Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Scythebill 16.0 - eBird/Clements 2023 taxonomy and more

Scythebill 16.0 is now available!  Its main feature is the new eBird/Scythebill 2023 taxonomy, but it also includes a number of smaller improvements.  There's also a number of new   As always, download here, and let me know if you have any problems, either on Facebook or by email.

eBird/Scythebill 2023 taxonomy

This is a big update - more than 90 splits, many of them multi-way, with several four-way splits, a 5-way split of Hooded Pitta, a 6-way split of Rufous Fantail, and an 8-way split of Olive-backed Sunbird!  You can see the full list of changes on the eBird site, but if you want to see what it did for your list, head over to the Splits and Lumps special report, and you'll see a rundown of just what happened with your life list (I'm up net 27 species):

(My Splits and Lumps report)

Better world taxonomies with checklists!

There's new massive Reptiles of the World, Amphibians of the World, and Odonates (Dragonflies and Dameselflies) of the World taxonomies.  And the Butterflies of the World and Mammal Watching world taxonomy got updated not long ago as well!

You may have thought Scythebill already had these - and it did.  But now, virtually every species comes with a range statement and per-country checklists (plus US, Canada, and Australia state/province/territory checklists). It took a lot of work to get range statements for all of those taxa.  But now that they're available, you can see (for instance), 175 species of dragonflies and damselflies found on Madagascar (138 of them endemic!), or more than 200 species of snakes in Australia!  I've pulled this information from iNaturalist, but, to be clear, it didn't have this information when I got started, so I've dug up the information and contributed range information for somewhere around 10,000 species across the various taxonomies.  And for every one of them, you're one click away from the iNaturalist account for the species, often with a wealth of information (a new feature in 15.9.0).

"Verify against checklists" for extended taxonomies

If you're using an extended taxonomy with checklists (today, the Mammals, Butterflies, Reptiles, Amphibians, and Odonates of the world), you can use the Verify against checklists... option in the File menu.  It'll tell you any species you've recorded that the checklists say shouldn't be there.  It's possible that the checklists have errors, and if so, please consider submitting a correction to iNaturalist - but when I tried this on my own mammal list, I uncovered a lot of mistakes in my own records.  For example, that "White-fronted Capuchin" I saw in northern Peru wasn't that widespread species at all, but rather the critically endangered Ecuadorian White-fronted Capuchin!

Browse by species: "Only species found in"

The Browse by species window now has a new option any time you're using a taxonomy with checklists, like the built-in bird taxonomies or any of the new world taxonomies.  You can enter a country, a continent, or even a "magic" region name like Western Palearctic or ABA Region, and the taxonomy will automatically filter itself down to orders, families, and species found in that area:

Mammal Watching taxonomy for the ABA region

This is especially handy for making the new world extended taxonomies manageable.  So if you want to use "Browse by species" for exploring a taxonomy, but just for one country, you can do it.

Smaller fixes

  • Entering sightings using a checklist could sometimes display information like a species count on the wrong row.  (It was a display-only problem - the data was saved on the right species.)
  • When building a new extended taxonomy, Scythebill was very picky about having each order, family, and genus appearing consecutively in the CSV file.  (That is, you couldn't have a block of species in family Someidae, then Otheridae, and then go back to more species in Someidae.)  It's now much more flexible.
  • The Splits and Lumps report confused just about everyone with how it reported changes.  Now, instead of telling you it's showing splits for "2022", it'll say "2022 vs. 2023".
  • The "English (BOU)" name option for IOC showed "Yellow Warbler" for the wrong species (Setophaga petechia instead of Setophaga aestiva).  A few other BOU names have been added for that option, e.g. Daurian and Turkestan Shirike.

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