New bird names in the 52nd AOU Checklist supplement

The North American Checklist Committee of the AOU has published the 52nd supplement to the AOU Checklist of North American Birds. This supplement includes a lot of changes “under the hood” which will hardly be noticed by the average birder. Several splits result in new names but none have an immediate impact on the North American species count. Some scientific name changes (mostly from the reshuffling of Wood-Warblers – see my post here), and a few other changes in genus and family assignments. Below is a summary of the changes to English and Scientific names of species in the Sibley Guide. To read more about the changes as well as the changes in sequence of species, check out the pdf of the 52nd supplement. When combined with a previous post about name changes from 2000 to 2009 and name changes in 2010, this updates all species and names in the Sibley Guide to Birds.


  • Kentish Plover   Charadrius alexandrinus
  • Snowy Plover   Charadrius nivosus

A long-anticipated split, the Old World Kentish Plover has never been recorded in North America, but has the potential to do so. The two species have always gone by different English names, which remain the same, but the scientific name of Snowy Plover changes to distinguish it from Kentish.

  • Common Moorhen    Gallinula chloropus
  • Common Gallinule    Gallinula galeata

Old World Common Moorhen is distinguished from New World populations by voice and by subtle differences in appearance and the English and scientific names of the North American birds change (see my posts on identification here and here). One record from the Aleutian Islands in fall 2010, if confirmed, will be North America’s first Common Moorhen, adding a new species.

  • Transvolcanic Jay   Aphelocoma ultramarina
  • Mexican Jay    Aphelocoma wollweberi

The population of Mexican Jay in the southern highlands of Mexico (not recorded in our area) is now split as a new species and takes the existing scientific name A. ultramarina. This requires the northern population to take a new scientific name, although retaining the current English name.

Changes to species names:

  • Mourning Warbler Geothlypis philadelphia

formerly  Oporornis philadelphia

  • MacGillivray’s Warbler Geothlypis tolmiei

formerly  Oporornis tolmiei

  • Kentucky Warbler Geothlypis formosa

formerly  Oporornis formosus [note change in spelling of species name]

  • Hooded Warbler Setophaga citrina

formerly  Wilsonia citrina

  • Kirtland’s Warbler Setophaga kirtlandii

formerly Dendroica kirtlandii

  • Cape May Warbler Setophaga tigrina

formerly  Dendroica tigrina

  • Cerulean Warbler Setophaga cerulea

formerly  Dendroica cerulea

  • Northern Parula Setophaga americana

formerly Parula americana

  • Tropical Parula Setophaga pitiayumi

formerly  Parula pitiayumi

  • Magnolia Warbler Setophaga magnolia

formerly Dendroica magnolia

  • Bay-breasted Warbler Setophaga castanea

formerly Dendroica castanea

  • Blackburnian Warbler Setophaga fusca

formerly Dendroica fusca

  • Yellow Warbler Setophaga petechia

formerly  Dendroica petechia

  • Chestnut-sided Warbler Setophaga pensylvanica

formerly  Dendroica pensylvanica

  • Blackpoll Warbler Setophaga striata

formerly  Dendroica striata

  • Black-throated Blue Warbler Setophaga caerulescens

formerly  Dendroica caerulescens

  • Palm Warbler Setophaga palmarum

formerly  Dendroica palmarum

  • Pine Warbler Setophaga pinus

formerly  Dendroica pinus

  • Yellow-rumped Warbler Setophaga coronata

formerly  Dendroica coronata

  • Yellow-throated Warbler Setophaga dominica

formerly  Dendroica dominica

  • Prairie Warbler Setophaga discolor

formerly  Dendroica discolor

  • Grace’s Warbler Setophaga graciae

formerly  Dendroica graciae

  • Black-throated Gray Warbler Setophaga nigrescens

formerly  Dendroica nigrescens

  • Townsend’s Warbler Setophaga townsendi

formerly  Dendroica townsendi

  • Hermit Warbler Setophaga occidentalis

formerly  Dendroica occidentalis

  • Golden-cheeked Warbler Setophaga chrysoparia

formerly  Dendroica chrysoparia

  • Black-throated Green Warbler Setophaga virens

formerly  Dendroica virens

  • Fan-tailed Warbler Basileuterus lachrymosus

formerly  Euthlypis lachrymosa [note change in spelling of species name]

  • Canada Warbler Cardellina canadensis

formerly  Wilsonia canadensis

  • Wilson’s Warbler Cardellina pusilla

formerly Wilsonia pusilla

In higher-level changes, Tityras and Becards are moved into the new family Tityridae, and Bluethroat (and relatives), Wheatear, and Stonechat are moved from the family Turdidae to the family Muscicapidae.

8 thoughts on “New bird names in the 52nd AOU Checklist supplement”

  1. Shouldn’t the list starting with:
    •Mourning Warbler Geothlypis philadelphia
    formerly Oporornis philadelphia

    be titled Genus changes rather than Species changes?


  2. David,

    I think Patti does not know that the taxon Species is a binomial that consists of both the Generic Name or Genus AND the Specific Epithet or Specific Name. Like too many people, even including some persons who have a Ph.D. in a scientific field, she seems to believe that the taxon Species is the same as Specific Epithet or Specific Name.


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