Eastern Willet on mound of sandEastern Willet on mound of sand – Nikon D200, hand held, f6.3, 1/640, ISO 250, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light

The Fifty-Eighth Supplement to the AOU Check-list appeared yesterday and while there had been a proposal to split Willets into two distinct species that proposal was declined. So we still have one Willet species with two subspecies, Eastern And Western. They might not look all that different but they are.

Western Willet perched on GreasewoodWestern Willet perched on Greasewood – Nikon D810, f14, 1/320, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR, natural light

They have differences in their DNA, breeding locations, appearance and calls. I’ll never see the Eastern subspecies here in Utah because they strictly coastal while the Western subspecies winters on the coasts but nests in the grasslands and prairies of inland areas.

I won’t have to make any changes to my Willet photo galleries today.

But just because Willets weren’t split this year doesn’t mean they won’t be split in the future, who knows what changes will be made a year from now.

Here are some other changes…

Perched male Northern HarrierPerched male Northern Harrier – Nikon D200, f7.1, 1/500, ISO 320, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

Our Northern Harriers in North America have been split from the Hen harriers (Circus cyaneus) of Europe and they are now Circus hudsonius.


Northern Shrike on a cold Utah dayNorthern Shrike on a cold Utah day – Nikon D200, f8, 1/1250, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Our North American Northern Shrikes are now once again Lanius borealis instead of Lanius excubitor. They had been lumped in with the Great grey shrikes in the Old World and now they aren’t.

That means I need to make some changes in my Northern Harrier and Northern Shrike photo galleries.

The proposal to change the common name of Ring-necked Ducks to Ring-billed Ducks was turned down but I wish it hadn’t been, the “ring” on the necks of these ducks is hard to see whereas the ring on the bill isn’t.

There are more changes but this morning these are about all I can wrap my head around.

Life is good and birdy.



  1. Elephants Child July 2, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    Sigh on the ring-necked front. Perhaps some year sense will rule. Common sense – which isn’t.

  2. Patty Chadwick July 2, 2017 at 7:03 am

    I really enjoyed this series…and comment about the ringless-neck duck…guess you can cross put common sense!

  3. Liz Cormack July 2, 2017 at 6:20 am

    I thought for sure that the Ring-necked Duck would become the Ring-billed Duck when the reason behind the would-be change is obvious. Guess not.

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