OSME Region List ORL

OSME Region List of birds

Semi-collared Flycatcher Ficedula semitorquata – an OSME speciality © Aurélien Audevard

The OSME Region List of Bird Taxa – Version 2 January 2024

The aim of the OSME Region List (ORL) is to provide a definitive list of bird taxa1 that have been recorded in the OSME Region. This Formal Edition is issued with a version number so that we* can implement amendments from the results of new research and from comments, corrections and suggestions we may receive. The ORL provides a basis of any country-by-country checklist for the OSME Region, should countries wish to liaise with OSME Council to that effect. A longer-term aim is to produce the ORL and country checklists in the languages of each country. However, before you examine the ORL for the first time, we suggest that you read its Ornithological basis, and the Explanation of the ORL. The Ornithological basis provides the rationale for the Order, Sequence and Nomenclature adopted in the ORL. For ease of reference, the ORL comprises five sections: Part A is the list of Non-passerines, Part B contains the Non-Passerine References, Part C is the list of Passerines, Part D contains the Passerine References and Part E comprises the Hypothetical list (species that are of unproven occurrence, those that are unlikely to occur and some perhaps that are both). We acknowledge here the help freely given and the interest expressed by so many people from throughout the Region and from the ornithological world – we believe that we have included their names in the Acknowledgements section below, but if you have been omitted, we apologise, and do let us know so that we can update it! A Simplified ORL (SORL – see Simplified ORL) intended for use in routine correspondence and as a reference source of taxa names in non-taxonomic papers is derived from the published version of the ORL: the SORL usually is revised annually. The SORL is available in Excel format from the Listmaster.

*ORL correspondence coordinator; Listmaster, c ⁄ o The Lodge, Sandy, SG 19 2DL UK or via orl

(ORL Team Founder Members and Co-authors: RICHARD PORTER AND †SIMON ASPINALL) †Simon Aspinall died in October 2012, after a long illness. We’ll retain his name as an author of the ORL because his contributions form its core. A great naturalist, he was also a good and generous friend.

ORL 9.1 Summary of Changes


The rationalisation of the taxonomy of the various World Lists has affected the ORL in relatively minor fashion: a few splits have been re-lumped, and some taxa have been re-sequenced within their genera; a few taxa have moved between genera. It is likely that some re-lumps will eventually be re-split once the distribution of taxa in remote areas has been established. The continuously developing molecular techniques most probably will require further changes.

Only one species is new to the ORL – an Atlas Wheatear Oenanthe seebohmi, an inhabitant of NW Africa’s hills and mountains, obligingly and unexpectedly turned up in Cyprus.

Ardea is a Dutch ornithological journal that published scientific research. The latest issue, 111(1) (Bijlsma et al 2023), comprises a 438-page Sahel Special, a tome containing papers on the birds of the Sahel, both resident and migrant, that were surveyed over almost 2 decades, ending in 2019. The Sahel lies south of the Sahara Desert across Africa from Senegal to Somalia and it is the region where enormous numbers of Palearctic migrants have their non-breeding grounds; other Palearctic migrants transit the Sahel to append the northern winter in the southern summer. Those migrants that use the East Mediterranean Flyway and those that cross Arabia to reach the Sahel are of particular relevance to the OSME Region, and so ORL version 9.1 contains numerous citations from several of these papers. This Ardea issue effectively contains the results from the work described in the 2009 award-winning book by Zwarts et al 2009.


Zwarts, L, RG Bijlsma, J van der Kamp and E Wymenga. 2009. Living on the edge: wetlands and birds in a changing Sahel. KNNV. Zeist, The Netherlands.
Bijlsma, RG, B Kampenaers and T Piersma. (Eds). 2023a. Netherlands Ornithologists Union Sahel-Special. Ardea. 111(1): pp438.

Selected References

The only broadly-based taxonomy paper of note to the ORL was:
Alström, P, Z Mohammadi, ED Enbody, M Irestedt, D Engelbrecht, Pierre-André Crochet, A Guillaumet, L Rancilhac, BI Tieleman, U Olsson, PF Donald and M Stervander. 2023. Systematics of the avian family Alaudidae using multilocus and genomic data. Avian Res. 14: 100095

Its scope concerned many lark taxa extralimital to the OSME Region, though some putative taxonomic changes were supported. Of particular interest, though, was that they found no support for the recent re-lump of Singing Bushlark Mirafra cantillans into Horsfield’s Lark M. javanica that had been agreed by the rationalisation of World Lists! They also suggested that the genus of Singing Bush lark should be Calendulauda.

Zhao et al 2023 produced a comprehensive species-level phylogeny for 92% of Muscicapidae. They recommended many taxonomic changes for taxa outside the OSME Region and so the ORL required but a few sequence changes.

Zhao M, JG Burleigh, U Olsson, P Alström, RT Kimball. 2023. A near-complete and time-calibrated phylogeny of the Old World flycatchers, robins and chats (Aves, Muscicapidae). Mol. Phyl. & Evol. 178 (2023) 107646.

ORL 8.2 Summary of Changes


Many small changes derive from the increasing alignment of World Lists; in a few cases, this has resulted in relumping of split taxa; this cites the need for more robust evidence that includes analysis of remote populations.

Four species have been added to ORL 8.2:

Grey-tailed Tattler Tringa brevipes, Oman. Kirwan et al 2022. 

Laughing Gull Leucophaeus atricilla, Georgia imaged by Sander Bruylants. (Accepted record)

Oriental Scops Owl, Otus sunia, Iran imaged by Mehdi Pourabedi. (Accepted by the Iran Bird Records Committee)

Somali Fiscal Lanius somalicus, 2 records Abd al-Kuri, Socotra, November 2021 Mike Jennings & Oct 2022 Mike Beaman. (Accepted by Porter & Suleiman 2022)

ORL 8.2 resequences several taxa (Orange fill in Column A), mostly to align with IOC 13.1, which itself has undergone some resequencing in alignment with other World Lists.

Sandgrouse 44(2) was a particularly fruitful source of data for ORL 8.2, a truly excellent issue. Thanks go to its editor, Paul Donald! Jens Hering, who one way or another had 5 articles in it, is another prolific source from his fieldwork in Egypt and in Socotra.

Selected References (with comments)

Babbington, J and B Meadows. 2022. New bird species in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia since 1981. Sandgrouse44(2): 372-397. Because much was placed in the context of Saudi Arabia, this contribution brings nuanced understanding to bird distributions, the changes and the pace of change.

Hering, J and H Hering 2022d. Noteworthy breeding records from Socotra, Yemen. Sandgrouse44(2): 325-339.

Listing as ‘2022d’ reflects that fact that Jens Hering has published so much recently.

Hrushka, JP, J Holmes, C Oliveros, S Shakya, P Lavretsky, KG McCracken, FH Sheldon and RG Moyle. 2023.Ultraconserved elements resolve the phylogeny and corroborate patterns of molecular rate variation in herons (Aves: Ardeidae). Ornithology 140: ukac000. Accepted MS. They found strong genetic evidence that Bubulcus is not significantly distinct from Ardea.

Karaardiç, H and E Kızılkaya. 2021. Sand banks in pseudo-steppe areas provide suitable nesting sites: High breeding numbers of the European roller (Coracias garrulus L. 1758) in Southwest Turkey. Acta Biologica Turcica34(4): 205-210. They found local sense populations in SW Turkey of the species nesting in roadside sand cliffs, a niche fairly common beside modern roads & road-building sites.

Kersten, O, B Star, DM Leigh, T Anker-Nilssen, H Strøm, J Danielsen, S Descamps, KE Erikstad, MG Fitzsimmons, J Fort, ES Hansen, MP Harris, M Irestedt, O Kleven, ML Mallory, KS Jakobsen and S Boessenkool. 2021. Complex population structure of the Atlantic puffin revealed by whole genome analyses. Communications Biol. 4: 922. doi.org/10.1038/s42003-021-02415-4 www.nature.com/commsbio. They identified four genetically distinct breeding clusters of Atlantic Puffin that do not coincide with the 3 subspecies, nor with their current distribution, philopatry alone being insufficient to explain this result. Though a rare visitor to the Eastern Mediterranean, it will be interesting to establish which breeding cluster produces the wanderers.

Kirwan, GM, R O’Reilly, N Bostock, T Stones and RSR Williams. 2022. The first Grey-tailed Tattler Tringa brevipes in Oman and the Middle East. Sandgrouse44:(2): 431-434. A long-awaited confirmation of the likely occurrence of this notorious wanderer.

Kryukov, AP, OA Goroshko, VY Arkhipov, YA Red’kin, S-i Lee, BA Dorda, KA Kryukov, M Kapun and E Haring. 2022. Introgression at the emerging secondary contact zone of magpie Pica pica subspecies (Aves: Corvidae): integrating data on nuclear and mitochondrial markers, vocalizations, and field observations. Organisms, Divers. & Evol. 29pp. doi.org/10.1007/s13127-022-00568-6. Three of the easternmost sspp of Eurasian Magpie are proposed detached as P. serica ‘Chinese Magpie’. Though this would not invalidate the English name Eurasian Magpie, there may be other splits in future.

Lefranc, N, and T Worfolk. 2022. Shrikes of the World. Helm. Bloomsbury, London. UK. This book is a hugely updated from their 1997 version, Shrikes; a guide to shrikes of the world, and is a mine of useful data.

Pârâu, LG, E Wang and M Wink. 2022. Red-Backed Shrike Lanius collurio. Whole-Genome Sequencing Reveals Population Genetic Admixture. Diversity14(216): 1-13. doi.org/10.3390/d14030216. They found that specimens across a vast breeding distribution did not exhibit genetic structure & hence are panmictic. Genetic structure refers to any pattern in the genetic makeup of individuals within a population & allows for information about an individual to be inferred from other members of the same population.  A panmictic population is one where all individuals are potential partners, inferring the absence of mating restrictions, either genetic or behavioural, in that population, thus allowing random mating through the general lack of site fidelity.

Porter, RF and AS Suleiman. 2022. Birds of the Socotra Archipelago, Yemen: an Annotated Checklist. Sandgrouse44(2): 262-324. This comprehensive update documents the status of a long and much increased list of wintering species and vagrants that add to the allure of the Socotran endemics.

Salter, JF, CH Oliveros, PA Hosner, JD Manthey MB Robbins, RG Moyle, RT Brumfield, and BC Faircloth. 2020. Extensive paraphyly in the typical owl family (Strigidae). The Auk137: 1–15. doi: 10.1093/auk/ukz070 found Ketupa to be embedded in Bubo, noting further research may split Bubo into 3 genera: rationalisation of world lists at least accepts that Ketupa is best resurrected for certain Bubo taxa.

ORL 8.1: Summary of changes


Sandgrouse 44(1) 2022 in a Special Issue is primarily devoted to the rapid decline of most of the Great Bustard Otis tarda tarda populations, many of which breed in or migrate through the OSME Region. Kessler & Collar 2022 provide the Editors’ Preface of the Proceedings of the International Conference “Advancing the Conservation of the Great Bustard in Asia”; Kessler 2022 addresses the species’ status and global population sizes. National and Regional assessments are given (in sequence of papers in Sandgrouse) thus:

Nationally or Regionally Critically Endangered in:

Iran: Abdulkarimi 2022.

Turkmenistan: Rustamov 2022.

Uzbekistan: Kashkarov, Mitropolskaya & Ten 2022.

Kazakhstan: Kessler & Bidashko 2022; Koshkin, Timoshenko & Salamgareev 2022; Shakula et al 2022a; Shakula et al 2022b; Prokopov 2022; Nefedov 2022.

Tajikistan: Muratov & Talbonov 2022.

Kyrgyzstan: Kulagin 2022.

Azerbaijan: Farajli 2022.

Russian Caucasus: Fedosov & Dzhamirzoyev 2022.

Turkey: Özgensil et al 2022.

NW China: Wang & Yang 2022.

In the ORL 7.2 Summary of changes, the on-line paper Wei et al 2021 was republished in 2022 and so the full reference is now Wei, C, M Schweizer, P Tomkovitch, VYu. Arkhipov, M Romanov, J Martinez, X Lin, N Halimubieke, P Que, T Mu, Q Huang, Z Zhang, T Székely and Y Liu. 2022. Genome-wide data reveals paraphyly in the sand plover complex (Charadrius mongolus/leschenaultii). Originally Authorea doi: 10.22541/au.162671169.97759015/v1, now published in Ornithology (Americanornithology.org) 139(2022): 1–10. doi.org/10.1093/ornithology/ukab085

There were no major taxonomic rearrangements or resequencing applicable to the ORL since version 7.2. However, there have been increases in the number of migration tracking studies published that involve transit through the OSME Region. Furthermore, national rarity records (here considered as 10 records or fewer) have also increased, many concerning northward expansion of breeding distributions plausibly linked to climate change, but other linked to improved observer coverage. Much of the red font text in ORL8.1 derives from these changes

In Taxonomic Sequence


A Grey-tailed Tattler Tringa brevipes located and imaged at Filim, Wustá, Oman in Feb-Mar 2022 was the first for Oman, the Middle East and the OSME Region. Dutch Birding. 44(2): 151.

Mullarney & Campbell 2022 provide an excellent ID comparison between Little Tern Sternula albifrons and Saunders’ Tern S. saundersi.

The first Laughing Gull Leucophaeus atricilla for for Georgia and the OSME Region at Lake Paliastomi in August 2022 was imaged by Sander Bruylants (Phil Andrews pers comm). A long-expected event, especially since the Bulgarian records.

Harrison et al 2021 tracked from Nearctic & WP breeding grounds Pomarine Skua Stercorarius pomarinus across the Arctic Ocean to the western Pacific Ocean; Arctic (Parasitic) Skua S. parasiticus to the western Atlantic Ocean, and Long-Tailed Skua S. longicaudus to the eastern Atlantic Ocean and western Indian Ocean.

Kersten et al 2021 identify genetically 4 distinct Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica breeding clusters that do not coincide with the 3 subspecies or their current distribution, philopatry alone being insufficient to explain this result. Although taxonomic reassessment is clearly called for, a number of mostly smaller populations have yet not been sampled & may also show further taxonomic diversity.

Efrat & Hatzofe 2021 geotracked a juvenile Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus that had been trapped in Israel in autumn, & found it wintered near al Dabbah, Sudan, beside the Nile. On return migration, it spent most of the breeding season (probably not breeding) in N Turkey. This is the first evidence of the route taken from Turkey 3500km to its previously unknown wintering area.

A possible first record for the OSME Region (subject to acceptance) was of an Oriental Scops Owl Otus sunia at Chabahar southeast Iran in Dec 2021. Images by Mehdi Pourabehdi in Birding Iran.

Schweizer et al 2022, using genome-wide data, corroborate the existence of 2 independent evolutionary lineages in Middle Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocoptes medius. The unexpected marked genomic differentiation, consistent with the mtDNA variaton of Kamp et al 2019, reinforces the discordance of the absence of phenotyopic divergence, because the narrow separation across the Sea of Marmara & Bosphorous is not an effective barrier. That an undetected broad secondary contact zone might exist requires investigation, as do potential vocalisation differences. Furthermore, the population on Lesbos appears to have some genetic differences from Mainland Turkey populations, and the monotypicity of medius merits further research. The ORL treats the lineages as probably separate within a superspecies.


Lees and Gilroy 2021 revealed that the population of Lesser Grey Shrike Lanius minor breeding in NW China migrates via the OSME Region 12,000km to ‘winter’ in Namibia

Kryukov et al 2022 propose split of Eurasian Magpie Pica pica via integrative taxonomy into a western group that loses 3 taxa to the extralimital P. serica (Chinese Magpie is its informal English name @OSME): serica, alashanica & jankowskii.

The ORL treatment of Eurasian Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes sensu lato as comprising a superspecies is supported by de Raad et al 2022, in which genetic, phylogenomic and morphometric comparison between the Eurasian nutcracker taxa established significant taxonomic differences between Northern Nutcracker N.[c.] caryocatactes (4 sspp), Southern Nutcracker N.[c.] hemispila (4sspp, all extralimital to the OSME Region) and Kashmir Nutcracker N.[c.] multipunctata. The ORL English names are informal@OSME.


Efrat, R and O Hatzofe. 2021. First evidence of a migration route from Eurasia to East Africa of the Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus). J. Raptor Res. 55(3): 451-454.

Harrison, A-L, PF Woodard, ML Mallory and J Rausch. 2021. Sympatrically breeding congeneric seabirds (Stercorarius spp) from Arctic Canada migrate to four oceans. Ecol & Evol. Nature Notes. 00:1–12. doi: 10.1002/ece3.8451

Kamp, L, G Pasinelli, P Milanesi, SV Drovetski, Z Kosiński, S Kosenko, H Robles and M Schweizer. 2019. Significant Asia‐Europe divergence in the middle spotted woodpecker (Aves, Picidae). Zool. Scripta. 48: 17-32. (Online 2018: 16pp. doi: 10.1111/zsc.12320

Kersten, O, B Star, DM Leigh, T Anker-Nilssen, H Strøm, J Danielsen, S Descamps, KE Erikstad, MG Fitzsimmons, J Fort, ES Hansen, MP Harris, M Irestedt, O Kleven, ML Mallory, KS Jakobsen and S Boessenkool. 2021. Complex population structure of the Atlantic puffin revealed by whole genome analyses. Communications Biol. 4: 922. doi.org/10.1038/s42003-021-02415-4 | www.nature.com/commsbio

Kryukov, AP, OA Goroshko, VY Arkhipov, YA Red’kin, S-i Lee, BA Dorda, KA Kryukov, M Kapun and E Haring. 2022. Introgression at the emerging secondary contact zone of magpie Pica pica subspecies (Aves: Corvidae): integrating data on nuclear and mitochondrial markers, vocalizations, and field observations. Organisms, Divers. & Evol. 29pp. doi.org/10.1007/s13127-022-00568-6

Lees, AC and JJ Gilroy. 2021. Bird migration: When vagrants become pioneers. Current Biology. 31: R1568–R1593. doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2021.10.058

Mullarney, K and Campbell, O. 2022. Identification of Saunders’s Tern and Little Tern, with special emphasis on juvenile and winter plumages. Dutch Birding. 44(3): 165-198.

de Raad, J, M Päckert, M Irestedt, A Janke, AP Kryukov, J Martens, YA Red’kin, Y Sun, T Töpfer, M Schleuning, EL Neuschulz and MA Nilsson. 2022. Speciation and population divergence in a mutualistic seed dispersing bird. Comms. Biol. 5: 429 (10pp) doi.org/10.1038/s42003-022-03364-2Schweizer, M, Q Tang, R Burri, SV Drovetski, H Robles, K Zyskowski, S Aghayan, M Rakovic and G Pasinelli. 2022. Deep, genome-wide phylogeographic structure indicates cryptic diversity in the Middle Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocoptes medius). Ibis. 2022: doi: 10.1111/ibi.13054. See also: https://bou.org.uk/blog-schweizer-diversity-european/?fbclid=IwAR3AdY6sJXaffaDk5FCKnwo8X4_KxFIDEuHXZHpNNz9XQfuv_vRP6aQ_xGA

1 We use the word ‘taxon’ (plural ‘taxa’) rather than ‘species’ or ‘subspecies’ here because there are a number of cases where any definition of a species or subspecies is inadequate to describe the status of populations where a majority of, but not all, individuals can be identified through visual identification, morphology or DNA studies. The subtleties revealed through much modern genetic research indicate that many more taxa than previously thought are in dynamic states of evolutionary stability that defy simple definitions of ‘species’ and ‘subspecies’ (the Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava complex (qv) is a good example). Overlying this problem is that precise knowledge of taxa distribution limits and population numbers and densities is lacking over vast areas of the Region, which leads us to be cautious about even well-argued cases for ‘splitting’ and ‘lumping’. We, therefore, retain some taxa that we have not elevated to a higher rank and others that we have not ‘lumped’, but we note the cases for doing so.