Proposal (295) to South American Classification Committee


Change English name of T. nudigenis to something besides "Bare-eyed"


Summary: This proposal gives SACC the chance to adopt one of five possible names for T. nudigenis. The first of the five possibilities is to simply keep it as "Bare-eyed Thrush," as it is now in SACC list now that we have changed this former "Robin" to "Thrush." The first step is to decide whether to stick with status quo or go with a new name; this will be the theme of this proposal.


Text from Proposal 260, which triggered this proposal:


"As pointed out in a previous version of this proposal by Dan Lane, changing "Bare-eyed Robin" to "Bare-eyed Thrush" would conflict with the widely used English name of the African Turdus tephronotus. Recent authors who have come up against this same problem (Sibley and Monroe 1990, Clement 2000); have changed the name to "Yellow-eyed Thrush" and Collar (2005 [HBW]) to "Spectacled Thrush". On principle, "Spectacled" is arguably better in that the more distinguishing morphological feature that is yellow is in the orbital region whilst many thrushes have yellow irises. However, "Yellow-eyed" is more widely used of the two, given "Spectacled’s novelty. "Bare-eyed" is probably the better name descriptively. It could be argued that retaining "Robin" for T. nudigenis would be preferable to the alternative of adopting a relatively novel English name for the species. I will raise a series of proposals to adopt of one of the three available names if "Thrush" is approved for this species, such that questions as to whether "Bare-eyed", "Spectacled" or "Yellow-eyed" are better can be taken off the table for present purposes. "


In this proposal ...

"NO" = retain "Bare-eyed".


Reasons in favour: (i) English name synonymy was not a matter of great concern on another vote (Black Vulture vote, proposal no. 259); (ii) this name was widely used prior to the 1990s; (iii) the name aptly describes the most notable morphological feature of the species.


"YES" = change to something besides "Bare-eyed."


Reasons against retaining Bare-eyed: (i) English name synonyms are best avoided where possible; (ii) this name is barely used in post-1990 publications, and (iii) other names are used in recent publications, so concocting a novel name is not necessary.


Recommendation:  I recommend a "YES" vote to avoid English name synonymy here. The English name nomenclature for this species is a complete mess. I hope that, rather than invoking retro-stability arguments, the SACC will show leadership on this issue. Given that many books are requiring or recommending SACC use and given that so many alternatives exist, whatever is chosen is likely to become widely used in the future.


If this proposal passes, then one of the following names is available and will constitute a separate proposal.


1. "Yellow-eyed"

Reason in favour: this was the more widely used of the three available new names in the 1990s and early 2000s. Reasons against: (i) the name is misleading - it is the bare skin, not eye, that is yellow and the iris is brown, not yellow; see, e.g. the following photograph:; (ii) more recent authors have sought to avoid using this name.


2. "Spectacled"

Reasons in favour: (i) this is arguably the best descriptively of the two alternative names: (ii) following its adoption in Handbook of the Birds of the World, this name could be regarded as a standard. Reasons against: (i) it is a novel name; (ii) it is not as widely used as "Yellow-eyed"; (iii) the "spectacles" don't join in the middle, thus one would be referring here to some class of spectacles with a transparent or very thin nose bridge.


3. "American Bare-eyed"

Gill & Wright (2006) have recently adopted "American Bare-eyed Thrush" as a further possible name for this species. Reasons in favour: (i) it retains the existing and formerly used "Bare-eyed" moniker; (ii) following its adoption by the IOC, this name could be regarded as a standard. Reasons against: (i) the name incorrectly suggests sister species status for T. nudigenis and T. tephronotus; (ii) it is a long name.


4. "Naked-eyed"

This was the name used by Ridgway (1907), but it has seen little use since, although arguably the best descriptive name (and fairly close to translation of scientific name, "naked cheeked") given that 'Bare-eyed" is "preoccupied."


References: All on SACC page.

Thomas Donegan (with minor modifications by Remsen), 18 July 2007





Comments from Remsen: "YES. If "Bare-eyed" was the only name ever used for this species, then I would vote NO, regardless of the problem with T. tephronotus (which is pointed out in AOU 1998 and our Note 11a), but given the unprecedented lack of stability, anything is better than "Bare-eyed."


Comments from Stiles: "YES. Given the current chaos, "Bare-eyed" is best dropped. "American Bare-eyed" is clumsy and implies a nonexistent sister-group relation, hence it can go too.  "Naked-eyed" is OK if ugly, but has no track record in nearly 100 years, so is best not revived. "Yellow-eyed" is just plain wrong - of the various alternatives it´s the worst as it is actively misleading. So, I´m left with "Spectacled", which doesn´t enthrall me but seems to be the best of the available choices."


Comments from Stotz: "YES. I think if we created an identical English name to an Old World species, we have to fix this. I would favor Spectacled, although admit I am not thrilled by any of the options."


Comments from Jaramillo: "NO - This is a mess, but it is my gut feeling that at least within the New World leaving this name as it is will cause the least amount of confusion. It seems relatively well established, even if known as a Robin previously and now a Thrush."


Comments from Robbins: "YES. I would prefer to stay with "Bare-eyed", but given that it is preoccupied, "Spectacled" is the least disagreeable option."


Comments from Zimmer: "YES. I would stick with "Bare-eyed" if not for the English name synonymy with African T. tephronotus. "American Bare-eyed" is clumsy, and worse, implies a sister relationship with tephronotus. "Yellow-eyed" is terrible, and just wrong. "Spectacled" is okay, although not entirely accurate when we compare nudigenis to other birds that we describe as "spectacled". I would actually favor "Naked-eyed Thrush" as the most descriptive name, and one that is closest to the more entrenched "Bare-eyed". I could live with "Spectacled" but I'm not thrilled by it, and the other proposed names are simply unacceptable for the reasons already stated."