Proposal (583) to South American Classification Committee
Change English name for Myrmeciza immaculata (II) to "Blue-lored Antbird"
With the passing of Proposal 541, the names "Western Immaculate-Antbird" and "Andean Immaculate-Antbird" were adopted for Myrmeciza zeledoni and M. immaculata respectively. With the passing of Proposal 568A, the name of M. zeledoni is to be changed to Zeledon's Antbird, as used by Cory & Hellmayr (1924). The SACC has however pended changing zeledoni whilst the case of immaculata is dealt with through this proposal (and any others needed). This is because there was no consensus as to the name for M. immaculata in Proposal 568B. All committee members preferred removing the usage of the compound name ("Andean Immaculate Antbird"), but most did not express a preference. There were two preferences indicated for "Lafresnaye's Antbird" and one for retaining simple "Immaculate Antbird".
I believe that both these names are inappropriate. Here is why:
Immaculate: As noted in previous proposals, most birders have seen Immaculate Antbird in Ecuador and Costa Rica, where M. zeledoni occurs. Retaining "Immaculate Antbird" for the rare Central, East and Venezuelan Andean foothill species means that the species of more restricted distribution would have the old name of broader application. That is likely to cause confusion.
Lafresnaye's: I appreciate that patronyms can be OK in that they educate birders about ornithological history. However, they are pretty useless in the field and often unmemorable, not facilitating communication in the same way as well as geographic or morphological names. I would personally revise Tom Schulenburg’s commentary on Proposal 568 that patronyms (not compound names) "are detestable (and SACC really needs to be broken of the habit of adopting such names)". We already have Lafresnaye's Piculet Picumnus lafresnayi, Lafresnaye's Woodcreeper Xiphorhynchus guttatoides and Mountain Velvetbreast Lafresnaya lafresnayi. Lafresnaye described lots of birds, especially using Bogotá specimens and I salute his valued contribution. There are already a number of "Temminck’s" this, "Pallas's" that and "Wilson's" the other. But I am going to call enough is enough for yet another "Lafresnaye's"!
Blue-lored: In Donegan (2012) I stated that I could not think of a plumage-based name due to sexual dichromatism in immaculata. Having thought further, though, there is one notable field feature for this species uniting both sexes: the blue bare skin between the eyes and bill. As a result, I will here propose the novel name: "Blue-lored Antbird". In favour of this name:
· Many antbirds, including in the genera Myrmeciza, Myrmornis, Gymnocichla, Gymnopithys, Rhegmatorhina and Phaenostictus, have blue bare skin in the loral region. However, in most species, this is an eye ring or more extensive than just in the lores; or does not reach the bill. M. immaculata (and M. zeledoni) differ in that the bare skin behind the eye is white, so blue is restricted to the lores.
· "Lored" is a homonym for "Lord" (in the language, not the nomenclature sense). But we already have a Red-lored Parrot Amazona autumnalis. So Blue-lored Antbird should not confuse as a depressive avian rival to Dark Lord Vader!
· I have not seen "lore" used much as a term for bare skin patches in antbirds, perhaps because few species have bare skin restricted to the region, but the alternative term "cere" is too strongly linked to hawks and falcons for my liking.
Heads of the male holotype and female-plumage type (actually an immature male) of M. immaculata concepcion, taken from my type description and species limits revisionary paper, are shown below by way of illustration.
If this proposal fails and no one can come up with a better idea, I shall give in and raise a further proposal for yet another "Lafresnaye's" name.
References in the previous proposals cited above.
Thomas Donegan, August 2013
Comments from Remsen: “YES. As Thomas notes, Lafresnaye already has plenty of recognition, and use of Immaculate for one of the daughter species of a split should be avoided in my opinion unless other options are worse.
“[Some viewers report having problems seeing one or both photos; they both clearly show the blue skin in the lores region].”
Comments from Stiles: “YES. Well, although this name does not distinguish immaculata from zeledoni, I will have to admit that Thomas is right - both ex-Immaculates do have white postocular skin vs. blue lores (my photos of zeledoni bear this out). I am also pleased to note that we got it right in the Costa Rican guide - but that both the Panama and Colombia guides have the postocular skin blue like the lores! This probably comes from using older study skins by the artist, which didn´t have this difference pointed out on the specimen labels (in skins, the color of the bare skin often fades and becomes indeterminate). My photos of several other Myrmeciza and Thamnophilus species with blue ocular skin also show the blue both before and behind the eye. While the most diagnostic name would be ‘white-postocular skinned‘, I can't think of any way to turn this into a digestible name - so I´ll go with ‘Blue-lored’ as first choice (but could live with ‘Lafresnaye's’ as a second choice).”
Comments from Jaramillo: YES. Blue lored is good, novel, and memorable. Looking at the photos, ‘blue-teared’ would have been better as it looks like a blue tear is dripping out the back of those eyes! But Blue-lored maybe more conventional.”