Poecile cincta alascensis Pražák,

Mlíkovský, Jiří, 2011, Nomenclatural and taxonomic status of bird taxa (Aves) described by an ornithological swindler, Josef Prokop Pražák (1870 – 1904), Zootaxa 3005, pp. 45-68: 59

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http://doi.org/ 10.5281/zenodo.202788

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Poecile cincta alascensis Pražák


Poecile cincta alascensis Pražák 

Poecile cincta alascensis Pražák, 1895 b: 92  .

NOW. Parus cintus lathami Stephens, 1817  . See Stresemann (1949: 252), AOU Committee (1952: 311), Dickinson (2003: 528).

Lectotype (designated by Hellmayr 1934: 77, footnote): specimen collected by Lucien M. Turner (1848–1909) in February 1876 ( Turner 1886: 182) at “St. Michael’s, Norton Sound, Alaska” [= St. Michael, Alaska, USA; 63.48 °N, 162.04 °W] and figured by Turner (1886, pl. 10). This specimen was not mentioned among specimens USNM received from Turner ( Ridgway 1878: 37).

Paralectotype. NHMW 65141 (formerly NHMW 1839.XIV. 23), unsexed, collected by an unknown person [= Friedrich Heinrich von Kittlitz (1799–1874) – see Brandt 1891: 255] on an unknown date [= 24 June – 31 July 1827 – see Kittlitz 1836: 266] on “Sitcha” [= Sitka, Baranof Island, Alaska, USA; 57.05 °N, 135.32 °W]. The NHMW received this specimen from the ZIN in 1839. This specimen was originally identified as Parus Sibiricus  ? var. ( ZIN label), being later re-identified as Parus rufescens Towns.  , and still later as Parus rufescens rufescens Towns.  ( NHMW label data).

Remarks. Pražák (1895 b: 92) described this form as a “ var. nova  ”, stating on p. 93 that “Ich wage es mit diesem geringen Materiale nicht, eine neue Subspecies aufzustellen, glaube aber, dass die von Ochotsk und Kamtschatka angeführten P. rufescens  eigentlich die hier erwähnten Vögel sein dürften”. (“I hesitate to create a new subspecies on the basis of such a meager material, but I believe that specimens from Ohotsk and Kamchatka listed as P. rufescens  may represent the form mentioned here.”) Herewith Pražák explicitly stated that he created alascensis as an infrasubspecific name, which has no standing in zoological nomenclature (Art. 10.2 of the Code; see also Dickinson et al. 2006: 73, footnote). However, Grinnell (1900: 59) used Pražák’s infrasubspecific name for a tit subspecies, being followed e.g. by Ridgway (1904: 411), AOU Committee (1910: 351) and Hellmayr (1911: 37, 1934: 77). Due to Grinnell’s (1900) action, and following the provisions of Art. 45.6. 4.1 of the Code, alascensis is available from Pražák (1895 b).

Hellmayr (1934: 77, footnote) believed that Pražák “probably never examined a specimen himself” and that he based his account solely on the figure in Turner (1886, pl. 10). Pražák (1895 b: 92) indeed referred to a figure in Turner’s Contributions [= Turner 1886, pl. 10], but also presented measurements of a specimen from “Alaska” and a specimen from “Ochotsk”, adding (p. 93) that also a bird or birds from “Kamtschatka” listed as P. rufescens  belong in his alascensis. I was not able to find any specimens or references mentioning Parus cinctus  and/or Parus rufescens  from Kamchatka (see also Hellmayr 1934: 77, footnote), but in reporting that P. c. alascensis  occurs at Ohotsk Pražák (1895 b: 92–93) may have been inspired by Lundahl (1848: 5–6), who described Parus ferrugineus  on the basis of some 30 specimens collected by Reinhold Ferdinand Sahlberg (1811–1874) at Ohotsk and Sitka in 1839 – 41 (see Renvall 1869: 175–176). Their current deposition is unknown. Pražák (1895 b: 88–89) cited Lundahl's (1848) paper in connection with Parus lapponicus Lundahl, 1848  , but omitted (intentionally?) any reference to Lundahl (1848) when he described his Poecile cincta alascensis  ( Pražák 1895 b: 92–93). The absence of a reference prevents Lundahl’s specimens from being parts of the type series upon which Pražák (1895 b) based his P. c. alascensis  . Nevertheless, the NHMW possessed a specimen of Parus rufescens  from Alaska at the time when Pražák studied its tit collections ( NHMW 65141) and it is likely that he examined it. Pražák’s Poecile cincta alascensis  was thus based on two syntypes listed above. Hellmayr’s (1934: 77, footnote) opinion that Pražák (1895 b) based P. c. alascensis  solely on the figure in Turner (1886) has the power of designating the bird figured by Turner (1886) as the lectotype (Art. 74.6 of the Code). Herewith, the specimen NHMW 65141 became a paralectotype.

Hellmayr’s (1934: 77, footnote) lectotypification of the Turner bird solved the taxonomic identity of P. c. alascensis  and automatically restricted its type locality to “St. Michael, Norton Sound, Alaska” (Art. 76.2 of the Code).

Kittlitz (1836: 268, 1858: 200) named the chickadee of Sitka Parus sitchensis  , but this is a nomen nudum in both cases (no description or indication). Accordingly, the specimen NHMW 65141, although collected by Kittlitz, has no name-bearing function with respect to Kittlitz’s sitkensis.


Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History


Naturhistorisches Museum, Wien


Russian Academy of Sciences, Zoological Institute, Zoological Museum














Poecile cincta alascensis Pražák

Mlíkovský, Jiří 2011

Poecile cincta alascensis Pražák, 1895 b : 92

Prazak 1895: 92