Thoughts on C&B2

To: <>
Subject: Thoughts on C&B2
From: "Geoffrey Dabb" <>
Date: Sun, 17 Feb 2008 16:34:44 +1100

The new Christidis and Boles is a terrific contribution to what’s what (at least for now) with the local birds.


One thing I notice about it is the use of – and willingness to revise – geographical labels like ‘Australian’, ‘Australasian’ etc.   We seem to have moved on from the stage where English names can acquire authority from usage and be allowed to settle down.  After all nobody is proposing changing ‘Papuan Frogmouth’ because it occurs in Australia, or ‘Canada Goose’ because it occurs in the US.   I notice that 4 names in this category have been sufficiently hardy to have survived from Gould:  Australian Pelican, Australian Pratincole,  Australian Bustard and Pacific Gull (which I’m sure would not  be called that if it was being named now).


Moreover some geographical names look somewhat arbitrary and  are based on species limits that are evidently little more than speculative.  Therefore be prepared for more changes.  If you are interested in this kind of thing see the enclosed table which sets out the relevant geographical names in the list, with historic counterparts.


I have a particular dislike of ‘Australasian’ which does not slide easily from the tongue and in my view should not be used unless unavoidable.  According to my Macquarie ‘Australasia’ has a primary meaning ‘Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, and neighbouring islands of the South Pacific Ocean’.  A secondary meaning is ‘Australia and New  Zealand’.


‘Gill and Wright’ is the 2006-published list of recommended English (world) bird names supported by the International Ornithological Congress.  With one striking exception nearly all C&B2 English names are also accepted in G&W, allowing for a slightly more conservative view on some of the splits.  (It is noteworthy that ‘Maned Duck’ lives on.)


G&W’s view of ‘Australasia’  is even more expansive:  ‘Wallacea (Indonesian islands east of Wallace’s line), New Guinea and its islands, Australia, New Zealand and its subantarctic islands, the Solomons, New Caledonia, and Vanuatu’.  [Not necessarily in order of importance, one assumes.]


C&B appear to have created a roadblock to international uniformity all their own.  This is the idiosyncratic practice of hyphening names like ‘Black-Cockatoo’ and ‘Imperial-Pigeon’ (not to mention the ridiculous ‘King-Parrot’).  This was suggested in the 1978 recommendations and was unlikely to catch on internationally, and it hasn’t.  If you want to find ‘Glossy Black-Cockatoo’ in G&W don’t look under ‘Black-Cockatoo’ in the index.  Try under ‘Cockatoo,  Glossy Black’.  It is a pity the opportunity was not taken in C&B2 to retreat from the hyphening adventure.  Perhaps too many Australian texts had already followed it.              

Attachment: 'Australian' birds table.doc
Description: MS-Word document

This is the email announcement and discussion list of the Canberra 
Ornithologists Group.
List-Post: <>
List-Help: <>
List-Unsubscribe: <>
List-Subscribe: <>
List archive: <>
List manager: David McDonald, email 
<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