common names

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: common names
From: Willem Jan Marinus Vader <>
Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2017 10:17:13 +0000
A voice from afar,
                                      I have followed these discussions with 
great interest. Similar discussions have been fought in most countries and 
languages. In Norway the name of the Common Swift was officially changed from 
the old tårnsvale (=tower swallow) to tårnseiler (tower swift) 'because it is 
not a swallow'. Fortunately, in my eyes, they stopped there, although there are 
many other similar cases: the jernspurv(iron sparrow= dunnock) is not a 
sparrow, the flodhest (flood horse= hippo) is definitely not a horse, etc.  
etc.. To my eyes, but I am soon 80, it is a pity to change these old and well 
used names (chosen by the people, not by a committee) just for the sake of 
taxonomy correctness. In Australia, of course the early settlers chose names 
for all the strange birds they saw, comparing them to the birds they knew in 
the countries they hailed from; and so your robins are not robins, your magpie 
is not a magpie, your flycatchers are not flycatchers, etc. etc., and your 
Willy Wagtail is not a wagtail. So what? I see, but of course I have nothing to 
say in the matter, no reason to change all these names.
                                    But it is a different matter, when the 
Australian name of a bird is identical to a bird name from a different 
continent, as is the case  with the Jabiru and could have been the case with 
some of the Gerygones. In those cases, and especially, as with the Jabiru, when 
the name originally was given to a quite different bird in another continent, 
it seems to me the correct thing to do is to remove the confusion and change 
the most recent of the common names . There used to be Crowned Eagles both in 
Africa and South America, and Black Vultures both in Eurasia and America. Now 
we have the Crowned Hawk Eagle and the Cinereous Vulture. So the Black-necked 
Stork in Australia cannot be called Jabiru in official literature (I did call 
them that when I first saw the birds in Australia); in howfar it needs a 
different name than Black-necked Stork, is up to the Australians.
                               Best greetings from Tromsø, where 1 m of snow is 
going to be attacked by 60mm of rain tomorrow. Hurrah!

                             Wim Vader, Tromsø, Norway
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