Proposal (911) to South American Classification Committee



Establish English names for Pyrocephalus flycatchers



SACC voted to split Pyrocephalus rubinus into two species, but the English names were unresolved.  We need an English name for the Galapagos endemic P. nanus as well as to decide whether widespread P. rubinus also needs a new name.


Towards the goal of evocative, local, interesting, and colorful names I suggest that rather than naming it "Galapagos... this or that" (particularly given that Myiarchus magnirostris is already “Galapagos Flycatcher”), we use the local name as a starting point. Everyone on the Galapagos knows the “Pajaro Brujo” as the red bird that is becoming ever rarer and is really on a very steep decline. Most people remember that even just 10 years ago it was common on some of the islands. Brujo could be translated to English (Witch or Warlock),, but I think it is best to leave it as Brujo.


My preferred suggestion is option A below. This has several benefits. We retain a commonly used and widespread name, Vermilion Flycatcher, as it is, no change needed. And we also create an evocative name for the new species by highlighting a local name that I find particularly interesting.


For those who want some symmetry, to retain Vermilion for all daughter species, there is option B and C. But I think that this creates a situation in which you end up with a long name, and a modifier will be need to be added. "Common" and "Little" are in use already for P. rubinus and P. nanus respectively, and these are just not good in my mind, particularly Common. It also means having to change Vermilion Flycatcher, one of the most widespread birds in the New World, and I see this as a negative. With respect to name stability, changing widespread Vermilion Flycatcher to something else would not be consistent with that principle.  That’s why we have a working guideline of retaining the parental English name for a daughter species (Vermilion for rubinus) if one of them is just a peripheral isolate (nanus).


Option A) rubinus retains Vermilion Flycatcher, causing no change for nearly the entire range of this species. The rare and declining nanus, becomes Brujo Flycatcher.


Option B) Use the Birdlife names: rubinus is Common Vermilion Flycatcher, nanus is Little Vermilion Flycatcher.


Option C) Create a new Vermilion Flycatcher name for rubinus (American?), and use Galapagos Vermilion Flycatcher for nanus


Alvaro Jaramillo, May 2021



Comments from Remsen:  “YES.  I like the idea.  Colorful, memorable, and matches local name.  There will be resistance from some on the use of non-English words as the “first” name, but we already have Chaco, Pampas, Puna, Varzea, Tepui, and Paramo, which are now so ingrained (and useful!) that they are likely in English dictionaries.  We also have non-English names that have to do with habitat etc. that are less familiar: Caatinga, Campo, Chapada, Quebracho, Planalto, Cocha, Bananal (?), Maquis, Selva, Yungas, Monte, and Carrizal. Then we have Chimango, Coscoroba, Nacunda, Surucua, Tataupa, Toco, Picazuro, Chopi, Tui, Caica, Jandaya, Correndera, and probably others that are derived from local names, often Guaraní or Tupi, that were used as the species name in the scientific name.  However, Brujo might stand out as the first time a non-English name has been used in the English name that did not refer to a habitat or was the species name in the type description.  Is that the case?  Are we brave?  The other problem is that I don’t see an alternative – if there were one, I think it would have bounced out at us by now.”


Comments from Schulenberg: “YES.  I'll take Alvaro's word for it that this is the local name for this bird (haven't been there myself), but I'm totally fine with Brujo. as you can imagine, the last thing I want is a cluster of new compound names - this is short and simple, just the ticket.”


Comments from David Donsker: “YES. I think that Alvaro is on to something good with his suggestion to incorporate the local name for this species in its English name. I think that Brujo Flycatcher is a fine choice. Further, it opens our minds and eyes to the possibility of using similar models in the future for the construction of English names when no other, or more appropriate, options are available or are otherwise strained.


“Although using the local name as the adjective for the English name of a species (excepting the situations that Van has already mentioned) may be unusual for the Western Hemisphere, it's certainly not unique from a more global perspective. Houbara Bustard, Sirkeer Malkoha, Afep Pigeon are some examples, I believe.


“Not mentioned in earlier discussions is that an English name for P. nana has been used by the IOC World Bird List for some time: Darwin's Flycatcher. So chosen because Gould's original description of the species was published in Darwin’s Zoology of the Voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle. But I’m far from advocating that option, not only because I think that Alvaro’s suggestion is better, but because I think it’s best to try to avoid eponyms, when reasonable, in creating any new English bird names.”


Comments from Bonaccorso: “Definitively, Brujo Flycatcher!”


Comments solicited from Marshall Iliff: For what it's worth, eBird maintains Spanish names for multiple countries. Below are the names used, by county, for Vermilion Flycatcher (P. rubinus). FWIW, none use Brujo officially, including Ecuador.


“Although the names are pretty different country-by-country, this quick check doesn't reveal any problems. Not that I have a vote, but I am in favor of Alvaro's name here.


Mosquero Cardenal ----- es Spanish
Churrinche ----- es_AR Spanish, Argentina
Saca-tu-real ----- es_CL Spanish, Chile
Mosquerito Rojo ----- es_CR Spanish, Costa Rica
Mosquero Bermellón ----- es_EC Spanish, Ecuador
Mosquero cardenal ----- es_ES Spanish, Spain
Papamoscas Cardenalito ----- es_MX Spanish, Mexico
Mosquero Bermellón ----- es_PA Spanish, Panama
Mosquero Bermellón ----- es_PE Spanish, Peru
Churrinche ----- es_PY Spanish, Paraguay
Churrinche ----- es_UY Spanish, Uruguay
Atrapamoscas ----- Sangre de Toro es_VE Spanish, Venezuela”


Comments solicited from Juan Freile: “Even though Brujo Flycatcher sounds good, we should bear in mind that pájaro brujo is the local name used mainland Ecuador as well (for P. rubinus, of course).


“I was hesitant about Brujo when I read this email series first, but now I like it. It will take some time for people to get used to it, though. Good choice, Alvaro.


Comments solicited from Juan Freile: “I forgot to comment about the potential split of dubius if, by any chance, someone demonstrates it is in fact a separate species. Both are locally called pájaro brujo. San Cristobal Flycatcher will be probably be the most appropriate name, but Brujo Flycatcher will be a bit misleading for all pájaro brujos in Galapagos excepting those in San Cristobal.”


Comments from Stiles: “YES. I'm OK with Brujo.”


Comments from Zimmer: “My strong preference would be for Option A = retain “Vermilion Flycatcher” for widespread P. rubinus, and go with “Brujo Flycatcher” for the restricted-range nanus.”


Comments from Lane: “I vote for Option A and retain "Vermilion Flycatcher" for the mainland complex and "Brujo Flycatcher" for the Galapagos endemic forms. The former can be renamed if/when it is further split up.


I should point out that Marshall's list of common names doesn't include the two most commonly used in Peru: Turtupilin and Putilla.