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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Phylogenetics and Evolution 45:10141032. Klicka, J., R.M. Zink, and K. Winker. 2003. Longspurs and snow buntings: Phylogeny and biogeography of a high-latitude clade (Calcarius). Molecular Phylogenet- ics and Evolution 26:165-175. Lerner, H.R.L., M. Meyer, H.F. James, M. Hofreiter, and R.C. Fleischer. 2011. Multilocus resolution of phylogeny and timescale in the extant adaptive radiation of Hawaiian honeycreepers. Current Biol- ogy 21:1838-1844. Zuccon, D., R. Prys-Jones, P.C. Rasmussen, P.G.P. Ericson. 2012. The phylogenetic relationships and generic limits of fnches (Fringillidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 62:581-596. Web resources American Ornithologists' Union. John Boyd's Taxonomy in Flux Checklist: a very accessible annotated checklist of the world's birds based on current research. Glossary Biogeographic. Relating to biogeography, which is the study of organisms and their presence or absence in ecosystems and habitats over geographic space and geologic time. Conical. Cone-shaped. Refers to a bill with straight edges and a pointed tip. Sparrows, cowbirds, cardinals, buntings, New World orioles, and New World blackbirds all have conical bills of varying lengths. Evolutionary branch. Part of the evolutionary tree that is unique to its members. Members of a branch share a now-extinct common ancestor. All the members of a branch are referred to as a clade. The further toward the end of the branch, the more closely related the "leaves", which represent species or subspecies. Evolutionary convergence. Convergence is said to have occurred when two (relatively) unrelated organisms independently evolve an identical or similar trait in response to similar evolutionary pressures. A good example is bats and birds. Both have wings, but their ancestors did not. Evolutionary tree. A branching diagram that shows the relatedness of living organisms and informs on their taxonomy. Extralimital. Occurring only outside a given geographic area. (e.g., Japanese Waxwing is not found in Canada, so it is extralimital with respect to that country.) Family. One of the hierarchical classifcations found within biological taxonomy. It is higher than genus but lower than order. A subfamily is a step below family but still above genus. Sub- can be added to any level of the hierarchy to facilitate more specifc classifcation (e.g., suborder, subspecies). Fecal sac. A sac made of mucous membrane which contains the feces of a young bird. Gaping. Inserting the bill into dense foliage structures, thatch, earth, or other substrates, and then forcing the bill open to pry apart the substrate. (e.g., European Starlings are commonly seen doing this on lawns.) Genera. Plural of genus. A taxonomic level between species and family. A particular genus is always both capitalized and italicized (e.g., Accipiter, Empidonax). Molecular studies. Within taxonomy, the molecule studied today is usually DNA, but various proteins were examined in the past. Molecular data are obtained via molecular studies. Morphology. Physical characteristics (e.g., bill shape, feather color, size). Neotropical. Pertaining to the Neotropics, which comprise the portion of the tropics found in the Americas. The Americas are also known as the New World, hence neo- (new) tropics. New World. In biology, synonymous with "the Americas" as a noun and "Ameri- can" as an adjective. Old World. In biology, Eurasia, Africa, and Oceania. Oscine. One of two widespread subdivisions of the order Passeriformes. The oscines constitute a group of related passerines that have more complex vocal structures than the other widespread subdivision (the suboscines). Within the oscines is another smaller grouping, the nine-primaried oscines, which are discussed in this article. Passerine. A "perching bird". A member of the order Passeriformes. Primary. A primary feather is one of the row of the longest fight feathers in the most distal part of a bird's wing and is attached to one of the bones of the "hand". Sequence. The linear order in which taxa appear within a taxonomy. Placement of species is based on where they are perceived to fall at the tips of the evolutionary tree relative to each other, so one species appearing near another within a list may convey greater relatedness between the two. Sister. When two taxa are each other's closest relatives, they are said to be sister taxa. There are two common ways of stating this (e.g., McKay's Bunting is sister to Snow Bunting. It is also Snow Bunting's sister species.). Taxa. Plural of taxon. A taxon is a biological group or classifcation of organisms. Classes, orders, families, genera, species, and subspecies are all various levels of taxon. Taxonomist. A scientist who studies taxonomy. Taxonomy is the study of the classifcation of organisms, based on their shared characteristics and relatedness, and the subsequent nomenclature (i.e., naming) of those classifcations. Taxonomic describes things related to this pursuit. Taxonomy also refers to a specifc classifcation scheme, or "list". For example, the AOU and the British Ornithologists' Union utilize different taxonomies. November 2013 | Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy 23

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