misidentified birds

To: Birding-aus <>
Subject: misidentified birds
From: John Leonard <>
Date: Fri, 16 Apr 2010 09:13:13 +1000
These observations prompt two thoughts:

1. In identifying one species of bird as another's offspring
(cormorants as baby pelicans) people are applying the knowledge that
mammals have active young smaller than adults (human adults v
children, dogs v puppies, cats v kittens &c) to birds. The fact that
in most bird spp the young are as large as the adults when they leave
the nest is not so well known.

2. Some of these misidentifications are due to people in general not
having a good concept of species (OK I know definitions of "species"
are actively contested in biological thought, but I mean a everyday,
rule of thumb concept of species). I was amazed recently talking to
some people who are not knowledgeable about natural history, but are
otherwise highly intelligent people, to find that they all believed
that different breeds of dog are different species, and, conversely,
that Crimson and Eastern Rosellas were different varieties of the same

I hope both of these gaps in common knowledge are addressed by the new
National Curriculum, but I'm not hopeful!

John Leonard

I want to be with the 99,999 other things.

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