Analysis of avian DNA, biometrics and vocalisations add to our understanding of bird species all the time. We cover all the 'splits', lumps and discoveries.

Russet Bush Warbler, such as this nominate bird, now finds itself with four sister species and the possibility of more to come. Photo: Per Alström.

Five in the bush

A south-east Asian Locustella bush warbler has been found to consist of cryptic species after analysis of its songs, biometrics and DNA.


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The Narcissus/Yellow-rumped Flycatcher complex has now been split into four full species; this is an adult male nominate Narcissus Flycatcher in Osaka, Japan. Photo: kuribo (

Splits make four on the fly

Long suspected to be four separate species, this taxonomic status of the Narcissus/Yellow-rumped Flycatcher complex in Asia now appears to...


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British Tawny Owls appear to be developing white patches in their plumage, as well as increasingly calling during the day – are we seeing a new subspecies evolve? Photo: Steve Young (

British Tawny Owls evolve

A preliminary examination of museum Tawny Owl skins has produced evidence that we may have a new subspecies evolving in our midst.


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This Hume’s Owl photographed in Israel in 2011 is now a new species, after the type specimen was found to be closer to ‘Omani Owl’. Photo: Rony Livne.

Desert owls get complicated

Examining the type specimen of Hume’s Owl, a study has found that all known specimens except the type – that is, the first one from which...


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This nominate Purple Swamphen could now be one of three species in the Western Palearctic, as <em>madagascariensis</em> and <em>poliocephalus</em> are also present in the region, in Egypt and Turkey respectively. Photo: Bill Baston.

Out of the swamp

Purple Swamphen looks like it consists of six different clades, which may correspond to different species.


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It has now been shown that Madanga, found in Indonesia, despite resembling a flycatcher or chat, is actually a morphologically aberrant pipit or wagtail. Photo: Rob Hutchinson (

Transformer pipits

THE extent to which some passerines can change their appearance to suit their environments and habitats has been revealed in a dramatic way...


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Northern Harrier is often proposed as a potential split from Hen Harrier, and the new analysis supports this proposal. Photo: dfaulder (

All points harriers

The full species status of Northern Harrier from North America – once considered to be a subspecies of Hen Harrier – has received further...


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