Birds’ Names & Splits

In recent years there have been great changes in the way we approach bird watching in India. Until 1999, the only available field guides were the books by Salim Ali and Dilon Ripley. In 1999 the field guide by Grimmett and Inskipp, followed in 2000 by Kazmierczak, brought a big revolution to the way we identify birds and also changed many of the birds’ names. A second revolution came with the book of Pamela Rassmussen published in 2005. Rassmussen became famous in Indian ornithology when in 1995 she rediscovered the forest owlet which had not been seen for 113 years. In her book she split many of the species.

The following list is of birds of South India that were either split or their names changed. The first name is by Rassmussen, followed by Inskipp and last by Ali. Latin names are applied only where there was a split or are different between authors.

Most bird watchers usually follow the names as given by Inskipp, simply because this is the guide most commonly used.

Rassmussen Grimmet & Inskipp Ali & Ripley
eastern cattle egret (bubulcus coromandus) cattle egret (bubulcus ibis) cattle egret (bubulcus ibis)
striated heron (butorides striata) little heron (butorides striatus) little green heron (ardeola striatus
chestnut bittern cinnamon bittern chestnut bittern
Indian black ibis black ibis black ibis
black winged kite black shouldered kite black winged kite
black kite (milvus migrans migrans/govinda) black kite (milvus migrans) pariah kite (milvus m. govinda) & black kite (milvus m. migrans)
black eared kite (milvus [migrans] lineatus) black kite (milvus migrans) black eared kite (milvus migrans lineatus)
steppe buzzard (buteo buteo vulpinus) common buzzard (buteo buteo) Japanese buzzard (buteo b.japonicas) & desert buzzard (buteo b. vulpinus)
crested hawk eagle changeable hawk eagle crested hawk eagle
mountain hawk eagle mountain hawk eagle hodgson’s hawk eagle
Indian vulture long billed vulture Indian longbilled vulture
Western marsh harrier Eurasian marsh harrier marsh harrier
Peregrine falcon (falco peregrinus peregrinator) Peregrine falcon (falco p. peregrinator) shaheen falcon (falco p. peregrinator)
Peregrine falcon (falco peregrinus calidus) peregrine falcon (falco peregrinus calidus) peregrine falcon (falco peregrinus japonesis)
Eastern baillon’s crake Baillon’s crake Baillon’s crake
Western black tailed godwit Black tailed godwit Black tailed godwit
Heuglin’s gull Heuglin’s gull Caspian gull
Steppe gull Yellow legged gull Caspian gull
Grey fronted green pigeon (treron affinis) Pompadour green pigeon (treron pompadora affinis) Pompadour green pigeon (treron p. affinis)
plum headed parakeet Plum headed parakeet Blossom headed parakeet
Fork tailed drongo cuckoo (surniculus lugubris dicruroides) Drongo cuckoo (surniculus lugubris) Drongo cuckoo (surinculus lugubris)
square taied drongo cuckoo (surniculus lugubris) Drongo cuckoo (surniculus l.) Drongo cuckoo (surniculus l.)
Jacobin cuckoo Pied cuckoo Jacobin cuckoo
Southern coucal (centropus parroti) Greater coucal (centropus sinesis) Crow pheasant (centropus sinesis)
Blue faced malkoha Blue faced malkoha Small green billed malkoha
Ceylon bay owl (phodilus assimilis) Oriental bay owl (phodilus badius) Oriental bay owl (phodilus badius)
Indian eagle owl (bubu bengalensis) Eurasian eagle owl (bubu bubu) Great horned owl (bubu bubu)
Indian jungle nightjar Grey nightjar Indian jungle nightjar
Indian white rumped spinetail White rumped needdletail White rumped spinetail swift
Pacific swift Fork tailed swift Large white rumped swift
Black backed dwarf kingfisher (ceyx erithaca) Oriental dwarf kingfisher (ceyx erithacus) Three toed kingfisher (ceyx erithacus)
Lesser pied kingfisher Pied kingfisher Lesser pied kingfisher
Great pied hornbill Pied hornbill Great pied hornbill
Malabar barbet (megalaima malabarica) Crimson fronted barbet (megalaima rubricapilla) Crimson throated barbet (megalaima rubricapilla)
Indian pygmy woodpecker Brown capped pygmy woodpecker Pigmy woodpecker
Yellow fronted pied woodpecker Yellow crowned woodpecker Yellow fronted pied [mahratta] woodpecker
Common flameback Common flameback Indian goldenback threetoad woodpecker
Black rumped flameback Black rumped flameback Lesser goldenbacked woodpecker
Greater flameback Greater flameback Large goldenbacked woodpecker
Jerdon’s bushlark (mirafra affinis) Rufous winged bushlark (mirafra assamica affinis) Bushlark (mirafra assamica affinis)
Ashy crowned finch-lark Ashy crowned sparrow-lark Ashy crowned finch-lark
Malabar woodshrike (tephrodornis sylvicola) Large woodshrike (tephrodornis gularis) Large woodshrike (tephrodornis virgatus)
Pied flycatcher-shrike Bar winged flycatcher-shrike Pied flycatcher-shrike
Orange minivet Scarlet minivet Scarlet minivet
Square tailed black bulbul (hypsipetes ganeesa) Black bulbul (hypsipetes leucocephalus ganeesa) Black bulbul (hypsipetes madagascariensis)
Flame throated bulbul (pycnonotus gularis) Black crested bulbul (pycnonotus melanicterus gularis) Ruby throated bulbul (pycnonotus melanicterus gularis)
Jerdon’s leafbird (chloropsis jerdoni) Blue winged leafbird (chloropsis cochinchinensis jerdoni) Gold mantled chloropsis (chloropsis cochinchinensis jerdoni)
Rufous backed long tailed shrike Long tailed shrike Long tailed shrike
White spotted fantail (rhipidura albigularis) White throated fantail (rhipidura albicollis) White throated fantail (rhipidura albicollis)
Blue headed rock thrush Blue capped rock thrush Blue headed rock thrush
Indian blackbird (turdus simillimus nigropileus) Eurasian blackbird (turdus merula nigropileus) Eurasian blackbird (turdus merula nigropileus
Nilgiri thrush (zoothera neligherriensis) Scaly thrush (zoothera dauma) Golden mountain thrush (zoothera dauma)
White bellied blue robin (myiomela albiventis) White bellied shortwing (brachypteryx major albiventis) Rufous bellied shortwing (brachypteryx major)
Nilgiri blue robin (myiomela major) White bellied shortwing (brachypteryx major major) Rufous bellied shortwing (brachypteryx major)
Red breasted flycatcher (ficedula parva) Red throated flycatcher (ficedula parva parva) Red breasted flycatcher
(ficedula parva parva)
Red throated flycatcher (ficedula albicilla) Red throated flycatcher (ficedula parva albicilla) Red breasted flycatcher (ficedula parva albicilla)
Black chinned laughingthrush (trochalopteron cachinnans) Nilgiri laughingthrush (trochalopteron cachinnans) Nilgiri laughingthrush (trochalopteron cachinnans)
Kerala laughingthrush (trochalopteron faibanki) Grey breasted laughingthrush (trochapteron jerdoni) white breasted laughingthrush (trochapteron jerdoni)
Indian rufous babbler (turdoides subrufa) Rufous babbler (turdoides subrufus) Rufous babbler (turdoides subrufus)
Indian reed warbler (acrosephaleus [stentoreus] brunnescens) Clamorous reed warbler (acrocephalus stentoreus) Indian great reed warbler
(acrocephalus stentoreus)
Sykes’s warbler (hippolaris rama) Booted warbler (hippolaris caligata rama) Booted warbler (hippolaris caligata rama)
Booted warbler (hippolaris caliguta) Booted warbler (hippolaris caliguta caliguta) Booted warbler (hippolaris caliguta caliguta)
Bright green warbler (phylloscopus nitidus) Greenish warbler (phylloscopus trochiloides nitidus) Greenish warbler (phylloscopus trochiloides nitidus)
Greenish warbler (phyloscopus trochiloides viridanus) Greenish warbler (phyloscopus trochiloides viridanus) Greenish warbler (phyloscopus trochiloides viridanus)
Indian nuthatch (sitta castanea) Chestnut bellied nuthatch (sitta castanea castanea) Chestnut bellied nuthatch (sitta castanea castanea)
Nilgiri flowerpecker (dicaeum concolor) Plain flowerpecker (dicaeum concolor concolor) Plain flowerpecker (dicaeum concolor concolor)
Small sunbird Crimson backed sunbird Small sunbird
Vigors’s sunbird (aethopyga vigorsii) Crimson sunbird (aethopyga siparaja vigorsii) Crimson sunbird (aethopyga siparaja vigorsii)
Tricolourd munia (lonchura malaca) Black headed munia (lonchura malaca malaca) Black headed munia (lonchura malaca malaca)
Yellow throated sparrow Black shouldered petronia Yellow throated sparrow
Indian baya weaver (ploceud p. philippinus) Baya weaver (ploceud p. philippinus) Baya weaver (ploceud p. philippinus)
Indian golden oriole (oriolus kundoo) Eurasian golden oriole (oriolus oriolus kundoo) Golden oriole (oriolus oriolus)
Hair crested drongo Spangled drongo Hair crested drongo
Grey headed starling (stumia malabarica) Chestnut tailed starling (sturnus malabaricus malabaricus Grey headed myna (stumia malabarica)
Malabar white headed starling (stumia blythii) Chestnut tailed starling (sturnus malabaricus blythii) Grey headed myna (sturnus malabaricus blythii)
Lesser hill myna (gracula indica) Hill myna (gracula religiosa indica) Hill myna (gracula religiosa indica)
Indian jungle crow Large billed crow Jungle crow
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