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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Page 51 of 67

Check-list Supplement Redux: v. 2013 " Every summer, birders anxiously await T his article is the third "Checklist Supplement Redux" for ABA members; the previous years' versions ap- publication of the July is- peared in Birding. Released on the heels sue of The Auk. It is in that of the offcial supplement's publication, the issue that the American Or- Check-list Redux is an annual summary nithologists' Union Commit- appearing in ABA publications which aims tee on Classifcation and to explain in straightforward terms what Nomenclature of North and has changed and how it impacts birders in Middle American Birds re- the U.S. and Canada. Illustrations, pho- leases an update, in the form tos, charts, and maps are employed where of a "supplement", applicable. to its Check-list. " As a general policy, the AOU accepts as additions to the Check-list any species the American Birding Association Checklist Committee (ABA CLC) adds to its list that are not already on the AOU's list. Those species were covered in last year's "ABA Checklist Report" (Birding 44:6). Most of this year's changes affect only the scientifc names or sequence of birds on the Check-list. But there is one important exception. Sage Sparrow Split The biggest news for ABA Area birders this year is that Sage Sparrow has been split into Sagebrush Sparrow (Artemisiospiza nevadensis) and Bell's Sparrow (Artemisiospiza belli). Bell's Sparrow— as it is now constituted—comprises four subspecies. Sagebrush Sparrow is monotypic. Sagebrush Sparrow is the most northerly and easterly of the former Sage Sparrows, breeding north into Washington 50 Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy | November 2013 and Montana and east into Wyoming almost to the South Dakota border. It shows a strong preference for Big Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata). Sagebrush Sparrow is highly migratory, with some birds fying as far south as Chihuahua and Sonora in the coldest months, so it's not surprising that most, if not all, vagrant records of "Sage Sparrow" in the central and eastern parts of North America pertain to Sagebrush Sparrow. It is paler above than A. b. belli and A. b. canescens, with more prominent back streaking, a thinner lateral throat stripe, and bold white outer tail markings. Nominate Bell's Sparrow (belli) has a dark, mostly unstreaked back, a dark slaty crown, a limited amount of buff in the outer rectrices, and a bold, thick lateral throat stripe. It is resident in coastal chaparral and sage in coastal mountain ranges from northern California south into southern Baja California state. There are no records outside these two states. Throughout its range, it prefers shorter scrub. In central and northern California, it prefers chaparral dominated by Chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum). The intermediate-looking "Mojave Sparrow" or "Saltbush Sparrow" (canescens) is now treated as a subspecies of Bell's Sparrow, but, as mentioned in last year's "Check-list Redux" (Birding 44:5.), its placement within Bell's Sparrow is somewhat problematic. It is hinted in this year's supplement that A. b. canescens may yet be split as a species of its own. Partially migratory, this taxon breeds in the Mojave Desert of southeastern California and southern Nevada, where it uses scrubland dominated by Big Sagebrush, Common Saltbush (Atriplex polycarpa), bitterbrush

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