[LACoBirds] White-eye confusion
See below for an email from Kimball Garrett regarding updated eBird treatment of white-eyes in Southern California. In short, records of Japanese White-eye in San Diego (mainly the Encinitas area) have been converted to Swinhoe's White-eye, and will be replaced as such on the filter.
---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Kimball Garrett <kgarrett@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 9, 2019 at 11:00 AM
Subject: [LACoBirds] White-eye confusion
To: LACoBirds@groups.io <email@example.com>
The [ongoing] taxonomic update in eBird includes some changes not already familiar to many birders (i.e., not adopted by the AOS, whose annual published updates are familiar to most of you).
Especially relevant to Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties [feel free to cross post to those listserves] is the new treatment of white-eyes. eBird/Clements has adopted the conclusions of Lim et al ["Molecular evidence suggests radical revision of species limits in the great speciator white-eye genus Zosterops," Journal of Ornithology 160:1-16, 2019]. The upshot is:
"Our" birds are considered to be Swinhoe's White-eyes, Zosterops simplex. I hasten to add that this is VERY TENTATIVE -- we still have no firm proof that this is what the southern California birds are, but it is the current best guess. This taxon was formerly considered a mainland China and se. Asia subspecies group of the Japanese White-eye, Z. japonicus, but has now been split from that species. eBird has automatically changed all previous entries for "Japanese White-eye" in southern California to Swinhoe's White-eye.
"Japanese White-eye" has gone away. Zosterops japonicus is now called the "Warbling White-eye" and includes populations from the Japanese archipelago (mostly nominate japonicus, also introduced to and abundant in the Hawaiian Islands) as well as various subspecies in the Philippines and Indonesia which were formerly considered the Mountain White-eye, Z. montanus (which has also gone away). So if you were used to entering white-eyes from southern California into eBird as "Japanese White-eye," this is no longer the correct option (and, in fact is not even an incorrect option as the name Japanese White-eye has been retired in favor of Warbling White-eye).
Also, the "Oriental White-eye," Z. palpebrosus, is on a few old eBird lists since it was established in the San Diego area back in the 1970s to early 1980s. Because of the recent taxonomic revisions, that species is now largely restricted to the Indian subcontinent and has been rechristened "Indian White-eye."
So my recommendation is to enter white-eyes here as Swinhoe's (Z. simplex) in your eBird lists, although you certainly still have the more conservative option of "white-eye, sp. (Zosterops, sp.). " L. A. County [and San Diego] filters have been set at "0" for white-eyes -- hence, all entries are flagged and you need to "Show Rare Species" or use the "Add Species" function to find them on the checklist. We've done this to make certain there is a clear pattern of establishment before we stop requiring documentation. We emphasize that there is still little indication of colonization of the inland portion of the L. A. Basin and the valleys [or the majority of San Diego], so reports from those area should always include documentation.