Re: birding-aus bird-Names

To: "Birding-Aus" <>
Subject: Re: birding-aus bird-Names
From: "Paul Taylor" <>
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 1999 20:24:46 +1000
Trevor Ford wrote:
> I'm surprised nobody has commented on the clumsy way that capitalised
> are now hyphenated (or not!)  Opening my Christidis and Boles at random
> (believe me?) I see Night Heron, Sea-Eagle and Button-quail.

There was some discussion of this topic around this time last year in
regard to the name changes introduced by the current RAOU Recommended
English Names.

Ideally the common names would have a consistent form, and follow a
defined rule set.  For example, this could be a naming system:

  * Common names have two parts: a "given name" and a "surname".
  * "Surnames" describe the type of bird (e.g. Albatross, Gull, Swallow)
  * "Given names" distinguish between birds sharing "surnames" (e.g. Shy
    Royal, Yellow-bellied)
  * For each of the two parts ("given names" and "surnames"), the
    first letter is always capitalised; all other letters are lowercase.
  * For each of the two parts, a hyphen may be used (e.g. White-browed,
    Night-heron, Sea-eagle.)

Using this system, you would have names like "Nankeen Night-heron",
"White-bellied Sea-eagle", "Black-breasted Button-quail" which are
both consistent and logical.  ("Nankeen Night-Heron", "White-bellied
Sea-Eagle" and "Black-breasted Button-Quail" is another sensible
naming system.)  Unfortunately, trouble sets in when you consider
names like "Light-mantled Sooty Albatross" and "Lesser Sooty Owl".
It shouldn't be difficult to expand the rule set to handle these,
provided that the rule set is simple, unambiguous, logical and
consistent.  This in itself isn't difficult; the hard part is
generating names that are also aesthetically pleasing
("Black-Breasted Button-Quail" etc., while logical and consistent,
would fail the aesthetic test, IMHO.)

As to "Red Kangaroo" vs. "red kangaroo", "Red Kangaroo" should be
the name used, particularly when female Red Kangaroos are not red
and often referred to as "blue fliers" (or should that be "Blue

   Paul Taylor                                  Veni, vidi, tici -
                           I came, I saw, I ticked.

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