The lumping of Thayer's Gull and retention of 'Willet', 'Yellow-rumped
Warbler' and Hoary Redpoll were briefly discussed earlier on this forum but
this predated the actual publication of the annual AOS Checklist
supplement, which is now available.

As always this detailed technical report makes for very interesting, if
strenuous, reading.

One of the decisions I had not seen mentioned before was the return of
Greenland to North America. With a landmass of 836,330 square miles, this
is a rather significant event don't you think? Greenland was included in
the very first checklist (1886), only to be removed in 1993. The committee
was mighty powerful back then.....

>From a Checklist perspective this has a real impact because it adds nine
Eurasian species based on historical records and establishes four species
(Pink-footed Goose, Eurasian Golden-Plover, Redwing and Fieldfare) as
regular breeders in North America. With Greenland becoming rapidly greener
and more accessible to both landbirds and visiting humans, the potential
for new species seems higher than ever. My suspicion is that birders and
researchers visiting Greenland will discover vagrants that would otherwise
be potential firsts for the US or Canada.

Commentators have used memorable headlines such as 'Goodbye Thayer's Gull'
but of course that's not true. The enigmatic taxon is retained as a
subspecies, and individuals fitting the established identification criteria
will still occur in New York. Phew! Gull watchers, especially those in the
western half of the state, will still have hours of fun studying and
debating over candidates. The taxonomic status of Kumlein's Gull remains
fuzzy. Is it also a subspecies under the banner of Iceland Gull or stable
hybrid swarm sitting between Thayer's and nominate Iceland, similar to
'Olympic Gull' in the Pacific Northwest? This conundrum may not be resolved
until necessary field work is done.

The Supplement also details changes to the list order and scientific names
of several species on the New York State checklist, with the inevitable
frustrations to list keepers that this causes.

Anyhow, lots of information and ideas to pick over. Kudos to the members of
the *American Ornithological Society’s Committee on Classification and
Nomenclature of North and Middle American Birds* (a mouthful otherwise
truncated to NACC) for their hard work in curating these lists and in
sifting through the complex arguments and mounds of scientific data on
which the decisions are based.

The Committee's task seems all the harder knowing that amateur birders
around the world pay close attention to each and every decision,
irrespective of whether it results in a change.

Angus Wilson
New York City, NY


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