WorldWaders Shorebird List of the World: a summary of taxonomic changes of shorebirds from the past few years

Written by Gyorgy Szimuly/WorldWaders

Using WorldWaders database requires a little understanding about the changes of taxonomic order and names as well as species status of shorebirds of the world. The mess in the naming of birds and using the order is almost impossible to follow and comparing two different taxonomic systems is a real challenge. Every organisation, scientific board or book author can decide which bird list and nomenclature will be used. We at WorldWaders have also decided to use one system consequently (with a very few expections).

The International Ornithological Congress (IOC) provides a checklist of birds of the world and updates it as new information is available on the taxonomy of any bird species of the world. Shorebirds are not the most critical part of the world birds in terms of frequent taxonomical changes but in in the past few years some major revisions on naming and some splitting has been published.


?? Szabolcs K??kay/K??kayArt

Here I provide a short summary of the changes what not every WorldWaders usermight be?? aware of.


Indian Stone-curlew Burhinus indicus (indicus race of Eurasian Stone-curlew Burhinus oedicnemus raised to species level) ??? Range: India and Sri Lanka to Indochina; winters to Africa and Arabia

White-headed Stilt Himantopus leucocephalus (leucocephalus race of Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus raised to species level) ??? Range: Indonesia to Australia and New Zealand; winters to the Philippines
Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus (mexicanus and knudseni race of Black-winged Stilt raised to species level) ??? Range: mexicanus – W and s US to e Ecuador, sw Peru and ne Brazil; winters to West Indies; knudseni – Hawaiian Islands
White-backed Stilt Himantopus melanurus (melanurus race of Black-winged Stilt raised to species level) ??? Range: North Chile and e-central Peru to se Brazil and c Argentina

Snowy Plover Charadrius nivosus (nivosus and occidentalis race of Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus raised to species level) ??? Range: nivosus – US to Mexico and West Indies, winters to Panama; occidentalis – Coastal Peru to s-central Chile

Australian Painted Snipe Rostratula australis (australis race of Greater Painted Snipe Rostratula benghalensis raised to species level) ??? range: Australia

Snares Snipe Coenocorypha huegli (huegli race of Subantarctic Snipe Coenocorypha aucklandica raised to species level) ??? Range: Snares Islands (Northeast, Broughton and Alert Stack)

Species not yet aproved but appears in the WorldWaders list

Hudsonian Curlew or Hudsonian Whimbrel Numenius hudsonicus (hudsonicus race of Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus will possibly be split) ??? Range: Alaska to North Canada; winters to south South America.

White-faced Plover Charadrius ssp. (status of an undescribed plover species from se Asia is under investigation) ??? Range: se Asia

Species are out of the list of shorebirds due to probable extinction

??? Javan Lapwing Vanellus macropterus (possibly extinct; last seen around 1920)
??? South Island Snipe Coenocorypha iredalei (extinct; posthumous split from Subantarctic Snipe Coenocorypha aucklandica)

??? Eskimo Curlew Numenius borealis (possibly extinct; last confirmed record is from 1963)
??? Tahiti Sandpiper Prosobonia leucoptera (extinct by introduced rats in the late 18th century)

Those changes should be taken into consideration when submitting a record to WorldWaders database. As the world shorebird list is reduced to every georegion Black-winged Stilt will not appear in the list for Australia. White-headed Stilt will be there instead.

In some cases the english names and even scientific names has been changed. For checking the correct names go through the IOC checklist for shorebirds and allies. Among the many changes Diademed Sandpiper Plover is now named as Diademed Plover and family name of the tattlers has been changed from Heteroscelus to Tringa as well as of Willet’s family name from Catoptrophorus to Tringa.

Speculations of future splits are always in the topic of different discussions (best source of those discussions are on the birdforum). Just naming a few of them:

Monotypic Grey Plover to be split. American Arctic birds are supposed to be morphologically different from the Eurasian ones.
North American breeding Snowy Plovers to be split to two species as Western Snowy Plover and Eastern Snowy Plover.
race of Snowy Plover as Peruvian Plover.
race of Dunlin as Hudsonian Sandpiper or Hudsonian Dunlin(?).
Two Willet subspecies to be raised to species level as Western Willet and Eastern Willet.


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