The 2017 Checklist of Alaska Birds

Changes in the 23rd edition—2017 (downloadable at right)

Four species ADDED in 2016 to Checklist of Alaska Birds (in taxonomic order)

Calliope Hummingbird Selasphorus calliope: Hatching-year male, 3-5 Sep 2016, Auke Bay, photos by Gus B. van Vliet and Patty Rose.  Casual, because of its long, enigmatic, unsubstantiated past in se Alaska.  Its history in Alaska began with Willett’s 1921 statement (in Bird notes from southeastern Alaska.  Condor 23:156-159): “According to [local resident F. H.] Gray, quite common at Wrangell in spring and fall during some years; other years apparently absent.”  In the absence of any pre-1921 published mention of this species in Alaska, however, Willett’s explicit intention (op. cit.:156) “to include only species regarding which some fact or facts have come to light that add to previously published matter regarding them” would seem to make his 1921 report enigmatic.  Four+ (silent) decades later, there were six (unsubstantiated) reports from the late 1960s through the 1980s (male, [no date] May 1967, Juneau, Richard J. Gordon; female, 6 May 1968, Juneau, RJG; at least one, summer 1968, Juneau, fide RJG; one, 27 Jul 1974, Juneau, Evelyn S. Dunn; male, 14 Aug 1975, Little Port Walter, Baranof Island, Alex C. Wertheimer; and female, 18 Jun 1988, Mitkof Island, Peter J. Walsh).  Insert in Family Trochilidae following Rufous Hummingbird Selasphorus rufus.

White-faced Ibis Plegadis chihi: One bird, 19 May 2016, Klawock, Prince of Wales Island, photos by Jason Colon.  Accidental.  INSERT ‘Family Threskiornithidae: Ibises and Spoonbills’ as last family in the Order PELECANIFORMES, following Family Ardeidae.

Lewis’s Woodpecker Melanerpes lewis: One bird, 10-29 Nov 2016, Petersburg, as detailed by Brad Hunter and Sunny Rice and photos by James D. Levison and Karen Cornelius.  Accidental.  Insert genus Melanerpes in Family Picidae between Jynx and Sphyrapicus.

Black-throated Gray Warbler Setophaga nigrescens: Male, 12-22 Jun 2016, Hyder, photos by Steven C. Heinl and Brad Benter; and second-year female, 10 Jul 2016, Hyder, in roughly the same location as the male, photos by James D. Levison, observed again on 19 July, fide Terry J. Doyle.  Accidental.  Insert in Family Parulidae between Prairie (S. discolor) and Townsend’s (S. townsendi) warblers.  One prior report: Male, 5 Jul 1989, Mitkof Island, Alexander Archipelago, Peter J. Walsh (Tobish, T. G. Jr., and M. E. Isleib.  1989.  Alaska region [summer 1989]. Am. Birds 43:1354-1357).

CHANGES TO THE UNSUBSTANTIATED LIST

Baillon’s Crake has been removed from the genus Porzana to the genus Zapornia.  Calliope Hummingbird and Black-throated Gray Warbler have been removed to the main list.

PENDING CHANGES TO THE LIST

As of 9 Jan 2017 the AKCLC had just completed a 2-4 vote against adding Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus to the main list based on a report from Adak Island, Aleutians, on 21 Sep 2016.  Discussion will precede a second vote.  This species was added to the Alaska unsubstantiated list based on a report from Adak Island on 7-8 December 2013.

STATUS CHANGES

House Sparrow status changed from Rare to Casual.

MAJOR SYSTEMATIC CHANGES

Twenty16 was a ‘big year’ for systematic change in North America.  A massive shuffling of avian orders (and some families) was effected by the AOU Check-list Committee in its annual Supplement (Chesser, T. R., Burns, K. J., Cicero, C., Dunn, J. L., Kratter, A. W., Lovette, I. J., Rasmussen, P. C., Remsen, J. V. Jr., Rising, J. D., Stotz, D. F., and Winker, K.  2016.  Fifty-seventh supplement to the American Ornithologists’ Union Check-list of North American Birds. Auk 133:544–560).  These changes include the following:

INSERT between the orders GALLIFORMES and GAVIIFORMES (compare AKCL 22 [2016]) the orders PODICIPEDIFORMES, COLUMBIFORMES, CUCULIFORMES, CAPRIMULGIFORMES, APODIFORMES, GRUIFORMES, and CHARADRIIFORMES, in that sequence. This massive change leaves the remaining orders of non-PASSERIFORMES in the sequence GAVIIFORMES, PROCELLARIIFORMES, SULIFORMES, PELECANIFORMES, CATHARTIFORMES, ACCIPITRIFORMES, STRIGIFORMES, UPUPIFORMES, CORACIIFORMES, PICIFORMES, and FALCONIFORMES.

Within those orders are the following changes that affect taxa known in Alaska:

In Family Gruidae: Sandhill Crane is removed from the genus Grus to the genus Antigone.

In Family Scolopacidae: The first 14 sandpiper taxa (the genera Xenus, Actitis, and Tringa are moved – as a bloc and in their existing sequence – to separate the snipe genus Gallinago from phalaropes Phalaropus.  Scolopacidae now begins, therefore, with Upland Sandpiper Bartramia longicauda.

In Family Procellariidae: Following the genera Fulmarus and Pterodroma, all but one of the shearwaters known in Alaska are removed to the genus Ardenna, and reordered as follows: Buller’s Ardenna bulleri, Short-tailed Ardenna tenuirostris, Sooty Ardenna grisea, Pink-footed Ardenna creatopus, and Flesh-footed Ardenna carneipesArdenna precedes Puffinus, in which (latter) genus, in Alaska, only Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus remains.

Remove the Family Cathartidae (New World Vultures) from the order ACCIPITRIFORMES and elevate to its own order, CATHARTIFORMES (see above).

Within the order PASSERIFORMES:

The order of two vireo species has been reversed: Philadelphia now precedes Warbling. The English name of Alauda arvensis has been changed (back) to Eurasian Skylark.

Reorder the families following Sturnidae to the following linear sequence: Bombycillidae, Prunellidae, Passeridae, Motacillidae, Fringillidae, Calcariidae, Parulidae, Emberizidae, Cardinalidae, and Icteridae.

Alaska Checklist Committee: Daniel D. Gibson, Lucas H. DeCicco, Robert E. Gill Jr., Steven C. Heinl, Aaron J. Lang, Theodore G. Tobish Jr., and Jack J. Withrow.

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