Willy Fantails

To: "" <>
Subject: Willy Fantails
From: Andrew Hobbs <>
Date: Fri, 20 Jan 2017 07:23:02 +0000
On 20/01/2017 7:12 AM, Philip Veerman wrote:
> ................................ I don't know what mag means but the
> pie refers to being black & white, ....................
> Philip
The online dictionary has the following derivation.

"Word Origin and History for magpie n.

"the common European bird, known for its chattering, c.1600, earlier
simply pie (early 13c.); first element from Mag
<>, nickname for Margaret, long used
in proverbial and slang English for qualities associated generally with
women, especially in this case "idle chattering" (cf. Magge tales "tall
tales, nonsense," early 15c.; also French margot "magpie," from Margot,
pet form of Marguerite).

"Second element, pie, is the earlier name of the bird, from Old French
pie, from Latin pica "magpie," fem. of picus "woodpecker," from PIE root
*(s)peik- "woodpecker, magpie" (cf. Umbrian peica "magpie," Sanskrit
pikah "Indian cuckoo," Old Norse spætr, German Specht "woodpecker");
possibly from PIE root *pi-, denoting pointedness, of the beak, perhaps,
but the magpie also has a long, pointed tail. The birds are proverbial
for pilfering and hoarding, can be taught to speak, and have been
regarded since the Middle Ages as ill omens."

I would have thought both parts could apply to the Australian Magpie.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Birding-Aus  On Behalf Of
> Greg and Val Clancy
> Sent: Friday, 20 January, 2017 8:44 AM
> To: Geoff Ryan; 
> Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Willy Fantails
> Well said Geoff.  Now lets try to change the Australian Magpie to 'Ground
> Butcherbird' now that it is in the genus Cracticus - it still is isn't it???
> Regards
> Greg
> Dr Greg. P. Clancy
> Ecologist and Birding-wildlife Guide
> | PO Box 63 Coutts Crossing NSW 2460
> | 02 6649 3153 | 0429 601 960
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Geoff Ryan
> Sent: Friday, January 20, 2017 7:32 AM
> To: 
> Subject: [Birding-Aus] Willy Fantails
> Surely it is more sensible to change anachronistic and confusing common
> names even if it upsets our possessive addiction to those names in common
> use.
> I know several people who still insist on calling the Australian
> Black-necked Stork a Jabiru. The up-coming generation of birders will not
> thank us oldies who refuse to adopt sensible common names. I grew up
> calling White-faced Herons - 'Blue Cranes'; Black-faced Cuckoo Shrikes -
> 'Bluejays'; Rufous Whistlers - 'Eechongs' and still have trouble not
> calling Magpie Larks - 'Peewees'. I am glad more appropriate and less
> confusing common names have been adopted for these species.
> Common names listed in Field Guides and species lists are not just used by
> parochials but by international birders - the less confusing and ambiguous
> the better.
> I'll probably be using the name Willy Wagtail up until the day I die but
> hope that the more sensible choice of Willy Fantail has replaced Willy
> Wagtail on the adopted lists of common names.
> Geoff
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Andrew Hobbs


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