American Birding Association Checklist Committee (CLC) Report, March 2024

Peter Pyle
Chair, ABA-CLC

March 5, 2024

The primary role of the ABA Checklist Committee (ABA-CLC,) is to consider the addition of new species to the ABA Checklist. Secondary roles include reviewing and revising ABA Codes covering ease of observation in the ABA Area and updating and maintaining the ABA Checklist regarding taxonomic sequence, common and scientific names, and four-letter alpha codes. Currently, the eight voting members of the ABA-CLC are  Luke DeCiccio (KS), Doug Gochfeld (NY), Lauren Harter (LA), Matt Heindel (TX), Al Jaramillo (CA), Andy Kratter (FL), Marky Mutchler (IL), and David Sibley (MA). Each member votes to accept or not accept a species’ addition to the ABA Checklist based on evidence from one or more records in the ABA Area. An 8–0 or 7–1 tally is needed for acceptance to the Checklist following up to three rounds of voting.

The CLC has recently accepted four species to the ABA Checklist:

Southern Lapwing (Vanellus chilensis), by a vote of 7-1 on the first round, based on records from Michigan, Maryland, and Florida.

Kentish Plover (Anarhynchus [Charadrius] alexandrinus), 8-0, based on a record from Alaska in May 2023.

Ainley’s Storm-Petrel (Hydrobates cheimomnestes), 8-0, based on records of remotely tracked breeding birds from Guadalupe Island, Mexico, into California waters.

European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis), 8-0, based on recently established populations in Wisconsin and Illinois.

The CLC did not accept the following four species:

Antipodes Albatross (Diomedea antipodensis), 2-6, based on records in California in 1967 and Oregon in 2008. This is one of four species, recently split by Clements and eBird, of the Wandering Albatross (D. exulans) complex. The CLC needed to vote on it in order to determine how it is listed in the ABA Checklist, as the names of both Clements and American Ornithological Society (AOS) are included. Identification criteria for these four species, which is complicated by age-related variation, is still being worked out, and six CLC members did not feel that the documentation eliminated one or more of the other three taxa. We will thus list this as “Wandering Albatross sp. (Diomedea exulans sp.)” in the ABA Checklist.

Gundlach’s Hawk (Accipiter gundlachi), 7-1, 5-3, 5-3, based on a record from Florida in January 2023. In the end (after three rounds of voting), three members were not convinced that the documentation eliminated an abnormally dark-plumaged Cooper’s Hawk.

Eurasian Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), 4-4, 2-6, 5-3, based on records from Labrador and Alaska. The need to review this species was the split of Eurasian and American (A. atricapillus) goshawks by the AOS and Clements. The CLC considered a 1925 specimen from Labrador likely to be of an odd-plumaged American Goshawk and, at least, not certain enough to accept it as a Eurasian Goshawk without supporting molecular evidence. A record from Alaska in September 2001 consisted primarily of two distant photographs of a white raptor sitting on tower cables. The CLC considered this insufficient evidence to support its identification of the white subspecies (or morph?) of Eurasian Goshawk (A. g. albidus), to the exclusion of a leucistic American Goshawk or perhaps a Gyrfalcon.

Western House-Martin (Delichon urbicum), 5-3, 5-3, 4-4, based on a record of a house-martin on St. Pierre et Miquelon in May 1989. The need to review this species was the split by Clements and the AOS of the Common House-Martin complex into three species, Western, Siberian (D. lagopodum), and Asian (D. dasypus) house-martins. The CLC accepted Siberian House-Martin based on records from Alaska but, after three rounds of voting, four members felt that the documentation (three photographs) was insufficient to confirm Western House-Martin for the St. Pierre et Miquelon record, due to the difficulty of separating these taxa.

The ABA-CLC has developed a coding system to reflect the abundance and ease of detecting each species in the ABA Area. The Codes range from 1 (most common and easily detected) to 5 (five or fewer records from the ABA Area) and 6 (presumed extinct). Additional codes need periodic updating based on changes in occurrence patterns. The CLC has voted to assign the following codes to the newly accepted species and to change the codes for 12 additional species, as follows:

Pink-footed Goose from ABA Code 4 to 3
Barnacle Goose from ABA Code 4 to 3

Southern Lapwing assigned ABA Code 5

Kentish Plover assigned ABA Code 5
Little Stint from ABA Code 4 to 3
Long-billed Murrelet from ABA Code 3 to 4
Craveri’s Murrelet from ABA Code 3 to 2

Ainley’s Storm-Petrel assigned ABA Code 4
Black Storm-Petrel from ABA Code 2 to 1
Least Storm-Petrel from ABA Code 3 to 2
Black-vented Shearwater from ABA Code 2 to 1
Nazca Booby from ABA Code 4 to 3
Gray Heron from ABA Code 5 to 4
Cuban Pewee from ABA Code 5 to 4

European Goldfinch assigned ABA Code 2
Five-striped Sparrow from ABA Code 3 to 2

The above species additions and code updates are included  in the recently revised ABA Checklist .

Species currently under review by the CLC for addition to the ABA Checklist include Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus), based on a record from Alaska, Blue-black Grassquit (Volatinia jacarina), based on a record from Arizona, and four species based on records from Florida: Gray Gull (Leucophaeus modestus), Great White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus), Yellow-headed Caracara (Daptrius chimachima), and House Crow (Corvus splendens). Cattle Tyrant (Machetornis rixosa) may be considered for addition by the CLC, following a decision by the Texas Ornithological Society on the provenance of a record there.

The CLC will also be maintaining the ABA Checklist regarding discrepancies between the taxonomy and nomenclature of Clements (eBird) and the AOS, and will be adding a list of “Provisional” species in the ABA Area, based on those of eBird, which will be countable on ABA lists in which records occur. These will mostly be of exotic species that have populations that may be gaining establishment in the ABA Area. Further information on the provisional list will be provided in the May 2024 issue of North American Birds.

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Peter Pyle is an expert on molt, especially as it pertains to aging birds. He is the author of the two-volume Identification Guide to North American Birdswhich is widely admired by banders and serious birders. Peter serves as an Editorial Consultant at Birdinga prolific contributor to ornithological literature, and current Chair of the ABA Checklist Committee.