Proposal (743) to South American Classification Committee


Establish an English name for Henicorhina anachoreta



SACC overwhelmingly passed Proposal 700 (Elevate Henicorhina leucophrys anachoreta to species rank). This proposal has not yet been implemented, however, because SACC has not adopted an English name for anachoreta. In the meantime, two English names already are in use:


1) Hermit Wood-Wren, which was proposed for anachoreta in one the key papers that led to this split (Cadena et al. 2016).  This is taken from the original meaning of the species epithet (“a hermit, a recluse”; Bangs 1899, Jobling 1991). The name "Hermit Wood-wren" also has been adopted by del Hoyo and Collar (2016).


2) Santa Marta Wood-Wren, versions of which (with or without the hyphen) are in use by McMullan and Donegan (2014), the IOC World Bird List, and the eBird/Clements Checklist.


Arguably, then, "Santa Marta" is in wider circulation (especially since it already is in use in a popular field guide), and ordinarily in such a case I would recommend sticking with the more widely used name. There already is a "Santa Marta Wren", however, in the form of Troglodytes monticola, so adding a "Santa Marta Wood-Wren” seems like piling on, and also some, admittedly small, risk of confusion. Furthermore, there is another taxon, bangsi, in the Henicorhina leucophrys complex in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Bangsi also could represent a separate species (Caro et al. 2013), although another option would be to combine bangsi with manastarae of the Serranía de Perijá. There is at least the possibility, however, that there would be not one but two species of Henicorhina endemic to the Santa Martas; thus, it might be better to refrain from naming either of them "Santa Marta Wood-Wren".


"Hermit" seems an odd for a bird that, I assume, usually travels in pairs, and that sings in duets. Of course, hermits (Phaethornis) sing communally (although otherwise living up to their English name). And in the case of the wood-wren, if we think of "hermit" as referring not so much to its social behavior as to its being a recluse ("hiding" in dark, dense undergrowth), then the name may be appropriate enough.


So the options are

A) Hermit Wood-Wren


B) Santa Marta Wood-Wren


C) a third possibility that we hadn't even counted upon: any better suggestions?


My recommendation is to adopt A), Hermit Wood-Wren.


Literature Cited:


Bangs, O. 1899. The Gray-breasted Wood Wrens of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Proceedings of the New England Zoological Club 1: 83-84.


Cadena, C.D., L.M., Caro, P.C. Cayedo, A.M. Cuervo, R.C.K. Bowie, and H. Slabbekoorn. 2016. Henicorhina anachoreta (Troglodytidae), another endemic bird species for the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia. Ornitología Colombiana 15: 82-89.


Caro, L. M., P.C. Caycedo-Rosales, R.C.K.  Bowie, H. Slabbekoorn, and C.D. Cadena. 2013. Ecological speciation along an elevational gradient in a tropical passerine bird? Journal of Evolutionary Biology 26: 357–374.


del Hoyo, J., and N.J. Collar. 2016. HBW and BirdLife International illustrated checklist of the birds of the world. Volume 2. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.


Jobling, J.A. 1991. A dictionary of scientific bird names. Oxford University Press, Oxford, United Kingdom.


McMullan, M., and T.M. Donegan. 2014. Field guide to the birds of Colombia. Second edition. Fundación ProAves, Bogotá.


Tom Schulenberg, February 2017





Comments from Jaramillo: “YES.  We do not need another “Santa Marta…..” and I think that in the end having a unique and memorable name will make up for the initial confusion it may create.”


Comments from Stotz: “YES. I don’t exactly love Hermit Wood-Wren, but seems better than Santa Marta Wood-Wren given the other wood-wren taxon endemic to the Santa Martas.”


Comments from Zimmer: “YES, to “Hermit Wood-Wren” for all of the reasons stated by Tom and others.”


Comments from Remsen: “YES, for lack of alternatives.  ‘Santa Marta’ is definitely out.”


Comments from Stiles: “YES to A, since no other sensible name has been forthcoming, let´s simply follow Cadena et al.'s recommendation. "Hermit" could also reflect the mountaintop isolation of this species.”