Posted by: atowhee | August 16, 2018


Click here for the ABA checklist update.

And now eBird has altered its taxonomy order in its checklists!!  Eeeek, all that I had learned I must unlearn and then relearn.  The pigeon family is now right behind grebes…all the raptors have fallen lower, though hawks and falcons are still separate. Right behind pigeons come nightjars and swifts and cuckoos, pushing raptors and cranes and shorebirds much lower still.  Your old field guide is now REALLY outdated. Hummers come next, then shorebirds and gulls, with egrets, cormorants, pelicans, loons falling after gulls.  Go back and look at your thirty year old field guide, loons on the front page of the ID section!  HOw their stock has fallen.
Now the list goes straight from hawks to owls.  We used to have owls and nightjars next to one another, seemed so apropos…
I didn’t detect any major changes thereafter.  Songbirds seemed to have settled comfortably into their taxonomic niches and aren’t migrating up or down the list.


  1. Actually, Harry, there have been major changes in the sequence of songbirds, which you seem to have overlooked. Finches now come immediately after waxwings, before warblers and sparrows. The warblers now come AFTER sparrows and blackbirds, and the cardinals and grosbeaks (including North American “tanagers”) now come after the warblers and immediately before weaver finches. Sheesh!!

    The change in the checklist sequence of families this year is the biggest one I have ever seen, but there are some changes every year. Sadly, I do not see any likelihood of this sequence stabilizing anytime soon. The sequence in which families and orders of birds are placed is supposed to reflect evolutionary history, but it is far more arbitrary and based on guesswork than the sequence within a family.

    Like you, I groaned when I saw the new sequence. Even though I am a professional ornithologist, I get tired of the never-ending changes in sequence. It will take awhile till I get used to the new sequence, and until then, it will take me longer to fill out eBird checklists because I will be looking for some species.

    Incorporating the latest research findings into the North American (and other) bird checklists may be important to the few ornithologists who study evolutionary biology, but the annual changes in sequence are a pain in the butt to amateur birders and to everyone who compiles a local bird checklist or fills out checklists in eBird. For my money, the checklist committee ought to revise the checklist only once every 5 years or so, and give us as chance to get used to the checklist changes before they turn everything upside down again.

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