To: Martin Cake <>
Subject: names
From: Laurie Knight <>
Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2017 11:06:34 +0000
I think part of the problem is that there is no "public consultation” in the 
naming process.  The official names are set in a closed process.  Even when the 
options are limited governments generally have a consolation process both to 
widen the range of perspectives and to increase the likelihood of public 
acceptance of the outcome.  That way you can avoid clangers (like Ground 
Butcherbird) that will never fly.


On 30 Jan 2017, at 4:41 pm, Martin Cake <> wrote:

> 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 both ways.
> 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 calling for!
> 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)
> Martin
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