Following the Pitta name change posting I have been delving into Lynx’s “Birds of the World” in which the current IOC taxonomy is used.
These are a quite fantastic two volumes, particularly for those bird when the travelling around the world. For instance we twitched the Big Island of Hawaii recently,( in conjunction with a Conference of course). The available books on Hawaiian birds are OK, but for an overview with pictures of the surviving and extinct species and their distribution, BotW puts everything into place.
The big revelation for out of touch Australian twitchers like us is the number of new Australian species created over the past few years. We thought that we had seen them all except the NP and Princess Parrot, but now have to circumnavigate Australia again to mop up what were once subspecies but now fully fledged species, possibly up to a dozen or more. ( Any excuse.)
Have not looked at the new Birds of Australia yet, will be interested to see their take on the new species.
The BotW definition of “species” is explained in the fine print forward of (vol 2) Birds of the World. Although ultimately based on molecular studies, (which themselves are subject to variable interpretation), todays species seem to be defined as any discrete geographic population, with even minimal morphological differences, until proved otherwise.
Australia’s one time Red-breasted Pitta, now Papuan Pitta , ssp digglesei, is apparently so close to the ssp on the adjacent mainland New Guinea, from where it is a seasonal migrant, that its subspecies status is suspect and subject to further scrutiny. Digglesei may disappear.
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