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.

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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This Stone-Curlew on Lanzarote belongs to the sedentary subspecies <em>insularum</em> - but is it a new cryptic Canarian endemic, along with the stone-curlews on the rest of the archipelago? Photo: James Lowen.

Stone-curlew to be split?

A genetic study of the four recognised subspecies of Stone-curlew has found the current classification inaccurate, and that the two forms...


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