A fully up-to-date working checklist for the Palearctic has long been needed, with the previous comparable work being Voous's List of Holarctic Birds, published in 1977. Many changes in taxonomy have occurred since then, and the last five years have seen a gathering movement towards standardizing the English names of birds. A radical, and highly controversial, new treatment of families was proposed by Sibley & Monroe in Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World, and a heated debate has ensued since then over the standardisation of English names.
The aim of this new work is two-fold: to provide an up-to-date working list for the region; and to make a reasoned contribution to the current debate. The author argues that whilst many of the suggested new names are sensible, and indeed preferential, many already unique English names will be lost, when there is clearly no pressing need. In particular, the loss of names that honour illustrious ornithological pioneers is seen as an unnecessary move, particularly in Asian species. The author has therefore compiled a list using the best of the proposed names, and discarding the worst. The Systematic List gives scientific name, suggested English name, and alternatives given by the various sides in the current debate. There are four additional sections, providing taxonomic notes, notes qualifying the English names, notes on distributional status, and a full bibliography.