2018 eBird Annual Taxonomy Update - Australia

The annual eBird taxonomy update IS NOW UNDERWAY. Work is still going in the background to update existing checklists, update maps etc., but the revised taxonomy should start to appear as you enter new checklists.  It is worth having a look at which Australian species are being treated differently with the latest 2018 update.


Variegated Fairywren Malurus lamberti Chris Wills Macaulay Library | eBird


Purple-backed Fairywren is split from Variegated Fairywren

  • Purple-backed Fairywren Malurus assimilis   (WA, NT, SA, VIC, inland QLD and NSW (~west of a line joining Alpha, St George, Moree))
    • Purple-backed Fairywren (Lavender-flanked) Malurus assimilis dulcis/rogersi
    • Purple-backed Fairywren (Purple-backed) Malurus assimilis assimilis/bernieri
  • Variegated Fairywren Malurus lamberti    (coastal SE Australia, mostly east of the dividing range, from Bundaberg southwards)

Identification in parts of SE QLD and NE NSW is less distinct, with a broad intergrade zone (~300km wide).  This slash option will be useful in this area:

  • Variegated / Purple-backed Fairywren (~intergrade zone between Gladstone-Toowoomba and Goondiwindi-Emerald)

The main feature to focus on in order to identify these species from each other is the colour of the mantle on the brightly coloured males.  In the east-edge of their range, Purple-backed have a “mid violet blue” mantle, compared to the “royal blue” of the Variegated.



eBird allows reporting of subspecies groups.  These are often useful with field-identifiable subspecies.  A new option this year includes:

  • Cape Petrel (Antarctic) Daption capense capense
  • Cape Petrel (Snares) Daption capense australe



  • Pacific Black Duck x Grey Teal (hybrid) Anas superciliosa x gracilis
  • Pacific Black Duck x Chestnut Teal (hybrid) Anas superciliosa x castanea
  • Grey x Chestnut Teal (hybrid) Anas gracilis x castanea
  • Grey Teal x Hardhead (hybrid) Anas gracilis x Aythya australis
  • Little Corella x Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (hybrid) Cacatua sanguinea x galerita
  • New Holland x White-cheeked Honeyeater (hybrid) Phylidonyris novaehollandiae x niger
  • Yellow-rumped x Chestnut-breasted Mannikin (hybrid) Lonchura flaviprymna x castaneothorax



  • Purple-backed/Variegated Fairywren Malurus assimilis/lamberti
  • Australian treecreeper sp. Climacteridae sp.



  • Tooth-billed Bowerbird Change the English name of Scenopoeetes dentirostris from Tooth-billed Catbird to Tooth-billed Bowerbird (Schodde and Mason 1999, Christidis and Boles 2008).
  • Black-shouldered Kite Change the name for Elanus axillaris from Australian Kite to Black-shouldered Kite. [this will please the eBird reviewers immensely – as the old name caused a lot of confusion]