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

Birds of the World – Subspecies With Various “Colors”

Plain Prinia (Prinia inornata) by Nikhil Devasar

Plain Prinia (Prinia inornata) by Nikhil Devasar

Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. (Genesis 2:19 NASB)

While working on the new updates for the IOC 2.10 Version, I kept noticing the word “color” in the scientific names as I sorted and resorted the Excel spreadsheet. This is a third of the “color” articles. There are concolordiscolor, bicolor, tricolor, unicolor, quadricolor, quinticolor, multicolor,  versicolor, nocticolor, coelicolor, decolor, fumicolor, niscolor,  schisticolor,  subunicolor, sitticolor.

In the subspecies (ssp.) there are a few additional “colors” that show up – arenicolor, caelicolor, caerebicolor, cervinicolor, deserticolor, ruficolor, terricolor.   For now, let’s see what the subspecies “color” birds are. Most have just only one or two birds with that “color” name. Where a photo of the subspecies could not be found, the nominate bird is shown.

arenicolor = aren, sand + color

Bar-tailed Lark (Ammomanes cinctura arenicolor) by Keith Blomerley

The Bar-tailed Lark (Ammomanes cinctura) is a species of lark in the Alaudidae family. It is found in Afghanistan, Algeria, Cape Verde, Chad, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel and Palestine, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia,and Yemen. Its natural habitat is hot deserts.

I do not know Latin, nor what Scientific words mean, but I have a copy of the Latin Vulgate on my e-Sword Program. I decided to look up these words and see what I might find. While searching for “aren” I found the word “harenam” which translates to “sand.”

How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee. (Psalms 139:17-18 KJV)

caelicolor = sky blue + color

caeli” translates to “heaven” in most verses.

The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine: as for the world and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded them. (Psalms 89:11 KJV)

See Paradise Tanager (Tangara chilensis caelicolor)

Paradise Tanager (Tangara_chilensis) -DenverZoo-©WikiC

Paradise Tanager (Tangara_chilensis) -DenverZoo-©WikiC

caerebicolor = caer (blue) + bicolor (Having two colors)

(Couldn’t figure this one out in Latin)

Blue Dacnis (Dacnis cayana, ssp caerebicolor)

Blue Dacnis (Dacnis cayana) by Dario Sanches

Blue Dacnis (Dacnis cayana) by Dario Sanches

Velvet Flycatcher (Myiagra hebetior) also known as Dull or Lesser Shining Flycatcher
The Dull Flycatcher (Myiagra hebetior) is a species of bird in the Monarchidae family. It is endemic to Papua New Guinea. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and subtropical or tropical moist montanes.

cervinicolor = cervix (neck) + color

cervi” translates to “neck” in most verses. (cervis = stiff-necked)

He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy. (Proverbs 29:1 NKJV)

Shining Flycatcher (Myiagra alecto) by Ian

Shining Flycatcher (Myiagra alecto) by Ian (closest to Velvet I could find)

Velvet Flycatcher (Myiagra hebetior cervinicolor)

deserticolor = desert + color

deserti” translates to “desert” or “wilderness“.

Indian Scops Owl (Otus bakkamoena) pair by Nikhil Devasar

Indian Scops Owl (Otus bakkamoena) pair by Nikhil Devasar

Indian Scops Owl (Otus bakkamoena deserticolor) – Video IBC

“A medium (smaller than the Collared) sized scops owl with large conspicuous ear-tufts. Sandy grey-brown, spotted and mottled dark brown and black. There is also a rufous phase. Underparts light grey-buff. Has a distinct nuchal collar and also a second collar on nape. Eyes are dark brown.” (Delhibird)

Common Miner (Geositta cunicularia) ©WikiC

Common Miner (Geositta cunicularia) ©WikiC

Common Miner (Geositta cunicularia deserticolor)

“The Common Miner (Geositta cunicularia) is a passerine bird of South America, belonging to the ovenbird family. It is a ground-dwelling bird which feeds on insects and seeds. It has about 9 different subspecies, some of which may be better treated as separate species.
It is 14 to 16 cm long with a fairly long, slightly downcurved bill. The plumage varies geographically but is basically brown above and pale below with a streaked breast, pale stripe over the eye, dark edge to the ear-coverts and pale rufous bar across the wing. The tail is dark with a buff base and variable amounts of buff on the outer feathers. The trilling song is often given in flight and also varies geographically.” (Wikipedia)

Chinese White-browed Rosefinch (Carpodacus dubius deserticolor) Video by Keith Blomerley

The Chinese White-browed Rosefinch (Carpodacus dubius) is a true finch species (family Fringillidae). It is one of the rosefinches that might belong in the genus Propasser.
It is found in China and Tibet. Its natural habitats are temperate forests and temperate shrubland.

ruficolor = rufilata (Latin), rufus, reddish + color

rufi” translates to “red” or “Rufus“-a name.

In the first chariot were red horses; and in the second chariot black horses; (Zechariah 6:2 KJV)
in quadriga prima equi rufi et in quadriga secunda equi nigri (Zechariah 6:2 Vulgate)

Thekla Lark (Galerida theklae) by ©WikiC

Thekla Lark (Galerida theklae) by ©WikiC

Thekla Lark (Galerida theklae ruficolor) Video IBC

“The Thekla Lark, Galerida theklae, breeds in Iberia, northern Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal to Somalia. It is a sedentary species. This is a common bird of dry open country, often at some altitude. It nests on the ground, laying two to six eggs. Its food is weed seeds and insects, the latter especially in the breeding season.
This is a smallish lark, slightly smaller than Skylark. It has a long spiky erectile crest. It is greyer than Skylark, and lacks the white wing and tail edged of that species.” (Wikipedia)

terricolor = terr- (dry land) or (land, earth, ground) + color

“terr+” brought up “3,147 verses found, 3547 matches” (Needless to say, I did not check them all out.) “terra” translates as above, “earth”, “land”, “ground.”

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (Genesis 1:1 KJV)

Plain Prinia (Prinia inornata) by Nikhil Devasar

Plain Prinia (Prinia inornata) by Nikhil Devasar

Plain Prinia (Prinia inornata terricolor) Video IBC – Photo

“The Plain Prinia, or the Plain, or White-browed, Wren-Warbler[2] (Prinia inornata) is a small warbler in the cisticola family. It is a resident breeder from Pakistan and India to south China and southeast Asia. It was formerly included in the Tawny-flanked Prinia, Prinia subflava (Gmelin, 1789), resident in Africa south of the Sahara. The two are now usually considered to be separate species.
This skulking passerine bird is typically found in wet lowland grassland, open woodland, scrub and sometimes gardens. The Plain Prinia builds its nest in a shrub or tall grass and lays 3-6 eggs.”

White-browed Sparrow-Weaver (Plocepasser mahali) ©WikiC

White-browed Sparrow-Weaver (Plocepasser mahali) ©WikiC

White-browed Sparrow-Weaver (Plocepasser mahali terricolor) Video of (Plocepasser mahali melanorhynchus) IBC

The White-browed Sparrow-Weaver (Plocepasser mahali; Afrikaans: Koringvoël) is a predominantly brown, sparrow-sized weaver found throughout central and northcentral southern Africa. It is found in groups of two to eleven individuals consisting of one breeding pair and nonreproductive individuals.
P. m. terricolor is found towards the center of the White-Browed Sparrow-Weaver’s range, occurring predominantly in eastern Botswana.

I trust that you were not bored, but enjoyed the Latin lesson thrown in. I am always curious as to how they come up with these Scientific Names. It was interesting to find out some of these meanings. In the mean time we have seen some birds that the Lord created that we probably have never seen before. I love that Paradise Tanager the most, but the others are great also.


Articles for additional information:

Birds of the World

Scientific bird names explained Very good
Bird Names
Zoological Nomenclature Resource
List of Latin words with English derivatives – Wikipedia
List of Greek words with English derivatives – Wikipedia
Key to the Pronunciation and Meaning of Scientific Names of Popular Species
What’s in a Bird Family Name
CalPhotos: Browse Bird Scientific Names
North American Bird Name Origins


Ian’s Bird of the Week – Double-eyed Fig-Parrot

Double-eyed Fig Parrot (Cyclopsitta diophthalma macleayana) by Ian

Double-eyed Fig Parrot (Cyclopsitta diophthalma macleayana) by Ian

I wonder why miniature things are so endearing. Describing something as ‘the smallest’ immediately attracts attention, so here is the smallest parrot in Australia – with one of the longest and strangest names – the Double-eyed Fig-Parrot. Strictly speaking the Cape York race of this species (marshalli) is the smallest with a length of 13cm/5in – shorter than a house sparrow. More accessible and nearly as small (14cm) is the race found in northeastern Queensland (macleayana), quite common around Cairns and on the Atherton Tableland, where the first photo was taken.

Double-eyed Fig Parrot (Cyclopsitta diophthalma macleayana) by Ian

Double-eyed Fig Parrot (Cyclopsitta diophthalma macleayana) by Ian

The races and genders are distinguishable by different facial patterns. This is a male macleayana and has a red forehead and cheek separated by a sky-blue patch and an indigo fringe to the red cheek patch. The second photo is also a male macleayana but nearly hidden in the foliage; this is typical and these birds can be hard to see as they creep around mouse-like through fruiting trees in rainforest.

Double-eyed Fig Parrot (Cyclopsitta diophthalma macleayana) by Ian

Double-eyed Fig Parrot (Cyclopsitta diophthalma macleayana) by Ian

The female and juvenile macleayana are similar to the male but lacks the red cheek patch, as in the two birds in the third photo.

The fourth photo shows a female of the Cape York race, marshalli, with no red at all. I lack a photo of the male marshalli but it is rather similar to the male macleayana except that the red forehead and cheek patches are contiguous.

Double-eyed Fig Parrot (Cyclopsitta diophthalma marshalli) by Ian

Double-eyed Fig Parrot (Cyclopsitta diophthalma marshalli) by Ian

The third and remaining Australian race, coxeni, is the largest (16cm) and rarest – classified as endangered – and occurs in a few river valleys between Maryborough in southeast Queensland and the Macleay River in northern New South Wales. Both sexes apparently have mainly blue foreheads and small reddish cheek patches.

These three races were originally treated as separate species and known as Macleay’s or Red-browed, Coxen’s or Blue-browed and Marshall’s Fig-Parrots. Later they and five races in Papua New Guinea were lumped into a single species and acquired the common name of the nominate Double-eyed Fig-Parrot of PNG (Cyclopsitta diophthalma diophthalma). This has a dark spot near each eye, giving it its double-eyed appearance, but the name is not descriptive of the races that lack the dark spot, i.e. the three Australian races. Oh well, they got the fig bit right.

Best wishes

Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: 0411 602 737 +61-411 602 737
Preferred Email: ian@birdway.com.au
Website: http://birdway.com.au

Lee’s Addition:
Those cute little Fig Parrots are in the Parrots – Psittacidae Family of the Psittaciformes Order which not only includes Parrot family, but also the New Zealand Parrots and Cockatoos.

He will bless those who fear the LORD, Both small and great. (Psalms 115:13 NKJV)


Updating The Birds of the World Again 2/24/11

Lesser Rhea (Rhea pennata tarapacensis) (Darwin's) Chicks©Arthur Grosset

Lesser Rhea (Rhea pennata tarapacensis) (Darwin’s) Chicks©Arthur Grosset

The I.O.C. has updated to Version 2.7, but they are also getting ready to release a whole new format in Version 3.0. They placed the Ver. 2.7 in a draft which includes the Subspecies. After experimenting with several different ways to present the list, I have made my choice. This means that I have been busy behind the scene working on this website. (Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures Plus)

So far I have updated the following Families:
Tinamous – Tinamidae
Ostriches – Struthionidae
Rheas – Rheidae
Cassowaries – Casuariidae
Emu – Dromaiidae

The I.O.C. is now the I.O.U. “Our goal on behalf of the International Ornithologist’s Union, formerly International Ornithological Congress (IOC), is to facilitate worldwide communication in ornithology and conservation through the consistent use of English names linked to current species taxonomy. The English names follow explicit guidelines for spelling and construction that increase clarity of application. To this end we provide a complete list of the extant bird species of the world.”

IOC World Bird List – Subspecies (Draft 1)

Supplementing the release of version 2.7 of the IOC World Bird List is a preview of our draft listing of the subspecies of the world’s birds along with the authors and dates attributed to their nomenclature.  This working draft will provide the taxonomic foundation for version 3.0.

The above quotes are from the IOC World Bird List website. Since they are making a major revision, I decided to get started on updating to match their way of listing birds. I have been using the IOC lists of World Birds since starting the Birds of the World section.

There are 233 Families of birds, which means I have 233 pages of data to update. So, I have 5 down and 228 to go. For now the indexes to the families will not change, but a few birds may not be correct until I finish. Try not to be too upset about the dust flying around as the changes are being made. Trust the 3.0 Version is close to what I am doing.

The main difference is that before only the bird was named, such as: (All photos by Bob-Nan)

Common Ostrich (Struthio camelus)
Somali Ostrich (Struthio molybdophanes)

Now it is:

Struthio   ———- This is the Genus
Common Ostrich (Struthio camelus) ————– This is the Species
____ (Struthio camelus syriacus)  ——- This is the Subspecies
____ (Struthio camelus camelus)  ——- This is the Subspecies
____ (Struthio camelus massaicus) ——- This is the Subspecies
____ (Struthio camelus australis)  ——- This is the Subspecies
Somali Ostrich (Struthio molybdophanes) ————– This is the Species

Common Ostrich (Struthio camelus massaicus) by Bob-Nan

Common Ostrich (Struthio camelus massaicus) by Bob-Nan

I trust this helps explain the new layout for the list of world birds. It’s time for me to start kicking up some more dust as I continue with the changes. I am going straight down the list of families – Family Index. Keep checking back to see how far I have gotten. Updating all the links to the pictures and videos is the most time consuming.

It is worth it though to help you see the fantastic birds the Lord has created around this world. I personally have great pleasure working on this because I get to see so many birds that I will never personally view. Thanks to the many photographers and videographers, those that have given us permission, the ones who allow their photos to used in ©© (Creative Commons), ©WikiC (Wikipedea Commons), and others in public domain.

And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. (Genesis 2:19 KJV)

Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth; (Psalms 105:5 KJV)

Long-tailed Broadbill (Psarisomus dalhousiae) babies ©©coracii

Long-tailed Broadbill (Psarisomus dalhousiae) babies ©©coracii

That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the LORD hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it. (Isaiah 41:20 KJV)

Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created. (Psalms 148:5 KJV)

Updated – See:

3/1/11 – Birdwatching and Still Updating

3/17/11 – Birdwatching and Still Kicking Up Dust