NOT to suggest that the American Ornithologists Union is a...

Salmagundi

May 26, 1993

NOT to suggest that the American Ornithologists Union is a society of flits; not to intimate that we have for 20 years been holding a grudge against its Classification and Nomenclature Committee, ever since it merged the Baltimore and Bullock's orioles into a species dubbed the northern oriole. But --

Bird Watcher's Digest, an Ohio periodical, publishes a bimonthly newsletter, the BWD Skimmer. And right there on page 6 of its latest issue is news. Big news, here in the ancestral home of birds (also Birds) that flaunt the colors of the Lords Baltimore.

The AOU is now of a mind to split, not merge. The fox sparrow, it seems, "is really at least four species." And, other "splits that appear certain, but which may take another couple of years to be adopted, include northern oriole back into its original species of Baltimore and Bullock's orioles. . . ." Identity (in time ahead) regained!

The 1973 finding was that Baltimore males, from the east, were mating with Bullock females, from the west, or the other way around; and the offspring lacked distinction. Since then, however, Sam Baltimore and Diane Bullock seem to have gone pffft.

Wedlock and divorce court are topics outside the normal range of our commentary; turn, if you please, to Accent, and Ann Landers. But we do have an attitude on eastness and westness. In whatever year the Orioles win the East, we are loud in our cry: beat the Bullock's!

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