Working for birds in Africa

African Checklist - Notes

a) Preferred Scientific Name

The list of scientific names is based originally on those in Birds of Africa but preferred differences take account of recent literature and what is most commonly used in the works mentioned above. Species not occurring in the area covered by Birds of Africa have been added appropriately. It is not intended that this list is a definitive taxonomic statement by the African Bird Club or indeed any individual associated with the Club.

b) Preferred English Name

The preferred English name is that used by the majority of the works mentioned above with emphasis on Birds of Africa and names which are used by birdwatchers in the field. The names used by the International Ornithological Committee (IOC book referred to above) have also been given some prominence. Many species are known by just one English name everywhere, but others are known by several, in different parts of the world and indeed in different parts of Africa and its surrounds. In many cases the choice of preferred name was fairly clear but others have essentially had to be pragmatic. It is accepted that not everyone will agree with those chosen.

c) Preferred French Name

This is almost invariably that used by: Commission Internationale des Noms Français des Oiseaux. 1993. Noms Français des Oiseaux du Monde. Éditions MultiMondes, Sainte-Foy & Chabaud, Bayonne. Where the taxonomy here is different a name from one or more of BoA, DFW, BD or HBW (see above) has been used. There are also a few recently described species for which I have not yet been able to find a French name.

d) Alternative English and French Names

Under the preferred English and French names are various alternatives which appear as the main name in any of the above works. (Some of these works also list alternatives but not all these are included here.) Any names which have been used for more than one species are placed in square brackets and it is recommended that the use of these should be avoided without further clarification. In all cases minor differences in spelling, eg different capitalisation, insertion or not of hyphens, and obvious misspellings, are ignored. For alternative scientific names used see below. Where the name used in BoA is among these alternatives two asterisks precede the name; where the name used by IOC (and often SS) is among the alternatives a single asterisk is appended to the name.

e) Races

Races are noted from BoA, CMT, HM, HBW (where available), and ZTP and BD (for the forms in their areas of interest). The basis of the list is BoA (and/or CMT for those not in BoA) and all differences of opinion and different spellings in these publications are explicitly noted.

f) Different Scientific Name

All differences in the spelling of the scientific name (even minor) and different generic classifications are noted explicitly from all the publications noted above.

g) Differences in classification and taxonomy of the species or races

Notes are included where, for example, one or more of the publications subsumes the species into another or raises one or more races as species. (The classification used in the three Field Guides is noted in brackets if different.)

h) Miscellaneous Taxonomic Notes

For example that one or more sources consider the species to be in a different family.

i) Status and Range

This is intended as an indication and not necessarily an exact definition. Three items are included: a) Species are classed as resident, Intra-African migrant, Palearctic breeding visitor (in practice essentially those in North Africa only in the northern summer), Palearctic winter visitor or a combination of one or more of these; b) very brief notes of the main habitat; and c) range is summarised in the most appropriate way and should be taken in combination with the habitat notes; edges in particular are not necessarily precise, eg a statement that a species occurs north to northern Kenya could occur sometimes in southern Ethiopia; the range of races are only distinguished separately if they are clearly defined areas and especially if the race (or races) have been split off as a species by one or more authors.

There are also some notes referring to a group of species, for example that one or more sources considers all of a genus to be in a different one. These are usually placed just before the relevant entries. Several of these refer to Madagascan endemics over which there remain some considerable arguments as to their correct classification.

The order of families and species is primarily that in BoA with relevant additions and modifications for species not covered by this as necessary. This is followed broadly by all the others except SAM, HM and IOC, although Field Guides place some species and groups near to species which look similar but which are not necessarily closely related.

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