Proposal (101) to South American Classification Committee


Change English name of Tangara viridicollis


Effect on South American CL: This proposal would change the English name of a species on our list from a "Meyer de Schauensee" name ("Silvery Tanager") to an "Isler" name ("Silver-backed Tanager").


Background: Meyer de Schauensee (1966, 1970) used the name "Silvery Tanager" for Tangara viridicollis, and this was followed by Parker et al. (1982) and presumably other literature, until Isler & Isler (1987) changed this to "Silver-backed Tanager. " This was followed by Ridgely & Tudor (1989), who noted:


"As this bird is not predominately silvery, we have opted to slightly modify its English name to 'Silver-backed'; dorsal color also represents the simplest way to separate T. viridicollis from the closely related T. argyrofenges."


This was followed by Sibley & Monroe (1990), Clements and Shany (2001), and Hennessey (2003), but not Fjeldså & Krabbe (1990) or Dickinson (2003).


Analysis: "Silvery-backed" might be a slightly better name, but not dramatically so. In contrast to the statement above, throat color is just as simple a way to tell T. viridicollis from T. argyrofenges (which will be brought up in companion proposal), and the silver of T. viridicollis is not restricted to the back but also the conspicuously contrasting sides and flanks.


Recommendation: I tentatively vote NO on this proposal. In this case, I do not think the loss of an historical name is worth the slight, at best, improvement. On the other hand, the change is not large, and if Tom is going to use "Silver-backed" in the new Peru book, I'll change my vote.


Literature Cited:

CLEMENTS, J. F., AND N. SHANY. 2001. A field guide to the birds of Peru. Ibis Publ. Co., Temecula, California.

FJELDSÅ, J., AND N. KRABBE. 1990. Birds of the High Andes. Zoological Museum, Univ. Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.

HENNESSEY, A. B, S. K. HERZOG, AND F. SAGOT. 2003. Lista anotada de las Aves de Bolivia. Asociación Armonía/Birdlife International, Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

ISLER, M., AND P. ISLER. 1987. The tanagers, natural history, distribution, and identification. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

MEYER DE SCHAUENSEE, R. 1966. The species of birds of South America and their distribution. Livingston Publishing Co., Narberth, Pennsylvania.

MEYER DE SCHAUENSEE, R. 1970. A guide to the birds of South America. Livingston Publishing Co., Wynnewood, Pennsylvania.

PARKER, T. A. III, S. A. PARKER, & M. A. PLENGE. 1982. An annotated list of Peruvian birds. Buteo Books.

RIDGELY, R. S., AND G. TUDOR. 1989. The birds of South America, vol. 1. Univ. Texas Press, Austin.

SIBLEY, C. G., AND B. L. MONROE, JR. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the World. Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut.


Van Remsen, February 2004




Comments from Robbins: "YES. I find that this is enough of an improvement to merit the change."


Comments from Zimmer: "YES. I really think this name is much more appropriate in conjuring up what the bird looks like, and it has been used in a number of references."


Comments from Stiles: "NO - the old name is not wrong, just nondiagnostic."


Comments from Nores: "Si. Yo no estoy de acuerdo en denominar a una especie como si fuera de un color uniforme, cuando sólo tiene de ese color una parte del cuerpo. Con el criterio anterior también se podría haber llamado a esta especie "Black Tanager" porque tiene negro la parte ventral y la corona."


Comments from Jaramillo: "YES.  I do find Silvery somewhat misleading, and Silver-backed does conjure up a better image of what this bird looks like. I am also going for Straw-backed on the next proposal and do like the parallel nature of these names."