Bird Taxonomy

Index of articles about bird taxonomy, new and potential species splits, and related subjects. The focus is on North African birds.

Barbary Falcon (Falco pelegrinoides), Rissani, Morocco, April 2015 (David Walsh)

Taxonomic status of the Barbary Falcon

Below is a discussion about the identification of an interesting falcon observed in Morocco, and an update about the taxonomic status of the Barbary Falcon. Barbary Falcon with some Peregrine characteristics This falcon was photographed on the cliffs where the Barbary Falcons are known to breed near Rissani, Morocco, in mid-April 2015 by David Walsh. …

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Moroccan Horned Lark [Eremophila (alpestris) atlas], Atlas Mountains, Morocco, March 2014 (Ruben and Jorrit Vlot)

Horned Lark taxonomy: possible split into six species

A recent study suggested splitting the Horned Lark into six different species: one in the Nearctic and five in the Palearctic including the Moroccan endemic taxon (atlas). The Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris) is a widely distributed passerine across North America and Eurasia, with two isolated populations in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and Colombia in …

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New treatment of the three ‘Subalpine Warbler’ species in the updated Collins Bird Guide

Subalpine Warbler split into three species

The Subalpine Warbler complex (sensu lato) is a polytypic species, but the number of ‘subspecies’ considered as valid changed over time. Until the 1990s, only three subspecies were recognised: 1) the nominate S. c. cantillans in Iberia, southern France and Italy, plus the birds breeding in the Western Mediterranean islands were also considered to belong …

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Maghreb Wheatear / Traquet halophile (Oenanthe halophila), Rissani, Morocco, June 2012 (Leander Khil).

Maghreb Wheatear should be split according to new research

A new phylogenetic study of the Mourning Wheatear complex confirmed its split into three different species. Concerning the Maghreb Wheatear, which is already given species status by some authors, the new study hinted that it should be split too. The Mourning Wheatear (Oenanthe lugens) senso lato is distributed in North Africa, East Africa, the Levant, Iran and …

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Streaked Scrub Warbler in Morocco: taxonomy, distribution and identification

Streaked Scrub Warbler Scotocerca inquieta sensu lato has a large distribution area that extends from Western Asia through the Arabian Peninsula and into the Atlantic coast of North Africa. There are eight subspecies including two in southern Morocco, S. i. saharae in the east and S. i. theresae in the southwest. In a recent paper …

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Adult breeding ‘Gibraltar buzzard’ at the southern shore of the Strait of Gibraltar

Gibraltar Buzzard: status and identification

Interesting news posted by Dick Forsman following his short visit to the Moroccan side of the Strait of Gibraltar this month with Javier Elorriaga and Antonio-Roman Muñoz from Fundación Migrés. The aim of this visit was to study the enigmatic “Gibraltar buzzard” which occurs in the areas around the Strait. D. Forsman commented: Javier Elorriaga …

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African Crimson-winged Finch / Roselin à ailes roses d'Afrique (Rhodopechys alienus), Oukaïmeden, High Atlas, Morocco (Mike Haley)

African Crimson-winged Finch: a new endemic species

The Crimson-winged Finch sensu lato consists of two distinct taxa, alienus in Northwest Africa and sanguineus in the Middle East, Turkey, Caucasus, Central Asia and north-west China. The split of this taxon into two separate species, African Crimson-winged Finch (Rhodopechys alienus) and Asian Crimson-winged Finch (R. sanguineus), was first proposed by Kirwan et al. (2006). …

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Adult male Barbary Falcon from Lanzarote, Canary Islands (Juan Sagardía).

Barbary Falcon plumage variation in the Canary Islands

An article about variation of plumage coloration of Barbary Falcons in the Canary Islands has been published recently in the Bulletin of British Ornithologists’ Club. This paper has implications for Moroccan and North African falcons as well, e.g. hybrids – both natural and those related to escaped falconry birds, the ‘atlantis’ form of the Peregrine …

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