Proposal (904) to South American Classification Committee

 

 

Establish new English names for Herpsilochmus frater and Herpsilochmus rufimarginatus

 

Effect on SACC:  This would create new English names for the two species resulting from the split of Herpsilochmus rufimarginatus, when we voted to treat the nominate subspecies H. r. rufimarginatus as specifically distinct from all other subspecies (frater has priority) in the complex; see SACC 870 for details.

 

Background:  Part B of Proposal 870A raised the issue of English names for the two species resulting from the split of H. rufimarginatus.  As noted therein, retaining “Rufous-winged Antwren” as the stand-alone English name for one of the two daughter species should not be viewed as an option, given that our standard procedure is to create new names for each daughter species, and, that I don’t think either the “relative range size” or “differential usage” arguments are strong enough in this case to warrant an exception to our English naming guidelines.  Although the geographic range of frater (including subspecies exiguus) is significantly larger than that of rufimarginatus, the latter is arguably more common and familiar over its still rather extensive latitudinal range than the former is over much of its range (e.g. it is a rather uncommon and patchily distributed bird over much of the Amazon Basin).

 

Boesman, in the Proposal 870A, did suggest that retaining “Rufous-winged Antwren” as a shared group name for frater and rufimarginatus, was desirable, since these are the only Herpsilochmus species with rufous in the wing.  This was the strategy employed by del Hoyo & Collar (2016), who used “Northern Rufous-winged Antwren” for frater, and “Southern Rufous-winged Antwren” for rufimarginatus.  Others have advocated using “Western Rufous-winged Antwren” for frater + exiguus + “scapularis” (from N of rio São Francisco), and either “Eastern” or “Atlantic” Rufous-winged Antwren for rufimarginatus + “scapularis” (from S of rio São Francisco).  Besides creating the kind of boring, bulky, compound names that few like and many despise, neither of these sets of names are ideal, because, as Nacho pointed out, the ranges of the two species overlap one another in latitude and longitude, rendering almost any geographic modifiers as non-exclusive at best, and confusing at worst.

 

As has been pointed out by Nacho, and others, the two species of “Rufous-winged Antwrens” are most obviously distinguished from one another by their songs, which led Nacho to suggest the names “Churring Rufous-winged Antwren” for frater, and “Piping Rufous-winged Antwren” for rufimarginatus.  A couple of us expressed support for using modifiers such as “Churring” and “Piping” (with, or without the hyphenated group name of “Rufous-winged”) that allude to the vocal distinctions between the two species, although, as Tom noted, neither of those names (especially “Piping”) really captures the vocal quality of either species.  I’ve spent some time thinking about different modifiers that would more accurately describe the vocal differences, and haven’t come up with anything better.  One reason not to construct names based upon vocal differences is out of concern that frater could ultimately prove to include more than one species, resulting in a three-species treatment in which English names based upon vocal differences could be rendered confusing or meaningless.

 

Recommendation:

 

Meanwhile, after mulling all of this over a fair bit, I have come around to the idea of formulating new names that reflect the distinctive rufous panel in the wings common to both species, and skipping the hyphenated group-name.  I would suggest the following novel names, any of which could be fairly applied to either frater or rufimarginatus:

 

1)   Rusty-winged Antwren (Nacho had previously suggested this as an alternative for frater).

2)   Ferruginous-winged Antwren

3)   Blaze-winged Antwren

 

I like the idea of using “Blaze-winged” for one of the taxa, even though it doesn’t refer specifically to the rufous color of the wing-panel.  One of the many dictionary meanings of “blaze” is “a very bright display of light or color”, and that would certainly apply to the eye-catching rufous wing panel of these birds.  I also like that it is a more novel name (we do have a Blaze-winged Parakeet in our domain, and invokes the wing panel without falling into the confusing hairsplitting of “rusty” versus “rufous” versus “ferruginous” trap.

 

Given the complexities of this case, and the desire to move this along, I would suggest that we go with ranked-choice voting, as we have done with a few other English name Proposals recently.  Therefore, voting members should rank each option 1-2-3-4-5, with 1 being the favored option.  I assume that anyone voting for “something” + the compound group name of “Rufous-winged Antwren” as their 1st choice for one of the taxa would do the same for both taxa.  In the event that the compound group names win out, then that will necessitate a follow-up Proposal to vote on the modifiers (fingers crossed that doesn’t happen!).

 

Herpsilochmus frater:

 

Option 1a:  Rusty-winged Antwren

        Option 1b:  Ferruginous-winged Antwren

        Option 1c:  Blaze-winged Antwren

        Option 1d:  Churring Antwren

Option 1e:  “something” (Western/Northern/Churring/something else) Rufous-winged Antwren

Option 1f:  something else (e.g., Rusty-margined:  see Lane comments)

 

Herpsilochmus rufimarginatus:

 

         Option 2a:  Blaze-winged Antwren

         Option 2b:  Ferruginous-winged Antwren

         Option 2c:  Rusty-winged Antwren

         Option 2d:  Piping Antwren

Option 2e:  “something” (Eastern/Atlantic/Southern/Piping/something else) Rufous-winged Antwren

         Option 2f:  Rufous-margined Antwren

 

Literature cited:

 

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

 

Kevin J. Zimmer, January 2021

 

 

 

 

Comments from Lane: “None of the options provided really make me very enthusiastic. Here are my top picks for the two daughter species:

 

“H. frater: "Barking Antwren" or "Cackling Antwren" (two of its most distinctive vocalizations are the bark and descending cackle calls which are unmatched by other Herpsilochmus... I don't find "churring" to be a particularly good descriptor of the vocalizations of this species, I'm afraid).  If voice-based names don't sit well with committee members, how about "Circumbasin Antwren" (to draw attention to its curious largely circum-Amazonian distribution)?

 

“H. rufimarginatus: To me the obvious first choice is "Rufous-margined Antwren" as it is a direct translation of the scientific name, and although similar to the previous name for the combined species, is plenty distinct.”

 

Comments from Stiles: “Here, I like Dan´s suggestion of Rufous-margined for H. rufimarginatus – it is accurate and goes with the Latin name, also retains some connection with Rufous-winged, the former name for the species prior to the split.  For frater, I prefer Rusty-winged over Ferruginous-winged over any name based on vocalizations, which are decidedly subjective (and if frater gets split later, and the vocalizations of the taxa do not match, things could get confusing). Least preferred: anything combined with Rufous-winged for both.”

 

Comments from Schulenberg:

Herpsilochmus frater: I rate these (descending order of preference) as

 

1 Rusty-winged Antwren

2 Ferruginous-winged Antwren

3 Blaze-winged Antwren

4 Churring Antwren

5 "something" (Western/Northern/Churring/something else) Rufous-winged Antwren

6 something else (e.g., see Lane comments)

Herpsilochmus rufimarginatus:

 

1 Rufous-margined Antwren

2 Piping Antwren

3 Blaze-winged Antwren

4 Ferruginous-winged Antwren

5 Rusty-winged Antwren

6 "something" (Eastern/Atlantic/Southern/Piping/something else) Rufous-winged Antwren

 

Comments from Stiles: “E-names for Herpsilochmus spp. I would suggest reworking the lists of suggested names including “Rufous-margined” for rufimarginatus to facilitate things, perhaps omitting from the lists the “something Rufous-winged”, which most disliked in any case.”

 

Comments from Jaramillo: “See below for my top choices. Rusty-winged is confusingly similar to Rufous-winged, but I think that is OK in this situation. Mentally it may invoke the right looking bird if you were previously used to Rufous-winged. So that is good for the field observer. Blaze-wing is memorable, unique, I like it.

Herpsilochmus frater: Option 1a:  Rusty-winged Antwren

Herpsilochmus rufimarginatus: Option 2a:  Blaze-winged Antwren

 

Comments from Donsker: “Here's how I would rank vote them:

 

Herpsilochmus frater:

1. Rusty-winged Antwren (1a)

2. Ferruginous-winged Antwren (1b)

3. Blaze-winged Antwren (1c)

4. Rusty-margined Antwren (1f)

 

Herpsilochmus rufimarginatus:

1. Rufous-margined Antwren (2f)

2. Rusty-winged Antwren (2c)

3. Ferruginous-winged Antwren (2b)

4. Blaze-winged Antwren (2a)

 

“I'm not fond of using the vocal alternatives or "Something" Rufous-winged Antwren.”

 

Comments from Stiles: “Here are my choices:

 

for frater: 1-Rusty-winged (1a); 2.5-Rusty-margined (1f), 2.5-Ferruginous-winged (1b); 4-Blaze-winged (1c); 5-Churring (1d); 6-compound name (1e)

 

for rufimarginatus: 1-Rufous-margined (2f); 2.5-Ferruginous-winged (2b); 2.5-Blaze-winged (2a); 4-Rusty-winged (so as to not conflict with this as my first choice for frater) (2c) ; 5-Piping (2d); 6-compound name (2e).

 

“I definitely would dump the compound names, and the vocalization-type names seem too subjective. Ferruginous-winged seems a bit clunky and Blaze-winged to me seems more to indicate a flash of color when the wings are opened.”

 

Comments from Jaramillo: “See below for my top choices. Rusty-winged is confusingly similar to Rufous-winged, but I think that is OK in this situation. Mentally it may invoke the right looking bird if you were previously used to Rufous-winged. So, that is good for the field observer. Blaze-winged is memorable, unique, I like it.

 

Herpsilochmus frater:

Option 1a: Rusty-winged Antwren
2. Blaze-winged Antwren (1c)
3. Ferruginous-winged Antwren (1b)
4. Rusty-margined Antwren (1f)

 

Herpsilochmus rufimarginatus:

Option 2a: Blaze-winged Antwren
2. Rusty-winged Antwren (2c)
3. Ferruginous-winged Antwren (2b)
4. Rufous-margined Antwren

 

Comments from Zimmer: “Here’s how I would rank the proposed English names:

 

Herpsilochmus frater:

1. Rusty-winged Antwren (1a)

2. Blaze-winged Antwren (1c)

3.  Ferruginous-winged Antwren (1b)

4. Rusty-margined Antwren (1f)

 

Herpsilochmus rufimarginatus:

1. Blaze-winged Antwren (2a)

2. Rufous-margined Antwren (2f)

3. Ferruginous-winged Antwren (2b)

4. Rusty-winged Antwren (2c)”

 

Comments from Lane:

 

“For H. frater (ranked from top choice down):

1. Rusty-winged Antwren

2. Ferruginous-winged Antwren

3. Barking/Cackling Antwren

4. Blaze-winged Antwren

5. Churring Antwren

 

“For H. rufimarginatus:

1. Rufous-margined Antwren

2.“something” (Eastern/Atlantic/Southern/Piping/something else) Rufous-winged Antwren

3. Piping Antwren

4. Rusty-winged Antwren

5. Ferruginous-winged Antwren

6. Blaze-winged Antwren

 

’Blaze-winged’ to me suggests a white or fiery-colored (yellow, red, orange) patch in the wing, which neither daughter species has, and so it's a bit misleading.”