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Eastern meadowlark (photo by Chuck Tague) vs. Chihuahuan meadowlark in San Rafael Valley, AZ (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

When I attended the Southwest Wings Birding Festival in Arizona in the summer of 2015, I saw 33 Life Birds including an elegant trogon and a violet-crowned hummingbird. Seven years later I will gain a 34th Life Bird for that trip without doing anything. The eastern meadowlarks I saw in Santa Cruz County, Arizona will become a new species. eBird will change them for me this month.

This month eBird will update the taxonomy in its extensive checklist database to reflect the latest ‘splits’, ‘lumps’, additions of new species, changes to scientific names, taxonomic sequence, and more.

The full 2022 eBird Taxonomy Update is scheduled to begin on 25 October. Changes may begin as early as 15 October. The process is expected to take up to a week including intermediate steps. Submit all “Not Submitted” mobile checklists by 24 October.

Please DO NOT EDIT your personal records if you notice them changing. Reach out to eBird if you have questions.

paraphrase of eBird’s 2022 Taxonomy update news

Some of the changes will be minor unless you’re addicted to scientific names. Here are two examples from my own Life List.

The violet-crowned hummingbird, Leucolia violiceps, was placed in an “unavailable” genus so this month it will become Ramosomyia violiceps on my Southwest Wings checklist.

Violet-crowned hummingbird, Patagonia AZ (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The mottled owl I saw in Costa Rica in 2017 was Ciccaba virgata at the time, but Ciccaba is now absorbed into Strix so the mottled owl will become Strix virgata. In the Strix genus it joins an owl it resembles, the barred owl (Strix varia).

Mottled owl (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The biggest change for me is the long anticipated split of the eastern meadowlark. The Lilianae group will become the Chihuahuan Meadowlark (Sturnella lilianae). It looks different (at top) and has more DNA in common with other Mexican (former eastern) subspecies than with the eastern and western meadowlarks. Click here to see the Chihuahuan meadowlark’s range on eBird.

eBird explains: “Whenever possible, we change your records for you to match the expected species when a split or lump occurs—this is one of the main services we provide at eBird.”

For me this is a top reason why I use eBird. I can enter the sighting once (7 years ago!) and it becomes a Life Bird all on its own.

Read more about the changes at 2022 Taxonomy Update—Coming Soon!

p.s. Here’s how it looks on my life list right now. Soon it will change.

eastern meadowlark sightings in eBird (data from Kate St. John)

(photos by Chuck Tague and from Wikimedia Commons)

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