Legendary ornithologist - trivial comment

To: 'COG Chat' <>
Subject: Legendary ornithologist - trivial comment
From: Philip Veerman <>
Date: Thu, 22 Aug 2019 00:13:33 +0000

On 6 May and this week I made a comment against a prominent academic being labelled as a “Legendary ornithologist”. Since then I have researched the word “legend” a bit and find it even more vague and confusing than I had thought, so - in case anyone cares, but hopefully not much, I will clarify. Clearly some have a much wider view of the word than I. My view was that legend is a word best used for someone who is long deceased, whose contribution was immense and whose life is very mysterious, and may indeed not have existed at all. Someone like Robin Hood and King Arthur. If we have a Legendary ornithologist” in Australia at all, I would suggest it may be Gregory Macalister Mathews (1876-1949), who contributed a huge amount but left  big mess, by his rampant bird naming. Or John Gould, maybe even Elizabeth Gould, Or among those still living, maybe John Young for his great contribution and yet his mysteries. Maybe these are our “Legendary ornithologists”.


I also wrote “I would not recommend or bother to buy her books”. That comes across probably harsh, so sorry about that aspect. However it is in the (non stated) context that as I have not bought or read this person’s books, it would be inappropriate for me to recommend them. I have quickly looked at them and read some reviews. I now very rarely buy new books unless they are really useful, I have heaps of books about bird behaviour already, I don’t have the funds, time or space to keep buying books whilst I will never have time to read them all anyway and they imposes greatly on my space available.




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