First Louisiana Waterthrushes, AOU changes

Gina Kent writes, “Can I put a request out for people to notify us and keep an eye out for Mississippi kite nests? This is the time of the year when orphan chicks come into rehab and we would like to get them safely into foster nests if possible.” You can reach Gina at

Our first fall migrants were three Louisiana Waterthrushes, one found by Debbie Segal while kayaking along the Santa Fe River on July 3rd, one seen by Caroline Poli along Prairie Creek on the 4th, and one spotted by Ben Ewing on the UF campus on the 5th. I’m pretty sure that Black-and-white Warblers are here as well, and maybe Least Sandpipers, but I can’t find any reports on eBird.

The American Ornithologists’ Union has completed its annual bout of mischief making and published another Supplement to its Check-List of North American Birds (to see it, click here, and for a more popular explanation click here). There have been plenty of changes this year, but most of those pertaining to Florida birds have been at higher taxonomic levels like orders and families (and superorders and infraclasses and parvclasses…).

  • One of the most noteworthy things the AOU did was NOT change the name of the Purple Swamphen. While eBird has already adopted the split of the swamphen into six species and calls the one resident in Florida the Gray-headed Swamphen, the AOU will continue to refer to all six as a single species, the Purple Swamphen, for at least another year.
  • If you have Caribbean Coot on your life list, you’ve got to delete it, because it’s been lumped into American Coot.
  • And Leach’s Storm-Petrel has been split into three species, but if you saw it in the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico the species you saw is still called Leach’s Storm-Petrel; the other two are in the Pacific Ocean.
  • Other changes have involved interpretation or reinterpretation of DNA analysis. Formerly the shorebirds were split into four families – oystercatchers, stilts and avocets, plovers, and sandpipers – and the sandpiper family itself was split into two subfamilies, sandpipers and phalaropes. Now the sandpipers have been split into five families: (1.) the curlews, (2.) the godwits, (3.) the long-billed sandpipers like dowitchers, woodcocks, and snipe, (4.) the turnstones and the sandpipers of the genus Calidris like Least Sandpiper, Sanderling, and Red Knot, and (5.) the sandpipers of the genus Tringa and their relatives, which includes Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpiper, and Willet, but now also includes Spotted Sandpiper and all the phalaropes. There are a few other changes in the Supplement, but most have to do with changing scientific names and with reshuffling the “sequence,” the order in which birds are listed in checklists, scientific publications, and (sometimes) field guides. You can look at the list of Alachua County’s birds in the updated sequence here. You’ll have fun trying to find where certain birds are hiding. House Sparrow, for instance, used to be the very last bird in the sequence; now it comes a little before the warblers.

Remember to contact Gina Kent if you find a Mississippi Kite nest!