Listen Up, Peeps!

This just in: The American Bird Conservancy has just declared the Peep (Marshmallicious delicious) this year’s “Easter bird of the week.” Repeating the organization’s 2011 choice was a “no brainer” for ABC President George Fenwick.

Perhaps more surprising was ABC’s decision to split the Peep into four bird species. ABC’s press release explains:

Up until now, scientists have recognized only the familiar “yellow” form of peep as a full species; but there is currently support in the ornithological community for granting separate species status to the blue, teal, pink, and purple forms, currently considered color morphs. “There simply isn’t any evidence that these forms interbreed,” said ABC senior scientist Dr. David Wiedenfeld. “While they can often be found roosting in the same box, the fact is that nobody has ever seen an intermediate bird between the color morphs,” he added.

Marshmallow Peeps by Just Born

Marshmallow Peeps by Just Born

Of course, Peeps aren’t real birds. They’re marshmallow treats. Nonetheless, ABC’s press release provides a moment to think about what makes a species separate.

Not interbreeding is one point, as Wiedenfeld notes. At a minimum, however, a species must be capable of breeding with members of its own species. Peeps aren’t alive, either.

Thus, in a strict scientific sense, Peeps fails to qualify as a species. Far be it from me to quibble with the American Bird Conservancy, though. After all, this is the kind of science folks are sure to eat up.

Happy Easter!

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