Tuesday, July 17, 2012

2012 AOU Checklist Supplement

Time for guidebook authors to shuffle the deck again.

The AOU has just published its 53rd Supplement to the Checklist.  Of most interest is that the AOU has moved the falconiformes (caracaras and falcons) and psittaciformes (parrots) to a pivotal position between Picidae (Woodpeckers) and Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers).

Yup, right before passerines.  As the Supplement notes, "recent phylogenetic analyses of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences have shown that the Falconiformes, Psittaciformes, and Passeriformes form a monophyletic group" (Chesser et al., p. 578).

Here are some more detailed summaries by  Paul Hess and Rick Wright.

Black-Bellied Whistling Duck, in Massachusetts

On July 3rd a Black-Bellied Whistling Duck turned up during the evening at Great Meadows NWR in Concord, Massachusetts, and a lucky group of nature walkers got to see it (and a few highly mobile birders).  I missed it, and just when we were chalking it up as a frustratingly casual sighting, it returned, and to the exact spot where it was first seen.

Jason Forbes spotted it early on July 15th and got the word out immediately.  I was camping that weekend, and returned around noon only to read the email and check messages and ditch the family to go see it.  Hundred of birders saw this unbelievably cooperative bird until early evening that day.  Here are a couple shots of this lovely duck.  Where will it wander next?