To: <>
Subject: Blackface
From: "Tim Low" <>
Date: Thu, 30 Jun 2005 12:23:04 +1000

    Many members of Birding-Aus also read Wingspan, and would have seen my article in the latest issue proposing that birders adopt abbreviated common name for birds. Most Australians are disconnected from nature, and I strongly suspect that ponderous common names are part of the problem. ?Black-faced cuckoo-shrike? is an example of a long, dull and ultimately meaningless name for a wonderful bird that everyone sees but most people don?t know, partly because its name is so complicated and technical-sounding. Every Australian does know kookaburras, emus and magpies, and they also could know the black-faced cuckoo-shrike if only it had a one-word name rather a tongue-twisting turnoff. Attempts to change common names always create controversy, so I am not proposing any formal change. What I am suggesting instead is that names of common birds be abbreviated in everyday use. ?Blackface? is ideal shorthand for this bird (it goes well with ?silvereye?), and this name could be used in everyday conversation, for example when talking to neighbours and children and people in the local park. Birding immediately sounds more exciting and accessible if we are heard talking about rainbows, emeralds and yellowfaces. Birders already talk like this among themselves, mentioning red-rumps and gang gangs, for example. I am suggesting that the full names still be used in books and reports, but that abbreviated names be used in less formal situations. What do birders think of this suggestion?

Tim Low 


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