Turkey Talk and Jabiru

Subject: Turkey Talk and Jabiru
From: Anthea Fleming <>
Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2019 14:31:41 +1100
Our stork was called policeman bird because it always appears in pairs...
Anthea Fleming

On 28/02/2019 9:52 AM, Philip Veerman wrote:
The word Jabiru has been carried forward and is now used in northern
Australia to refer to more than just Australia's only native stork. If we
accept and consider the meaning of the word and take the investigative step
to substitute it for the name, Ross's quote below becomes: "if someone
reports a swollen neck in Kakadu there's not much doubt about what they
actually saw." Which strikes me as odd. I don't know for sure but I suspect
that there will be many people who think Jabiru is an aboriginal word. I
think that is sad, as surely such a distinctive big bird will have genuine
aboriginal names that we could have used. Another old name is
Policeman-bird, which has some sense for its appearance and is perhaps no
more silly than Apostlebird.


-----Original Message-----
From: Birding-Aus  On Behalf Of

Sent: Wednesday, 27 February, 2019 11:26 AM
Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Turkey Talk and Jabiru

While I agree in principle, if someone reports a Jabiru in Kakadu there's
not much doubt about what they actually saw.

Ross Macfarlane

-----Original Message-----
From: Birding-Aus<>  On Behalf Of Philip
Sent: Wednesday, 27 February 2019 11:00 AM
To: 'Michael Hunter'<>; 
Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Turkey Talk and Jabiru

All that opinion is fair enough. The Jabiru is an interesting story. I think
we all know it but here it is again. The point being that the Jabiru is one
species of bird, only from South America. The name comes from a Tupi–Guaraní
language and means "swollen neck", a feature not shared with our bird, so
the word is clearly wrong. I suggest the word applied here has the very
unfortunate aspect of easily sounding like an Australian name (like kangaroo
that jabs at its food), so it has easily been transferred here, mostly in
ignorance that it is wrong even if understood by almost everyone. If I talk
of a Jabiru I am certainly talking about the South American bird, which I
never have and never will encounter. The complication is that "Stork" is
also surely originally a specific species of bird from Europe and Africa.
The difference is that over time "Stork" has become a group name applied to
other birds including our species, but Jabiru has not. I suggest
"Black-necked Stork" is only equally "ugly, ungainly and totally unromantic"
as are 90% + of bird names around the world. It is entirely typical and it
is a good name on that basis (Satin Stork is nicer). Similar to "cuckoo",
surely originally just for one species (of Europe) but now a group name. It
is only quirks of history and colonialism as to which former English species
names become group names and history only goes forward. Is there a reason
why "Jabiru" is not also available as a group name? Although I don't see any
value of doing that, other than in the illusion of sounding like it has
original Australian culture value and thus validating an error. To my mind
this would be regrettable. But we are all happy with "Magpie", so there I
have hypocrisy in that common bird. "Torresian Imperial Pigeon" is entirely
sensible in creating a very useful link to all the other birds in a group
called Imperial Pigeon (whatever that is), something that is lost in just
using "Torres Strait Pigeon".


-----Original Message-----
From: Birding-Aus  On Behalf Of
Michael Hunter
Sent: Wednesday, 27 February, 2019 10:00 AM
Subject: [Birding-Aus] Turkey Talk

The beauty of the English language is its flexibility. If a word or name is
commonly understood it can be used.

Ornithology has it's own Scientific Names which are only changeable through
Scientific process and publication. These are generally accepted world-wide
so readers know precisely which bird is referred to. (Pardon the grammar).

Birdwatchers, in Australia at least, have standardised Common Names as well,
dictated originally by top twitchers, most of them British.  In the process
we lost some wonderful common names, understood by all Australian birdos.
Eg "Jabiru", (because this Portuguese name also refers to a South American
Stork, never likely to be seen wild in Australia or confused with our Jabiru
by anyone literate), replaced by "Black-necked  Stork" , to my mind, ugly,
ungainly and totally unromantic.
Similarly, "Torres Strait Pigeon" became "Torresian Imperial Pigeon" ; we
lose an Oz name so that some intellectually straight jacketed pseudo
-scientist can inflict their unnecessary pseudo-science on our historic
Australian colloquial bird names.

Earlier bird-books quoted the common names as well as the Scientific ones.
In themselves they made interesting reading.

As the Turkey discussion demonstrates, our original names reflect history
and geography. "Lumping" of Scientific names is being modified as sub
specific differences are revealed.
Perhaps Brush Turkeys dust bathe and Bush Turkeys don't. Just by looking
into the name differences we learn more about birds.

Birding names should not be sterilised, even at the alter of International
Twitching tours. If in doubt use the Scientific names.


                   Michael Hunter

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