Proposal (912) to South American Classification Committee

 

 

Establish English names for members of the Grallaria rufula complex

 

Background: For many years, Rufous Antpitta Grallaria rufula stood alone. In 1987, however, Graves described a second species, Chestnut Antpitta Grallaria blakei, which was cryptically similar to Grallaria rufula (Graves 1987). Graves (1987) hinted at a third taxon, which he suggested "may represent an undescribed subspecies of G. rufula or G. blakei, or an undescribed third species", but did not undertake a more comprehensive review. Later Krabbe and Schulenberg (2003) noted that "Considerable vocal differences between most subspecies and also within rufula (and obscura?) suggest that several species are involved, and the relationship of these forms with G. blakei needs to be determined". del Hoyo and Collar (2016) recognized Grallaria rufula saltuensis as a separate species and reiterated that a "major revision of species limits is needed".

 

New information: The major revision of species recently arrived, in the form of comprehensive assessments of phylogenetic relationships (Chesser et al. 2020) and a detailed evaluation of vocalizations, plumage, and morphometrics across all taxa (Isler et al. 2020). The result was recognition of 16 species in the 'Grallaria rufula complex', including a species not previously recognized as a member of this group (Grallaria rufocinerea Bicolored Antpitta); the elevation of all subspecies of Grallaria rufula to species rank (including one taxon that long had been in synonymy); and the description of no fewer than six new species (Isler et al. 2020). SACC recently voted to accept these splits and to recognize the newly described species (AOS-SACC Proposal 883). This major revision has not yet been implemented, however, pending endorsement by SACC of English names for each species.

 

Analysis: Isler et al. (2020) suggested English names for all members of the Grallaria rufula complex; and to their credit, they suggested new, 'simple' names for each species (rather than burdening us with many permutations of 'Xxx Rufous Antpitta'). We propose to largely follow their suggestions, with a few (but only a few) proposed changes. For convenience, we follow the sequence of species adopted by Isler et al. (2020):

 

Grallaria saltuensis

Isler et al. accepted 'Perija Antpitta', a name first proposed (at the subspecies level) by Meyer de Schauensee (1950), and later adopted by del Hoyo and Collar (2016), Hilty (2021), and the forthcoming eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World (v2021, to be released in mid-August 2021). The name is very appropriate, as the species is restricted to the Sierra de Perijá.

 

Grallaria spatiator

This species is endemic to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, but there already is a Santa Marta Antpitta (Grallaria bangsi). Isler et al. adopted the name 'Sierra Nevada Antpitta', which apparently first was proposed (at the subspecies level) by del Hoyo and Collar (2016), and also has been adopted by Hilty (2021) and the forthcoming eBird/Clements Checklist. The only other alternative of which we are aware is 'Wandering Antpitta' (Cory and Hellmayr 1924, Meyer de Schauensee 1950), a name that we cannot recommend.

 

Grallaria rufula

Isler et al. proposed the name 'Muisca Antpitta', which "honors the Muisca civilization that occupied the altiplano and slopes of the Eastern Andes. Muisca culture survives in the contemporary Colombian society of this region". Coining a new English name for Grallaria rufula sensu stricto is, of course, much preferred over retaining 'Rufous Antpitta' (as was done by del Hoyo and Collar 2016). Muisca Antpitta has been adopted by Hilty (2021) and the forthcoming eBird/Clements Checklist.

 

Grallaria alvarezi

This is a newly described species, for which Isler et al. proposed the name 'Chami Antpitta', which "honors the 'people of the mountains,' the Emberá-Chamí indigenous community inhabiting the slopes of northern Western Andes of Colombia. Chamí means mountain ... in Emberá language".  Chami Antpitta has been adopted by Hilty (2021) and the forthcoming eBird/Clements Checklist.

 

Grallaria saturata

This is a taxon that previously was regarded as a junior synonym of Grallaria rufula (e.g., Cory and Hellmayr 1924). Isler et al. proposed the name 'Equatorial Antpitta', a name that "reflects the geographic location of the range of this species, which straddles the Equator". This name has been adopted by Hilty (2021) and the forthcoming eBird/Clements Checklist.

 

Grallaria cajamarcae

Isler et al. accepted the name 'Cajamarca Antpitta' (which "reflects the scientific name and the geographic range of this species, which is primarily confined to Cajamarca, Peru"), first proposed (at the subspecies level) by del Hoyo and Collar (2016), and also adopted by the forthcoming eBird/Clements Checklist.

 

Grallaria blakei

Named 'Chestnut Antpitta' by Graves (1987), and this name has been in widespread use ever since. Although the southern portion of the range previously attributed to blakei now is represented by a newly described species (Grallaria centralis), Isler et al. retained the name Chestnut Antpitta. We see no problems with this approach; Chestnut Antpitta also is retained in the forthcoming eBird/Clements Checklist.

 

Grallaria gravesi

This is a newly described species, for which Isler et al. propose the name 'Graves's Antpitta'. Here we part ways with Isler et al. We recognize that all members of this complex are unpatterned and dull in color, and that coining novel names is a challenge. Nonetheless, Gary Graves already is honored in the species epithet, and so it seems unimaginative and redundant to rely on the eponym for the English name as well. We recommend the name 'Chachapoyas Antpitta'. This name refers not to the modern town of Chachapoyas, but to the pre-Incan Chachapoyas civilization, the distribution of which overlaps broadly with the range of this species (see the map at http://anthropology.iresearchnet.com/chachapoya-indians/ ). Chachapoyas Antpitta has been adopted by the forthcoming eBird/Clements Checklist.

 

Grallaria oneilli

This is another newly described species, for which Isler et al. proposed the name 'O'Neill's Antpitta'. Our objections to this name are the same as for Grallaria gravesi. We propose the name 'Panao Antpitta', after the city closest to the type locality; this is similar to the approach taken by Isler et al. with respect to the name of Grallaria centralis (see below). Panao Antpitta has been adopted by the forthcoming eBird/Clements Checklist.

 

Grallaria obscura

Isler et al. suggested the name 'Junin Antpitta', which "reflects the limited distribution of this species", and which has been available at least since Cory and Hellmayr (1924). This name has been adopted by the forthcoming eBird/Clements Checklist.

 

Grallaria centralis

This is a newly described species, for which Isler et al. propose the name 'Oxapampa Antpitta', which "reflects the Province of Oxapampa, Pasco, Peru", where this species first was discovered. This name has been adopted by the forthcoming eBird/Clements Checklist.

 

Grallaria ayacuchensis

This is yet another newly described species, for which Isler et al. propose the name 'Ayacucho Antpitta', which reflects "its restricted known distribution on the humid eastern slopes of the Department of Ayacucho, Peru". This name has been adopted by the forthcoming eBird/Clements Checklist.

 

Grallaria occabambae

Isler et al. suggested adopting the name 'Urubamba Antpitta', a name used for this taxon (as a subspecies) by Cory and Hellmayr (1924). This name has been adopted by the forthcoming eBird/Clements Checklist.

 

Grallaria sinaensis

This is the final newly described species, for which Isler et al. proposed the name 'Puno Antpitta'. The distribution of the species extends into adjacent Bolivia, but Puno encompasses at least half of its known range, and this English name "reflects the Peruvian department in which the type locality is located". Puno Antpitta has been adopted by the forthcoming eBird/Clements Checklist.

 

Grallaria cochabambae

Isler et al. suggested adopting the name 'Bolivian Antpitta', first proposed by del Hoyo and Collar (2016). This species endemic to Bolivia, and so the name is very appropriate; it has been adopted by the forthcoming eBird/Clements Checklist.

 

Recommendation: In terms of voting, we propose the following options:

 

Part A, Grallaria saltuensis

Option 1: Perija Antpitta

Option 2: some other name, not yet identified.

 

Part B, Grallaria spatiator

Option 1: Sierra Nevada Antpitta

Option 2: Wandering Antpitta

Option 3: some other name, not yet identified.

 

Part C, Grallaria rufula

Option 1: Muisca Antpitta

Option 2: Rufous Antpitta

Option 3: some other name, not yet identified.

 

Part D, Grallaria alvarezi

Option 1: Chami Antpitta

Option 2: some other name, not yet identified.

 

Part E, Grallaria saturata

Option 1: Equatorial Antpitta

Option 2: some other name, not yet identified.

 

Part F, Grallaria cajamarcae

Option 1: Cajamarca Antpitta

Option 2: some other name, not yet identified.

 

Part G, Grallaria blakei

Option 1: Chestnut Antpitta

Option 2: some other name, not yet identified.

 

Part H, Grallaria gravesi

Option 1: Chachapoyas Antpitta

Option 2: Graves's Antpitta

Option 3: some other name, not yet identified.

 

Part I, Grallaria oneilli

Option 1: Panao Antpitta

Option 2: O'Neill's Antpitta

Option 3: some other name, not yet identified.

 

Part J, Grallaria obscura

Option 1: Junin Antpitta

Option 2: some other name, not yet identified.

 

Part K, Grallaria centralis

Option 1: Oxapampa Antpitta

Option 2: some other name, not yet identified.

 

Part L, Grallaria ayacuchensis

Option 1: Ayacucho Antpitta

Option 2: some other name, not yet identified.

 

Part M, Grallaria occabambae

Option 1: Urubamba Antpitta

Option 2: some other name, not yet identified.

 

Part N, Grallaria sinaensis

Option 1: Puno Antpitta

Option 2: some other name, not yet identified.

 

Part O, Grallaria cochabambae

Option 1: Bolivian Antpitta

Option 2: some other name, not yet identified.

 

In all cases, we recommend Option 1.

 

Literature Cited:

 

Chesser, R.T., M.L. Isler, A.M. Cuervo, C.D. Cadena, S.C. Galen, L.M. Bergner, R.C. Fleischer, G.A. Bravo, D.F. Lane, and P.A. Hosner (2020) Conservative plumage masks extraordinary genetic diversity in the Grallaria rufula (Rufous Antpitta) complex of the humid Andes. Auk 137: ukaa009.   https://doi.org/10.1093/auk/ukaa009

 

Cory, C.B., and C.E. Hellmayr (1924) Catalogue of birds of the Americas. Part III. Field Museum of Natural History Zoological Series volume 13, part 3.

 

Graves, G.R. (1987) A cryptic new species of antpitta (Formicariidae: Grallaria) from the Peruvian Andes. Wilson Bulletin 99: 313-321.

 

Hilty, S.L. (2021) Birds of Colombia. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

 

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.

 

Isler, M.L., R.T. Chesser, M.B. Robbins, A.M. Cuervo, C.D. Cadena, and P.A. Hosner (2020) Taxonomic evaluation of the Grallaria rufula (Rufous Antpitta) complex (Aves: Passeriformes: Grallariidae) distinguishes sixteen species. Zootaxa 4817: 1–74.    https://doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4817.1.1

 

Krabbe, N., and T.S. Schulenberg (2003) Family Formicariidae (ground-antbirds). Pages 682-731 in J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, and D.A. Christie (editors), Handbook of the birds of the world. Volume 8. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

 

Meyer de Schauensee, R. 1950. The birds of the Republic of Colombia. Part III. Caldasia 5: 645-871.

 

Tom Schulenberg, Dan Lane, and David Donsker, June 2021

 

 

Note from Remsen: For the mechanics of tallying votes, a “YES” on each item means yes for Option 1 in each case, and a “NO” means any other option.

 

 

 

Comments solicited from Barry Walker:

 

As always naming things especially when finding a suitable common English name and specific epithets but here are some thoughts that may, I fear, not be very helpful and in some cases contentious - I am not a trained biologist but 40 years in the field in South America I have had the fortune to have seen 16 of the 17 proposed taxa and their geographical environment and in most cases the cultural setting they live amongst. Running down the list in the sequence of species adopted by Isler et al. (2020) I have the following comments. Choosing names for new taxa is challenging, English names more-so. For the birdwatcher putting names to the bird you see may seem like a simple matter and for the most part it is as traditional English names rarely change for reasons of stability. New names pop up when there are good taxonomic reasons for doing so or a species is found to be not one, but multiple species or someone finds a new bird for science. Maintaining stability of English names is a strong emotion for most of us, but it is not always so simple as in this case of finding names for multiple species.

 

Running down the list in the sequence of species adopted by Isler et al. (2020) I find some surprising choices. here is my two-pennies worth.

 

Grallaria saltuensis Perija Antpitta - I see no issue with this - type locality and the geographical isolated area it inhabits.

 

Grallaria spatiator Sierra Nevada Antpitta - specific name meaning pedestrian but frankly Sierra Nevada Antpitta would be a gross error - which Sierra Nevada? WE all know which Sierra Nevada it refers to - but as Gary Graves points out "99% of birders couldn't tell you the scientific names of any of the five most common bird species in their yards. Many of those same birders are quite conversant with English common names. I wonder how many bird tour clients in Peru know who John O'Neill is and what he did”. Equally any non-scientist birder could not tell you which of the dozens of Sierra Nevadas this bird lives in. Does it refer to the Sierra Nevada of Andalusia or the western United States or the dozens of others scattered over the Spanish speaking world? It's not adequate. However, what are the alternatives? Certainly not Pedestrian or Wandering Antpitta. So, if we are going down the slippery path of celebrating pre-Colombian cultures the only thing that occurs to me is name it after the indigenous people of the Sierra Madre de Santa Marta - the Kogi. OK the Kogi are descendants of the Tairona culture, which were coastal and moved to the highlands under pressure from other cultures, but that’s where they live. Sierra Nevada is redundant way redundant it would be a tragedy to use it.

 

Grallaria rufula Muisca Antpitta - again I can say that birders will not know why this bird got its name but that’s not relevant and it may stimulate interest in Colombian culture. 

 

Grallaria alvarezi Chami Antpitta - Specific name honors a researcher the English name a cultural group and comments for the above species apply - these names are relevant, sexy and stimulate interest - as opposed to Rufous Antpitta.

 

Grallaria saturata Equatorial Antpitta - good choice of English name it describes its geographical distribution well.

 

Grallaria cajamarcae Cajamarca Antpitta - this has been used by birders for 20 years or more, and it lives mostly if not entirely in the region/department of Cajamarca, so it’s a logical choice.

 

Grallaria blakei Chestnut Antpitta - I see no problem in maintaining the status quo and stability here.

 

Grallaria gravesi Grave’s Antpitta - the proposal states "This is a newly described species, for which Isler et al. propose the name 'Graves's Antpitta'. Here we part ways with Isler et al. We recognize that all members of this complex are unpatterned and dull in color, and that coining novel names is a challenge. Nonetheless, Gary Graves already is honored in the species epithet, and so it seems unimaginative and redundant to rely on the eponym for the English name as well. We recommend the name 'Chachapoyas Antpitta'. This name refers not to the modern town of Chachapoyas, but to the pre-Incan Chachapoyas civilization, the distribution of which overlaps broadly with the range of this species. "The key phrase "it seems unimaginative and redundant to rely on the eponym for the English name as well”- this could also be said of Grallaria cajamarcae Cajamarca Antpitta as well, but in this case, we are talking of a person who merits recognition. I have always been partial to names like Mrs. Gould’s Sunbird or Lady Amherst’s Pheasant rather than names such as Plain Pigeon but also believe in letting the scientific name do the taxonomic work but, in this case, merit is recognized no matter what. Given the Colombian initiative of celebrating cultures where relevant, I can certainly live with Chachapoya Antpitta BUT NOT Chachapoyas Antpitta, which is a town and not a culture; actually, its full name is -San Juan de la Frontera de los Chachapoyas - perhaps I am biased living in Peru? Naming a species after a non-memorable town is not the same as naming it after a culture. The bottom line is I could live with Grave’s or Chachapoya Antpitta. BUT DROP THE S FROM CHACAPOYAS.

 

Grallaria oneilli O'Neill's Antpitta’. The same general comments for the above species I could certainly live with O’Neill’s Antpitta and would raise my glass to it, but the proposal of Panao Antpitta is not appropriate - it is not a city, barely a town and perhaps the name of the wider province would be better - Pachitea - which matches its distribution better, not exactly but Panao no. So, call it O’Neill’s or Pachitea Antpitta.

 

Grallaria obscura Junin Antpitta, reflects the limited distribution so I have ho issues with this.

 

Grallaria centralis Oxapampa Antpitta’ reflects the Province of Oxapampa, Pasco but is too narrow a definition given that it is in the regions/departments of Huánuco, Pasco and Junín, but in light of the fact Oxapampa is the type locality and “centralis” is descriptive - this seems good.

 

Grallaria ayacuchensis Ayacucho Antpitta - reflects the limited distribution in the region/departamento of Ayacucho so I have no issues with this.

 

Grallaria occabambae Urubamba Antpitta - a contentious one – occabambae is fine; obviously named for the river and not the town of Occabamba, which is too low to harbor this species. Chapman collected the holotype at. 2775 m. The river is an affluent of the Yanatile/Paucartambo River which is the geographical barrier of the two vocal types.  The Urubamba Mountain range extends in a northwesterly direction between 13°08' and 13°17'S and 71°58' and 72°16'W for about 30 km. but I am not aware of any records of the species here nor does the species occur along the Urubamba River. However, it was collected in the Province of Urubamba so the name is just about accurate, and I can live with it. If the ssp. marcapatensis proves to merit species status, then its southern limit in the Cordillera Carabaya needs to be defined. Once an impenetrable area, an ornithological unknown, recently roads have been punched into once remote areas which need to be explored and work out where this taxon stops and the below begins. In short yes to Urubamba Antpitta.

 

Grallaria sinaensis Puno Antpitta - as the proposal says, “The distribution of the species extends into adjacent Bolivia, but Puno encompasses at least half of its known range, and this English name "reflects the Peruvian department in which the type locality is located”. It can be seen and heard within sight of Sina town in Puno; the Bolivians might get upset, but I believe Puno Antpitta is the best option.

 

Grallaria cochabambae Bolivian Antpitta - no brainer - it’s a Bolivian endemic.”

 

Comments from Schulenberg: “I'm pleased to see that our proposal on English names for members of the Grallaria rufula complex is generating some reaction, shows that people are paying attention. here are a few thoughts - strictly my own - in reaction to Barry's comments.

 

Grallaria spatiator - yes, there is more than one "Sierra Nevada' in the world. in a North American context, Sierra Nevada would refer to the mountain range in California. but are there * that * many other Sierra Nevadas? in any event, my assumption is that the combination with 'antpitta’ would pin things down pretty quickly. in other words, anyone who could confuse 'Sierra Nevada Antpitta' with something to do with California or Andalusia or wherever isn't a member of our target audience; and so I'd be inclined not to worry too much about them. will be interested to hear what others think, of course. otherwise, we're at a delicate moment here. often in the case of a recent split we can aim to arrive at the 'best' name possible. in this case, however, a name - Sierra Nevada Antpitta - already is in use in what I imagine will be the go-to field guide for Colombian birds. so, I'd be most interested in hearing Steve Hilty's thoughts on the 'best' name for this species.

 

Grallaria gravesi - Barry makes a good point that the English and scientific names are basically the same in some cases here (Cajamarca Antpitta Grallaria cajamarcae, Ayacucho Antpitta Grallaria ayacuchensis). but in both of those cases, the English name is informative in a way that 'Graves's' or 'O'Neill's' is not; and since the epithets gravesi and oneilli aren't going anywhere, I'm still inclined to offer an alternative to Graves's or O'Neill's. The more substantive comment is only hinted at, but not quite made explicit - that the appropriate name for the pre-Inca civilization or culture is Chachapoya, not Chachapoyas. if the correct name indeed is Chachapoya, then sure, I'm all for it. Wikipedia - which of course may not be the best source - is quite liberal in its use of Chachapoyas to refer to the culture, but the link that we submitted to document the geographic extent of this culture does use Chachapoya. happy to stand corrected here.

 

Grallaria oneilli - I concede that 'Panao' is not a great name, but I am very much opposed to 'Pachitea Antpitta'. for one thing, I don't understand why the fact that Panao is a town is an obstacle; Leymebamba is a town as well, but as far as I am aware we don't have any trouble with Leymebamba Antpitta. beyond that, in the history of Peruvian ornithology, 'Pachitea' is much better known in connection with the lowland Rio Pachitea, a region visited by a succession of collectors over the years. against that background, to me it would seem quite odd to associate the name 'Pachitea' with an Andean species.

 

Comments from Hilty:

 

“1) Dropping the "s" on Chachapoyas doesn't seem to make a great deal of difference (to me). Maybe bringing a little attention to the little town of 30,000 or so people in Chachapoyas would be a nice thing to do and even stimulate a little local interest. As far as the original civilization, the "s" at the end seems to denote plural (at least as I interpret it in Wikipedia), versus dropping the "s". Either way seems fine.

 

“2) Sierra Nevada. Here we go again! I'm fine as Sierra Nevada, but if the committee wants to change it to Tairona (Tayrona) or Kogi, that is fine too.  Tairona sounds more lyrical to "English-speaker ears" and as far as distribution they were more lowland, the Kogi, much more at very high elevation, so either name ok (antpitta distribution about mid-way between). Some of the Kogi bloodlines are mixed with Tairona anyway because, as Walker noted, the Tairona got pushed up into the highlands with arrival of Spanish. I don 't see that one group is preferable over the other in this little conversation. Might be good to draw attention to the Tairona, actually, as they were incredibly skilled goldsmiths and once upon a time "the" dominant Amerindian group in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.”

 

I vote as the committee currently proposes, but if the above two species are changed to follow Walker, I'd vote for that too. Count me as a vote either way.

 

Comments from Remsen: “YES to all except as follows:

 

“B. NO. Barry’s points are technically OK, although we’ve already committed to a Sierra Nevada Brushfinch for Arremon basilicus; thus, there is precedent.  With three Colombianos on the paper byline, I assume that the name is sufficiently associated with the Santa Martas to avoid confusion.  There being no antpittas or brushfinches in the Sierra Nevadas of the USA, I think possibilities of real confusion are small.  So, I’m ok with Sierra Nevada.  However, I actually like Barry’s suggestion of Kogi or Steve’s of Tairona better.  In apparent contrast to some opinions, I like names that I’m not familiar with – they make me learn new things.  I also like the parallel theme with two other new names, Muisca and Chami.”

 

“H. NO. I confess lack of objectivity on this one because I am good friends with Gary Graves, a former student.  Nonetheless, I vote NO for the following reasons:

 

1. Precedent.  I don’t like changing a name that is already in print that was the careful choice of a multinational author team in a peer-reviewed journal unless there is really good reason to do so, and in this case, in my opinion, good reasons are lacking.  Of course, we all know that a segment of the bird-name-using population out there is categorically opposed to eponyms.  That’s a viewpoint worthy of consideration, but does not necessarily dictate, in my opinion, dumping an original name choice.  Why does that viewpoint trump the opinions of those who like eponyms?  Do we even know what the majority opinion is?  Even if a majority, we should all be cognizant of standard “tyranny of the majority” concerns, especially since the vast majority of the English names of bird species that breed in the SACC area are not eponyms (ca. 96%).  Why should those who see the value in eponyms be discriminated against given that eponyms comprise less than 4% of our names?  Why should there be no room for inclusivity and diversity of opinions in something as subjective as English names? 

 

2. Merit.  Gary Graves deserves this honor.  Yes, he is also honored in the immutable scientific name, but why not also honor him in the English name?  English-first birders and even ornithologists are seldom aware of scientific names, unfortunately, so the redundancy issue I consider to be minor at best.  Gary’s insights on Grallaria blakei and his ideas in that paper were foundational to this new Grallaria monograph.  More broadly, Gary’s example of careful analysis of plumage details was a landmark paper at the time, certainly for me, and a lesson on overlooked biodiversity and how critically we must examine plumages.  Also, Gary’s many contributions to the study of Andean birds, from synthesis of patterns (e.g. Auk 1988) to remarkable discoveries (e.g. Xenoglaux loweryi etc.) place him among the leading contributors to the field.  An English eponym would serve an educational as well as honorific purpose -- anyone unaware of Gary’s contributions should be encouraged to learn about them.  The authors of the paper had good reasons to name the taxon for him.

 

3. Insulting.  Put yourself in the position of someone for whom a bird species has been named honorifically by a multinational author team and not just in a prominent peer-reviewed journal but in the premier journal of the AOS.  You have no clue that the description and name is being published, and you are then moved when an author team loaded with people you admire surprises you with this honor.  You see how touched your family is when you show them the big surprise.  Then, a year later you learn that there is a movement to ditch that name.  Why is this happening?  It’s because SACC is intimidated by a highly vocal group of people who are clearly intolerant of differing views on a subjective matter, and who are leading a crusade to dump all eponyms and shaming anyone who disagrees with them.  Taking back a gift from someone after it’s just been given is just bad form.  Did Gary do something wrong?  It’s really a cold-hearted slap in the face for SACC to do this, in my opinion.

 

         “Also, if Chachapoyas wins out, as Barry noted, it should be Chachapoya.  We have Inca Tern not “Incas Tern.”

 

“I. NO.  All of the general comments on Graves’s Antpitta apply here also, including John also being a good friend:

 

         1. Precedent:  see “H” above.

 

2. Merit:  In addition to the general points, specifically on John … I’m not sure how widely recognized is John’s foundational role in the LSUMNS program in South America.  Without John, it wouldn’t have existed -- he single-handedly launched it.  He made my career possible.  Every student, including several current SACC members, who has ever gone through the LSUMNS program should be aware of his critical role, from leading exploratory fieldwork to funding it.  I wonder what percentage of research papers on South American bird phylogeny, classification, geographic variation, and biogeography used specimens or DNA samples that would not have existed without John.  If not for health issues, he would be out there right now somewhere gathering more data and contributing directly to the infrastructure of South American ornithology.  His amazing discoveries are legendary and a product of astute knowledge of biogeography and detailed planning.  His initial burst of discoveries of Wetmorethraupis, Conioptilon, Cacicus koepckeae, and Grallaria eludens exploded the view that the days of discovery were over and inspired a generation of new fieldworkers to see what other new genera and species had gone undetected.  His discoveries also inspired a book that spread the excitement to the general public (“A Parrot Without a Name: The Search for the Last Unknown Birds on Earth”).  Also, John has done more for Peruvian ornithology and ornithologists than anyone I know of, including using his own money to sponsor Peruvian students and to purchase equipment for them and their institutions.  John has devoted his life to South American ornithology, and all of us have benefitted from his commitment.  An English name in his honor seems the least we can do to repay what we all owe him.  Existing Oneillornis and oneilli target sufficiently the technical audience – now it’s time the non-technical audience is made aware of his contributions.

 

3. Insulting: see details in “H above” and put yourself in the place of someone who has an overdue honor revoked.  Delightfully surprised at the initial honor, but now it is withdrawn in what can only be described as cold-hearted blow by SACC.  What does that accomplish?  Is that social justice?

 

Comments from Stiles: “YES to all of the original recommendations on E-names by Isler et al. except that I agree with Steve's recommendation of Tairona Antpitta for spatiator. I agree with Van's opinion regarding the E-names for oneilli and gravesi.  They both deserve the recognition, and these names have already been accepted by other checklists.”

 

Comments from Robbins: “Although I am no longer involved in dealing with English names, I can't help but weigh-in on what Van has stated concerning the English names of Grallaria oneilli and G. gravesi.  I concur with everything that Van has stated, i.e., the English name for those should be O'Neill's and Graves's antpittas, respectively.  As I stated in an email to the committee on 16 May, they both deserved that recognition and I feel it would be highly insensitive to do otherwise.”

 

Additional comments from Hilty: “YES to all except I have no problem retaining the suggestions of the original authors. thus O'Neill's Antpitta; Graves’s Antpitta, as well as the slight change to Chachapoya Antpitta; and for the northernmost population, Sierra Nevada (or Tairona) Antpitta. Of course, choosing "Tairona" means the name in my recent book is already out-of-date, but this will just be the first of many that will eventually change anyway.”

 

Additional comments from Barry Walker: I just wanted to clarify a couple of things on this fascinating discussion which as Tom points out is generating some reaction and here is a final comment from me, and then I leave it to the committee to vote and decide. We have parts A through O, but it looks like there might be some kind of consensus on all but parts B, H, and I.

 

“Part B. Grallaria spatiator:

Yes, there are many Sierra Nevada’s in the Neotropics (and one not) and to name some here is a list - this was just a quick internet search so there may be more.

 

Sierra Nevada (Argentina), alineación montañosa en la parte sur de Argentina.

La Sierra Nevada de Lagunas Bravas*, complejo volcánico en la cordillera de los Andes, entre Argentina y Chile.

El Sierra Nevada (Araucanía), volcán Sierra Nevada, en la IX Región de La Araucanía (Chile).

La Sierra Nevada (España), macizo montañoso perteneciente a las cordilleras Béticas, entre Granada y Almería (España).

La Sierra Nevada (Estados Unidos), cordillera en California (Estados Unidos).

 

 

A collage of birds

Description automatically generated with low confidence

 

“All the above do not have antpittas or brushfinches – we know that, but many people do not, but the ones below do have antpittas and brushfinches – we know that, but many do not, so when we say Sierra Nevada this or that it could refer to either of the two below. Steve as author of a Venezuela bird guide knows this.

 

La Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, relieve montañoso en la parte norte de Colombia.

La Sierra Nevada de Mérida, cadena montañosa perteneciente a la cordillera de los Andes, en la parte occidental de Venezuela.

 

“So, you are left with sticking with previous precedent Proposal (487) (Sierra Nevada Brushfinch for Arremon basilicus) which is not entirely correctly descriptive but there again we have how many Santa Marta’s? If we can live with Connecticut Warbler and Kentish Plover, I suppose it can be argued we can live with inaccuracy to maintain stability or choosing something novel so …

 

Option 1: Sierra Nevada Antpitta (bearing in mind we have a La Sierra Nevada de Mérida). It’s true that “anyone in Colombia except a few mountaineers would inevitably associate "Sierra Nevada" with the Santa Marta range. However, names are being created for the planet not just Colombia.

Option 2: Tairona Antpitta (connection with coast e.g. Tairona National Park)

Option 3: Kogi Antpitta (note a Colombian guide told me the Kogi were in fact forced into the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta by the Carib nation in pre-Colombian times)

Option 4: some other name, not yet identified.

 

“Part H, Grallaria gravesi:

Yes, it’s a choice of honoring someone on merit in both scientific name and the English name or just the scientific name, so ….

 

Option 1: Chachapoya Antpitta

Option 2: Graves's Antpitta

 

“Part I, Grallaria oneilli:

Again, it’s a choice of honoring someone on merit in both scientific name and the English name or just the scientific name. When I came to Peru there was an O’Neill’s Pardusco -- now it’s just Pardusco. Tom says, “Leymebamba is a town as well, but as far as I am aware we don't have any trouble with Leymebamba Antpitta. Beyond that, in the history of Peruvian ornithology, 'Pachitea' is much better known in connection with the lowland Rio Pachitea, a region visited by a succession of collectors over the years. against that background, to me it would seem quite odd to associate the name 'Pachitea' with an Andean species”. Tom has a valid point, but most of the Pachitea province is Andean. Leymebamba, or as it is officially named Leimebamba, is a town and a province, Panao is just a town, and I would be very sad to see this species named for it – I have nothing against the town – it just does not feel right to me but as the holotype was collected 14 km W Panao, Huánuco, I suppose that gives us”

 

Option 1: Panao Antpitta

Option 2: O'Neill's Antpitta

Option 3: Pachitea Antpitta

Option 4: some other name, not yet identified.

 

“Good luck – the names you choose will outlive us all so it’s imperative to make the right choice.”

 

Comments from Whitney: ““I am not inclined to erect justifications for accepting the authors’ suggested names beyond recognizing that they would have spent considerable time pondering what names to publish.  We should default to respecting the choices of such an experienced team of authors.  To put it another way, why should we take it up to question the English names they thoughtfully chose?  In fact, I will go so far as to suggest that the default should always be to adopt English names for novel taxa of birds as they are properly presented (i.e., correctly spelled and in the correct case) and published in peer-reviewed journals, while doing our best to preserve stability of the nomenclature.  Thus, I am happy to accept the authors’ proposed English names for the G. rufula-complex taxa they described. That means a YES vote on all except H and I, which would be NO, because I vote to stick with Isler et al. (Option 2) in each of these cases.  I am not bothered in the slightest about employing eponyms.”

 

Comments from Zimmer: “YES to all of the English names as originally suggested by the multi-national, highly experienced team of authors of this monumental paper.  The only one that I would waver on at all is to say that while I would prefer to stick with Sierra Nevada Antpitta for G. spatiator, I could easily go along with Steve’s suggestion of “Tairona” or Barry’s suggestion of “Kogi”.  I would also like to make a particular point of firmly agreeing with everything Van has said (and others have echoed) with respect to sticking with Graves’s Antpitta for G. gravesi and O’Neill’s Antpitta for G. oneilli – these names are not only wholly appropriate, they are well-deserved.”

 

Comments from Peter Kaestner:  “I have been watching the committee tie itself up in knots again over English names for the new “rufous” antpitta species and splits with some interest.  I would like to make a couple of points.  I heartily endorse those who are now emphasizing that the SACC should accept the peer-reviewed, published, names suggested in the paper.  I find it more than ironic that the SACC will not accept obvious taxonomic changes absent a peer-reviewed paper, but then ignores the peer-reviewed results when considering English names!  Second, on the matter of Sierra Nevada Antpitta, there is not a great solution.  Kogi is fine, but why would you disrespect the other three indigenous groups who live on the slopes of the mountains.  (I saw G. spatiator only 200 m from an Arhuaco village in April…)  The name Tairona, which is reflected in a national park along the coast, is also not appropriate because the bird does not live along the coast, but rather in the higher reaches of the massif.  Sierra Nevadan is not perfect, but we’ll get used to it.  It is just such a shame that the area has so many endemics!!!”

 

Comments from Stiles: “YES. In general, I agree with Van, Mark, Bret, and Kevin that the E-names proposed by an international team and published in a peer-reviewed and influential journal should be respected. There is much current interest in having E-names that reflect current standards regarding avoidance of gender- or racial-based biases. However, I think that such standards should be agreed upon with respect to the coining of new E-names to reflect future taxonomic changes (which are bound to continue as new evidence continues to accumulate). However, I am extremely suspicious of proposals for wholesale changing of stable E-names produced in past periods with differing standards. Introducing more “correct” names by current standards, in effect rewriting history, seems at best a superficial way to right the wrongs of the past, especially as the deluge of self-righteous renaming that could occur might divert attention from much more pressing issues of bird conservation.

 

“Specifically, for the proposal at hand, I see no particular advantages to attempting changes to some or all: I have no problems with eponyms honoring very deserving people, and consider that objecting to names like “Sierra Nevada” for spatiator because there are other Sierras Nevadas is something of a pseudoproblem. Given the richness of the Neotropical avifauna, most good field guides are national in scope, such that worrying about similar names in other countries simply muddies their usefulness in the context of the guides themselves.  So- for Van´s original voting proposal, I vote YES to 1 for all.”

 

Additional comments from Lane:

"Clearly the English name theme is cause for some surprisingly fierce disagreement, but at the risk of poking up the embers of one of our recent cases, I feel I must speak up: that of the Rufous Antpitta split and subsequent English names. Tom and I proposed that we not accept two of the English names that were offered by Isler et al in the paper describing the new taxa of the complex, and this has received some push back form committee members. I would like to clarify my stance and make some points that I hope all will keep in mind when voting on this case.

 

"1) "We should honor the names recommended by the describers." This is a statement that many SACC members have made in rejecting the new names Tom and I suggested. Yet SACC has flouted this before in spectacular fashion when renaming Lulu's Tody-Tyrant to Johnson's Tody-Tyrant! There has been a lot of reluctance by the birding public to follow suit in that case, and I must confess I really dislike that change myself (and call the bird "Lulu's"), yet the committee felt it was reasonable. If that change was acceptable, then I cannot see how SACC members can argue that choosing new names besides those offered by Isler et al is any different? 

 

"2) Isler et al have the bad luck of having written the descriptions and choosing names just before the 2020 cultural event of putting eponyms in the crosshairs, and this event has placed the AOS committees on new ground whether we like it or not. I suspect that Mort and company would have taken this issue into consideration had they still been writing as this cultural event was taking place. This public perception of English names does seem exaggerated, and has created pushback by many who think the grounds for the criticism are overstated... but why not concede that we have the opportunity not to add to the issue with some newly-described species? Both of the eponyms involved still honor the people (who very much deserve it!) in the scientific names--and let's face it: those are the names that really matter to us anyway, right?--so no honor is being stripped from Gary and John, as some have stated, it is simply less "in-your-face" by not being mirrored in the English name. Indeed, Gary did this with Grallaria blakei (Chestnut Antpitta).

 

"3) For better or worse, Peruvians have noticed that there was no Peruvian coauthor on Isler et al. So, whereas the Colombian authors had a hand in English name formulation of the new Colombian taxa (including scientific names using an eponym), no Peruvians were offered a similar opportunity for the taxa described from their country. Putting myself in the shoes of Peruvians, this is a striking contrast when looking over the slate of English and scientific names proposed by Isler et al. It seems, again, that we are in a position to smooth over this potential sticking point before English names are generally adopted by the birding public. I will point out here that Peruvians often use the English names, rather than Spanish or scientific names, when conversing about birds due to eBird, the comparative stability of English names, and ease of pronunciation (compared to scientific names), so despite the potential language barrier, these names WILL be the common names used in Peru! Therefore, rather than using English eponyms, why not use names that honor an indigenous culture in Peru (and the Chachapoyas culture is a big one!) in a trend that follows that started by the Colombian coauthors? As we state in our proposal, G. oneilli doesn't have quite as satisfying an alternative, but "Panao Antpitta" does honor the type locality and thus offers more information than an eponym-based English name would. If someone can come up with another satisfactory alternative, I'm willing to hear it.

 

"4) Again, for better or worse, eBird/Clements had to choose names for these taxa in their 2021 update, and Tom opted to go with those he championed in the proposal. Clearly SACC is not obliged to follow suit, but I feel the eBird release will make for a complicated scenario should SACC choose not to go with the names now available in eBird and which will be used by most of the birding public for the near future. This could be viewed as exactly the situation that someone commented to Van about "lots of people are sick of SACC changing names for no real reason!" WE know that in this case it was simply poor timing and Tom making an executive decision on a gamble, but the birding public will not understand that and likely will perceive it as SACC  being "ornery." So again, we have an opportunity to lessen criticism directed towards the committee here.

 

"So, before we finalize our votes on Proposal 912, I hope that folks will bear these thoughts in mind."

 

 

Additional comments from Remsen: “Dan makes many good points, and I respect his point of view.  Some additional points in response:

 

“1. Precedent and “Lulu’s Tody-Tyrant”: As explained in previous intra-SACC emails, this is a special case, one that I know well from the inside.  Ned Johnson did not like English names, period.  His name choice here was aimed at making fun of English names.  He was also quite taken with the name “Lulu” and how funny it sounded, to him, as a bird name (and even the scientific name).  The bird was named for a donor, Lulu May Von Hagen, who was deceased by the time the description was published (2001) and long after Johnson collected the first specimens (1970).  That Ned used “Lulu’s” in both the English and scientific name instead of “Von Hagen’s” shows how peculiarly smitten he was by the name Lulu, and frankly in my opinion, this came off as somewhat disrespectful of Ms. Von Hagen.  I can still see that smirk on Ned’s face when he would say “LULU’s Tody-Tyrant”.  If as Dan says some birders like “Lulu’s Tody-Tyrant”, I worry that some of that same snickering attitude is involved; and I predict that not one of them knows the full name of the person honored, unfortunately.  When Ned died, I proposed the new name “Johnson’s” not only to honor Ned’s discovery of the species but also to squelch Ned’s little joke on the world.  I very much appreciated Ned’s sardonic and irreverent sense of humor, but not in that case.

“Although Dan is technically correct that this N=1 change from 18 years ago provides a precedent for SACC for not following the published English name, Lulu’s differs from the current situation in critical ways.  Lulu Von Hagen wrote a check.  John and Gary have risked their lives and their health for extended periods doing fieldwork in remote, unexplored regions and have published extensively on the birds of Peru.  Von Hagen and Johnson were dead when SACC changed the English name in 2003.  John O’Neill and Gary Graves are alive, and since the paper was published in July 2020, they have been able to proudly show their friends and family that a bird’s English name honors them.  The authors of that paper (Isler, Chesser, Robbins, Cuervo, Cadena, Hosner) are all still alive, too.  Therefore, there is no precedent for what I would consider a rotten move on our part: removing previously published honorific names, to the embarrassment of the honorees and those who honored them.

 

“2. As for the point that O’Neill and Graves are still honored in the scientific name – of course, technically correct.  But let’s be honest: the English name is a much bigger deal.  Most birders and many ornithologists don’t know or don’t even pay attention to the scientific species name.  The names of many newly described species honor wives, donors, and politicians that even the describers themselves would not propose as the formal English name for the species because they really didn’t have anything to do with the birds, ornithologically speaking.  When an eponym is proposed for the English name, that really means something in terms of impact of the honoree on ornithology, and in this respect O’Neill and Graves certainly qualify: see the Etymology sections of the OD’s as well as additional material herein.  This makes the retraction doubly bad.  Since July 2020, they joined company with a select few (e.g. Coopmans, Koepcke, Olrog, Parker, Sick, Schwartz, Stiles, Willis) who had been honored with eponymous English names since Meyer de Schauensee (1970), but now SACC would take that honor away?

 

“3. Concerning Dan’s second point, that “bad luck” timing can be viewed both ways.  A lot has changed since that paper was published.  In my view, changing their proposed names at this point can be viewed as unfairly shaming them for their choice, although they had no advance warning of the sudden controversy that was about to explode.

 

“4. As for eBird vs. SACC … for the record, it was eBird that changed the published names, not SACC, and without consulting SACC.  As Tom and Marshall can attest, SACC fast-tracks English name proposals to help eBird whenever there is time-mandated deadline.  Regardless, the longevity of the eBird names “Chachapoyas Antpitta” (which would have been corrected to “Chachapoya” had SACC been involved and voted for that name) and “Panao Antpitta” is minimal at this point (4 months, max).  If some of the birding public views SACC as “ornery”, as Dan says, for not using the concocted Clements names, then there is another segment of the birding public who will welcome restoration of the original names, which are in use in Wikidata, Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), and many popular articles.  Although birders are the clientele by far the most passionate about bird names, I think we need to remind ourselves that they are not the only clientele that uses them and that eBird usage is not synonymous with universal usage.  By the way, eBird also went with Blue-gray Saltator before SACC settled on Bluish-gray Saltator.  Are we retreat from our decision because eBird has been using Blue-gray for 4 months?  Because eBird’s annual update will occasionally but inevitably coincide with taxonomic SACC proposals having passed but English names still pending, these situations will continue to arise as long as eBird is unwilling to wait for a SACC decision (understandable in those few cases that have taken more than a year to resolve), but we cannot be bound to follow the name chosen by eBird.

“As for Panao Antpitta, I suspect that the total number of people who find this a useful name is closer to 1 than to 20.  See Barry Walker’s comments on this above (and I prefer Pachitea over Panao).  As someone who personally finds type locality names useful because of my work in taxonomy, I recognize that these usually provide no information about the bird that is of any significance to the general birding public or even most ornithologists.  If the type locality were the name of a river or cordillera or some useful topographic feature, that would be different.  Likewise, if it were the jump-off point for ecotourists wishing to see a local endemic, then that would be different also.  If we go for Panao Antpitta, I share Dan’s lack of enthusiasm for it and hope we can do better, whether or not it disrupts recent eBird usage.

 

“5. I’m all for using names that honor indigenous groups.  For example, see my strong defense of and advocacy for “Potiguara Woodcreeper” (which was voted down, unfortunately in my view).  With species limits being revised in almost every widespread Andean and Amazonian bird group, I think we will have plenty of opportunities to honor the Chachapoya and others.

 

“6. No Peruvians on the byline.  If none were involved directly in the research, that might be because most of the samples were collected before Peruvians were routinely involved in almost every field research project there.  Knowing all the authors as I do, I’m absolutely sure that this was not an oversight, and I suspect that if there were any Peruvians that deserved a co-authorship, they would have been included, as they were, for example, in the description of Cnipodectes superrufus, Myrmoderus eowilsoni, and others.  More recently, Heliothraupis oneilli did not include a Peruvian co-author but did have a Bolivian co-author and key contributor, but Machaeropterus eckelberryi did not.  So, it just depends on the situation.

“I would also be interested to know how many Peruvian ornithologists would favor Chachapoya Antpitta over Grave’s Antpitta, given his remarkable contributions to the of ornithology of northern Peru (e.g. Xenoglaux loweryi, Metallura odomae, Metallura theresiae parkeri, Grallaricula ochraceifrons, Siptornis striaticollis nortoni, Tangara phillipsi, Heliangelus regalis johnsoni, and “in reverse” Cranioleucafurcata”, not to mention several highly cited, synthetic studies of geographic variation and biogeography of Andean birds).

 

“7. Grallaria blakei Graves 1987: Chestnut Antpitta.  The chestnut plumage made this species stand out so much from others in the rufula complex that it was a perfect name.  O’Neill’s Antpitta has no such obvious plumage feature (actually a major theme of the paper was lack of phenotypic differentiation in the complex), thus leaving the authors options that included only toponyms or eponyms.  And just for the record: Cercomacra parkeri Graves 1997: Parker’s Antibrd.

 

“8. Moving forward.  I suspect this will be the last time this issue (eponyms for new species) ever comes up on SACC.  Those who like eponyms for the information they provide about the history of a bird and the honors bestowed are currently cowed into silence for fear of being labeled as racists or colonialists or whatever.  However, there is indeed widespread underground support for eponyms.  Nonetheless, eponyms distress many people, and so an easy prediction is that we have seen the last of them for English names in new species descriptions.  Sensitive to the anti-eponym view and understanding the rationale behind that view, I for one will no longer support any new eponymous English bird names.  Now, if only the other side would show some tolerance for an opinion that does not match their own.”

 

Additional comments from Barry Walker: I believe that the trend to change historical, well established English names based on some historical skeleton in someone’s historical cupboard is unwanted and unwarranted and I have talked to many people in both the scientific, bird tour leader and contemporary birder communities who feel the same. As Gary says let’s stop trying to change history based on North America’s British-fueled original sin of slavery. The rest of the world does not feel this way, and South America certainly not. Correct by whose standards? Paraguay’s.? History is history - let it be. I do not want to add wood to the prickly “correctness” issue bonfire, and let’s focus on conservation and research. John James Audubon was a slaver - what to do about that – nothing, so why correctness for others. Probably out of line and off topic if so I am sorry.

 

“I liked Lulu’s Tody-Tyrant as I like Lady Amherst’s Pheasant and Mrs. Gould’s Sunbird. I knew it was named for Ms. Von Hagen but not the aspect of ridiculing English names outlined by Van. I never smirked when using it and know no-one that did - it was a great name, and I was dismayed when it was downgraded to Johnson’s (No disrespect to Mr. Johnson, but he should have thought about it some more). So changing to better English names should not be an issue for SACC should it not?

 

“I have heard the arguments on Sierra Nevada and reluctantly accept that stance – it’s hard to argue against it.

 

“The two eponyms in question still give all the credit that is well deserved to the people named it seems pointless to duplicate them in English - we all like names that are descriptive or tell you something about the bird or have an eye-catching name that wants you to find out more, e.g. Inti Tanager.”

 

“On Dan’s comment about Peruvians - I am biased because I live there but surely it’s OK to celebrate the Chachapoyan culture.

 

“Panao Antpitta is not perfect but works - my suggestion of Pachitea Antpitta - the province of the holotype was not well received despite it being a mostly Andean province.

 

“eBird/Clements has already made the choice - - bad luck , bad timing, it seems to accept what eBird/Clements has dictated would make sense for stability though I do not here try to undermine the autonomy of SACC - it would be messy, but if SACC did change names is eBird/Clements obliged to follow suit???

 

“As to Van’s statement that he would like to know how many Peruvian ornithologist’s would prefer Grave’s over Chachapoya, I do not know, but a quick survey would be easy to do. However, I do know the growing non-ornithologist birding community would be in favor of honoring Gary in the scientific name and the Chachapoya in the vernacular name.”

 

I” like and grew up with eponyms and had to learn scientific names at Explorer’s Inn in the 80’s - I like them - my views are clear, and I will not, nor will most South Americans, be cowed into silence because of contentious name issues in the north of the Americas. I stand up for Audubon and others and their names should not be changed unless it needs to be reviewed if the political climate IN SOUTH AMERICA mirrors North America, which at present it does not.”