Taxonomists reclassify Indian bird species

Indian Paradise Flycatcher. Photo: K. Ravi Kumar  

The majestic Asian Paradise Flycatcher found in many parts of the country is becoming more Indian these days.

The bird, which is present in South Asian countries — Afghanistan to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka — will henceforth be known as Indian Paradise Flycatcher, following a new taxonomic assessment.

Though the common name of the species has been modified, it will retain its scientific name Terpsiphone paradisi and remain the parent species.

Bird taxonomists have separated the subspecies found in the Nicobars.

The new subspecies has been rechristened as Blyth’s Paradise Flycatcher and assigned a new scientific name Terpsiphone affinis nicobarica.

Besides the Indian Paradise Flycatcher, a few more bird species found in India and other parts of the world have been renamed this month as part of an annual exercise.

The renaming of birds and associated “changes are inevitable as new techniques and better understanding of taxonomy cause a rearrangement — even in a relatively well-studied group of creatures like birds,” according to eBird India, a online platform of ornithologists and birders.

Each year, the bird taxonomists release the updated list in August and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has taken up the responsibility of “maintaining the ever-changing list of species, subspecies, English names, and approximate distributions,” it has been pointed out.

Molecular taxonomy is the tool for identifying species. If two individuals of a species show genetic differences or exhibit genetic distances in its DNA analysis, such individuals can be considered as belonging to two different species. This is the case with the Purple Swamphen and other species which have been reclassified. The erstwhile Purple Swamphen has been split into six species in the process, explained an ornithologist.

The Purple Swamphen found in India has been reclassified as Grey-headed Swamphen and it will carry the scientific name Porhyrio poliocephalus. The literal meaning of poliocephalus is grey-headed. Interestingly, the Purple Swamphen was renamed so a few years ago. Originally, it was called Purple Moorhen.

Common Buzzard ( Buteo buteo) has now got a new species. The buzzard, found in the Himalayas, will from now be known as Buteo buteo burmanicus.

Taxonomists have split the Scaly Thrush into four species. “Two of the new species are found in India, the Nilgiri Thrush ( Zoothera neilgherriensis) of the Western Ghats and the Scaly Thrush ( Zoothera dauma) of central, northern and north-eastern India. A close neighbour is the Sri Lanka Thrush ( Zoothera imbricata), which is endemic to Sri Lanka,” according to the website.

Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Sep 22, 2021 9:20:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/taxonomists-reclassify-indian-bird-species/article7569248.ece

Next Story