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I am delighted to announce that, after a long gap, we are about to publish the latest volume in the highly regarded Checklist series, and the first under the editorship of David Wells. Checklist no. 25 will cover the birds of the Falkland Islands. This authoritative volume by Robin W Woods covers all 205 species that have been reliably recorded in the Falklands, plus another 54 species whose presence is unconfirmed. This comprehensive checklist will undoubtedly become the definitive work on the status of birds in the Falklands. The publication details will be placed online as soon as they become available.
The owlet-nightjar Aegotheles bennettii terborghi was described from a single male specimen given by a local man to Jared Diamond, while he was collecting in the Karimui Basin in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea, in 1964. There has been no further observation of the taxon, despite extensive field work in 2011-12. In July 2016 we travelled to Karimui with the explicit aim of searching for this taxon, which resulted in the first-ever field observation, including photographs and a possible sound-recording of its call.
Grounds exist for accepting that the previously unrecognised paratypes of Zosterops (palpebrosus) auriventer Hume inHume & Davison, 1878, from a population inhabiting the coastal lowlands of the Malacca Straits, are all still held by the Natural History Museum, Tring, and that the overall type series is a taxonomic composite. Comparative morphology and a re-reading of original collecting details combine to revise Hume's identification of his paratypes. Their population is re-named and its geographical range redefined, with suggested outcomes for species limits. The term ‘continental’ here includes the islands of South-East Asian shelf waters, i.e., as far the Greater Sundas and their satellites.
An accompanying paper (Wells 2017, this issue) presented reasons for treating the type series of Zosterops auriventerHume, 1878, type locality Tavoy, south-east Myanmar, as a taxonomic composite, and for re-naming its (distantly allopatric) paratypes. Conventionally classified as a subspecies of Oriental White-eye Z. palpebrosus, the de-coupled auriventer is now known solely from its holotype and one other Myanmar specimen. Among provisional contenders, it is shown to be less convincingly related to Z. palpebrosus (as currently defined) than with the morphology of regionally widespread, inland forest-dwelling Everett's White-eye Z. everetti—and to become the species name of the latter's continental Asian populations should, as suggested, everetti be returned to the status of Philippine endemic. As before, the term ‘continental’ includes islands in South-East Asian shelf waters, i.e., out to the Greater Sundas and their satellites.
Glow-throated Hummingbird Selasphorus ardens is a poorly known trochilid described from the highlands of western Panama. It is documented by no more than 12 putative specimens of which the last was collected in 1924. Most specimens have ambiguous or untraceable localities. There are few recent reports, and the lack of reliable diagnostic criteria has limited efforts to understand the status, distribution and life history of S. ardens. We reviewed the extant specimen material and demonstrate that published descriptions of female plumage cannot be verified and that female plumage is unknown.
Rapa Shearwater Puffinus (newelli?) myrtae is known solely from five specimens held in Tring and Paris museums, and from observations on the breeding islands. It has a potentially tiny breeding population that is apparently restricted currently to islets off Rapa (it formerly also bred on the main island of Rapa), as well as probably on Marotiri (south of Rapa), in the Austral Islands, Polynesia. Clear differences in morphology between the series in Paris and the holotype in Tring can be explained in terms of age-related variation, with the latter specimen being a juvenile. As a result, we describe adult plumage in detail for the first time. Genetic analysis confirmed that the Paris and Tring specimens can be unequivocally referred to the same taxon.
Clutch size of Blackish Nightjar Nyctipolus nigrescens is generally considered to be one egg. Records of two-egg clutches mentioned in ornithological literature of the 19th and early 20th century are possibly mistakes or misidentifications. However, we report a documented recent observation of a female incubating two eggs.
Dickinson et al. (2017) take us to task for misguided interpretation of Art. 31.2.2 of the International code of zoological nomenclature (ICZN 1999), hereafter the Code, and for overreach in arguing that ‘gender agreement for species-group names is the single biggest cause of nomenclatural instability in zoology’ (Schodde & Bock 2016). Conflation is the argument of false analogy; and here we explain how Dickinson et al. (2017) use it to mistake our meaning of Art. 31.2.2, misjudge the noun / adjective status of Tanagra bresilia Linnaeus, and misrepresent the impact of gender agreement on species names. As a consequence, we offer suggestions to resolve those ambiguities in Art. 31.2.2 that open it to conflicting interpretation.
Working on the HBWAlive Key to Scientific Names in Ornithology to ensure that the nomenclature and taxonomy therein reflects those in the HBW and BirdLife Internationalillustrated checklist of the birds of the world (del Hoyo & Collar 2016), I discovered a case of preoccupation in the now expanded genus Sylvia.
In vol. 2, p. 498, of the above-mentioned work the genera Pseudoalcippe Bannerman, 1923, Lioptilus Bonaparte, 1850, and Parisoma Swainson, 1831, are subsumed within Sylvia. As a result, the subspecific name Parisoma subcaeruleum ansorgeivon Zedlitz, 1921, Orn.Monatsb. 29: 52 (currently Sylvia subcoerulea ansorgei) becomes preoccupied by Lioptilusabyssinicus ansorgeiRothschild, 1918, Bull. Brit. Orn. Cl. 38: 78 (currently Sylvia abyssinicaansorgei). Because the prior ansorgeiRothschild, 1918, was published after 1899 (Art. 23.9 of the Code (ICZN 1999), and as no other names are available for the subspecies ansorgeivon Zedlitz, 1921, I propose: