Proposal (69) to South American Classification Committee


Change English name of Basileuterus leucoblepharus


Effect on South American CL: This proposal would change slightly the English name of a species on our list from a "Meyer de Schauensee" name ("White-browed Warbler") to a "Ridgely-Tudor" name ("White-rimmed Warbler").


Background: Hellmayr (1935) used the English name "White-browed Warbler" for Basileuterus leucoblepharus, and this was followed by Meyer de Schauensee (1966, 1970), Olrog (1984), Sibley & Monroe (1990), Narosky & Yzurieta (1993), Hayes (1995), and de la Peña and Rumboll (1998).


Ridgely & Tudor (1989) coined "White-rimmed Warbler" for Basileuterus leucoblepharus, with the following note:


"The previous English name of B. leucoblepharus, 'White-browed Warbler,' is very misleading, as the species shows merely a short white supraloral stripe, quite different from the true white "brow" of the White-striped Warbler. As blepharus means 'eyelid,' and as the partial white eye-ring is a conspicuous feature of this bird (and diagnostic within its subgenus), we have opted to rename it the 'White-rimmed Warbler.'"


This was followed by Sick (1993), Curson et al. (1994), and Mazar Barnett & Pearman (2001).


Analysis: Bob's name is perhaps slightly "better" but not as convincingly so as in his other new names for warblers. The use of "rim" will perhaps be unfamiliar to many who use English names for birds (although I like the allusion to "glasses"), and "brow" is not necessarily a synonym for superciliary, and in my opinion, implies a shorter line than does the term superciliary, which is appropriate in this case. In practice, birds with "brow" in their name range from those with long, broad, prominent marks (e.g., Cyclarhis gujanensis, Basileuterus bellii) to short and narrow (e.g., Thalassarche melanophrys). Plunging into pedantry ... "brow" in English means "eyebrow" or "forehead", so from the standpoint of general English usage, the extent of the "brow" in B. leucoblepharus is actually fairly close to non-ornithological meaning. But I still think Bob's name is "better" and would vote for it if we were "starting from scratch." However, I do think Bob's description of "White-browed" as "very misleading" is somewhat over-the-top.


Recommendation: I vote "NO" on this proposal because my basic philosophy is "just live with" old, bad names for sake of stability unless highly misleading.


Literature Cited:

CURSON, J., D. QUINN, AND D. BEADLE. 1994. Warblers of the Americas. Houghton Mifflin.

DE LA PEÑA, M. R., AND M. RUMBOLL. 1998. Birds of Southern South America and Antarctica. . Harper Collins.

HAYES, F. E. 1995. Status, Distribution and Biogeography of the Birds of Paraguay. Monographs in Field Ornithology No. 1, American Birding Association.

MAZAR BARNETT, J., AND M. PEARMAN. 2001. Annotated checklist of the birds of Argentina. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

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.

NAROSKY, T., AND D. YZURIETA. 1993. Birds of Argentina & Uruguay. A Field Guide. Asociación Ornitológica Del Plata, Buenos Aires.

OLROG, C. C. 1984. Las Aves Argentinas. Administración Parques Nacionales, Buenos Aires.

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.

SICK, H. 1993. Birds in Brazil. Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, New Jersey.


Van Remsen, October 2003




Comments from Robbins: "[YES] Despite Van's comments about what "rim" signifies vs. "brow", I like the name White-rimmed and vote "yes". A nice alternative to yet another "White-browed" whatever."


Comments from Jaramillo: "YES -- I will go against my general trend and vote for this new name. Perhaps it is because I learnt it first as White-rimmed Warbler that I am more comfortable with this one. I do like the fact that the name is distinctive."


Comments from Zimmer: "I vote "YES". Not only is the proposed name more accurate (the white appears as a crescent above and below the eye, closer to an eyering than to a "brow"), but the old name creates confusion with B. leucophrys (= White-striped Warbler) which has a much more prominent white brow, as well as with B. hypoleucus (= White-bellied Warbler), which also has a more prominent whitish brow, both species which occur in southern Brazil with leucoblepharus (all 3 sometimes occurring in the same general location). "White-rimmed" would not be mistaken for either of the other two species."


Comments from Stiles: "[NO] taken literally the old name is not so misleading, hence the improvement is relatively slight in relation to the loss of continuity, so NO."


Comments from Nores: "YES. Esta especie no tiene una ceja blanca sino un círculo alrededor del ojo. Por eso el nombre "rimmed" parece mucho más apropiado que "browed".