The opinions of Plains-wanderers

To: "Robert Inglis" <>
Subject: The opinions of Plains-wanderers
From: "Dave Torr" <>
Date: Thu, 17 Jan 2008 13:12:49 +1100
I think it all proves Bob that non-scientific names need to be handled with
great care and that even scientific names (I am including orders/families in
this) do need some qualification as taxonomy changes with time and according
to "authority". Hayman/Mater/Prater's "Shorebirds" is one of the definitive
books on the "group" and claims that it - and Harrison's Seabirds - cover
all Charadriiformes, yet Plains Wanderer is excluded. This was published in

On 17/01/2008, Robert Inglis <> wrote:
> I believe that Plains-wanderers, if they could understand the question
> (given our human limitations in presenting such a question to a far more
> sophisticated species than our own) and if we could understand and
> interpret
> the philosophical thinking of Plains-wanderers, would greatly resent the
> arrogance of our species suggesting that they should be "lumped" with any
> other species or group of species and/or that they should be placed in
> some
> arbitrary grouping devised by human beings for their own convenience given
> that
> they, the Plains-wanderers (if, indeed, that is what they call
> themselves),
> have been spending an inordinate amount of time trying to make themselves
> quite distinct from any other species that has, to our limited knowledge,
> ever existed.
> Just thought I would say that in response to these extracts from previous
> postings (no names - no pack-drill):
> "I just bought "Shorebirds of Australia", and was surprised to see that it
> covers Plains-wanderer.  I can understand their explanation that it's
> closely
> related to other shorebirds, but if it doesn't look or act like one, why
> include it?"
> "Not really - not all "waders" wade - some are much happier inland. Banded
> Lapwings and Inland Dotterels are two examples that spring to mind that
> rarely get their toes wet! The grouping into "families" is done on lots of
> characteristics, not just the habitat and "Shorebirds" is generally taken
> to
> mean a specific scientific group. One could argue that a Silver Gull is a
> shorebird as you find it at the seaside, but it does not fit in the
> relevant
> scientific group so I expect it will not be in your book."
> "It makes more sense including them in this book, as they belong to a
> family of birds referred to as "shorebirds" rather than having them
> clumped with Button-quails as they were for so many years."
> "Hmmm, I think it is logically questionable to use the term "belongs" when
> you are referring to bird classifications. I think that Plains Wanderers
> have a lot more in common with Button Quail than with Godwits and
> Sandplovers."
> Handbook of Birds of the World has them as a "Shorebird". Helm's
> Shorebirds"
> of the World does not. Pizzey does, Clements 5th does. I think IOU and
> Birdlife International do as well?"
> "Well, what I mean is that being "lumped" with shorebirds is somewhat
> different to "belongs" in the shorebirds group. I don't think that Plains
> Wanderers would view themselves as shorebirds, if it were possible to ask
> their opinion."
> Please note: I am in no way intending to be critical of any of the
> contributors to this topic. I neither definitely agree nor definitely
> disagree with any of the
> statements so far made.
> I would dispute, though, the claim ".....and "Shorebirds" is generally
> taken
> to
> mean a specific scientific group".  There is really nothing scientific
> about
> groupings such as "shorebirds", "waders", "water birds", "sea birds".
> The scientific group to which "shorebirds" have been assigned is the order
> Charadriiformes however not all Charadriiformes are commonly referred to
> as
> "shorebirds" and many Charadriiformes are definitely not "waders".
> Plains-wanderers have been accepted in Australia as belonging in the order
> Charadriiformes since at least 1994 (see The taxonomy and Species of Birds
> of Australia and its Territories, Christidis and Bowles, RAOU Monograph 2,
> 1994).
> Bob Inglis
> Sandstone Point
> Qld
> Note: please do not forward all or any part of this e-mail to any other
> web-based forum or discussion-group without my permission.
> Use of the whole or part of this email for criticism or further discussion
> on Birding-Aus is acceptable to me but is not recommended by me.
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