First Black-and-white Warblers, AOU lumps and splits

On the 3rd Eric Amundson found the fall’s first Black-and-white Warblers, two of them, along the Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail where it crosses County Road 234 in Rochelle. These are among the earliest ever for Alachua County. Except for 2013, when Black-and-whites showed up in three widely-separated locations in late June, the earliest ever recorded here were found on July 7th – one in 2001, one in 2002, and one in 2003.

Alachua Audubon is sponsoring a new birding program, tentatively called “Birds and Brew.” The first Birds and Brew will be held on Thursday, July 20th, at 7 p.m. We’ll meet at First Magnitude Brewery (1220 SE Veitch Street), stroll to Depot Park to look for birds, and return to First Mag for a cold brew and good conversation. Birds and Brew will be a monthly (3rd Thursday evening) event. All birding skill levels are welcome; enthusiasm is what matters! Bring your binoculars and a thirst for good craft beer (but if you forget your binoculars, stop by anyway, because we’ll have some to loan out). Thanks to Adam Kent and Christine Denny for the idea and to Michael Brock, Mike Manetz, and Adam for working out the details.

Something else for your calendar: on Thursday, July 27th, Adam and Gina Kent will tell us about their recent trip to southern Africa. “The talk will focus on birds, but will also touch on other interesting aspects of the region such as mammals and fascinating landscapes. Learn about a diversity of natural communities including emblematic tropical woodland, the desert-like karoo, and fynbos, a shrubby heathland that looks more like something out of a Mediterranean garden than one’s typical vision of Africa.” Time, place, and other details here:

The American Ornithologists’ Union is preparing to release its annual Check-list Supplement, but the results are already on line. You can view them here (click on “View Comments” for votes and discussion on each proposal), but I’ve listed some of the more interesting ones below:

– The proposal to change the name of Ring-necked Duck to Ring-billed Duck failed – unanimously. Look at the View Comments page to learn why.
– The proposal to split Willet into two species failed. The vote was 5-5. Andy Kratter, a member of the committee, tells me that proposals need the approval of 75% of the committee to pass.
– Thayer’s Gull no longer exists as a separate species, having been lumped into Iceland Gull by unanimous decision.
– The proposal to split Bell’s Vireo into two species (eastern and western) failed, though the vote was 5-5.
– A large-billed Red Crossbill resident in the South Hills of Cassia County, Idaho, has been split from other Red Crossbills by a vote of 8-2. It’s now a separate species called Cassia Crossbill (Loxia sinesciuris).
– The proposal to lump Common Redpoll and Hoary Redpoll into a single species failed, though the vote was 5-5.
– The proposal to split Yellow-rumped Warbler into three species (eastern Myrtle, western Audubon’s, and Central American Goldman’s) failed, though the vote was 5-5.
– Yellow-breasted Chat is no longer classified as one of the wood-warblers (family Parulidae). It has been given its very own family, Icteriidae (similar to Icteridae, the blackbird family, but note the extra i).
– Le Conte’s Sparrow and Thrasher are now LeConte’s Sparrow and Thrasher, with no space between Le and Conte’s (one committee member writes facetiously, “YES. I look forward to deleting that extra space henceforth”).

Speaking of lumping and name-changing, last year the AOU (which was founded in 1883) was lumped with the Cooper Ornithological Society (founded in 1893), and the new entity is now known as the American Ornithological Society. Goodbye AOU, hello AOS.

Don’t forget the June Challenge party, coming up on Saturday, July 8th, at 6 p.m. Map here: Winners will be announced and a good time will be had by all. Beer, soft drinks, and grilled hot dogs will be provided by our host, Becky Enneis, but please bring something extraordinarily delicious to share.