Modern Living: The Busted Birds

To many among the 10 million North American bird watchers, it was almost as if John James Audubon had been exposed as a forger or the American eagle reclassified as a turkey vulture. In fact, the American Ornithologists' Union, the Vatican of bird watching, has come perilously close to such heresy. A pronunciamento in the A.O.U. magazine Auk stripped the Baltimore oriole of its name; henceforth Icterus galbula will be known by the prosaic name "northern oriole." A dozen other busted species include the European teal (to green-winged teal), Audubon's warbler and the myrtle warbler (to yellow-rumped warbler), the red-shafted, yellow-shafted...

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