Re: Common Names

Subject: Re: Common Names
From: Ronald Orenstein <>
Date: Thu, 06 Aug 1998 20:46:39 -0400
>In my pre-birding days, when Silver Gulls were just seagulls, I always
>called Xenorhynchus asiaticus  a Jabiru.  Imagine my surprise when I looked
>through my first field guide and couldn't find this fine bird!  Was I
>making it up?  Perhaps it only existed in the dreaming?  And what was this
>Black-faced Stork anyway?
>I think that the aboriginal names for our birds are some of the best common
>names we have for birds. 

Unfortunately for this argument, Jabiru is NOT an Australian aboriginal name.
It is Amerindian in origin (I believe from Brazil), and was originally (and
still is) applied to a South American stork, the Jabiru (Jabiru mycteria).
Australian species also occurs in Asia, where its English name has for decades
been "Black-necked Stork" [not faced] - certainly less euphonious, but at
applying to this species and no other.

 Names like Kookaburra, Galah, Emu are all
>preferable to the purely descriptive names like Yellow-tailed Black
>Cockatoo.  Such a glorious bird as this should (and probably did) have a
>far grander name than the one we have given it.

I for one certainly like aboriginal names (chowchilla is a favourite) and
certainly prefer seeing these used instead of generic names like "Sericornis",
"Gerygone", "Calamanthus" or "Hylacola" if people can't stomach taxonomically
inappropriate monikers like "fieldwren".  Should they exist, of course.... and
everyone can decide which aboriginal language to draw such names from....
Ronald I. Orenstein                           Phone: (905) 820-7886
International Wildlife Coalition              Fax/Modem: (905) 569-0116
1825 Shady Creek Court
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada L5L 3W2          

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU