Re: birding-aus Re: Mammal twitching

To: Birding-Aus Mail <>
Subject: Re: birding-aus Re: Mammal twitching
From: "Lawrence E. Conole" <>
Date: Fri, 30 Jul 1999 10:18:51 +1000
Kim Sterelny wrote:

> nocturnal. Birds are very visual animals, by and large, and hence the way
> that members of a species identify one another as potential mates, as
> rivals, as juveniles and the like are often, probably, through visual
> signals that we too can detect (though I expect calls are also often
> important). I bet quite a lot of bird ID depends on our tuning into cues
> that they also use, and which have evolved for those purposes. Much mammal
> signaling is probably olifactory, and we are not equipped with the right
> sensory detectors to use those signals.

Fair enough ..... as Kim and others have pointed out, MANY mammals are not
quite as straight-forward as MOST birds to identify.  They're also not
universally difficult - experience is a key factor.  Peter Menkhorst's
upcoming guide will be of great benefit in demystifying the art of mammal
identification, but observers will still need to devote some time to looking
at the beasts.  People who go birding only once or twice a year have trouble
separating Brown and Striated Thornbills, but that doesn't mean it's just too
hard!  One of the curliest problems in mammal ID in south-eastern Australia
has for some time been with separating (in the hand) the three 'forest bats'
(Vespadelus vulturnus, V. regulus, V. darlingtoni) - but I can assure you that
after you've seen a few thousand up close, they're not so scary any more.

.... and for the record those bats would be the Little Forest Bat, the
Southern Forest Bat and the Large Forest Bat.  If I wrote that I'd seen some
little forest bats - who would know what that meant (apart from clairvoyants
and those who know the species in question).  If however I wrote than I'd seen
some Little Forest Bats, even an uneducated reader might suppose that the
capitals denote something of significance - a proper noun perhaps?  RENs
(Recommended English Names) are unarguably proper nouns - that's what they're
intended to be, and it's largely how they are used.  As for beginning a
sentence "The Little Forest Bat is ....." - how is that confusing?


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