IOC announces five-way Chaffinch split


The International Ornithological Committee (IOC) has announced that it will recognise the split of Chaffinch into five different species as part of the next update to its World Bird List.

The news will be welcomed by Western Palearctic (WP) listers, with four new species set to appear on the regional list as a result of the decision.

A male 'Madeira Chaffinch' (Martyn Sidwell).

A 2021 genetic study by Recuerda et al recommended that the Chaffinch complex should be divided into five separate species, namely nominate coelebs of Eurasia, African Chaffinch Fringilla spodiogenys (including subspecies africana and harterti), Azores Chaffinch Fringilla moreletti, Madeira Chaffinch Fringilla maderensis and Canary Islands Chaffinch Fringilla canariensis (including subspecies bakeri, ombrios, and palmae).

Announcing the news on 14 February, the IOC stated its intention to recognise the findings and accept the five-way split of Chaffinch as part of version 13.2 of its World Bird List, which will be published in the summer.

A phylogenetic tree depicting the evolutionary history of chaffinches (Recuerda et al).



Recuerda, M, Illera, J C, Blanco, G, Zardoya, R, & Milá, B. 2021. Sequential colonization of oceanic archipelagos led to a species-level radiation in the common chaffinch complex (Aves: Fringilla coelebs). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2021.107291.