Changes to Species Names and Taxonomic Order

The changes specified below are as a result of changes made by the North American Classification Commitee of the American Ornithological Society (AOS) in the Checklist of North and Middle American Birds. The changes are published annually in the scientific journal The Auk in their Annual Supplements to the checklist.
Sep 5, 2023: There were two changes to the AOS Checklist this year that had an impact on the winter list.

The Northern Goshawk (Autour des palombes) which previously had different subspecies which occured in North America, Europe and Asia was split into two species, one occuring in North America and the other occuring in Europe and Asia. As a result of this split, the following name changes were made:

  • American Goshawk (Autour d’Amérique) - the species that breeds in North America.
  • Eurasian Goshawk (Autour des palombes) - the species that breeds in Europe and Asia.

Also, the Pacific-slope Flycatcher (Moucherolle côtier) and Cordilleran Flycatcher (Moucherolle des ravins) were lumped into a single species which now has the name Western Flycatcher (Moucherolle obscur).
Nov 30, 2021: There was only one change to the AOS Checklist this year that had an impact on the winter list and that was the split in the Mew Gull complex which resulted in the North American subspecies being elevated to species status. As a result of this split, the following two name changes have occured but only one is found on the winter list as of 2021.:

  • Short-billed Gull (Goéland à bec court) is the species that breeds in western North America. There is at least one documented record of this species in NB but none that have occured during the winter period (there may be other records, they will need to be reviewed by the NB Bird Records Committee)
  • Common Gull (Goéland à tête cendré) is the species that breeds in Eurasia and there are a few winter records of this species in NB so this is the one that will appear on the Winter List as of this time.
Note: The common name "Mew Gull" was eliminated since the name "Common Gull" was the name that was used outside of North America for the Eurasian subspecies of "Mew Gull" so the AOS adopted the name "Common Gull" to be in line with the naming convention outside North America. The name "Common Gull" was also previously used in North America when referring to the Eurasian subspecies of "Mew Gull", specifically the nominate subspecies Larus canus canus so it kinda made sense adopt this name change for the common name.
Nov 23, 2020: The changes to the AOS Checklist this year had only very minor impacts on the NB Winter Bird List. The only impacts to the NB Winter Bird List was that a few families had the species re-ordered within those families (Pheasants and Grouse, Rails, Comorants)
Nov 28, 2019: The French name for White-winged Scoter has changed from Macreuse brune to Macreuse à ailes blanches due to a decision to split White-winged Scoter into three seperate species (60th supplement - June 2019):
  • White-winged Scoter (Macreuse à ailes blanches) which occurs in North America
  • Velvet Scoter (Macreuse brune) which occurs in western and central Eurasia
  • Stejneger’s Scoter (Macreuse de Sibérie) which occurs in northeast Eurasia
There is a bit more info on this split on the American Birding Association's ABA Blog post about the 2019 AOS Supplement. As of this update, I do not believe there are any documented/confirmed sightings of Velvet Scoter in North America but it is a casual visitor to Greenland so there is potential for this species to turn up in North America.

The only other change that affects the winter list this year is a change in sequence order for new world sparrows. This is a minor change that many people may not even notice but I mention it in case people who do notice it wonder why it changed (Towhees moved from the top to the bottom, other species shuffled around a bit).
Nov 26, 2018: I've updated either the English or French names for a few species to reflect the most current names listed on the 2018 update to the American Ornithological Society (AOS) Checklist. These changes may have occured in the 2018 update or may be changes from a previous year that I did not previously notice.

  • The English name for Gray Jay has been changed to Canada Jay (59th supplement - Aug 2018)
  • The French name for Northern Shrike has changed from Pie-grièche grise to Pie-grièche boréale (58th supplement - Aug 2017)
  • The French name for Yellow-breasted Chat has changed from Paruline polyglotte to Ictérie polyglotte (58th supplement - Aug 2017)


In addition to the name changes specified above, there have been many taxonomic changes done in recent years that have moved families and species around in the taxonomic order so I finally got around to reordering the winter list to the most recent taxonomic based on the 59th supplement of the AOS Checklist that was published in August 2018.

This may cause a bit of confusion for people that are used to seeing families or species listed in a specific order but due to the many changes made in recent years and the fact that certain species were broken out into their own families in recent years, I felt it was time to update the whole list to match the current taxonomic order.
Dec 6, 2017: The French name for Northern Harrier has changed from Busard Saint-Martin to Busard des marais due to decision to treat the Northern Harrier of North America as a seperate species from the Hen Harrier of Europe (58th supplement to the AOS Checklist - Aug 2017) which resulted in the scientific and French name of Northern Harrier changing while Hen Harrier retained the original scientific name and French Name.

There were a number of other taxonomic and nomenclature changes made by the American Ornithological Society (AOS) which I have not made to the Winter List website yet as I didn't want to cause too much confusion but I plan on making those changes for next year.
Dec 4, 2010: Made changes to the list to reflect the latest taxonomy changes made by the American Ornithologist Union (AOU) including changes to the French names of some species:

  • French name for Winter Wren was changed from Troglodyte mignon to Troglodyte des forêts.
  • Tanagers were placed within the Cardinals and allies family and the French name for Tanagers was changed from Tangara to Piranga
  • Longspurs and snow buntings were removed from the Towhees and sparrows family and placed into their own family Longspurs and Snow Buntings
  • French name for Lapland Longspur was changed from Bruant lapon to Plectrophane lapon
  • French name for Snow Bunting was changed from Bruant des neiges to Plectrophane des neiges
Thank you to Roger Leblanc for pointing these out and providing me with the changes.