Most of you are perfectly aware of this, but in case any beginning
birders out there are confused by the "dueling" subject lines in Doug
Aguillard's two posts regarding the Newell's/Townsend's Shearwater in
San Diego the other day, it is simply a matter of taxonomy.
The current AOU treatment is of a single species, Townsend's Shearwater
(Puffinus auricularis), with two subspecies: the nominate (breeding on
the Islas Revillagigedos off w. Mexico) and P. a. newelli (breeding on
Kauai and perhaps other islands in the Hawaiian archipelago).
Differences in plumage and structure are subtle (but probably on par
with species-level differences among the "small black-and-white"
shearwaters); vocalizations are purportedly similar (but Townsend's is
poorly studied). The two taxa differ in breeding habitat, at-sea
ecology, and breeding season.
Right now it is "correct" to refer to the species as Townsend's
Shearwater, but given (a) that Newell's Shearwater is generally used to
refer to the Hawaiian birds (is there anybody in Hawaii or in the U. S.
Fish and Wildlife Service who calls the Hawaiian birds Townsend's
Shearwaters?), and (b) that current taxonomic trends in procellariids
make it likely that a "split" will be recognized, it makes sense to
refer, informally at least, to the two groups as "Townsend's" and
"Newell's". Philip Unitt has determined that the San Diego bird was
[Another wrench thrown into this mess is the suggestion that a
poorly-known tropical Pacific taxon, myrtae, might be allied with the
auricularis complex rather than with the "Little" or "Audubon's"
Sorry for the semi-pedantic taxonomy lesson, but I was concerned there
might be confusion about the postings.
Kimball L. Garrett
Ornithology Collections Manager
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
900 Exposition Blvd.
Los Angeles CA 90007
(213) 746-2999 FAX
> -----Original Message-----
> From: CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com [mailto:CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com] On
> Of Douglas Aguillard
> Sent: Sunday, August 05, 2007 12:13 PM
> To: Calbirds@yahoogroups.com
> Subject: [CALBIRDS] Fw: Townsend's Shearwatwer (New North American
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Douglas Aguillard
> To: Calbirds@...
> Sent: Sunday, August 05, 2007 9:57 AM
> Subject: Newell's Shearwatwer (New North American record)