Proposal (407) to South American Classification Committee
Change the English name of Anthus chacoensis to Pampas Pipit
Summary: The established English name for Anthus chacoensis was Chaco Pipit, which was inaccurate and misleading with respect to its primary habitat. Now a new English name, Campo Pipit, has been introduced, but it is also inaccurate and misleading. Therefore, I propose to change the English name to Pampas Pipit, which is the most accurate based on distribution and biology.
Background: Anthus chacoensis was a poorly known species for about 40 years until Straneck (1987) presented a complete account of its natural history. He showed that A. chacoensis differs dramatically from A. lutescens in voice and habitat. Historically, this species has been known as Chaco Pipit, but the main distribution and habitat from where it is only known in life are the Pampas (Straneck 1987, Casañas et al. 2007). Based on this incongruence between the English name and the habitat, Ridgely and Tudor (2009) invented a new English name: Campo Pipit.
Analysis: The only concrete records from Chaco region are handful of specimens (among them is the holotype), which are all from the winter season. Based on the evidence, Casañas et al. (2007) considered this species to spend only the winter period in the Chaco. The Spanish name was changed during the 1980’s to Cachirla Trinadora (Trilling or Whistling Pipit), which is not a bad idea considering that the song is the most “musical” of all Neotropical pipits.
Ridgely and Tudors’ “Campo Pipit” is clearly a poor choice – it only generates further misinformation concerning the species’ habitat. Only three specimens have been collected within Campo habitat (in southern Misiones). All the rest of the specimens, and all field observations, have been from the Pampas during the summer. The data presented by Casañas et al. (2007) show that all the known breeding populations of the species occur in pampas habitat, principally in croplands but also in some natural grasslands.
Conclusion: My previous thought was that the English name was too well established to consider a change, although it was completely misleading with respect to the species’ primary habitat. Now, with the new name on the table (Campo Pipit), I think we must recognize that the main habitat is the pampas, and thus Pampas Pipit should be the correct name to avoid any further confusion.
Casañas H.E., I. Roesler & J.M. Klavins (2008) Historia natural y distribución de la Cachirla Trinadora (Anthus chacoensis). Hornero 22: 59-63.
Ridgely R.S. & G. Tudor (2009) Field guide to the Songbirds of South America: the Passerines. Univ. of Texas Press, Austin.
Straneck R.J. (1987) Aportes sobre el conocimiento y distribución de la Cachirla Amarillenta “Anthus lutescens” Pucheran y la Cachirla Chaqueña “Anthus chacoensis” Zimmer (Aves: Motacillidae). Revista del Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales “Bernardino Rivadavia”, Zoología 14: 95-102.
Comments from Remsen: “YES. Normally highly reluctant to modify well established English names, I make a rare exception when the existing one is completely misleading. Casañas et al. have shown that to be the case for A. chacoensis. Further, the new Ridgely-Tudor guide not only has shown no concern for stability by introducing another name, but also has further garbled the species’ true habitat.”
Comments from Stiles: “YES. Better a new, accurate name than an old, misleading one – especially as there are actually two “old” (at least published in a highly visible work) inaccurate names!”
Comments from Robbins: “YES. This is not only a more appropriate English name, but it also underscores this species being tied to one of the most endangered biomes in the New World (>99% of the pampas has been destroyed).”
Comments from Zimmer: “YES. Clearly, both “Chaco Pipit” and “Campo Pipit” are misleading. A habitat-based English name is appreciated as long as it accurately conveys information, especially in a group of birds in which most species represent relatively subtle variations on a common morphological theme.”
Comments from Jaramillo: “YES, for the reasons given. I lament the fact that Trilling Pipit was not on the table, as the song is the most readily identifiable “field mark” of this species, and while breeding in the Pampas it does winter away from there. But on the whole Pampas Pipit is an improvement.”