Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, contests and more!
Start Your Free Trial

2018 checklist changes include few splits

White-collared Seedeater has been split into two species: Morelet’s Seedeater (shown here) and Cinnamon-rumped Seedeater. Photo by Cephas/Wikimedia Commons (CC-4.0)

In the new supplement to the official checklist of North American birds, posted online on Thursday, June 21, the American Ornithological Society made a number of changes to families and the sequences of species, split a couple of species that occur in the United States and Canada, but rejected many proposals concerning birds found north of Mexico.

The classification committee formally changed the name Gray Jay to Canada Jay, noting that the name Gray Jay “was incorrectly adopted” in the checklist’s fifth edition, published in 1957.

Out of the 10 proposals that would have been of most interest to birders in the U.S. and Canada, the committee accepted only two:

  • It split Chivi Vireo, a resident of South America, from the migratory Red-eyed Vireo.
  • And it split White-collared Seedeater into Cinnamon-rumped Seedeater and Morelet’s Seedeater. Morelet’s occurs from southern Texas to western Panama and Cinnamon-rumped is found in western Mexico.

The committee did not accept proposals to:

  • Lump Taiga and Tundra Bean-Goose
  • Split Mexican Duck from Mallard
  • Split Cory’s Shearwater into two species
  • Split Barn Owl into three species
  • Split LeConte’s Thrasher into two species
  • Split Yellow Warbler into two species
  • Change the name Rock Pigeon back to Rock Dove
  • Change the English names of Common Gallinule and Common Moorhen

The higher-level taxonomic changes include splits of the sparrow genus Ammodramus and the woodpecker genus Picoides.


Grasshopper Sparrow remains in Ammodramus. Baird’s and Henslow’s Sparrows have been moved to Centronyx, and LeConte’s, Seaside, Nelson’s, and Saltmarsh Sparrows are now in Ammospiza.

American Three-toed and Black-backed Woodpeckers continue to be listed in Picoides. Downy, Hairy, Nuttall’s, Ladder-backed, Red-cockaded, White-headed, and Arizona Woodpeckers have been moved to the genus Dryobates.

In the Caribbean islands, Puerto Rican and Greater Antillean Bullfinches were moved to the genus Melopyrrha.

The committee also added Common Shelduck to the main list, based on recent records in Newfoundland, and Amethyst-throated Hummingbird based on 2016 sightings in Quebec and Texas. It also recognized U.S. sightings of Cuban Vireo (southern Florida) and Pine Flycatcher (southern Arizona).


For more information, including family-level changes for kites, storm-petrels, and flycatchers, download the full supplement. And if you’d like to know the reasons behind the committee’s decisions, watch this page on the official checklist site for PDFs of the committee members’ comments and vote totals. They should be posted in the coming weeks. — Matt Mendenhall, Editor

Checklist committee changes Gray Jay’s name to Canada Jay

David Sibley: How to make peace with changes to your checklist


2016 supplement split Western Scrub-Jay into two species


Read our newsletter!

Sign up for our free e-newsletter to receive news, photos of birds, attracting and ID tips, and more delivered to your inbox every other week. Sign up now

See the contents of our current issue

How to subscribe to BirdWatching



Originally Published

Read our newsletter!

Sign up for our free e-newsletter to receive news, photos of birds, attracting and ID tips, and more delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up for Free