Summaries of Changes of earlier ORL Versions

ORL5.2: summary of changes

Version 5.2 includes updates in IOC10.1. Entries for those species addressed in Brochet et al 2019 on bird killing in the Arabian Peninsula are in bold red font and will remain so. Brief summaries of Non-Passerine papers of note are:

Forcina et al 2019, investigating microsatellite DNA, reinforced the findings of Boesman 2019 (cited and listed in the Summary of Changes for ORL5.1 below) that two populations of Black Francolin separable by voice in Iran. They also suggested than an extralimital eastern population may merit species status.

Gombobaater & Leahy 2019 map Mongolian bird populations in a useful book that better indicates the distribution species that also occur or may occur in the OSME Region.

Howell & Zufelt 2019 tackle in somewhat radical fashion the oceanic seabird taxa, many of them in OSME Region waters, incorporating taxonomic changes that in part derive from unpublished data. Their conclusions make more logical arguments, but time will tell if these are accepted sooner rather than later. Their use of well-chosen photos is spellbinding. The ORL adopts the changes formally or provisionally recommended by Howell & Zufelt 2019 without assuming that these are the final word.

Hrushka 2018 is a remarkable thesis on heron genetic relationships and could well be the platform where these are teased out as the basis of a major revision of the Ardeidae. The Cattle Egrets may move to Ardea, and work elsewhere may begin to examine the Little Egret/Reef Egret complex and the relationship of American Great Egrets to those in the Palearctic.

Andreyenkova et al 2019 suggest that in the Black Kite complex, parasitus (African Black Kite) and aegyptius (Yellow-billed Kite) may warrant species status, should further work support this, but even if kept together, they are separate from migrans (Eurasian Black Kite).

Kryukov 2019 on a broad study of corvids found a deep split between western and eastern populations of Rook Corvus frugilegus. ‘Western Rook’ C.(f.) frugilegus occurs in our Region, the ‘Eastern Rook, pastinator probably occurs no closer than 900km in China.

Richardson and Porter 2020 have produced a fine field guide for the island of Cyprus.

Andreyenkova, NG, IJ Starikov, M Wink, IV Karyakin, OV Andreyenkov and IF Zhimulev. 2019. The problems of genetic support of dividing the black kite (Milvus migrans) into subspecies. Vavilovsky J. Gen. & Breeding. Evolution of the Genome 23(2): 226-231 doi10.18699/VJ19.486

Brochet, A-L, S Jbour, RD Sheldon, R Porter, VR Jones, W al-Fazari, O al-Saghier, S Alkhuzai, LA al-Obeid, R Angwin, K Ararat, M Pope, MY Shobrak, MS Willson, SS Zadeghan and SHM Butchart. 2019. A preliminary assessment of the scope and scale of illegal killing and taking of wild birds in the Arabian Peninsula, Iran and Iraq. Sandgrouse 41(2): 154-175.

Forcina, G, M Guerrini, P Panayides, P Hadjigerou, AA Khan and F Barbanera. 2019. Molecular taxonomy and intra-Palaearctic boundary: new insights from the biogeography of the black francolin (Francolinus francolinus) by means of microsatellite DNA. Systematics and Biodiversity. 15pp.

Gombobaatar, S and C Leahy. 2019. Birds of Mongolia. Helm Field Guides. London. UK.

Howell, SNG and K Zufelt. 2019. Oceanic Birds of the World: a Photo Guide. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, USA.

Hrushka, JP. 2018. A phylogenomic evaluation of the relationships among herons (Aves: Ardeidae). MA thesis Univ. Kansas, USA.

Kryukov, A. 2019. Phylogeography and hybridization of corvid birds in the Palearctic Region. Vavilovsky J. Genet. & Breeding. 23(2): 232-238. doi10.18699/VJ19.487

Richardson, C and R Porter. 2020. Birds of Cyprus. Helm. Bloomsbury Press. London.

The following taxa have been added as new or retained as splits in the ORL:

African Crake Crex egregia was found at Eilat exhausted, taken into care and released January 2020. (2000km from nearest known population in SE Sudan).

Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus, normally distributed east of Pakistan on the Indian sub-continent: one was photographed extensively in Oman.

The White Noddy Gygis alba is split provisionally into 3, that in our Region becoming Indo-Pacific Noddy G.[a.] candida.

The Bridled Tern Onychoprion anaethetus has been split into 2 polytypic species, the Western Bridled Tern of the Caribbean and western Africa and the Eastern Bridled Tern O.[a.] anaethetus of the Indian Ocean to eastern Australia.

The Red-billed Tropicbird ssp indicus has been elevated provisionally to species rank as Arabian Tropicbird Phaethon [aethereus] indicus.

The White-faced Storm Petrel ssp dulciae of our Region has been elevated to species rank as Australian Storm Petrel Pelagodroma [marina] dulciae.

The White-bellied Storm Petrel Fregatta grallaria ssp leucogaster is now thought to contain a dark-bellied form previously treated as ssp melanoleuca of Black-bellied Storm Petrel Fregatta tropica: hence our treatment in the ORL as ‘melanoleuca’; it is as yet unclear where it breeds. It has also been considered a taxon of a Gough Island petrel of the Atlantic.

The polytypic Seychelles Shearwater Puffinus [bailloni] nicolae [& ssp colstoni] (originally subsumed by the Macaronesian Shearwater P. lherminieri/boydi/barolo complex to then become part of the Mascarene Shearwater P. bailloni species) is now a full Indian Ocean species.

The Brown Booby ssp plotus is elevated to species rank as Indo-Pacific Brown Booby Sula [leucogaster] plotus.

Mountain Hawk-Eagle Nisaetus nepalensis, long-asserted as occurring in eastern Afghanistan, has now been mapped as doing so by a small amount; we assume its occasional presence.

Dunn’s Lark Eremalauda dunni (sensu stricto) (‘African Dunn’s Lark’) is now accepted as having occurred on Cyprus in 2007. All other records in the Region are attributable to what is now Arabian Lark E. eremodires that in 2007 was just a ssp of Dunn’s Lark sensu lato.

The nominate (+ 5 sspp) of Striated Prinia Prinia crinigera have been separated from eastern extralimital populations that now comprise 4 full spp (which also incorporate the former P. ploycroa), the English name becoming Himalayan Prinia.

The Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-babbler Pomatorhinus erythrogenys, another taxon whose presence has been long-asserted as occurring in Afghanistan is now mapped as being present in a broad swathe 135km into that country in the Nurestan Forest Reserve.

Yellow-browed Bunting Emberiza chrysophrys, long-assumed to have crossed our Region as vagrants to the WP, has now been confirmed for our Region; one was photographed near Almaty, Kazakhstan.


Version 5.1 includes updates in IOC9.2. Over the last few years, the IOC List has resquenced many Families in the Passerines and has also resequenced many genera within Families and many species within genera. This has been a gradual process consequent upon (mostly) molecular research findings as DNA techniques have become ever more powerful. To some extent, this complex resequencing process has at least been slightly eased because the Passerines are but a single Order, whereas the Non-passerines comprise many Orders. IOC9.2 presents the far more difficult resequencing of the Non-passerine Orders, and the resequencing of many Scientific Families within many of these Orders. It remains to be seen whether the scale of future taxonomic revisions will reduce because changes in general will mostly be within Scientific families.

Although a large number of papers concerning taxa in the OSME Region were published over the last 6 months, the majority related to our Region peripherally or for only a few species.

Non-passerine papers of note are:

  • Boesman, P. 2019. Black Francolin has two vocal groups. Dutch Birding 41(2): 73-79
  • Flint, PR. 2019. Long-term changes in the numbers and abundance of regularly breeding species on Cyprus: a review. Sandgrouse 41(1): 36-70.
  • Flood, RL and R Gutiérrez. 2019. Status of Cory’s Shearwater in the western Mediterranean. Dutch Birding 41(3): 159-165.
  • Koshkina, A, AV Koshkin, AY Timoshenko, AA Koshkin and H Schielzeth. 2019. A population survey of the endangered White-headed Duck in Kazakhstan shows an apparently increasing Eastern population. Bird Study 66(1): 111-120.
  • Kunz, F, A Gamauf, FE Zachos and E Haring. 2019. Mitochondrial phylogenetics of the goshawk Accipiter [gentilis] superspecies. J. Zool. Syst. Evo.l Res. 1-17. doi: 10.1111/jzs.12285
  • Lago, P, M Austad and B Metzger. 2019. Partial migration in the Mediterranean Storm Petrel Hydrobates pelagicus melitensisMar. Orn. 47: 105-113.
  • Sheldon, RD, N Mikander and J Fernández Orueta. 2018. International Single Species Action Plan for the Conservation of the White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala). 1st Revision. CMS Technical Series. Bonn, Germany.
  • Wink, M. 2018. Phylogeny of Falconidae and phylogeography of Peregrine Falcons. Orn. Hung. 26(2): 27-37.

The Peter Boesman paper provides strong evidence for potential separation of the Black Francolin distribution in coastal mid-Iran.

Peter Flint details in considerable depth the recent history of many Cyprus species, especially including many Passerines.

Bob Flood & Ricard Gutiérrez map out the distributions of Cory’s and Scopoli’s Shearwaters in the Mediterranean Sea, establishing the breeding divide (with a few exceptions) much further east than the Strait of Gibraltar, noting that the two species differ by voice, which presumably maintains a low incidence of hybridism.

Alyona Koshkina et al consolidate a decade of surveys and independent records to chart a plausible increase in the eastern populations of White-headed Duck.

Florian Kunz at al find more evidence for Nearctic and Palearctic populations of Northern Goshawk to be treated separately.

Paulo Lago et al from datalogging Mediterranean Storm Petrels from the Filfla colony find that outside the breeding season, birds wander to the west, but their sample size was small; further work on birds from other colonies is needed for context.

Rob Sheldon et al have revised the White-headed Duck action plan, applicable parts of which were useful to Koshkina et al above.

Michael Wink has produced a weighty synthesis of the data on the relationships of falcons and falcon populations, but in particular has better clarified the status of Peregrine subspecies/populations. The evidence indicates strongly that taxon pelegrinodes, Barbary Falcon, is best regarded as ssp of Peregrine Falcon; less strong evidence supports the possible elevation of taxon babylonicus as a full species ‘Red-capped Falcon’, but investigation of other molecular markers would have to be supportive before that step.

Lastly, and of general interest, the first Tahiti Petrel Pseudobulweria rostrata for the OSME Region was photographed by Bill Simpson just south of Mirbat, Dhofar, Oman in February 2019.

Passerine papers of note are:

  • Babbington, J, G Boland, GM Kirwan, A Alsuhaibany, H Shirihai and M Schweizer. 2019. Confirmation of Acrocephalus scirpaceus avicenniae (Aves: Acrocephalidae) from mangroves on the Red Sea coast near Jazan, southwest Saudi Arabia. Zool. ME.
  • Fuchs, J, P Alström, R Yosef and U Olsson. 2019. (In prep). Miocene diversification of an open-habitat predatorial passerine radiation, the shrikes (Aves: Passeriformes: Laniidae). (submitted to Zool. Scripta)
  • Schweizer, M and R Burri. 2019. Trends in systematics: New insights in taxonomy of wheatears. Dutch Birding 41(2): 115-120
  • Schweizer, M, V Warmuth, NA Kakhki, M Aliabadian, M Förschler, H Shirihai, A Suh and R Burri. 2019. Parallel plumage color evolution and introgressive hybridization in wheatears. J. Evol. Biol. 32: 100-110. doi: 10.1111/jeb.13401
  • Sokolovskis, K, G Bianco, M Willemoes, D Solovyeva, S Bensch and S Åkesson. 2018. Ten grams and 13,000 km on the wing – route choice in willow warblers Phylloscopus trochilus yakutensis migrating from Far East Russia to East Africa. Movement Ecol. 6(20):
  • Sokolovskis, K, M Lundberg, M Liedvogel, D Solovyeva, S Åkesson M Willemoes and S Bensch. 2019. Phenotypic and genetic characterization of the East Siberian Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus yakutensis Ticehurst, 1935) in relation to the European subspecies. J. Orn.

Jem Babbington et al fill one of the many considerable gaps in knowledge of Reed Warbler taxa by confirming the identity of mangrove-breeding Red Sea populations. Brian Meadows’ observations from the 1970s have at long last been justified!

Jérôme Fuchs et al in a far-reaching molecular research analysis using both mitochondrial and nuclear markers for 34 recognized species of shrike, found, inter alia, that Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus and Red-backed Shrike L. collurio were not closely related, that Daurian Shrike L. isabellinus and Turkestan Shrike L. phoenicuroides were not closely related, and that none of the last three had split from Brown Shrike, but instead probably had a common ancestor. In addition, with regard to the findings on the large grey shrike complex of Olsson et al 2010 (qv below), their underlying application of the Olsson et al methodology was confirmed: “…and we will not discuss these relationships again as the original results were corroborated here.” We interpret that as additional validation of the ORL’s approach on the large grey shrike taxa.

Manuel Schweizer and Reto Burri produced a lucid and elegant summary of the deconstruction of the ‘traditional’ Mourning Wheatear Oenenthe lugens complex, teasing out the subtleties in style.

Manuel Schweizer et al not only found that Western and Eastern Black-eared Wheatears were not closely related (O. hispanica, O. melanoleuca), but neither were Cyprus Wheatear and Pied Wheatear (O. cypriaca, O. pleschanka). However, Cyprus Wheatear was found to be a sister species to Eastern Black-eared Wheatear. In other words, the strong plumage similarities of the black-eared wheatears and of Cyprus and Pied Wheatears are examples of parallel evolution!

Sokolovskis et al 2018, by datalogging the yakutensis subspecies of Willow Warbler from easternmost Russia, discovered that it flies a 13,000km route to Mozambique over 3-4 months, returning slightly faster.

Sokolovskis et al 2019 conclude that yakutensis breeds east of the Urals to the Bering Strait and that acredula breeds west of the Urals, but migrates to further west in Africa than yakutensis. Both sspp pass through the OSME Region.

ORL Summary of changes reference:

Olsson, U, P Alström, L Svensson, M Aliabadian and P Sundberg. 2010. The Lanius excubitor (Aves, Passeriformes) conundrum—Taxonomic dilemma when molecular and non-molecular data tell different stories. Mol. Phyl. & Evol. 55(2): 347-357.

ORL 4.4: summary of changes

Version 4.4 includes updates in IOC9.1.

Non-passerine papers of note are:

  • Andreyenkova et al 2018 analyse Black Kite taxa specimens across part of the vast distribution not previously sampled, and found evidence of interesting relationships between populations, and also considerable complexity, reinforcing the case for a thorough and more wide-ranging study.
  • Danckwerts et al 2016 established that the principle diet of Barau’s Petrel comprised cephalopods, but that the main post-breeding distribution (datalogger data), about 3000km east of the Réunion colony along the 20°S latitude, held low to medium densities of cephalopods. This area lacked competition for food and held few predators, the corollary being that any Barau’s Petrel encountered in the OSME deep-sea region were of pre-breeding age.
  • Isenmann & Thévenot 2018 examined endemicity and taxonomic differences of North African birds (including passerines), many of whose subspecies also occur in the OSME Region.
  • Jowers et al 2019 (Accepted paper), in a multi-DNA technique analysis of the suggested Buzzard superspecies Buteo buteo/rufinus/hemilasius/oreophilus, confirm its validity, and suggest taxon cirtensis should be an allospecies, pending additional sampling, of Common Buzzard and not of Long-legged Buzzard, although all samples examined held two lines of ancestry, and thus were hybridogenous in origin. Given this transfer, we tentatively suggest the informal name ‘North African Buzzard’ for B.(b.) cirtensis. Long-legged Buzzard becomes monotypic.
  • Kamp et al 2018 discovered a considerable genetic divergence between Middle Sotted Woodpecker populations separated by the line Dardanelles-Sea of Marmara-Istanbul-Sea of Azov: ssp medius occurs above this line and sanctijohhnnes et al below it, except medius occurs on the Lesvos Islands, indicative of a considerable sea-crossing compared to the narrows of the Bosphorus and Dardanelles.
  • Kennedy et al 2018 highlights an uncomfortable truth in their analysis of Indian Cormorant: it is one of many widespread and still-common species that has been so little-researched that there are no trend data.
  • Meine & Archibald 1996 (available on line), despite being a massive & authoritative work on cranes worldwide, has largely been bypassed in that subsequent erection of subspecies of the Common Crane gave insufficient weight to these 1996 conclusions. Common Crane has therefore reverted to monotypicity, at least until such time as Integrative Taxonomy can assemble sufficient data to decide otherwise.
  • Nebel et al 2018 show that the fragmentation of Roller habitat in Europe reduced local populations to extinction, because the species’ site-fidelity was so strong, that dispersal over distance to less-damaged habitat did not occur.
  • Nowald 2018 records that the Common Crane population described as ‘archibaldi’ breeding in the Georgia/NE Turkey/NW Armenia area winters south of Lake Van in the SE Turkey/NE Syria/NW Iraq area.

Passerine papers of note are:

  • Cai et al 2019 is a seminal paper on babbler taxonomy, including revision of the Sylvia warblers into two genera, Sylvia sensu stricto (Blackcap and Garden Warbler) and Curruca (All others). It also addresses the placement of white-eyes (Zosterops): the OSME Region has a relatively small proportion of this family, but there are marked changes, some emanating from Cibois 2003. The underlying point is that true babblers, traditional Sylvia warblers and Zosterops all share a common ancestor not shared by Phylloscopus and Acrocephalus warblers.
  • Cibois 2003, a first comprehensive analysis of babbler mtDNA.
  • Lim et al 2018 is a major paper on the deconstruction of the overlumped white-eye family, focussing on Asian taxa, but is not wholly extralimital. Further deconstruction is virtually certain.
  • Opaev et al 2018 considers ‘Eastern Siberian Stonechat’ Saxicola stejnegeri a full, if cryptic species, and overlaps with Svensson et al 2012, but retains the English names superseded in Svensson et al 2012 somewhat controversially and not aligning too well with the latter’s carefully-argued distributions.
  • Raković et al 2019 is a seminal paper on the Chiffchaff complex, wide-ranging and including analyses of previously unsampled populations. It considers tristis to be a separate or incipient species and establishes 5 mtDNA Clades (tristis, collybita, brevirostris/caucasicus, menzbieri & abietinus) without making detailed taxonomic comment, partly because populations from S Armenia to NE Iran have never been formally identified as to subspecies, partly because a completely unknown form was identified from Mount Hermon, but also because other DNA techniques should be applied to confirm their findings.
  • Wei et al 2018 on Bush Warblers, is a similarly heavyweight paper, though applicable only to one species in the ORL Hypothetical List.

References for ORL 4.4 Introductory Material


Andreyenkova, NG, OV Andreyenkov, IV Karyakin, and IF Zhimulev (Acad). 2018. New Haplotypes of the Mitochondrial Gene CytB in the Nesting Population of the Siberian Black Kite Milvus migrans lineatus Gray, 1831 in the Territory of the Republic of Tyva. Doklady Biochem. & Biophys. 482: 242–244.  (Pleiades Publishing, Ltd). doi: 10.1134/S1607672918050034

Danckwerts, DK, CD McQuaid, M Connan, MJ Smale, M Le Corre, L Humeau, S Kaehler, CC Juhasz, S Orlowski, J Tourmetzand S Jaquemet. 2016. Intra‑annual variation in the foraging ecology of the endangered endemic Barau’s Petrel (Pterodroma baraui) from Réunion Island, south‑western Indian Ocean: insights from a multifaceted approach. Mar. Biol163: 18.

Isenmann, P & M Thévenot. 2018. Endémisme et Différenciation Taxinomique chez les oiseaux nicheurs terrestres en Afrique du Nord. Alauda 86 (2): 117-152

Jowers, MJ, S Sánchez-Ramírez, S Lopes, I Karyakin, V Dombrovski, A Qninba, T Valkenburg, N Onofre, N Ferrand, P Beja, L, Palma and R Godinho. 2019. Unravelling population processes over the Late Pleistocene driving contemporary genetic divergence in Palearctic Buzzards, Mol. Phyl. Gen. & Evol. doi:

Kamp, L, G Pasinelli, P Milanesi, SV Drovetski, Z Kosiński, S Kosenko, H Robles and M Schweizer. 2018. Significant Asia‐Europe divergence in the middle spotted woodpecker (Aves, Picidae)Zool. Scripta. 1-16. doi: 10.1111/zsc.12320

Kennedy, M, SS Seneviratne, NJ Rawlence, S Ratnayake and HG Spencer. 2018. The phylogenetic placement of the enigmatic Indian Cormorant, Phalacrocorax fuscicollis (Phalacrocoracidae). Mol. Phy. & Evol.  doi: ..

Meine, CD and GW Archibald (Eds) 1996. The Cranes: – Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN Gland, Switzerland & Cambridge UK.

Nebel, C, K Kadletz, A Gamauf†, E Haring, P Sackl, M Tiefenbach, H Winkler and FE Zachos. 2018. Witnessing extinction: Population genetics of the last European Rollers (Coracias garrulus) in Austria and a first phylogeographic analysis of the species across its distribution range. J. Zool. Syst. Evol. Res2018: 1–15.

Nowald, G. 2018. Report about first results of the cooperation research: Transcaucasian Eurasian Crane (Grus grus archibaldi): species ecology, behavior and conservation. Kranichschutz Deutschland gGmbH, Lindenstraße 27, 18445 Groß Mohrdorf, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany


Cai, T, A Cibois, P Alström, RG Moyle, JD Kennedy, S Shao, R Zhang, M Irestedt, PGP Ericson, M Gelang, Y Qu, F Lei and J Fjeldså. 2019. Near-complete phylogeny and taxonomic revision of the world’s babblers (Aves: Passeriformes), Mol. Phyl. & Evol. (Accepted MS) doi:

Cibois, A. 2003. Mitochondrial DNA phylogeny of babblers (Timaliidae). The Auk 120: 35-54.

Paul Isenmann and Michel Thévenot. 2018. Endémisme et Différenciation Taxinomique chez les oiseaux nicheurs terrestres en Afrique du Nord. Alauda 86 (2): 117-152

Lim, BTM, KR Sadanandan, C Dingle, YY Leung, DM Prawiradilaga, M Irham, H Ashari, JGH Lee and FE Rheindt. 2018. Molecular evidence suggests radical revision of species limit in the great speciator white‑eye genus ZosteropsJ. Orn2018: 16pp,

Opaev, A, Y Red’kin, E Kalinin and M Golovina. 2018. Species limits in the Northern Eurasian taxa of the common stonechats, Saxicola torquatus complex (Aves: Passeriformes, Muscicapidae). Vertebrate Zool. 68(3): 199-211.

Raković, M, JM Neto, RJ Lopes, EA Koblik, IV Fadeev, YV Lohman, SA Aghayan, G Boano, M Pavia, Y Perlman, Y Kiat, A Ben Dov, JM Collinson, G Voelker and SV Drovetski. 2019. Geographic patterns of mtDNA and Z-linked sequence variation in the Common Chiffchaff and the ‘chiffchaff complex’. PLoS ONE: 14(1): e0210268.

Wei, C, L Dong, S-H Li, P Alström, Y Liu, C Xia, C-T Yao and Y Zhang. 2018. From Himalayas to Continental Island: Integrative species delimitation in the Brownish-flanked Bush Warbler Horornis fortipes complex. Mol. Phyl. Evol. 2018.10.009 (accepted)

ORL 4.3+: summary of changes

Version 4.3+ is an interim version mainly to accommodate data from Shirihai & Svensson 2018, but also covers a welcome critique of Cyprus taxa from Peter Flint (pers comm) and includes additional data from publications up to September 2018. Unlike full ORL updates, 4.3+ does not change the red-font information of 4.3.

  • Collar et al (30 co-authors) 2018 is a seminal paper on ‘Averting the extinction of bustards in Asia’ where declines are mostly much worse than suspected.
  • Shirihai & Svensson 2018 revise, or accept revision of, the taxonomic status of many passerine species, mostly conservatively, but occasionally radically, but with well-expressed justification. Of particular interest to the OSME Region is the split of Scotocerca inquieta Streaked Scrub Warbler into Sahara Scrub Warbler S. saharae that occurs from NW Africa east to the Libya/Egypt border, the reduced S. inquieta sensu stricto occurring from just W of Cairo E to S Kazakhstan & Ladakh somewhat discontinuously. Also, Variable Wheatear Oenanthe picata becomes 3 spp, Blyth’s Wheatear O. picata sensy stricto, Gould’s Wheatear O. capistrata and Strickland’s Wheatear O. opistholeuca. The ORL already had provisionally suggested O. picata as ‘Black-bellied Wheatear’, but Shirihai & Svensson 2018 have constructed a remarkable justification for their decisions which we think bears sufficient merit to account for the proportions of populations whose identity is not clear-cut. Basalt Wheatear O. warriae becomes a species on the argument that its separation from related lugens taxa is of the order of existing species-pairs.
  • Nuanced understanding of genetic diversity and population structure of Great Bustards is developed in Kessler et al 2018.
  • Kralj et al 2017 comprehensively demolish the published understanding that Croatian Black-eared Wheatears were of the western form, all specimens in Croatian museums now confirmed as the eastern form, melanoleuca. The western form hispanica occurs at its northern limit in western Italy, Genoa.
  • le Nevé et al 2018 in a chapter of the downloadable The Aquatic Warbler Conservation Handbook. Almost certainly confirm the extinction of the putative eastern population of this species of Kazakhstan, an expected explanation for the non-occurrence of migrants in the OSME Region in recent decades.
  • Perlman et al 2018 discuss recent taxonomic advances and selected mysteries in the OSME Region.
  • Considerable effort has begun into disentangling  the over-lumped Zosterops genus, Lim et al 2018 and Round et al 2018 making considerable progress with extralimital taxa mainly, but featuring several taxa that have been removed from the Oriental White-eye Z. palpebrosus context. Almost as a secondary issue, there is a possible link between small, isolated mangrove-living populations and distant migratory species: on this very aspect, there is a paper in gestation by Jem Babbington, Guy Kirwan, Manuel Schweizer and Hadoram Shirihai on, inter alia, mangrove-living Zosterops in Arabia.

ORL 4.4 is planned for release in January 2019. Should the IOC re-sequencing of genera occur before then, ORL 5.1 would be released instead.

References for ORL 4.3+ Introductory Material

Collar, NJ, HS Baral, N Batbayar, GS Bardwaj, N Brahma, RJ Burnside, AY Choudhury, O Combreau, PM Dolman, PF Donald, S Dutta, D Gadhavi, K Gore, OA Goroshko, C Hong, GA Jathar, RRS Jha, YV Jhala, MA Koshkin, BP Lahkar, G Liu, SP Mahmood, MB Morales, SS Narwade, T Natsagdorj, AA Nefedov, JP Silva, JJ Thakuri, M Wang, Y Zhang and AE Kessler. 2018. Averting the extinction of bustards in Asia. Forktail 33: 1-26.

Kessler, AE, MA Santos, R Flatz, N Batbayar, T Natsagdorj, D Batsuuri,FG Bidashko, N Galbadrakh, Oleg Goroshko, VV Khrokov, T Unenbat, II Vagner, M Wang and CI Smith. 2018. Mitochondrial Divergence between Western and Eastern Great Bustards: Implications for Conservation and Species Status. J. Heredity. 2018: 1-12. doi:10.1093/jhered/esy025

Kralj, I, S Barišić, D Ćiković, V Tutiš. 2017. Colouration and Biometry of the Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica from the Eastern Adriatic Coast. Larus 51: 25-32

Lim, BTM, KR Sadanandan, C Dingle, YY Leung, DM Prawiradilaga, M Irham, H Ashari, JGH Lee and FE Rheindt. 2018. Molecular evidence suggests radical revision of species limits in the great speciator white‑eye genus ZosteropsJ. Orn. 2018: 16pp,

le Nevé, A, C Blaize, O Dehorter, H Dugué, D Hemery, F Jiguet, R Musseau, JM Neto, A Rguibi Idrissi, C Zumalacárregui and N Roothaert. 2018. Migration of the Aquatic Warbler (Acrocephalus paludicola). 2.9 In: Tanneberger, F & J Kubacka (Eds) The Aquatic Warbler Conservation Handbook. Brandenburg State Office for Environment (LfU). Potsdam, Germany.

Perlman, Y, M Blair and R Sheldon. 2018. Taxonomic advances and mysteries in the OSME Region. Sandgrouse 40(2): 176-185.

Round, PD, S Manawattana, J Khudamrongsawat, S Thunhikorn, M Safoowong and T Bummakasikara. 2018. Disentangling avian diversity: South-East Asian mainland Oriental White-eye Zosterops palpebrosus constitutes two distinct lineages. Forktail 33: 103-115.

Shirihai, H and L Svensson. 2018. Handbook of Western Palearctic Birds: Passerines: 2 vols. Helm. London, UK.

ORL 4.3: summary of changes

  • The ORL Non-passerine, Passerine and Hypothetical Lists now will display rows shaded red with yellow bold text to indicate recent or data-driven major conservation concerns.
  • Wallace et al 2017 divide Hydrobatidae (as enlarged by subsuming Oceanodroma taxa) into 4 Clades, only one of which is wholly extralimital to the Region.
  • Korrida & Schweizer 2013 & Haghani et al 2018 reinforce the case that there has been little or no gene-flow between North African Houbara Chlamydotis undulata and Asian Macqueen’s C. macqueenii Bustard populations, nor has there been between Saudi Arabian and Iranian populations of macqueenii. Indeed, the Sinai macqueeni population has evolved genetically slightly away from all other macqueenii and especially from undulata.
  • Using geolocator data, Tomkovich et al 2018 showed that Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula tundrae breeding in easternmost Russia make a round-trip migration journey via Arabia to the Horn of Africa of 25,000 km.
  • Johansson et al 2018 revise relationships within Coraciidae, but postpone taxonomic revisions until the species limits of extralimital Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis enable its placement within Rollers. We incorporate informally only the derived Clade composition.
  • Mindell et al 2018 present preliminary consideration of relationships and history of raptor taxa. Other papers will follow as unresolved aspects are researched, but one immediate recommendation is to split Merlin Falco columbarius into extralimital American Merlin Falco columbarius sensu stricto and Eurasian Merlin F. aesalon.
  • Corso et al 2018 infers seriously large declines in 3 Lanner Falcon F. biarmicus sspp populations.
  • IOC8.2 confirmed that all large grey shrike taxa previously and variously designated by authorities as descended from meridionalis ancestry are now unequivocally from ancestral excubitor stock (some via Nearctic borealis on their evolutionary route), as has been proposed in the ORL since 2010 (Olsson et al 2010).
  • IOC 9.1 Draft proposes acceptance of the Arabian Red-capped/Blanford’s Lark complex iaw Stervander et al 2016, in that Calandrella eremica Arabian Red-capped Lark comprise the nominate (SW Saudi Arabia & NW Yemen) & the African extralimital & isolated darooensis. Blanford’s Lark C. blanfordi sensu stricto will be monotypic, subsuming erlangeri, resident wholly on the African side of the Red Sea.
  • In incorporating the conclusions of Alström et al 2018, IOC8.2 resequences the Phylloscopidae, which we indicate by orange shading in column A.
  • Tickell’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus affinus is provisionally added to the Non-Passerine List given the BirdLife Datazone map of June 2018 indicating its likely presence in eastern Nurestan, Afghanistan.
  • Khoury 2018 records a decline of Clamorous Reed Warbler Acrocephalus (s.) stentoreus, Common Nightingale Luscinia megarhyncos and Dead Sea Sparrow Passer moabiticus in the Jordan River valley, Jordan, due to habitat destruction and water shortages.
  • Cibois et al 2018 extensively recast the phylogeny of Leiothrichidae (to which had been transferred numerous taxa previously included in Timaliidae). Although most changes at genus level are extralimital to the OSME Region, one, the substitution of Turdoides by Argya, we follow. Some resequencing has also occurred within newly-erected Clades.
  • Federenko 2018 erects a new ssp, murinus, of ‘Eastern Black Redstart’ Phoenicurus ochruros that occurs in easternmost Kazakhstan. Its purported breeding distribution makes it a near-isolate. It remains to be seen if this will be generally accepted, although the paper (in Russian) looks well set out, and so pro tem we list it separately as ssp ‘Sayan Black Redstart’ (after its main geographic occurrence) to keep it in view.
  • Semenov et al 2018 assessed population divergence and structure in the White Wagtail Motacilla alba complex in 17 microsatellite nuclear markers across alba, personata, baicalensis, ocularis, leucopsis & (extralimital) lugens. Essentially, little overall clarity was gained in settling the status of sspp or populations, but better understanding was gained about the nature of the processes that produce many of the changing complexities. Examples of such processes are: how ancestral populations were differentially affected by the geographical irregularities of glaciation advances and retreats on breeding distributions and glacial refuges; how breeding populations related to changes in the extent of steppe grasslands, and how plumage characteristics could persist through annual female selection preferences as well as endogenously.

References for ORL4.3 Introductory Material

Alström, P, FE Rheindt, R Zhang, M Zhao, J Wang, X Zhu, C Yin Gwee, Y Hao, J Ohlson, C Jia, DM Prawiradilaga, PGP Ericson, F Lei and U Olsson. 2018. Complete species-level phylogeny of the leaf warbler (Aves: Phylloscopidae) radiation, Mol. Phyl. &Evol.

Cibois, A, M Gelang, P Alström, E Pasquet, J Fjeldsaå, PGP Ericson and U Olsson. 2018. Comprehensive phylogeny of the laughingthrushes and allies (Aves, Leiothrichidae) and a proposal for a revised taxonomy. Zool. Scripta2018: 1-13. doi: 10.1111/zsc.12296

Corso, A. 2018. Updated status of European Lanner Falcon, Falco biarmicus feldeggii (Schlegel, 1843) (Aves Falconiformes): a taxon on the verge of extinction, with brief comments on the North African Lanner, F. biarmicus erlangeri (Kleinschimdt, 1901). Biodiversity J9(1): 35–44

Fedorenko, VA. 2018. Новый подвид Горихвостки-Чернушки – Phoenicurus ochruros murinus subsp. nov. из Алтайско-Саянской горной страны и актуальный ареал Горихвостки-Чернушки. [A new subspecies of the Black Redstart – Phoenicurus ochruros murinus subsp. nov. from the Altai-Sayan mountainous country and the current breeding range of the Black Redstart.]  Proc. Zool.InstRuss. Acad. Sci322(2): 108–128.

Hagani, A, M Aliabadian, J Sarhangzadeh and A Setoodeh. 2018. Evaluation of genetic diversity and population structure of Macqueen’s Bustard Chlamydotis macqueenii in IranBird Study 65(1): 108-113.

Johansson, US, M Irestedt, Y Qu and PGP Ericson. 2018. Phylogenetic relationships of rollers (Coraciidae) based on complete mitochondrial genomes and 15 nuclear genes. Mol. Phyl. & Evol. doi:

Khoury, F. 2018. Chance and challenges in the protection of three avian specialists, Common Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos, Clamorous Reed Warbler Acrocephalus stentoreus and Dead Sea Sparrow Passer moabiticus, in the Jordan Valley, Hashemite Kingdom of JordanSandgrouse Supp. 4. 105-112.

Korrida, A and M Schweizer. 2013. Diversification across the Palaearctic desert belt throughout the Pleistocene: phylogeographic history of the Houbara–Macqueen’s bustard complex (Otididae: Chlamydotis) as revealed by mitochondrial DNA. J. Zool. Syst. Evol. Res. 52(1): 65—74.  doi: 10.1111/jzs.12036

Mindell, DP, J Fuchs and J Johnson. 2018. Phylogeny, Taxonomy, and Geographic Diversity of Diurnal Raptors: Falconiformes, Accipitriformes, and CathartiformesChap. 1. In: Sarasola, JH JM Grande and JJ Negro. (Eds). Birds of Prey: Biology and conservation in the XXI century. Springer Intl. Publ. AG. Cham, Switzerland.

Olsson, U, P Alström, L Svensson, M Aliabadian and P Sundberg. 2010. The Lanius excubitor (Aves, Passeriformes) conundrum—Taxonomic dilemma when molecular and non-molecular data tell different stories. Mol. Phyl. & Evol55(2): 347-357.

Semenov, GA, EA Koblik, YA Red’kin, and AV Badyaev. 2018. Extensive phenotypic diversification coexists with little genetic divergence and a lack of population structure in the White Wagtail subspecies complex (Motacilla alba). J. Evol. Biol. doi: 10.1111/jeb.13305

Stervander, M, P Alström, U Olsson, U Ottosson, B Hansson and S Bensch. 2016. Multiple instances of paraphyletic species and cryptic taxa revealed by mitochondrial and nuclear RAD data for Calandrella larks (Aves: Alaudidae). Mol. Phyl. & Evol102: 233–245

Tomkovich, PS, R Porter, EY Loktionov and EE Syroechkovskiy. 2018. Transcontinental pathways and seasonal movements of an Asian migrant, the Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula tundraeWader Study: 124(3): 175-184. doi 10.18194/ws.00086

Wallace, SJ, JA Morris-Pocock, J González-Solís, P Quillfeldt and VL Friesen. 2017. A phylogenetic test of sympatric speciation in the Hydrobatinae (Aves: Procellariiformes). Mol. Phyl. & Evol. 107: 39-47.

The IOC re-sequencing of Non-Passerine Orders, originally planned for late 2017, is yet to occur.

ORL 4.2: summary of changes

  • Baillon’s Crake Zapornia pusilla has two genetically distinct populations sets, Western Z, intermedia and Eastern Z pusilla sensu nova; both occur in the Region Taylor et al 2018.
  • Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis has been split into Wetern S. suratensis and extralimital Eastern S. chinensis sensu novo del Hoyo et al 2018.
  • Dunn’s Lark Eremelauda dunni has been split by Shirihai & Svensson 2018 (published later this year) into Arabian Dunn’s Lark E eremodites and African Dunn’s Lark E. dunni sensu novo. The latter is so far extralimital, although the Cyprus 2007 record strongly resembles it, but no blood samples or measurements were taken Donald & Christodoulides 2018.
  • Schweizer et al 2018 found significant genetic separation distances between Pale Martin Riparia diluta sspp diluta & indica, but lack of parapatry/sympatry knowledge and the need for other DNA techniques prevent declaration of separate spp. However, we list each taxon separately in our traditional ‘don’t know’ format as Pale Martin sensu novo and Indian Pale Martin.
  • Collar 2017 recognises Delichon lagopadum Eastern House Martin as distinct from Common House Martin D. urbicum sensu lato.
  • Deconstruction of Red-rumped Swallow results in several extralimital sspp being transferred to Striated Swallow Cecropis striata and 2 other extralimital sspp elevated to species rank, Sri Lanka Swallow C. hyperthyra and MalayanSwallow (Rufous-bellied Swallow) C. badia Eaton et al 2016; those remaining taxa which occur in the OSME Region comprise parts of Daurian Swallow C. daurica sensu novo (easternmost Kazakhstan & extralimital to E & SE in 3 extralimital sspp) and Red-rumped Swallow sensu novo C. rufula (S Europe, N Africa E to NW India).
  • We understand that Shirihai & Svensson 2018 elevate Ehrenberg’s Redstart to full species; pro tem we list as ssp Phoenicurus p. samamisicus.
  • We received recently evidence of a recent range extension over a wide are in Pakistan to the Afghan border of Brown Rock Chat Oenanthe fusca from a source who wishes to remain anonymous, but who has provided us with much very useful information over a period of time; we tentatively have added this species to the list on the circumstantial conclusion that it has crossed into Afghanistan at several relatively low-altitude valleys.
  • Drovetski et al 2018 show that biogeographical histories of many wagtail populations do not accord with their evolutionary histories It’s quite a complex concept and it can hurt the non-specialist brain! “Therefore, multiple cycles of glacial oscillations could have preserved divergent ancestral mtDNA lineages initially sorted geographically, while also allowing nuDNA to sort into ecologically divergent lineages, and phenotypes, that were recognized by traditional taxonomy.” We surmise that some taxa will be split and some may be lumped or be found unsupportable as future work proceeds. Hence we cautiously layer the 2018 conclusions over the information in Alström & Mild 2003 to suggest that Eastern Motacilla (c.) citreola and Western Citrine Wagtail M.(c.) werae have valid separate identities (as several Russian ornithologists have long championed).

References for ORL4.2 Introductory Material

Alström, P and K Mild. 2003. Pipits & Wagtails. Helm. A&C Black. London. UK.

Collar, N. 2017. Species-level changes proposed for Asian birds in 2016, and discoveries of new taxa. BirdingASIA 28: 12-22

Donald, PF and S Christodoulides. 2018. The 2007 record of ‘Dunn’s Lark’ on Cyprus revisited, with notes on the separation of Dunn’s Lark Eremelauda dunni and Arabian Lark E. eremoditesSandgrouse 40(1): 17-24.

Drovetski, SV, AB Reeves, YA Red’kin IV Fadeev, EA Koblik, VN Sotnikov and G Voelker. 2018. Multi-locus reassessment of a striking discord between mtDNA gene trees and taxonomy across two congeneric species complexes. Mol Phyl & Evol 120: 43–52.

Eaton, JA, B van Balen, NW Brickle, and FE Rheindt. 2016. Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago: Greater Sundas and Wallacea. Lynx Edicions. Barcelona, Spain.

del Hoyo, J, N Collar, GM Kirwan and EFJ Garcia. 2018. Western Spotted Dove (Spilopelia suratensis). In: del Hoyo, J, A Elliott, J Sargatal, DA Christie and E de Juana, (Eds). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Schweizer, M, Y Liu, U Olsson, H Shirihai, Q Huang, PJ Leader, J Luis Copete, GM Kirwan, G Chen and L Svensson. 2018. Contrasting patterns of diversification in two sister species of martins (Aves: Hirundinidae): the Sand Martin Riparia riparia and the Pale Martin R. dilutaMol. Phyl. Evol.. doi:

Shirihai, H and L Svensson. 2018. Handbook of Western Palearctic Birds: Passerines: 2 vols. Helm. London, UK.

Taylor, B, GM Kirwan and DA Christie. 2018. Baillon’s Crake (Zapornia pusilla). In: del Hoyo, J, A. Elliott, J Sargatal, DA Christie and E de Juana, (Eds). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.