We have updated our Northern Virginia and Mid-Atlantic Area bird checklists. Both are available here including information on their use and how they were created.
The checklists now use the newest information from the American Ornithological Society (AOS). These include changes in common and scientific names, splits and “lumps” of species, and changes in the order in which the species are presented.
The most recent AOS update was published in July, with one species change affecting our area: Thayer’s Gull was combined with Iceland Gull, making Thayer’s a subspecies.
More noticeable are changes in the species order because of family and genus changes. For example, the genus Anas (ducks and geese) was split into four genera, resulting in scientific name and species order changes. Similarly, one genus for geese – Chen – is gone and the birds are now in the genus Anser. Ross’s Goose, for example, was Chen rossii became Anser rossii.
Our familiar Yellow-breasted Chat was included with warblers, where both birders and taxonomists know it didn’t really fit. AOS created a new family, Icteriidae, with the Yellow-breasted Chat as the only member. The family name is confusingly similar to Icteridae, where blackbirds, meadowlarks, cowbirds, grackles and orioles are found. There are also changes in sequence for sandpipers, finches and blackbirds.
Finally, House Sparrows are no longer at the end of the checklist! The AOS changes published in 2016 moved House Sparrows up the list between Cedar Waxwings and American Pipits.
More details on the AOS changes (for bird nerds!) is available here.