The OSME Region List of bird taxa v6.1

is now available here

White-faced Whistling Duck Dendrocygna viduata (Charles J Sharp). This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Version 6.1 follows the genus change in IOC10.2 of African Crake from Crex to Crecopis as predicted in v5.2 (Garcia-Ramirez et al 2020). A new species for the OSME Region was the arrival in February 2020 of 12 White-faced Whistling Duck Dendrocygna viduata on Socotra, after a cyclone and a super-cyclone had hit the Somalian and north Kenya coasts; the latest Socotra Checklist includes this species (Porter & Suleiman 2020). Birds of this species found in the wild and in markets in Iraq in 2013 to 2017 were assessed as of uncertain origin (Salim et al 2020).

The Alaudala species of the Lesser Short-toed Lark A. rufescens complex have been reviewed via molecular techniques into five Clades by Ghorbani et al 2020. A forthcoming paper (including members of that team) evaluates the additional impact of vocalisations on the number of species suggested by the DNA conclusions. Conservatively, from those papers four species are proposed. We present them as polytypic ‘Heine’s Short-toed Lark’ A. (rufescens) heinei, polytypic (but reduced) Lesser Short-toed Lark A.(r.) rufescens, polytypic Sand Lark A.(r.) raytal and polytypic (and possibly reduced) Asian Short-toed Lark  A.(r.) cheelensis), but there is an optimistic radical case for a fifth, the polytypic ‘Severtsov’s Short-toed Lark’ (which we list here as A.(r.) cheelensis leucophaea): it may later be elevated to A.(r.) leucophaea.Note that ‘Heine’s Short-toed Lark’ is an informal OSME English name, but the English name attached to leucophaea is a long-standing Russian formal name (In both Russian and English).

The distribution of the 104 Zosterops species across the Old-World semi-tropics and tropics is vast, but a tranche of new papers focuses on the extraordinary ability of that genus to speciate very rapidly after colonisation of a new area, new biome or new niche; different kinds of ‘islands’. This adaptability has been most evident on islands, but now it’s clear that altitudinal separation of very different habitats is exploited. The thinly widespread ‘Mangrove Whiteye’ of the southern Red Sea Arabian coast differs widely in size and plumage colour from montane Abyssinian White-eye Z. abyssinicus arabs of southwest Arabia, but initial genetic differences are small (Babbington et al 2020: informative blog at; ongoing mangrove clearance puts the tiny ‘Mangrove White-eye’ population at risk, but there is no type specimen on which to base a formal description. Meanwhile, another paper dealing principally with other populations and subspecies in Africa suggests that more than one species occurs over that distribution (Martins et al 2020).

The Shortened OSME Region List (SORL) is also now on the OSME website.

Mike Blair


Babbington, J, CRJ Boland, G Kirwan and M Schweizer. 2020. Morphological differences between ‘Mangrove White‑eye’ and montane Abyssinian White‑eye (Zosterops abyssinicus arabs) in Arabia despite no differentiation in mitochondrial DNA: incipient speciation via niche divergence? J. Orn.

Garcia-Ramirez, JC, EM Lemmon, AR Lemmon and N French. 2020. Phylogenomic Reconstruction Sheds Light on New Relationships and Timescale of Rails (Aves: Rallidae) Evolution. Diversity2020. 12: 70; doi:10.3390/d12020070

Ghorbani, F, M Aliabadian, R Zhang, M Irested, Y Hao, S Gombobaater, F Lei, M Ma, U Olsson and Per Alström. 2020. Densely sampled phylogenetic analyses of the Lesser Short-toed Lark (Alaudala rufescens) – Sand Lark (A. raytal) species complex (Aves, Passeriformes) reveal cryptic diversity. Zool. Scripta 00: 1-13. doi: 10.1111/zsc.12422

Martins, FC, SC Cox, M Irestedt, RP Prŷs-Jones and JJ Day. 2020. A comprehensive molecular phylogeny of Afrotropical white-eyes (Aves: Zosteropidae) highlights prior underestimation of mainland diversity and complex colonisation history. Mol. Phyl. & Evol.

Porter, RF and AS Suleiman. 2020. Checklist of the Birds of the Socotra Archipelago 2020.

Salim, MA, WAS Yassir, SA Abed, R Porter, MT Jabbar, LA al-Obeidi, HA Hadi and ZS Harbi. 2020. Observations of White-faced Whistling Duck Dendrocygna viduata in Iraq. Sandgrouse 42(1): 115-117.

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