Subject: terminology
From: Harvey Perkins <>
Date: Fri, 11 Mar 2005 13:57:48 +1100
This is NOT criticising anyone, it is something that has been annoying me for a long time. I nearly brought it up at the member's night in January but thankfully sanity prevailed and people opted for Geoffrey Dabb's entertaining productions over what would have been a very dry (but possibly animated) talk by me.

 I was looking through the bird photos in COG's photo gallery and noticed?"Black Honeyeater?.Rare vagrant", then came across Yellow-tufted Honeyeater?."Rare visitor" so I then had a look at the Painted Honeyeater. It is listed as "rare, breeding migrant".  What has annoyed me for a long time is the term "Rare vagrant". I did actually manage to come across a record of an "uncommon vagrant" in a recent COG Annual Bird Report. Can anyone tell me of a "Common vagrant"? To me the term should be either "Rare" or "Vagrant", the two words to my way of thinking just do not go together. By saying "rare" for the three species I have mentioned means their status is very similar when plainly it is not, with the Yellow-tufted being far more common in the local area that the other two species. Generally most of the birds termed as "rare vagrant" are not rare in the true sense, they are just vagrants ie birds that have for some reason have turned up well out of their normal range and only do so on rare occasions.

 We need to look at a whole lot of our terms when discussing our birds locally. Michael Lenz' note this morning about "DY" is another case in point.
Now that I have opened Pandora's Box, let me see/hear your views.

I'm heading off to Weddin Mtns in an hour or so, and have lots more to do here before I go, so I don't have time to respond to this more fully until next week; but I will say here, now, that there should be a comma between what is meant to be an abundance descriptor and what is meant to be a residential status descriptor in these examples. Ie, the "rare" is not qualifying the "vagrant" descriptor so there is no full-blown tautology; it is just that in attempting to provide one descriptor for abundance and one for residential status from a necessarily very limited pool of terms (rather than using a fully flexible descriptive prose), the juxtaposition, particularly when the comma is neglectfully omitted, sounds tautological and can obviously cause annoyance.

more later...



Dr Harvey D. Perkins
School of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
The Australian National University
Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia
ph +61 2 6125 2693; fax:+61 2 6125 0313
Pest Animal Control Cooperative Research Centre

Editor, Canberra Bird Notes
(Journal of the Canberra Ornithologists Group)
42 Summerland Circuit, Kambah, ACT 2902
Ph: (02) 6231 8209  mobile: 043 886 9990
<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the Canberra Ornithologists Group mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the list contact David McDonald, list manager, phone (02) 6231 8904 or email . If you can not contact David McDonald e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU