Capitals and common names

To: "Birding-Aus" <>
Subject: Capitals and common names
From: "Robert Inglis" <>
Date: Sun, 14 Apr 2013 16:31:37 +1000
Andrew Stafford said:
“I believe the original point of discussion, before this thread was thoroughly 
hijacked by the resident pedants of birding-aus, was Night Parrots. I find it 
interesting to say the least that the issue of capitalisation is apparently of 
so much more interest than Australia's most enigmatic species...”

As one of the resident pedants of birding-aus I feel compelled to reply.
Surprisingly, I agree with Andrew. At least, I agree with some of what he said. 
There was a discussion prior to this “Capitalisation” thread which was about 
Night Parrots and, for some reason I could not entirely understand (probably 
because I didn’t read every posting in that thread – such threads do become 
repetitive) the discussion degenerated into one about capitalisation of common 

However, Steve Whathisname created a completely new thread entitled 
“Capitalisation of bird common names” in which there appears to be no mention 
of Night Parrots, capitalised or otherwise.
And, up until now, Night Parrots remained unrepresented in the discussion.
No doubt Steve’s motivation for creating that new thread came out of something 
in the Night Parrot thread but it was a new and dedicated thread about 
“Capitalisation of bird common names”.
Top marks to Steve for creating a new thread rather than hi-jacking an old 
thread to discuss a new topic.

As to whether issues concerning capitalisation are of more interest to 
Birding-aus members than issues concerning Night Parrots it does appear that is 
the case which, I agree, is a sad state of affairs. As is the lack of 
discussion about the issues concerning Orange-bellied Parrots, Regent 
Honeyeaters, Swift Parrots, shorebirds in general and a myriad of other bird 
But that fact doesn’t intrinsically mean that issues concerning capitalisation 
are not important and should not be discussed until the discussion about issues 
with Night Parrots is totally and thoroughly exhausted. The matter of 
capitalisation of common names appears to be one of great interest to a 
significant number of Birding-aus members as non-capitalisation can often lead 
to confusion as to what bird is being written about. Possibly, in the previous 
thread, there was a question as to whether certain sighting claimants were 
talking about parrots of the night (aka night parrots) or Night Parrots.

As to what constitutes an issue of interest to Birding-aus members in general, 
I have yet to work that one out. I do know that some individual members have 
their own, and often esoteric, interests which they try to bring to the front 
of the discussion queue and sometimes they succeed. 
In the case of the Night Parrot thread, it appeared to me that it had run its 
course. The same will happen to the capitalisation thread. Which one was of 
more value will probably never be known.

Bob Inglis

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