Subject: Colour
From: RAOU Publicity <>
Date: Wed, 12 Feb 1997 18:20:09 +1100 (EST)
For your interest this is the response I got from the HANZAB Editor Peter
Higgins when I showed him the original posting.

In the Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds, we describe
the plumages and bare parts of all birds using simple colour descriptions
(e.g. green, bright green, dark brown, blue-grey, etc.).  We also provide a
colour number, which identifies the closest equivalent colour in the F.B.
Smithe Naturalists Colour Guide (1975, published by the American Museum of
Natural History, New York; there are a couple of supplements as well).  We
use a simple descriptor for colours so that anyone who wants simply to read
the text to get an idea of what a bird looks like can do so.  We give the
colour numbers so that researchers undertaking more detailed studies can
make direct comparisons between the descriptions in the Handbook and the
live birds (or specimens or photos) that they may be looking at.

The names given to colours in Smithe's Guide are not always very helpful in
working out what the colour might be, so we decided not to use the colour
names in the Guide.  (I understand Smithe apparently urged that the colour
names not be used generally.)

Needless to say, there are other colour guides available.  However, Smithe's
was used in HANZAB because it was already in use in Australia, is widely
used in some other parts of the world, and it is reasonably comprehensive.
Now that it has been used in HANZAB (which will be the definitive work on
the external morphology, including plumages and bare parts, of most of our
birds for decades) there is some argument for using this guide for further
studies of Australian birds, so that they are comparable with HANZAB.
Andrew Isles can obtain (or may have in stock) copies of these books.

Peter Higgins

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