botteri’s Sparrow (Peucaearii)
arizonae Arizona Botteri’s Sparrow
texana Eastern Botteri’s Sparrow
mexicana Mexican Botteri’s Sparrow
petenica Peten Sparrrow / Peten Botteri’s Sparrow*

American Tree Sparrow (Spizelloides arborea)
ochacca Western American Tree Sparrow

Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca)
altivagans Alberta Fox Sparrow
canescens Inyo Fox Sparrow
olivacea Washington Fox Sparrow
swarthi Utah Fox Sparrow
fulva Warner Mountains Fox Sparrow
mariposae Yosemite Fox Sparrow
monoensis Mono Fox Sparrow
stephensi Stephen’s Fox Sparrow
brevicauda Trinity Fox Sparrow
unalaschcensis Sooty Fox Sparrow
insularis Kodiak Fox Sparrow
sinuosa Valdez Fox Sparrow
annectens Yakutat Fox Sparrow
townsendi Townsend’s Fox Sparrow
fuliginosa Sooty Fox Sparrow*

Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)
thurberi Sierra Junco / Therber’s Junco
monotanus Montana Junco
shufeldts Shufeldt’s Junco
pontilis Laguna Hanson Junco
townsendi Townsend’s Junco
mearnsi Pink-sided Junco
ridgwayi Ridgway’s Junco
aikeni White-winged Junco
caniceps Gray-headed Junco
pinosus Point Pinos Junco
dorsalis Red-backed Junco

Yellow-eyed Junco (Junco phaeonotus)
phaeonotus Mexican Junco
palliatus Arizona Junco
fulvescens Chiapas Junco
alticola Guatemala Junco

Rufous-collared Sparrow (Zonotrichia capensis)
costaricensis Costa Rican Rufous-collared Sparrow
peruviensis Peruvian Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus)
gramineus/altus Eastern/Mountain Vesper Sparrow
confinis Western Vesper Sparrow
affinis Oregon Vesper Sparrow
definitus Great Basin Vesper Sparrow

Bell’s Sparrow (Artemisiospiza belli)
clementeae San Clemete Bell’s Sparrow
cinera Gray Bell’s Sparrow
canescens California Bell’s Sparrow

Seaside Sparrow (Ammospiza maritima)
maritimus Atlantic Seaside Sparrow
macgillivaraii MacGillivray’s Seaside Sparrow
pelonotus Smyrna Seaside Sparrow
sennetti Texas Seaside Sparrow
peninsulae Scott’s Seaside Sparrow
junicola Wakulla Seaside Sparrow
fisheri Louisiana Seaside Sparrow
howelli Howell’s Seaside Sparrow
nigrescens Dusky Seaside Sparrowy
mirabilis Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow

Nelson’s Sparrow (Ammospiza nelsoni)
nelsoni/altera Interior Nelson’s Sparrow
becki James Bay Nelson’s Sparrow
subvirgatus Acadian Nelson’s Sparrow

Saltmarsh Sparrow (Ammospiza caudacuta)
diversa Southern Saltmarsh Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis)
sandwichensis Aleutian Savannah Sparrow
anthinus Kodiak Savannah Sparrow
brooksi Dwarf Savannah Sparrow
alaudinus Western Savannah Sparrow
rufofuscus Chihuahua Savannah Sparrow
nevadensis Nevada Savannah Sparrow
savanna Eastern Savannah Sparrow
bryanti Bryant’s Savannah Sparrow
labradorius Labrador Savannah Sparrow
oblitus Churchill Savannah Sparrow
prineps Ipswich Sparrow
sanetorum San Benito Savannah Sparrow
guttatus Belding’s Sparrow
halophilus Lagoon Savannah Sparrow
anulus Scammon Lagoon Savannah Sparrow
magdalenae Magdalena Savannah Sparrow
atratus Sonora Large-billed Sparrow

Henslow’s Sparrow (Centronyx henslowii)
houstonensis Texas Henslow’s Sparrow
susurrans Eastern Henslow’s Sparrow

Lincoln’s Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii)
gracilis Forbush’s Lincoln’s Sparrow
alticola Montane Lincoln’s Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow (Melospiza georgiana)
georgiana Eastern Swamp Sparrow
ericrypta Western Swamp Sparrow
nigreseens Coastal Plains Swamp Sparrow

Zapata Sparrow (Torreornis inexpectata)
sigmani Cuba Zapata Sparrow

White-faced Ground Sparrow (Melozone biarcuata)
hartwegi Chiapas Ground Sparrow
cabanisi Cabanis’s Ground Sparrow

Rusty Sparrow (Aimophila rufescens)
sinaloa Sinaloa Sparrow

Rufous-crowned Sparrow (Aimophila ruficeps)
canescens Ashy Rufous-crowned Sparrow
lambi Cape Colnett Rufous-crowned Sparrow
obscura Santa Cruz Rufous-crowned Sparrow
sanctorum Todos Santos Rufous-crowned Sparrow
sororia Laguna Rufous-crowned Sparrow
scottii Scott’s Rufous-crowned Sparrow
rupicola Harquahala Rufous-crowned Sparrow
eremoeca Rock Rufous-crowned Sparrow
boucardi Boucard’s Rufous-crowned Sparrow

Canyon Towhee (Melozone fusca)
relictus/relicta Yuma Canyon Towhee
texanus Texas Canyon Towhee
potosinum Barranca Canyon Towhee

California Towhee (Melozone crissalis)
bullatus Oregon California Towhee
carolae Sacramento / Northern California Towhee
kernesis Kern Basin California Towhee
wrangeli San Francisco California Towhee
senicula Anthony’s California Towhee
aripolius San Pablo California Towhee
albigula Saint Lucas California Towhee

Abert’s Towhee (Melozone aberti)
dumeticolus Western Abert’s Towhee

Green-tailed Towhee (Pipilo chlorurus)
zapolia Oregon Green-tailed Towhee

Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)
curatatus Nevada Spotted Towhee
falcinellus Sacramento Spotted Towhee
montanus Spurred Spotted Towhee
gaigei Texas Spotted Towhee
arcticus Arctic Spotted Towhee
macronyx Olive-backed Spotted Towhee
oregonus Pacific/Oregon/ Spotted Towhee
atratus San Diego Spotted Towhee
clementae San Clemente Spotted Towhee
umbraticola Cape Colnett Spotted Towhee
consobrinos Guadelupe Spotted Towhee
magnirostris Large-billed Spotted Towhee
socorroensis Socorro Spotted Towhee

Posted on April 28, 2019 05:23 AM by joecoolbrew joecoolbrew | 0 comments | Leave a comment