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Old Saturday 5th May 2012, 05:27   #1
drinkdhmo
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Common Moorhen or Common Gallinule

I hope this is the right forum to be posting this sort of question. Sorry if it's not.

Anyway, my wife and I were birding today around a marsh in the Florida panhandle and saw what we believe to be a Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus), at least that is how it is listed in The Sibley Guide to Birds. When I tried to log our trip in eBird, I had a hard time finding that bird. After doing some searching, I found that Cornell lists this bird as the Common Gallinule (Gallinula galeata). I am rather confused. Was the species split since David Sibley published his guide? I would appreciate some light on the subject. Thanks!
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Old Saturday 5th May 2012, 06:58   #2
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That's right. New World Gallinula galeata Common Gallinule was split from G chloropus Common Moorhen in the 52nd Supplement to the AOU Check-list (July 2011).
Quote:
...separated on the basis of differences in vocalizations and bill and shield morphology (Constantine and The Sound Approach 2006) and mitochondrial DNA (Groenenberg et al. 2008).

Last edited by Richard Klim : Saturday 5th May 2012 at 08:54. Reason: quote.
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Old Saturday 5th May 2012, 20:56   #3
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I believe some of the ebird people are or have written a proposal to change the name Common Gallinule to something else, since Common Gallinule also used to be the NA name for the entire species before the split
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Old Sunday 6th May 2012, 09:13   #4
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Originally Posted by Mysticete View Post
I believe some of the ebird people are or have written a proposal to change the name Common Gallinule to something else, since Common Gallinule also used to be the NA name for the entire species before the split
'Formerly Common Gallinule'? 'Common Gallinule That Was'? 'American Coot's Cousin'?
Any other offers?
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Old Sunday 6th May 2012, 11:37   #5
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Originally Posted by Mysticete View Post
I believe some of the ebird people are or have written a proposal to change the name Common Gallinule to something else, since Common Gallinule also used to be the NA name for the entire species before the split
But there are similar recent AOU examples - eg, the splits of Black Scoter Melanitta americana from Black Scoter M nigra sensu lato, Snowy Plover Charadrius nivosus from Snowy Plover C alexandrinus sl, and Winter Wren Troglodytes hiemalis from Winter Wren T troglodytes sl. At least Common Gallinule hasn't been in recent use for Gallinula chloropus sl.
[Incidentally, the split of Melanitta americana has been mistakenly omitted from the updated ABA Checklist (v7.3 - 11/11): www.aba.org/checklist/abachecklist.pdf.]

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Old Sunday 6th May 2012, 13:48   #6
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In some of those cases however the common name of the bird was only ever used in North America really, i.e. Kentish Plover and Black Scoter. So birders reporting species can still say they saw a Snowy Plover and report it on ebird, without much worry that they actually meant something else.

In contrast, If I log my sightings onto ebird or send a trip report out to a listserve, by common moorhen do I mean I saw a rare vagrant of the old world taxon, now recorded in Alaska and probably added to the the next edition of the ABA checklist. Do I mean Common Gallinule as currently defined? What if I have been birding for a couple of decades and still use older names. What about when I go overseas, will my trip lists all report Common Gallinule?

If anything, if you look at the response to the Winter Wren situation, I think the confusion regarding what people mean by Winter Wren makes clear my point.
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Old Sunday 6th May 2012, 19:55   #7
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Richard wrote "[Incidentally, the split of Melanitta americana has been mistakenly omitted from the updated ABA Checklist (v7.3 - 11/11): www.aba.org/checklist/abachecklist.pdf.]"
That is strange because in 2010 the ABA said: "The 51st supplement to the AOU’s Check-list of North American Birds (Chesser et al. 2010) was published in August 2010, and all changes affecting avian taxonomy and nomenclature within the ABA Area are automatically accepted by the ABA CLC."

And: " Black Scoter (53) is split into two species, one found in the western Palearctic and the other in the eastern Palearctic and the New World. The English names of both species published in the 51st supplement—American Scoter and Black Scoter, respectively—are erroneous and have been corrected in the September/October 2010 Auk (A. Kratter, personal communication). The corrected English names are Black Scoter (Melanitta americana) for “our” species and Common Scoter (M. nigra) for the western Palearctic species. Although currently extralimital, Common Scoter breeds in Iceland and occurs casually in Greenland (Boertmann 1994)—where interestingly it is the only taxon recorded—so it seems a possible stray to the ABA Area" The AOU Supplement language: "Melanitta americana is treated as a separate species from the allopatric Melanitta nigra. The supplement erroneously states that the English name should be changed to American Scoter. Instead the English name should remain Black Scoter."

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Old Sunday 6th May 2012, 20:06   #8
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Richard wrote "[Incidentally, the split of Melanitta americana has been mistakenly omitted from the updated ABA Checklist (v7.3 - 11/11): www.aba.org/checklist/abachecklist.pdf.]"
That is strange because in 2010 the ABA said: "The 51st supplement to the AOU’s Check-list of North American Birds (Chesser et al. 2010) was published in August 2010, and all changes affecting avian taxonomy and nomenclature within the ABA Area are automatically accepted by the ABA CLC."
Probably overlooked when actually updating the checklist because it was just a split of Black Scoter from Black Scoter.
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Old Thursday 10th May 2012, 17:38   #9
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I am not expert on this issue but in 3.1 version of IOC World Bird List
http://www.worldbirdnames.org/ioc-lists/master-list/
Common Moorhen is reccomended as a correct common name.
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Old Thursday 10th May 2012, 17:52   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by locustella View Post
I am not expert on this issue but in 3.1 version of IOC World Bird List
http://www.worldbirdnames.org/ioc-lists/master-list/
Common Moorhen is reccomended as a correct common name.
But probably only for the Eurasian version of the bird

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Old Thursday 10th May 2012, 18:07   #11
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Yes. yes.
Gallinula galeata - Common Gallinule
Gallinula chloropus - Common Moorhen (and Moorhen, Eurasian Moorhen, Common Waterhen according to other sources)

Blue-winged Warbler is called Vermivora pinus in National Geographic (1999) and Sibley (2000), but Vermivora pinus is correct name for Pine Warbler.

Black Scoter Melanitta nigra in Natinal Geographic means probably Black Scoter Melanitta americana (M. n. americana)

Mexican Jay is called in National Geographic and Sibley Aphelocoma ultramarina, but Aphelocoma ultramarina is Transvolcanic Jay. Something is wrong here.

Black-billed Magpie is called in National Geographic Pica pica, but they write probably about Pica hudsonia. Pica pica is Eurasian Magpie.

Charadrius alexandrinus - Kentish Plover is called in National Geographic and Sibley Snowy Plover, but Snowy Plover is Charadrius nivosus (formerly C. a. nivosus ?).

Larus cachinnans - Caspian Gull is called in National Geographic and Sibley Yellow-legged Gull, but Yellow-legged Gull is Larus michahellis.

Winter Wren - probably Troglodytes hiemalis is called in National Geographic and Sibley (and at least old Collins) Troglodytes troglodytes, which is name of Eurasian Wren.

Turdus naumanni - Naumann's thrush is called in National Geographic and Collins Dusky Thrush, which is correct name for Turdus eunomus (formerly T. n. eunomus ?). However it is difficult to say, which one they mean ...

Phoenicopterus ruber American Flamingo is called in National Geographic and Sibley Greater Flamingo, which is name of Phoenicopterus roseus.

Oriental Cuckoo Cuculus optatus is called in National Geografic Cuculus saturatus, but obtatus was subspecies of saturatus.

Bird names are getting outdated so fast ...

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Old Friday 11th May 2012, 15:24   #12
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What edition of Nat Geo do you have? Sixth edition is the most up to date version, and it doesn't have many of these things you point out.
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Old Friday 11th May 2012, 15:40   #13
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What edition of Nat Geo do you have? Sixth edition is the most up to date version, and it doesn't have many of these things you point out.
Presumably all examples refer to the 3rd edition (1999):
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Blue-winged Warbler is called Vermivora pinus in National Geographic (1999)...
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Old Friday 11th May 2012, 15:44   #14
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As the eBird person the Mysticete refers to, I can address this a bit.

I have written but not yet submitted a proposal for the NACC (North American Checklist Committee) to rename Common Gallinule. In short, I think the name is confusing for several reasons. First, Common Gallinule was used for the parent species in the past, making Common Gallinule (AOU 1957) and Common Gallinule (AOU 2012) totally different taxonomic concepts (sensu lato and sensu stricto, or Holarctic vs. Nearctic, respectively). Second, it leaves us with Common Gallinule and Common Moorhen looking almost identical but with names that imply a more distant relationship. Third, Common is just a poor modifier. Also, depending on your taxonomy, there are ~8 Gallinula in the world. Of those, only Spot-flanked Gallinule is a well-entrenched Gallinule (and that should probably change too). Although it does seem odd to have Gallinula called Moorhens and Porphyrio called Gallinules, I do see real value in having common names follow Genera. If Moorhen (e.g., Dusky Moorhen, Tristan Moorhen, Lesser Moorhen) is the predominant name for the Genus globally, I think the NACC and SACC should fall in line for their paltry two species.

Since having Common Gallinule and Common Moorhen seemed liked such a bad course, we opted for Eurasian Moorhen for G. chloropus for Clements/eBird. Retaining Common Moorhen would have led to hundreds of records being submitted to eBird as Common Moorhen, which then would have caused data quality issues as Common Moorhens were submitted from North America when the intended New World species was Common Gallinule (G. galeata). Common names DO matter, a lot, in citizen science efforts. We actually do dodge the issue of the example quoted below for the Moorhen/Gallinule (i.e., there is no option to submit Common Moorhen in eBird), but it is an issue that arises in other cases, such as Common Snipe.Simply causing people to stop and say "Wait, why are the names different" (as with this thread) itself is important to data quality.

For G. galeata, I really like the proposal by The Sound Approach team to use Laughing Moorhen for G. galeata. This gets at one of the main differences between Old World and New World species and also following the subspecies name, cachinnans, for one of the New World forms. So I would hope that global authorities can converge on Laughing Moorhen and Eurasian Moorhen, and leave Common Moorhen and Common Gallinule behind.

Along this same vein, I did recently submit a proposal to NACC not to adopt Xantus's Murrelet for the newly split (I think the proposal passed) sensu stricto Synthliboramphus hypoleucus. This was especially dangerous since the scientific name would not change either and we would be left with sensu stricto and sensu lato versions of Xantus's Murrelet. I proposed Guadalupe Murrelet.

Along the same vein, the recent NACC Gray Hawk split raises the same problems. In this case there is no good alternate common name for the northern species Buteo plagiatus, and since the scientific names will change and the North American form will retain stability in English name, perhaps it is less of an issue.

But overall I feel it is important for taxonomic authorities to try not to use the same English name for parent species and daughter species, since confusions (Common Gallinule, Snowy Plover, Common Snipe, Black-billed Magpie, Black Scoter...for some recent Nearctic examples) are sure to arise. With eBird we run into problems when people submit from listing software using only scientific names, since eBird then matches to the appropriate common name. We continue to get occasional Eurasian Wrens, Common Scoters, and Common Snipe coming from users who have not updated the taxonomy in their listing software.

So here's a call to consider English names carefully and avoid using the same one for parent and daughter species!

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In some of those cases however the common name of the bird was only ever used in North America really, i.e. Kentish Plover and Black Scoter. So birders reporting species can still say they saw a Snowy Plover and report it on ebird, without much worry that they actually meant something else.

In contrast, If I log my sightings onto ebird or send a trip report out to a listserve, by common moorhen do I mean I saw a rare vagrant of the old world taxon, now recorded in Alaska and probably added to the the next edition of the ABA checklist. Do I mean Common Gallinule as currently defined? What if I have been birding for a couple of decades and still use older names. What about when I go overseas, will my trip lists all report Common Gallinule?

If anything, if you look at the response to the Winter Wren situation, I think the confusion regarding what people mean by Winter Wren makes clear my point.
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Old Friday 11th May 2012, 21:51   #15
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Without wishing to be pedantic, the name "Eurasian" for a species that is also widely and commonly distributed across large parts of Africa doesn't seem to be an ideal modifier either.
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Old Friday 11th May 2012, 22:35   #16
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Presumably all examples refer to the 3rd edition (1999):
Third edition (1999) of N.G. and first edition (2000) of Sibley.
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the name "Eurasian" for a species that is also widely and commonly distributed across large parts of Africa doesn't seem to be an ideal modifier either.
or "Common". This is only lenghtening of the name.

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Old Friday 11th May 2012, 23:11   #17
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.... I do see real value in having common names follow Genera. If Moorhen (e.g., Dusky Moorhen, Tristan Moorhen, Lesser Moorhen) is the predominant name for the Genus globally, I think the NACC and SACC should fall in line for their paltry two species.
Oh, Lordy, the old "common names should follow scientific names" chestnut. And I'd been hoping we'd seen the last of it!
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Old Friday 11th May 2012, 23:43   #18
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O, "binominal" common names, like Genus + Species scientific name.
Code:
Primula vulgaris
   1       2
Common primrose
   2       1
Such names would be precise, but latin names define species enough well. Do we need second parallel system of names ? This complicates things only. Common names are alive, people constantly change them, native names or "folk" known from hundreds of years names with second artificial word would sound sometimes unnaturally, it would be difficult to enforce to use them, actually they would be not common but scientific names of second kind. They are for people, not for machines. It is good to define official common names, but not neccessarily binominal.
However species name without "Common" or "Euroasian" very frequently would sound like Genus name and this is the reason to use sometimes binominal common names.

Moho apicalis - Common O‘ahu ‘Ō‘ō ... It would be beatiful name ... Or better - Apical Moho .... Ask natives from Hawaia whats that.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oahu_Oo

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Old Saturday 12th May 2012, 01:26   #19
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But I will give a 100% agree (OK, at least a 99% agree) to the following quote from Marshall:
Quote:
So here's a call to consider English names carefully and avoid using the same one for parent and daughter species!
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Old Saturday 12th May 2012, 11:46   #20
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the old "common names should follow scientific names" chestnut.
Maybe to follow this rule all Gallinula should be called Moorhen or all Gallinula should be called Gallinule (?), what would lead to elimination of one of these common Genus names. Making common names mirror of scientific names probably is not good idea also for this reason.
Or if Gallinula galeata was derived from Gallinula chloropus - Common Moorhen, Gallinula galeata should be called Mooren too, for example American Mooren, as counterpart of Euroasian Mooren ? But these names sound strangely ...
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Originally Posted by njlarsen View Post
But I will give a 100% agree (OK, at least a 99% agree) to the following quote from Marshall:
Quote:
So here's a call to consider English names carefully and avoid using the same one for parent and daughter species!
Niels
Then Common Gallinule should be reserved forever as the name of this species before split, and daughter species get new names different from it ? But on the other hand sometimes new names different from those we are accustom to from years appear to be strange.

Similar problem is with BirdLife SpcRecID numbers and probably IUCN Species IDs. After split, to avoid mistakes, previous IDs must to be not used any more, dauger species get new ones. I haven't checked carefully if they keep eye on this, but probably do. For example:

Gallinago gallinago was split into G. gallinago and G. delicata and BirdLife SpcRecIDs are:
Gallinago gallinago before split: 2990 ("This taxon is Not Recognised as a species by BirdLife International." - because of split ?)
new "slim" Gallinago gallinago: 31051 (got new number !)
Gallinago delicata 31052, but this species is not recognized too (!).

Lanius excubitor was split into L. excubitor, 'Northern Grey Shrike' and L. meridionalis, 'Southern Grey Shrike' (including pallidirostris)
Lanius excubitor before split: 5538 (not recognized any more)
new "slim" Lanius excubitor: 31195
Lanius meridionalis 30248, but not recognized because this split is not followed by the BirdLife Taxonomic Working Group

But child scientific names are the same as parent names. For example new Lanius excubitor is still Lanius excubitor. Then why common names should be more rygoristic ?

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Old Saturday 12th May 2012, 17:59   #21
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I agree with the sentiment proposed here, although I admit I might have disagreed even a year ago. With a few exceptions such as island endemics or where the distribution of a "split" taxon is similarly tiny, new names should be generated for all splits.

I do think the Moorhen situation (and scoter and snowy plover) situation isn't as bad as what has occurred in other groups, such as Canada Goose and Winter Wren, since both populations are largely allopatric.

I like Moorhen, but admittably that is because my early formative birding years occurred after the AOU changed to Moorhen from Gallinule. I think there is a good chance We will get the Laughing modifier, but slim to no chance Gallinule will be changed back to Moorhen. SACC voted it down even before the split, and I don't see them changing their minds
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Old Saturday 12th May 2012, 23:31   #22
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Hmm, if one of the problems is getting birders to recognise the new name of one half of a split, then is forcing them to learn two new names and completely forget the old name a solution or is it simply doubling the problem?

In general Holarctic to Nearctic and Palaearctic splits, e.g. the scoter and plover examples, should not present a problem at all, as everyone just continues to happily use the name they grew up with. Concocting new names to be used either side of the pond might just annoy both sets of birders. OK, I know that's not really what we should be looking at with nomenclature issues, but we all know it is a significant practical issue.

As far as the moorhens go, I agree that having two species in the same genus having 'Common' as modifier is potentially confusing. If using 'Moorhen' is out for G. galeata, how about American Gallinule? It's simple, clear and descriptive, and the analogous situation is with American Oystercatcher - not the only oystercatcher in the Americas by any means, but the most widespread one.

However, Eurasian Moorhen might work in a North American context, but not in an Old World one, as already pointed out. Are there any North American records of Old World Moorhen? If not, or if they are only from Alaska, it might just be easiest to treat all records entered on eBird as 'Common Moorhen' as being 'American Gallinule' unless there is a specific reason to think otherwise.

Any thoughts?
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Old Sunday 13th May 2012, 11:54   #23
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... Are there any North American records of Old World Moorhen? If not, or if they are only from Alaska, it might just be easiest to treat all records entered on eBird as 'Common Moorhen' as being 'American Gallinule' unless there is a specific reason to think otherwise.
A specimen taken on Shemya, Western Aleutians, AK, 14 October 2010. DNA analysis indicated the individual, a juvenile, is chloropus.

www.friendsofornithology.org/News2011.pdf
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Old Sunday 13th May 2012, 18:04   #24
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I have written but not yet submitted a proposal for the NACC (North American Checklist Committee) to rename Common Gallinule.
Bunny, you may call it as you want. COMMON names create COMMON people, like YOU. That committee should ask you for name of that bird. Because YOU are common folk, not them. Official names are only for convenience, to avoid misunderstandings. And good for such committees for this. But this is not your duty to use names enforced by anyone. Average people create language and change it constantly ... Grammar, ortography etc. are nonsens.
Is there any word in Lakota language for that coot ? That would solve this problem finally ...
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Old Sunday 13th May 2012, 21:43   #25
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Bunny, you may call it as you want. COMMON names create COMMON people, like YOU. That committee should ask you for name of that bird. Because YOU are common folk, not them. Official names are only for convenience, to avoid misunderstandings. And good for such committees for this. But this is not your duty to use names enforced by anyone. Average people create language and change it constantly ... Grammar, ortography etc. are nonsens.
Is there any word in Lakota language for that coot ? That would solve this problem finally ...
Marshall Iliff, an eBird project leader, has raised some important points about why the name 'Common Gallinule' should be changed. In the case of eBird, "official names" are absolutely necessary to maintain a dataset that ranges through the Americas and now across the world. People are not going to start memorizing Latin names to maintain their ebird checklists.

Official common names are a GODSEND, in my opinion. Individuals can scream and pout all they want about how horrible committees are for trying to standardized English names for birds. However, look at a widespread language such as Spanish, where every country in Latin America and Spain has a different name for each bird. Example: a Paraulata in Venezuela, a Mirlo in Ecuador, a Zorzal in Chile and Mexico, and a Tordo in Spain all refer to the same genus of birds (Turdus). I cannot understand a checklist in Spanish unless the scientific names are posted beside the Spanish common name. For everyone to understand which bird is being talked about in Spanish, one would have to be familiar with the local vernacular for each country that speaks Spanish or memorize scientific names.

I think the standardization of English names has definitely helped make the flow of information and understanding much easier, which was the main reason it was created in the first place. As for the moorhen/gallinule issue, I would definitely welcome a change back to moorhen (which is what I grew up with) and it would make more sense to me because every single other bird in the genus is a moorhen except the aberrant Spot-flanked Gallinule, but am willing to adapt to anything. In any case, Laughing Moorhen has a nice ring to it.

Carlos

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