Mostly in reply to Frank -
Yes I should stress that IOC has proactive and thoughtful Aust representation
and has generally done a great job on English names. Swan River Honeyeater
being one exception, but that was soon corrected - proof that the flexible and
democratic IOC process works. And yes White–headed Stilt being another, and
hopefully that can be fixed too. Clements changed to Pied Stilt in 2006, HBW
use Pied Stilt for the subspecies (Frank - note the HBW books and HBW Alive DO
often list English names for distinctive subspecies), as do the New Zealanders
so if BLA continue to split it then great to hear they will adopt that name
too. But if BLA instead adopt BirdLife International’s lump, then they should
stick with the international name of Black-winged Stilt – you can’t play it
Yes some credit is due to BLA for reviving the ENC back from the dead. Sounds
hopeful that some of the awful regional names for subspecies will be replaced
by authentic names. But that will not solve the problem while the HBW/BLI
taxonomy remains, and this will remain a major roadblock for engagement with
IOC/Clements on English names. It is not as simple as saying the taxon level
doesn’t matter for English names.
For example, where a split taxon is distributed right across Australia but BLA
lumps it, there will be no reason to debate an Australian name or record it in
WLAB. eg. Torresian/Collared Kingfisher, Australasian/Purple Swamphen.
2nd example, where a split taxon is polytypic, there is currently no mechanism
for WLAB to name subspecies “groups”, as Clements does proactively. e.g.
Copperback Quail-thrush, Silver-backed Butcherbird.
Finally the slow laboured process you describe Frank, weighed down by
bureaucratic paperwork, is hardly compatible with the sort of nimble ENC I was
But if people want to participate in useful debate on English names, how about
proactively debating names for Aust Raven perplexus (Waardong Raven perhaps?)
and Scarlet Robin campbelli (please not Campbell’s Robin!) ?
(On aboriginal names, yes these are potentially a great idea but there are some
big cultural barriers, firstly the advice I’ve had is that the taxon/bird's
distribution should closely match the language group used to be culturally
appropriate (pretty unlikely when you look at a language map), and secondly the
difficulty in seeking let alone obtaining official “permission" to use them)
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