Birders Latin (and Greek)

Subject: Birders Latin (and Greek)
From: Hugo Phillipps <>
Date: Wed, 11 Dec 2002 10:37:14 +1100
Hi Ros -

At 08:25 AM 11/12/02 +1000, you wrote:
>Has anyone extracted the scientific names and meanings from Cayley and
>sorted that lot into a dictionary-type list?

Not that I know of.  In any case, I would not use Cayley (What Bird is
That?) as the basis for such a list, but the masthead etymologies in HANZAB
(Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds) which are more
comprehensive, precise and, I think, interesting.  Moreover, taxonomy has
changed many of the scientific names given in the various editions of
Cayley's book.

For example, with regard to the Red Goshawk Erythrotriorchis radiatus,
Cayley (5th ed., 1972 reprint) gives: Erythro = red; triorchis = bird of
prey; radiatus = barred.

HANZAB (Vol.2, 1993) has the following (NB: I cannot reproduce the Greek
letters on this computer) prepared, I believe, by the late Jerry van Tets:

Erythrotriorchis combines the Greek 'erythros' (red) and 'triorches' (kind
of falcon or kite) as used by Aristotle, Aristophanes and others, probably
for the Common Buzzard Buteo buteo.  'Triorches' is itself compounded of
the prefix 'tri-' (three) and 'orches' (testicle) from the mistaken idea of
the times that the birds had three testicles.  The word has been used to
compound the names for several genera of raptors.  The Latin 'radiatus'
means 'furnished with spokes', so 'barred', for the character of the plumage.


Hugo Phillipps
Communications Coordinator
Birds Australia
415 Riversdale Road
Hawthorn East 3123, Australia
Tel: (03) 9882 2622, fax: (03) 9882 2677
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