Birder's Guide

NOV 2013

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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of all the groups listed above, except the fnches, which remained in the family Fringillidae. In the three decades since, the 1983 lump has gradually been dismantled, with the wood-warblers, icterids, and other families regaining their former full-family status, and with other new families being recognized (Olive Warbler, longspurs). Many genera and species shifted from one group to another (and sometimes back again). Part of the reason is that, as a group, these species share a relatively recent (geologically speaking) common ancestor, which dates to roughly 21 million years ago (Barker et al. 2013). That is, compared to other birds, they are all attached rather near one another at the end of an evolutionary branch. Below, I provide a brief overview of the current state of classifcation in the AOU Check-list of those species within the ABA Area, with reference to a few extralimital species that may be of interest to readers. We can thank John Klicka, Keith Barker, Kevin Burns, and their colleagues for teasing out much of the information contained in this account (see especially Barker et al. 2013), and we all can be assured that more changes are to come. ), the list of species on the ABA Checklist contained within the family Parulidae has remained relatively constant over the years. That is, except for two rather unusual species: Olive Warbler and Yellow-breasted Chat. Olive Warbler (Peucedramus taeniatus) is the only member of the genus Peucedramus and is now classifed in its own family, Peucedramidae. It is very wood-warbler-like but has some signifcant differences in morphology and vocalizations, and it has one particularly unusual behavior not found among the wood-warblers: the adults allow the fecal sacs of the young to accumulate around the rim of the nest—a behavior common to the fringillids. So perhaps it should not have been surprising that this species is not a wood-warbler after all. And it seems not to be particularly closely related to any of the nine-primaried oscines. Instead, it occupies a branch of the evolutionary tree all by itself, one that is sister to the rest of the "We'd like to point out that who we are hasn't changed all that much." "Our" warblers are often referred to as "wood-warblers" in order to distinguish them from the original warblers of the Old World, with which they share a basic body design and foraging habit, but little else. The warblers of Eurasia, Oceania, and Africa, though often drab in comparison, tend to sing more complex and musical songs that outshine the buzzy songs of many wood-warblers. While recently there have been some major changes in sequence and genera, including the loss of the beloved genus Dendroica (for more information, see The Baltimore Oriole was so named because of a (very) vague similarity to the Golden Oriole of Europe and Africa. But there the similarity ends. Our orioles are related to wood-warblers, whereas the "real" orioles are related to corvids. Photo © Tara Tanaka. November 2013 | Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy 15

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