Ornithological Hansonism ?

To: Carl Clifford <>
Subject: Ornithological Hansonism ?
From: Ian May <>
Date: Sun, 31 Oct 2010 16:01:28 +1100
"So You Think" the arguments of lumpers and splitters might be solved by appointing a panel of international experts. Such as those PBs who turned our Stone Curlew into a "Thicknee"?

I might stick to Cayley's thanks.


Carl Clifford wrote:

Dear All,

I am amazed by the constant outbreaks of ornithological Hansonism that pops up in B-Aus when it comes to bird names. The International Ornithological Union (IOU) is an international body of prominent professional ornithologists ( some 200) who, among many other things, arbitrate on the common names of birds. The membership of the IOU can be seen at Among the members of the IOU are Dr. Richard Schodde and Dr. Walter Boles, both of who seem to know a thing or two about birds.

The publication "Birds of the World : Recommended English Names" by Gill & Wright is published on behalf of the IOU and is "a volunteer project with worldwide participation by birders and professional ornithologists". The goal of this publication is "to facilitate worldwide communication in ornithology and conservation through the consistent use of English names linked to current species taxonomy. The English names follow explicit guidelines for spelling and construction that increase clarity of application", so it it is not an ivory tower publicaton, but a collaboration between amateur and professional ornithologists. On those grounds I think it is reasonable to regard BOTW as the standard list of common English language names world wide. If anyone can come up with a rational argument as to why this should not be so, I would be very interested in hearing it.

As for Scientific names and species status, the Index of Organism Names (ION), see , which ION contains the organism names related data gathered from the scientific literature for Thomson Reuters' Zoological Record® database. Viruses, bacteria and plant names will be added from other Thomson Reuters databases such as BIOSIS Previews® and Biological Abstracts® " is the repository for all currently accepted species of everything. If it lives and has been named, it is in ION.

There is a well established mechanism for the common names of birds and whether a species is a species, so why not stick to it, as it seems to work well.

All we need to do now is to try and get a single Avian taxonomy up and accepted, but I don't think any of us will see that in our lifetimes.


Carl Clifford

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