RE: Common names

To: "'David James'" <>
Subject: RE: Common names
From: "Atzeni, Michael" <>
Date: Wed, 12 Aug 1998 12:48:54 +1000

It is apparent that knowledge of and use of some common names is as patchy
as some birds' distributions!

I was unaware the Lewin's Honeyeater was also called the bananabird, and
they're dirt common around here (Toowoomba).  Likewise, with you living in
Townsville, I'm surprised you hadn't heard the name used in reference to
Blue-faced Honeyeaters.  On a vist to north Queensland (Ayr) about 1970,
before I had a serious interest in birds,  I have a vivid memory of seeing
my first "Bananabird", which is what my non-birding relatives there knew
them as.  The name has appealed (no pun intended) to me ever since and
that's what I tell my kids they are, too.  Much more novel for them and
easier to remember!  I presume this is what the Barcaldine bananabirds were.

Only problem now is we get both Lewin's and Blue-faced Honeyeaters in the
yard.  I'll just have to create two more common names - B1and B2.  Now you
can't get more Australian than that!

On another matter, I'm told that in north Queensland at least, they used to
refer to White-breasted Woodswallows as Dummy (Dumby?) Martins.  I'm not
positive, but suspect the name arose from its unfortunate demeanour.
Suffice it to say it had something to do with youngsters armed with
sling-shots, the bird's habit of huddling in groups on exposed perches such
as powerlines, and their apparent complete lack of self preservation in the
face of adversity, as they watched their group size drop off one by one. 

Is Dummy Martin still in use, and am I correct regarding its origin?


Michael Atzeni

> -----Original Message-----
> From: David James [SMTP:
> Sent: Monday, 10 August, 1998 4:29 PM
> To:   Alexandra Appleman; Ian Clayton
> Cc:   Birding Aus
> Subject:      RE: Common names
> I've only heard bananabird in reference to Lewin's Honeyeater. But not at
> Barcaldine? 

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