The Sibley/Monroe
World List of Bird Names

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the S/M world list

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General information

This document contains a version of the now well-known, and much discussed world list of bird names by the late Charles Gald Sibley and the late Burt Leavelle Monroe, Jr.  In essence, it is the names used in their 1990 Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World and its 1993 Supplement, which were later combined to become the Checklist.  Full references to these sources and some more are provided below.  Including the Supplement, the list is up-to-date through May 1992.  But it has been updated for obvious typographic errors — many of them reported by readers of this list, and all of them carefully cross-checked — through to February 1998.  The list does not reflect new taxonomic insights obtained since 1992.   But see my taxonomy pages for possible updates.

Work on additional webpages listing new species, recently proposed splits and lumps, or other taxonomic changes like order and generic or specific names, is underway and I hope to present soon on these pages.

The S/M list — as I refer to it in this text — is arranged in a modern classification that is primarily based on the analysis of phylogenetic relationships as understood from DNA comparisons. A full discussion of the DNA/DNA-hybridization technique is beyond the purpose of this text, but some of the references below provide ample introductions.

The list presented here is devoid of any taxonomic annotation and discussion.  The list is no substitute for the books mentioned above, or indeed for the work about which I throw in a little ad at the end of this note.  In fact, any prospective user of the list here provided should really get the books below for full reference; I have done so since they were published in 1990 and have found them to be a constant source of valuable information and (listing) excitement.  Your best companion in printed form is A World Checklist of Birds.  The Distribution and Taxonomy and its Supplement can still also be obtained.  The principal address for all these books is: Yale University Press, P.O. Box 209040, New Haven, CT 06520-9040.  Phone: 800-987-7323. FAX: 800-777-9253 or 203-432-0948.   I have no direct price quotes from YUP, but the ABA Spring 1998 Catalog lists the first (paperback) for $20, and the other two for $125 and $28, respectively. (ABA Sales can be reached in North America under (800) 634-7736, or otherwise under +1 719 578 0607.   The item numbers for the above three books are #566P, #866 and #567.)

Intermezzo  In 1994, I decided to base my own life list on the S/M list and devoted more than a month of spare time on editing my old list.  This was done in part automatically as I already had a computerized list, by simply trying to match the old list with the S/M list.  At first, a loss of nearly 300 species resulted, and I got worried.  Most of these turned out to be typos and incorrect names in my list, and once these were corrected, I was still left with a loss of about 30 species.  Some more different Latin names accounted for 23 of them, leaving me with a true loss of seven lifers.  Essentially, these were no longer considered valid species under S/M.  The S/M list considers them to be `incipient species'.   Then came the good news, as I started working my way through all species I had seen by checking the Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World and its Supplement for possible splits.  This was a true learning experience entailing a complete re-reading of ancient notebooks of many travels abroad.  At some point, I even started checking slides made in Kenya of a few barbets, to see whether a species, I had never known existed, could be added.  The experiment gave me a gain of 31 species life time.

Taxonomic research is a constantly evolving field and the list presented below is just a snapshot of that field as the opinions of the authors mentioned above, published 1993. The S/M list is undergoing constant changes, like any checklist of birds.

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