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BOU changing to the IOC

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If you are a birder you will have or will eventually come into contact with a bird list of some kind. Whether your list is a printed list or a list in an app but a bird list non the less. There are several kinds of bird list but here in the UK we tend to use the BOU list "British Ornithology Union" This gives us names we all know and many understand and relate too. With the birding world growing in numbers, and many many organisations being involved the BOU have taken the very brave move to abandon its taxonomic sub committee and adopt the IOC world bird list in a attempt to standardise the British list with many other countries but not all. It is hoped that other countries will follow us into the brave new world of the IOC.

Extract from the
British Ornithologists’ Union Records Committee (BOURC): 46th Report (October 2016)


The Council of the British Ornithologists’ Union
(BOU) recognizes the value of a universal avian
taxonomy. Following unsuccessful attempts to seek
an agreed European ta xonomy it was announced
in November 2015 that the BOU would disband
its own Taxonomic Sub-committee and review the
available global taxonomies currently available
with a view to adopt one system for all BOU
activities, including the Br itish List (see here for
more information).

Notably, a move towards a single international
taxonomy is one of the declared aims of the
Internat ional Ornithologists’ Union (IOU), with a
round table meeting being convened at the 27th
Internat ional Ornithologi cal Congress in Vancou-
ver, Canada, in August 2018. However , BOU
recognizes that it may be many years before this
is achieved and would like to bring its own tax-
onomy in line with a global list more rapidly,
rather than waiting for a final global consensus to

A working group from BOU Council and
BOURC met in August 2016 to determine the
criteria to be considered by the BOU, and the
process for selecting which global taxonomy to
adopt. Factors the BOU will need to consider will
include the regularity of updates to the taxon-
omy, the extent to which the process for deci-
sion-making is open and transp arent, and its
scientific validity and consistency. The major cur-
rent global taxonomies (Bird-Life International/
HBW, Clements, IOC, Howard and Moore) have
each been invited to provide information relating
to these criteria to better inform BOU discus-
sions. All of this information will be considered at
a joint meeting of BOU Council and BOURC,
following which a decision will be made regarding
which global taxonomic system will be followed
by BOU.