Are Australian bird names a colonial hangover?

To: L&L Knight <>, Birding Aus <>
Subject: Are Australian bird names a colonial hangover?
From: Nikolas Haass <>
Date: Tue, 1 Dec 2009 23:56:49 -0800 (PST)
"butcherbird" is an old English name for shrike (i.e. Lanius)

There are no European Turkeys (except on farms), both turkey species Meleagris 
gallopavo and M. ocellata are American taxa, which means that the Brits found 
these tasty Thanksgiving birds in North America, brought them back home to 
Europe and then later named an Australian megapode after it...



Nikolas Haass

Sydney, NSW

----- Original Message ----
From: L&L Knight <>
To: Birding Aus <>
Sent: Wed, December 2, 2009 6:03:34 PM
Subject: Are Australian bird names a colonial hangover?

There seem to be relatively few groups of birds that predominantly occur in 
Australia that don't have names based on unrelated English analogues - robins, 
quail-thrush, shrike-thrush, wrens etc.  Some of the exceptions would probably 
be honeyeaters, butcherbirds, currawongs.

How many species in Australia are named after non-English analogues?  That is, 
named after species that don't occur in England.  Cockatiel is probably one.

I think that the official common names reflect that fact that the people who 
named them in the nineteenth century were either English or English colonials.  
In contrast, the English names of the bird species in Peru are rarely based on 
European analogues.  Like honeyaters, names actually describe the group of 
birds rather than comparing them to analogues.

The Brush Turkey is a classic example of English mislabelling.  Not only is it 
totally unrelated to European Turkeys, it's name is disconnected from the other 
megapodes.  If it were correctly labelled, it would be some sort of  Bushfowl 
(in line with Scrubfowl and Malleefowl).

Regards, Laurie.

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