Re: Birds Australia - English Names Committee

Subject: Re: Birds Australia - English Names Committee
From: Mark Stanley <>
Date: Fri, 5 Nov 2010 20:29:28 +0800
I agree with Tony Keene on this. The IOC have a great set of rules but end
up with a lousy set of names - particularly for Australian birds. Bird Life
International maintain a very good world list with "under review" and "not
recognised" for questionable names. I use a world list built from the HBW
based on the fact that it is more than just a list (a picture, map, text,
list of subspecies, references and comments on how others treat a particular
species etc). Where later splits are recommended by the like of BLI or IOC
or C&B I can usually find the appropriate subspecies within the HBW, and
typically these subspecies have been illustrated. But the big advantage of
HBW is that most of the family accounts on species of Australasian
distribution have been written by Australians and the names most closely
follow what is used in the field guides here. I assign a number based on a
3 digit family designation added to the 3 digit species number in the text
with a 2 digit decimal number for subspecies and this allows me to keep
track of different birds I've seen in different countries and manage a
non-overlapping world life list and insert splits when they occur/are agreed
upon. My rule for recognising species is that if either BLI or HBW
recognises it then its good enough for me. That way I also get 3 Shrike-tits
to tick as an added bonus!

Mark Stanley
Message: 4
Date: Fri, 05 Nov 2010 02:27:37 +0100
From: "Tony Keene" <>
Subject: Birds Australia - English Names Committee
To: "Shirley Cook" <>
Cc: Messages Birding-aus <>
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"

If I remember correctly, the Index of Organism Names takes the bird names
directly from the IOC, which they also rely on for taxonomic information as
well, so that makes it far from international acceptance, although I imagine
that would follow without much of a problem. I also think that the IOC list
is an excellent tool for ornithology, but can have shortcomings in the
English names department when English-speaking countries other than the US
are involved - there are several members from Britain on the IOC, but it is
unlikely that many of the IOC names will make it into common usage in field
guides in the UK (Common Murre, Common Merganser, etc), not because of
parochialism, but because they aren't the common name that's been used for
hundreds of years. You should have seen the complaints when the recent
edition of the Collins Field Guide changed the divers to loons... I know
they have a hard job keeping everyone happy, what with spellings of words
like 'grey/gray' and whet
 her something is a hawk or a buzzard having been up for serious discussion
in the past and it's a really impressive project.
One advantage to having Australian authorities naming the birds here would
be that you might avoid the terminally dull 'eastern' and 'western' names
for splits and that something a little more imaginitive might happen. It's
also very sad to see wonderful birds being dumped with the over-used and not
always helpful epithet 'Eurasian', when more interesting alternatives could
be used, but that would just be my opinion. ;)


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