Frank (and David)

I have done quite a bit of research on these.

David's first statement is correct. The second statement is partly true. Yes, this is the name for the birds in southern Somalia, but whether they are a good taxon or not is unknown. Unfortunately, these birds were not sampled by Nguembock et al (2008). Incidentally, the sole specimen or erlangeri that was sampled was a black 'morph' (as it was then thought to be), but Turner et al overlooked this in their recent paper in Bull BOC, specifically stating twice that the black 'morphs' had not been sampled. The black and white birds in Somalia sometimes have a short wingbar, but not always (there are specimens of both in Frankfurt). This assumes they are the same taxon! I suspect that these birds could well be sublacteus (it makes sense), but until someone samples them and studies them more we won't know. I examined 30 adult sublacteus in Tring, and 3 of these had one or two white feathers on the shoulder, so clearly the white in the wing can vary.

I think I'd be inclined to treat somaliensis as a synonym of sublacteus for the time being, though I suppose it could be maintained as a taxon if you wished. But I would not give it specific rank, and therefore it would not need an English name. Then one has to decide if it should belong to sublacteus, aethiopicus or major! I think it's closest to either sublacteus (East Coast), or perhaps ambiguus, which is race of major. It's easier to synonymise it! Incidentally, just to confuse matters more, the songs of northern Kenyan sublacteus apparently differ from southern birds from coastal Tanzania.

So there are more questions than answers at present. If one follows Nguembock et al, then one can recognise 4 species from the old Tropical Boubou. My recommendation, based on present knowledge is as follows:

L. major Tropical Boubou (includes ambiguus and the two southern races)
L. sublacteus East Coast Boubou (monotypic, includes somaliensis as a synonym)
L. aethiopicus Ethiopian Boubou (monotypic)
L. nigerrimus Black Boubou (monotyopic, includes erlangeri as a synonymn). This is apparently closer to Red-naped Bushshrike and so should probably follow it in the sequence).

Hope this is clearer!

Best wishes


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: David Donsker <ddonsker@comcast.net<mailto:ddonsker@comcast.net>>
Date: Fri, Jul 15, 2011 at 8:24 PM
Subject: Re: Boubous
To: Frank Gill <frankgill4@gmail.com<mailto:frankgill4@gmail.com>>


Trying to digest this from the Bird Forum conversation.

L. erlangeri Reichenow, 1905 becomes a junior synonym of L nigerrimus Reichenow, 1879 referring to the all black birds of s Somalia and coastal e Kenya. English name: Black Boubou.

L. somaliensis Reichenow, 1905 (formerly synonymized with L. erlangeri)  becomes the name of the black-and-white birds of s Somalia. English name: Somali Boubou? (Is there a question that this could be a subspecies of L. sublacteus?)

L. sublacteus (Cassin, 1851). East Coast Boubou. This apparently is no longer considered a dimorphic species (Glad no one settled on Dimorphic Boubou for this one).

Not clear to me if the black-and-white birds currently attributed to L.sublacteus that range from se Somalia to at least Malindi (Sokoke) belong to L. somaliensis, L. sublacteus or something else based on the vocal differences mentioned by Turner, Finch and Hunter as posted to kenyabirds.net<http://kenyabirds.net>.

Perhaps Nigel Redman can clarify further.