Two weeks ago, the 63rd AOS supplement was released and the biggest change from this year’s proposals was the split of the Eastern Meadowlark. The genus Sturnella now contains the Western, Eastern and Chihuahuan (Lilian’s) Meadowlark, thus making the iNat common name “Eastern and Western Meadowlarks” inaccurate. Before anyone says, “but iNat follows the Clements Checklist”, I was let in on some insider information that Clements fully intends on accepting this split and the AOS actually asked Clements and eBird reviewers from Lilian’s ML range what common name best suits the new meadowlark (because Lilian’s is not good enough, I guess). Anyway, I thought I’d post to the forum and see what iNatters thought would be the most appropriate name for Sturnella names. Here’s why the following names are suggestions:
Yellow or Yellow-breasted Meadowlarks would be a good common name since they’re closest relatives is the genus Leistes, or Red-breasted Meadowlarks. This clear distinct between the two meadowlarks groups makes these really good names for the genus.
We can also call Sturnella North American Meadowlarks since the distribution of all three species are within the AOU limits of North America, or the US, Canada, Mexico, central America, etc, while Leistes is strictly South American.
I voted for yellow breasted, definitely the most fitting. Yellow wouldn’t be an option since yellow isn’t their main color, and North American still doesn’t fully fit 'cause Eastern lives in a good portion of South America too.
I’m pretty surprised about that taxonomy change!
Not really when you think about it. It was split because the phylogenetic evidence and DNA markers showed that the Eastern Meadowlark is in fact more closely related to the Western Meadowlark than to the Chihuahuan Meadowlark. So, if any of the three populations are the same species, it would be Western and Eastern (ignoring the fact they’re almost completely reproductively isolated).
Well, it surprised me because I wasn’t aware of anything yet, I mean, I vaguely even knew about Lilian’s meadowolark’s existence, and what I knew of its existence was dogmatically just that it was a subspecies of Eastern.
I suppose Chihuahuan Meadowlark would be a good name if you want to avoid Lilian’s and the use of another name based on a person. I’ve seen and heard these meadowlarks in same areas of New Mexico I see Chihuahuan Ravens, although not always within the Chihuahuan Desert (both species occur on the Southern High Plains, a grassland region north and east of the Chihuahuan Desert). I’ve always liked their “squeaky hinge” call in the early morning hours when I’ve camped out in the grasslands of eastern NM.
The genus Sturnella does have a common name, it’s “Eastern and Western Meadowlarks”, but with the elevation of the Chihuahuan Meadowlark as a species, the genus is now polytypic, and the current common name no longer accurately applies.
No, this is rather serious since the aforementioned common name for Sturnella no longer applies. AOS has already said the common name for S. lilianae is the Chihuahuan Meadowlark, but they never mentioned a name for genus. In fact, I don’t know where iNat gets most of its common name for genera. Point being, Sturnella needs to have a common name change or elimination due to the updated taxonomy.