Bird species new to science
This article describes bird species new to science since 1900. Prior to the 20th century, and indeed into its early decades, the pace of discovery of new species was fast; during this period, with numerous collecting expeditions into species-rich areas not previously visited by western ornithologists, up to several hundred new species per decade were being described. Since then, the pace has slowed, and new species are generally only being found in remote areas, or among cryptic or secretive groups of species. Nonetheless, several tens of species were described for the first time during the 1990s. Considerable time can pass between discovery and publication, for a number of reasons.
Individual countries particularly rich in species newly described during this period are:
A number of individuals have been particularly prolific in describing new species, such as:
Species described that were not valid species
A number of species described during this period have turned out not to be valid species. There are a number of reasons for this. The following is a list of these species:
- Cox's Sandpiper, Calidris paramelanotos, in 1982, now known to be a stereotyped hybrid between males of the Pectoral Sandpiper and female Curlew Sandpipers.
- Bulo Burti Boubou, Laniarius liberatus, from Somalia, in 1991
- Kenyon's Shag or Amchitka Cormorant, Phalacrocorax kenyoni, in 1991, now considered to refer to small females of the Pelagic Cormorant.
- Mascarene Shearwater, Puffinus atrodorsalis, in 1995, now considered indistinguishable from the Tropical Shearwater, Puffinus lherminieri bailloni (or P. bailloni bailloni)
- Brigida's Woodcreeper, Hylexetastes brigidai, in 1997, now usually considered a subspecies of the Red-billed Woodcreeper pending thorough study.
The Meise and AMNH reviews
During the 20th century, ornithologists published a number of periodic reviews of newly described species. The purpose of each of these was to collect together in a single paper, for ease of reference, all new species' descriptions published in the period of study, and to present an analysis of these, indicating which represent valid species, and which, for various reasons, do not.
The first such review was published in 1934, by the ornithologist Wilhelm Meise, covering the period 1920 to 1934. Meise presented his review to the Eighth International Ornithological Congress (IOC) in Oxford. The review listed 600 new species' names described in that period. Meise was of the opinion that between 135 and 200 represented good species. At the ninth IOC in 1938, Meise presented a second paper, listing 23 new species described in the intervening period, plus a further 36 which had been described during 1920–1934 and not covered in the earlier paper. Meise's papers were:
- Meise, W. (1934) Fortschritte der ornithologischen Systematik seit 1920 Proc. VIII Cong. Internat. Ornith. pp. 49–189
- Meise, W. (1938) Exposition de types d'oiseaux nouvellement décrits au Muséum de Paris Proc. IX Cong. Internat. Ornith. pp. 46–51
After the Second World War, ornithologists based at museums in the American Museum of Natural History produced further reviews; again, each of these listed newly described species and presented an analysis, indicating which were and were not good species. To date, six such papers have been compiled; they are, in chronological order:
- Zimmer, J. T. & E. Mayr (1943). "New species of birds described from 1938 to 1941". Auk 60 (2): 249–262.
- Mayr, E. (1957). "New species of birds described from 1941 to 1955". Journal for Ornithology 98: 22–35. doi:10.1007/BF01677166.
- Mayr, E. (1971). "New species of birds described from 1956 to 1965". J. Ornithol. 112 (3): 302–316. doi:10.1007/BF01640689.
- Mayr, E. & F. Vuilleumier (1983). "New species of birds described from 1966 to 1975". J. Ornithol. 124 (3): 217–232. doi:10.1007/BF01640607.
- Vuilleumier, F. & E. Mayr (1987). "New species of birds described from 1976 to 1980". J. Ornithol. 128 (2): 137–150. doi:10.1007/BF01661691.
- Vuilleumier, François, Mary LeCroy & Ernst Mayr (1992). "New species of birds described from 1981 to 1990". Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 112A: 267–309.
No further detailed analyses have been published since the 1992 paper, although the British magazine Birding World has published two articles by Oscar van Rootselaar listing newly described species since 1990:
- van Rootselaar, Oscar (1999). "New birds for the World: species discovered during 1980 – 1999". Birding World 12: 286–293.
- van Rootselaar, Oscar (2002). "New birds for the World: species described during 1999 – 2002". Birding World 15: 428–431.
A comprehensive, extensively referenced section documenting the discovery of each of the 20th century's most significant new species of bird is contained within The Lost Ark: New and Rediscovered Animals of the 20th Century (HarperCollins: London, 1993 ISBN 0-00-219943-2) by British zoologist and cryptozoologist Dr Karl Shuker, as well as in the expanded, updated 2002 edition of this book, titled The New Zoo (House of Stratus: Thirsk, 2002 ISBN 1-84232-561-2).
Discoveries by year
|This section may be confusing or unclear to readers. In particular, Unclear if this list is supposed to be complete starting at 1963. (July 2013)|
- Barau's Petrel Pterodroma baraui
- Greater Yellow-headed Vulture, Cathartes melambrotus
- Chubut Steamerduck, Tachyeres leucocephalus
- Okinawa Rail, Gallirallus okinawae
- Yellow-footed Honeyguide, Melignomon eisentrauti
- Amsterdam Albatross, Diomedea amsterdamensis
- Glaucidium albertinum
- Cichloris llaneae
- Gerygone ruficauda
- Nectarinia rufipennis
- Meliphaga hindwoodi
- Lina's Sunbird, Aethopyga linaraborae, from Mindanao, Philippines 
- Red-shouldered Vanga, Calicalicus rufocarpalis
- Batrachostomus pygmeus
- Parker, Shane A. (1982). "A new sandpiper of the genus Calidris". South Australian Naturalist 56: 63.
- Christidis, Les; Davies, Kizanne; Westerman, Michael; Christian, Peter D. & Schodde, Richard (1996). "Molecular assessment of the taxonomic status of Cox's Sandpiper". Condor 98 (3): 459–463. doi:10.2307/1369559.
- Siegel-Causey, Douglas (1991). "Systematics and biogeography of North Pacific shags, with a description of a new species". Occasional Papers of the University of Kansas Museum of Natural History 140: 1–17.
- Rohwer, Sievert; Filardi, Christopher E.; Bostwick, Kimberly S. & Peterson, A. Townsend (2000). "A critical evaluation of Kenyon's Shag (Phalacrocorax (Stictocarbo) kenyoni)". Auk 117 (2): 308–320.
- Shirihai, H.; Sinclair, I. & Colston, P.R. (1995). "A new species of Puffinus shearwater from the western Indian Ocean". Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 115: 75–87.
- Austin, Jeremy J.; Bretagnolle, Vincent & Pasquet, Eric (2004). "A global molecular phylogeny of the small Puffinus shearwaters and implications for systematics of the Little-Audubon's Shearwater complex". Auk 121 (3): 847–864. doi:10.1642/0004-8038(2004)121[0847:AGMPOT]2.0.CO;2.
- Diamond, Jared M. (1991). "A new species of rail from the Solomon Islands and convergent evolution of insular flightlessness". Auk 108 (3): 461–470. doi:10.2307/4088088.
- Li (1995). Acta Zoologica Sinica 20 (3): 373–376. (later elevated to specific rank 2002, Journal fur Ornithologie)
- Kennedy, Robert S.; Gonzales, Pedro C. & Miranda, Hector C., Jr (1997). "New Aethopyga sunbirds (Aves: Nectariniidae) from the island of Mindanao, Philippines". Auk 114 (1): 1–10. doi:10.2307/4089060.
- Lambert, F.R. & Rasmussen, P.C. (1998). "Sangihe Scops Owl Otus collari, sp. nov". Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 118 (4): 207–217.
- Krabbe, Niels; Agro, D.J.; Rice, N.H.; Jacome, M.; Navarrete, L. & Sornoza M., F. (1999). "A new species of antpitta (Formicariidae: Grallaria) from the southern Ecuadorian Andes". Auk 116 (4): 882–890. doi:10.2307/4089669.