Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Scythebill 14.1 - the 2018 eBird/Clements taxonomy is now available!

Scythebill 14.1 is now available with support for the new eBird/Clements 2018 taxonomy and a few smaller features and bug fixes.  As always, download here, and let me know if you have any problems, either on Google+Facebook, or by email.  (This is Scythebill 14.1.1;  14.1.0 was not released publicly.)

This version of Scythebill does carry some new system requirements for MacOS and Linux;  please see below.  I do not expect these requirements to affect many users, and hope that they affect none of you!

eBird/Clements 2018 taxonomy

The eBird/Clements 2018 taxonomy update was released earlier this month, and Scythebill fully supports it in this version.

For a full list of all of the changes, see this page.

Some individual changes are rather less obvious than the usual splits and lumps.  Subspecies have moved from one species.  If you're the sort of birder that always allocates sightings to subspecies, Scythebill will automatically do everything without you lifting a finger.  If you're not, then Scythebill will let you know that you need to perform some taxonomic updates.  But Scythebill can use its checklists to automate this in many cases. See the Scythebill manual for more information.
  • "Southern Gray Shrike" is now Iberian Gray Shrike, limited to just one subspecies, a non-migratory population in Portugal, Spain, and France.  In the rest of its range, and all other subspecies, this is once again Great Gray Shrike.  (IOC made a similar change in 8.2)
  • One subspecies of Black-backed Swamphen - viridis - has moved into Gray-headed Swamphen.  This means that southeast Asian sightings have largely moved into Black-backed Swamphen.
There's some even subtler tweaks in species like New Caledonian Whistler and Kloss's Leaf Warbler which will affect the more internationally prolific travelers among you.  Please see the link above for all the information.

One particularly difficult split in this version is Chivi Vireo, split off Red-eyed Vireo.  If you've spent any time in South America during the northern winter, and have recorded "Red-eyed" Vireo there without any further details, it is unfortunately the case that you'll likely not be able to decide which species you've seen, as these species largely overlap in range and identification is extremely difficult. (If you've visited when Red-eyed Vireos are all back in North America, then life is much simpler.)

With this taxonomy, there's also five new internationalized name sets - Czech, Faroese, Italian, Mongolian, and French Canadian.

Changed system requirements

Scythebill on MacOS now requires MacOS 10.10 ("Yosemite") or later;  this version was released back in 2014.

On Linux, Scythebill no longer supports 32-bit installations.  If you don't know, you are probably using a 64-bit version.

(Scythebill also now requires a 64-bit installation of Windows;  from what I can tell, this should not be an issue for the vast majority of users.  If you don't know, you are probably using a 64-bit version.)

Bug fixes and smaller features

  • Scythebill spreadsheets saved in Browse by location now include a column with species numbers.
  • As always, there've been a number of improvements and corrections to the Scythebill country and state checklists.  Specifically, the eBird/Clements and IOC checklists are now explicitly separate, which makes it possible to fix some subtle but long-standing pain points (like the range of Plain-backed vs Buffy Pipits).
  • A number of issues that made importing eBird files containing group names have been resolved, and these should import far more consistently.
  • If you've enabled "multiple observers", sightings entry has a new column with a list of observer abbreviations.
  • Scythebill has updated its internal libraries, and it is possible that this will significantly improve behavior on Windows machines with high-resolution displays.  On the other hand, users that had manually made their font sizes much larger (with the View menu) may need to make the font sizes smaller again.
  • Scythebill was, for reasons not entirely understood but hopefully fixed, generating empty location names in some Birdlasser imports.  These empty location names will automatically be changed to "Unnamed".
  • The "About" screen now has a scrollable area with information about all the extended taxonomies (previously, these might push off the bottom of the screen if you'd installed many of them!)

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