To: "" <>
Subject: names
From: Martin Cake <>
Date: Sun, 29 Jan 2017 00:32:30 +0000
Hi all,
I can understand the anger at having English names foisted on us from overseas. 
But directing this anger at “the boffins” is rather misdirected. Instead, take 
a look at the abysmal state of the processes we have (or rather, don’t have) in 
Australia for naming birds when a new name is required.

If a species is split, one or the other half of the split needs a new name, 
period. This occurs (mostly!) due to advances in taxonomic understanding, not 
whims of scientific fancy. Moaning about this is like shaking your fist at the 
incoming tide.

But currently Birdlife Australia’s ‘English Name Committee’ subserviently 
follows BirdLife International, which shows no sign of taking any notice of 
their little Aussie cousin on either taxonomy or English names. Most field 
guides on the other hand prefer to follow the IOC list, which generally 
respects existing local usage and has some Australian input. But in either case 
the English names will be decided overseas, without any official mechanism for 
input from any sort of Australian ’names committee'.

BLA could (and should) be proactive in forming local English names of 
prospective splits before they occur. There is usually enough time between 
scientific publication of evidence for a split, and its adoption by the 
checklists, to provide some local advice on a new name. Instead BLA’s ENC 
persists with the laughably absurd policy of giving every subspecies a 
long-winded geographic name. For example Greg has recommended Satin Stork for 
E. asiaticus australis to BLA’s ENC, but instead they currently have it listed 
in the WLAB as “Torresian Black-necked Stork”. Just be thankful that BirdLife 
International took no notice when splitting White-quilled Honeyeater, ignoring 
WLAB’s recommended name of “Northern Blue-faced Honeyeater”; Western Fieldwren 
(WLAB = “Western Wheatbelt Rufous Fieldwren”); Paperbark Flycatcher (WLAB = 
“Northern Restless Flycatcher”); or Kimberley Flyrobin (WLAB=“Western 
Lemon-bellied Flycatcher”).

So instead of shaking your fist at the boffins, why not take a look at how 
ineffectual BirdLife’s ENC is at actually naming Australian birds? We need an 
Australian ENC that can respond quickly to the latest news in taxonomy, and 
engage with the international checklist bodies like IOC and Clements. And that 
is not likely to occur while BirdLife persists with the ridiculous 
BirdLife/HBW/Tobias system of taxonomy, the root problem now and into the 


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