Passerellidae (New World Sparrows) subspecies common name update overview

I spent a few days searching various databases of recorded names and descriptions of the subspecies within the new world sparrows. In this time I collected over 170 English common names for over 29 species. Around 100 of these names for about 20 species were not input into the iNaturalist taxonomy system. I spent some time adding these updates and below I would like to address my hopes for this as well as outline some of the more key entries that may aid in addressing some issues I’ve noticed in my time spent reviewing observations here on iNaturalist.

Goal -

My hopes in updating these common names, even though most are probably not well know, is to encourage more observations of identifiable subspecies to be ID’d to this level by the observer, by:

  1. Encouraging those with ability to ID to subspecies for their own personal observations to do so with the added help of being able to quickly access said subspecies through an easy to remember the name.
  2. Encouraging users who are not familiar with subspecies in their area to perhaps take the opportunity to learn. It’s been my experience that even easily separable subspecies that don’t have common names associated often get overlooked simply by the lack of common association with a name for which to remember, share and discuss the knowledge with others.

I hope over time as these names are seen and used by more they will become more widely known and help shift the attention of discussion and observation in their favor. Latin names are great and serve their purpose well, but many “casual” birders steer away from learning or incorporating them in everyday use and thought, and sources for them are not as abundant as species.

Issues I attempted to address -

  1. The “Oregon” Junco
    Throughout most birding culture, in guides, and other reporting services, the Dark-eyed Junco is split into distinct population “groups”. This translates into an issue with many of the various other subspecies from the Oregon group being ID’d as the nominate group subspecies; the Oregon Juno (J. h. oreganus), even though the group contains 6 other fairly identical subspecies. When one would search for “Oregon Junco”, the only option that would appear for selection this way was said subspecies. I’ve updated the other 6 subspecies with their common names and added the Oregon group descriptor. For example, I updated “Townsend’s Junco” (J. h. ridgwayi) to “Townsend’s Oregon Junco” to help show at a quick glance which subspecies “group” each is associated with.

  2. Fox Sparrows
    Similar to the situation with junco populations in terms of distinct groups is the Fox Sparrow. I’ve updated the taxonomy of Fox Sparrow subspecies to reflect which group they are commonly lumped with. For example “Alberta Fox Sparrow” is extended to “Alberta Slate-colored Fox Sparrow”, again hoping to help those more in line with group culture get the feel for individual subspecies.

Existing or more recognized common names -

Many common names were already in place within the iNaturalist tree for subspecies; these were not changed or given a lesser priority if I found another name that differed from said current stored common name. This was as to not disrupt and current reference and relations to those who've made or intend to make observations as the goal is to hopefully improve the ease of use and re-establish commonly used common names. I did, however, add the additional names to the database for those who may be more familiar with those names are come across them in research/online publications. In the case were subspecies had many names, I attempted to stick with the most representative name and avoid cryptic and duplicated names in reference to parent species

Concluding thoughts -

In summary, although many names were updated in accordance with how they were documented, I would like a healthy debate on this family's subspecies names. It's my thoughts that a consensus regarding representative common names that engages regional and national experts will encourage avid naturalists to identify to subspecies when possible, improving the overall data quality in iNaturalist and our understanding of many lesser know subspecies.

A list of subspecies common names as they were entered into the iNaturalist taxon can be found here:
A small portion was already entered into the taxon and some are no longer recognized as valid subspecies. These were left in the list simply because I wasn't editing the list as I was entering (hindsight I should have).

A very special thanks to @valerietheblonde for her editorial contribution, initiation, insight, and continued support on the project.

Posted on Απρίλιος 28, 2019 0527 ΠΜ by joecoolbrew joecoolbrew


This is an excellent endeavor! Thanks for embarking on it @joecoolbrew and I'm stoked that accurate common names will be integrated into iNat for the new world sparrows.

Αναρτήθηκε από valerietheblonde σχεδόν 4 χρόνια πριν (Αναφορά)

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