Updated Birds of the World to I.O.C. 3.1 – Subspecies Definitions

Well, I just updated the site to the newest version of the I.O.C. World Bird List – Version 3.1. It has been out for about a month, but I was busy and now finally have it finished. I have spent the last week updating almost 300 pages here. I am only one person and don’t have a staff (don’t I wish). All pages and indexes are up-to-date.

The IOC made a major update with this Version and I decided to make some changes also. I was trying to anticipate the changes coming with the Version 3, but still missed it. They added 145 extinct species of birds. There are also 20,989 subspecies added (had that right) to go with the 10,451 living species of birds in the world. They are in 40 Orders, 228 Families (plus 6 Incertae sedis), with 2257 Genera. (Now in June they are going to make more adjustments)

Have you ever questioned yourself why you do things? Working on these pages made me wonder, but I think it is still worth all the work.

Why? When I started this blog, I wanted to write about the Birds of the Bible and have been doing that since day one over four years ago. As time has progressed, this site has grown way beyond what I ever dreamed about. The Lord has given me ideas for articles, pages, references, etc. Fantastic photographers have given permission to use their photos and the whole world of birds has opened up to me. Ian let’s me use his newsletters (Bird of the Week) and he travels the world. Also ajmithra in India writes about birds there and other places. Most of all when the Lord created the birds way back in Genesis chapter 1

Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.” So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” So the evening and the morning were the fifth day. (Genesis 1:20-23 NKJV)

they did what He commanded them to do and now they are all over the world driving the people at IOC and other listing groups of ornithologists crazy trying to keep up with their names. Me? I am enjoying trying to find out about them and see  them or pictures of them to go along with those name.

If you, my readers, never benefit from my efforts, I still am gaining knowledge of birds that I will never see in person but are so designed and created with such care that finding out about them increases my faith. While I am doing these pages and articles, my best is what I want to give my Savior.

Birds of the World

Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis) by Ian

Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis) by Ian

That said, now that they are adding all these subspecies, here are some definitions of “subspecies.” They use terms like species, subspecies, monotypic, morph, etc.

From About.com Birding/Wild Birds


(noun) A bird that is notably different from the expected characteristics of its species, but not sufficiently different to be independently classified as a unique species. Subspecies are often geographically determined, and differences such as size variations or plumage colorations are a common basis for subspecies distinctions.

Not all bird species have distinct subspecies, and over time the classifications of different birds can change to alter subspecies into a lesser or greater number of divisions, or even to grant a subspecies distinction as a new bird species. Examples of common subspecies include the different geographic plumage variations of the dark-eyed junco, such as the eastern “slate-colored” junco and the western “Oregon” junco, as well as the southwestern subspecies of the lesser goldfinch, the “black-backed” lesser goldfinch.

While a subspecies can be noted on a birder’s life list, it does not count as an additional bird for a life list total unless the bird is reclassified as a distinct species. Many birders enjoy the extra challenge of seeing different subspecies, and comprehensive field guides will list common subspecies. These details also make a field guide more useful over time as bird classifications may change.

Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis oreganus) (one of the Oregon Juncos) ©WikiC

Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis oreganus) (one of the Oregon Juncos) ©WikiC

Definition: Monotypic

(adjective) Describes a species with only a single genetic or physical type and no officially recognized subspecies. While monotypic birds may still have subtle plumage or size variations, these differences are not sufficient to be distinguished as subspecies. Monotypic birds may still crossbreed with other species, though the hybrids are not independently recognized as a unique species or subspecies.


From TheFreeDictionary

n. pl. subspecies

A taxonomic subdivision of a species consisting of an interbreeding, usually geographically isolated population of organisms.


A subdivision of a species of organisms, usually based on geographic distribution. The subspecies name is written in lowercase italics following the species name. For example, Gorilla gorilla gorilla is the western lowland gorilla, and Gorilla gorilla graueri is the eastern lowland gorilla.
Species:A single distinct class of living creatures sharing specific DNA and physical features that differentiate them from other species. Species are uniform in appearance (unless other factors, described later, apply) and produce offspring with the same characteristics, appearance and DNA structure. An example of a species would be a Gouldian Finch.

Subspecies:A division within a species usually created by geographic isolation from the main (nominate) species. A population within a population (usually) sharing most of the same physical characteristics and DNA structure. A physically distinct sub-unit within an otherwise identical group of birds or animals. A subspecies can be though of as a “race” within a species. Most subspecies distinctions are visible. An example would be a (Southern race, smaller) European vs. a (larger, Northern race) Siberian Goldfinch. Other than the size, they are the same bird.

Read more:http://www.softbillsforsale.com/articles/definition-of-terms.asp#ixzz1wXB1i2HY

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