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Renaming all North American Birds

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Old Sunday 21st June 2020, 12:43   #151
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My main objection is with the semipalmated birds, I think it's a nice mnemonic, that they are "semi-", just a little. We also always upon seeing or discussing one immediately remember the classic quote "... you can even see the semipalmations!".

Why Glacier Gull though? Does it have something particular to do with glaciers? In Czech, we call it simply "gray gull", which I know would be a collision with the one from Peru, but something similar would be perhaps better?
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Old Sunday 21st June 2020, 12:55   #152
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I think one of the really wonderful things about birding is the rich variety of names drawn from a multitude of places for a multitude of reasons at different points in time. The accelerating rate of changing them isn't making things easier for anyone, or making it a more appealing hobby for beginners to engage with, and the ever increasing rate if changes in taxonomy further makes it more off putting to anyone bothering to learn new names. I've given up on bothering to use anything other than the ones I like best now. Seems like some people would prefer it if each species simply had a number, which could change by chucking in a decimal point if there's a split. Then at last maybe we could put people off being interested in birding altogether. And seawatchers of course would instantly adopt the shouting out of "Number Two-hundred-and-seventeen-point-four" left half way to the Runnel!" When a Barolo Shearwater flies by, instead if shouting "Little Shear!"
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Old Sunday 21st June 2020, 13:48   #153
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If archaic names were changed to equivalent modern words, few birders would be confused. This should be the least controversial change. For European birds it could be:

Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca - Chestnut Duck
Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus - Web-footed Plover
Semipalmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla - Web-footed Sandpiper
Pomarine Skua Stercorarius pomarinus - Spoon-tailed Skua
Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides - Silky Heron
Striated Heron Butorides striata - Streaked Heron
Isabelline Shrike Lanius isabellinus - Sandy Shrike
Ring Ouzel Turdus torquatus - Ringed Thrush
Cinereous Bunting Emberiza cineracea - Grayish Bunting
Plumbeous Redstart Phoenicurus fuliginosus - Gray Redstart
Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina - Pale Wheatear
Razorbill Alca torda - Common Auk
Semicollared Flycatcher Ficedula semitorquata - Balkan Flycatcher

Much easier to the tongue, isn't it? And it helps that many archaic names are calques of Latin or other foreign language used by people knowing little about the actual bird. For example Ouzel is a corruption of German Amsel.
Not all quite right!

Ferruginous Duck - Reddish Duck or Rusty Duck ('chestnut' is browner)
Semipalmated Plover - 'Slightly-web-footed' (it isn't webbed like a duck or a gull!)
Semipalmated Sandpiper - ditto
Pomarine Skua - Spoon-tailed fits, but it's not what 'Pomarine' means, which is 'Scale-nosed' [literally!] or 'Scale-billed' (though it applies to all skuas, actually!)
Squacco Heron - or more usefully, Western Pond Heron (to go with Indian & Chinese Pond Herons). 'Squacco' is onomatopoeic, so if to be just modernised, 'Squawking Heron'.
Ring Ouzel - 'Collared Thrush' might be better; 'Ringed Thrush' suggests any thrush that's been ringed by BTO/other ringing groups
Cinereous Bunting - Ashy Bunting (that's what 'cinereous' means)
Plumbeous Redstart - Blue-grey Redstart (lead-coloured, a distinctly blue-grey tone, not plain grey)
Isabelline Wheatear - Sandy Wheatear cf. the shrike. Or if you want to be vulgar, 'Poo-stained-undies Wheatear'
Razorbill - much less common than Common Guillemot; and OK anyway as the term 'razor-sharp' is still in widespread modern use and is why it is so called
Semicollared Flycatcher - more literally, 'Half-collared Flycatcher'

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Old Sunday 21st June 2020, 14:06   #154
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.... And seawatchers of course would instantly adopt the shouting out of "Number Two-hundred-and-seventeen-point-four" left half way to the Runnel!" When a Barolo Shearwater flies by, instead if shouting "Little Shear!"
That'll be fun when they're flying past numbered crab pot flags

"Quick, a 217.4 just coming up to 83.6!"
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Old Sunday 21st June 2020, 14:30   #155
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I think one of the really wonderful things about birding is the rich variety of names drawn from a multitude of places for a multitude of reasons at different points in time. The accelerating rate of changing them isn't making things easier for anyone, or making it a more appealing hobby for beginners to engage with, and the ever increasing rate if changes in taxonomy further makes it more off putting to anyone bothering to learn new names. I've given up on bothering to use anything other than the ones I like best now. Seems like some people would prefer it if each species simply had a number, which could change by chucking in a decimal point if there's a split. Then at last maybe we could put people off being interested in birding altogether. And seawatchers of course would instantly adopt the shouting out of "Number Two-hundred-and-seventeen-point-four" left half way to the Runnel!" When a Barolo Shearwater flies by, instead if shouting "Little Shear!"
Like/agree


It's called 'dumbing down' sometimes these days I think.
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Old Sunday 21st June 2020, 14:30   #156
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The beauty of "archaic" yet descriptive names is that they broaden one's vocabulary. And that is always a good thing. Most of these words can be used outside of bird nomenclature. "Harlequin" is a lovely word. And "fulvous".... just feels good to say it. Say it loud, say it proud.

But Anna's Hummingbird? Not a vocabulary builder and doesn't even honor the person that did the work in the field. Just... vanity, IMHO.

Speaking of honorifics, here is a trivia question for y'all:

There is at least one (and I think only one) bird name that honors two different individuals. What is it / are they?
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Old Sunday 21st June 2020, 14:57   #157
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Speaking of honorifics, here is a trivia question for y'all:

There is at least one (and I think only one) bird name that honors two different individuals. What is it / are they?
Bullock's Oriole if I remember rightly - there was a recent proposal to 'correct' the sci name to Icterus bullockiorum ("of both the Bullocks"; don't think the change was accepted though)

Here you are: https://www.sci-hub.tw/10.11646/zootaxa.3718.3.6

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Old Sunday 21st June 2020, 15:13   #158
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Bullock's Oriole if I remember rightly - there was a recent proposal to 'correct' the sci name to Icterus bullockiorum ("of both the Bullocks"; don't think the change was accepted though)
Not what I am thinking. Maybe I did not phrase the question well. I am speaking of a common name, in english, composed of two parts; each of them references a different, specific individual.
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Old Sunday 21st June 2020, 15:17   #159
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Bullock's Oriole if I remember rightly - there was a recent proposal to 'correct' the sci name to Icterus bullockiorum ("of both the Bullocks"; don't think the change was accepted though)

Here you are: https://www.sci-hub.tw/10.11646/zootaxa.3718.3.6
Okay, having read that... I guess I have to give you full credit!

But the answer I am thinking of has two different surnames referenced.
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Old Sunday 21st June 2020, 16:54   #160
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If archaic names were changed to equivalent modern words, few birders would be confused. This should be the least controversial change. For European birds it could be:

Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca - Chestnut Duck
Harlequin Duck Histrionicus histrionicus - Clown Duck
Demoiselle Crane Anthropoides virgo - Elegant Crane
Sociable Lapwing Vanellus gregarius - Social Lapwing
Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus - Web-footed Plover
Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos - Band-breasted Sandpiper
Semipalmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla - Web-footed Sandpiper
Jack Snipe Lymnocryptes minimus - Little Snipe
Pomarine Skua Stercorarius pomarinus - Spoon-tailed Skua
Glaucous-winged Gull Larus glaucescens - Gray-winged Gull
Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus - Glacier Gull
Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii - Rosy Tern
Intermediate Egret Ardea intermedia - Middle Egret
Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides - Silky Heron
Striated Heron Butorides striata - Streaked Heron
Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus - Pale Harrier
Isabelline Shrike Lanius isabellinus - Sandy Shrike
Sombre Tit Poecile lugubris - Brownish Tit
Bimaculated Lark Melanocorypha bimaculata - Two-spotted Lark
Ring Ouzel Turdus torquatus - Ringed Thrush
Cinereous Bunting Emberiza cineracea - Grayish Bunting
Striolated Bunting Emberiza striolata - Striped Bunting
Rustic Bunting Emberiza rustica - Rusty Bunting
Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans - Hill Warbler
Plumbeous Redstart Phoenicurus fuliginosus - Gray Redstart
Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina - Pale Wheatear
Razorbill Alca torda - Common Auk
Semicollared Flycatcher Ficedula semitorquata - Balkan Flycatcher
Clamorous Reed Warbler Acrocephalus stentoreus - Noisy Reed Warbler
Lanceolated Warbler Locustella lanceolata - Streaked Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler Setophaga castanea - Rusty-breasted Warbler
Western Orphean Warbler Sylvia hortensis - Fluting Warbler
Eastern Orphean Warbler Sylvia crassirostris - Eastern Warbler

Much easier to the tongue, isn't it? And it helps that many archaic names are calques of Latin or other foreign language used by people knowing little about the actual bird. For example Ouzel is a corruption of German Amsel.
I cannot see justification for a single one of these. We should not be afraid to maintain or use little understood words; it has never been easier to track down the meaning of words we don't know. Anyone who doesn't know the meaning of the word Pectoral, or Ferruginous, or Lanceolated, simply doesn't want to. Changing to Banded, Chestnut and Streaked merely takes steps to impoverishing the language. I knew about these birds, understood what they were, could read and talk about them, before I knew what their qualifiers meant and it simply didn't matter. The fact that some birds have esoteric names is a good thing, it encourages the curious to widen their vocabularies, and that should not be sacrificed simply to appease people who don't want to learn. Give me Lacrimose Mountain Tanager and Diademed Sandpiper-plover over Crying or Crowned any day.
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Old Sunday 21st June 2020, 17:14   #161
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Razorbill Alca torda - Common Auk
I don't get the insistence on changing "Razorbill" (yours is at least the second post to bring this up). "Razor" is a common English word in modern parlance.
The other changes are also completely unnecessary IMO. Especially the ultra-generic ones featuring "Balkan", "Mediterranean", or cardinal directions. There's more than enough of these among established species names already.

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Old Sunday 21st June 2020, 17:14   #162
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I cannot see justification for a single one of these. We should not be afraid to maintain or use little understood words; it has never been easier to track down the meaning of words we don't know. Anyone who doesn't know the meaning of the word Pectoral, or Ferruginous, or Lanceolated, simply doesn't want to. Changing to Banded, Chestnut and Streaked merely takes steps to impoverishing the language. I knew about these birds, understood what they were, could read and talk about them, before I knew what their qualifiers meant and it simply didn't matter. The fact that some birds have esoteric names is a good thing, it encourages the curious to widen their vocabularies, and that should not be sacrificed simply to appease people who don't want to learn. Give me Lacrimose Mountain Tanager and Diademed Sandpiper-plover over Crying or Crowned any day.
But why does someone interested in bird automatically have to share your interest in language? To me, your line of argumentation is simply abusing the fact that birds need to have a name for practical purposes in order to push your other hobby onto other people. This I see happen quite often and it constantly irritates me - every discussion about the use of language is overtaken by people for whom the language is the hobby and who act like that is something universally noble, which it simply isn't. It's perfectly okay to not be interested in language - yes I fully agree that in this day and age, any person that doesn't know the meaning of the words doesn't want to - but I don't agree that it is a bad thing.

For me personally the "arcane" naming of the birds is not much of a problem, because I have always had it easy with words - I learn languages easily and I read faster than people talk. But I am aware of there being a lot of people, who don't have it easy like that and for whom - especially if they aren't native speakers - learning words like "ferruginous" is a really scary thing. Native English speakers also need to keep this in mind - that English names are not there just for you, but for any traveling birder as that's the only language in which those can get any information on the birds in other parts in the world (yes, there is also Latin names, but that's several levels harder).

Honestly, it's not the biggest problem in the world right now, it's not even the biggest problem related to birds, but since there clearly are people who are willing to but their time to it, why not make birding a bit more accessible? Because it would feel bad to a few people who like the language quirks? Those can surely just remember those as well and use them privately.
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Old Sunday 21st June 2020, 17:21   #163
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Honestly, it's not the biggest problem in the world right now, it's not even the biggest problem related to birds, but since there clearly are people who are willing to but their time to it, why not make birding a bit more accessible? Because it would feel bad to a few people who like the language quirks? Those can surely just remember those as well and use them privately.
Dumbing-down. Going to the lowest common denominator. The commonest regular or garden birds tend to be straightforward anyway - Goldfinch, Blue Tit, House Sparrow etc?
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Old Sunday 21st June 2020, 17:26   #164
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For me personally the "arcane" naming of the birds is not much of a problem, because I have always had it easy with words - I learn languages easily and I read faster than people talk. But I am aware of there being a lot of people, who don't have it easy like that and for whom - especially if they aren't native speakers - learning words like "ferruginous" is a really scary thing. Native English speakers also need to keep this in mind - that English names are not there just for you, but for any traveling birder as that's the only language in which those can get any information on the birds in other parts in the world (yes, there is also Latin names, but that's several levels harder).
You've just explained effortlessly why the suggestions upthread of using non-English words to create English names should be mercilessly shot down in flames.

But these are names, and you don't have to understand them to use them. "Jan" I guess is more or less the same as my "John" but whereas Dixon is a shortened version of "son of Dick" (no comedians please), what does Ebr mean? Not that I need to know in order to (a) identify you as Jan Ebr or (b) have a conversation with you, either here or in the field. So you are right, people don't need to know what Ferruginous means - though one of the great things about birding is the number of different aspects of learning it can generate (not to mention thread drift). But that's not a reason for getting rid of such words either.

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Old Sunday 21st June 2020, 17:34   #165
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You've just explained effortlessly why the suggestions upthread of using non-English words to create English names should be mercilessly shot down in flames.

But these are names, and you don't have to understand them to use them. "Jan" I guess is more or less the same as my "John" but whereas Dixon is a shortened version of "son of Dick" (no comedians please), what does Ebr mean? Not that I need to know in order to (a) identify you as Jan Ebr or (b) have a conversation with you, either here or in the field. So you are right, people don't need to know what Ferruginous means - though one of the great things about birding is the number of different aspects of learning it can generate (not to mention thread drift). But that's not a reason for getting rid of such words either.

John
Yeah, I am quite torn on that suggestion of non-English names. Because I like the philosophy, but don't like the practical impact. To be fair, I think something like "Nene" is still much easier for most of the world population than "Ferruginous", so it still wins even from the practical point

I have no clear idea what Ebr means (I also haven't been born with it), it may be related to the German word Eber, which is supposedly a Wild Boar male (but it's not daily used I am told?). Anyway, bird names serve a bit different function, possibly to much broader set of people - I am just trying to imagine my partially dyslectic wife birding somewhere abroad being told that some bird is "Ferruginous something" and trying do Google it, there is simply no way she ever types it even remotely right from just hearing it. If it were "Rusty", that's a word she has heard and will maybe make just one mistake and Google will guide her. She is an extremely smart person, with a PhD in Astrophysics, but words are just hard for her - and that's a relatively common disability. If we can make the world easier for people with disabilities, why not?
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Old Sunday 21st June 2020, 17:48   #166
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Yeah, I am quite torn on that suggestion of non-English names. Because I like the philosophy, but don't like the practical impact. To be fair, I think something like "Nene" is still much easier for most of the world population than "Ferruginous", so it still wins even from the practical point
This list is for English speakers isn't it?

Would you make allowances such as this with the Czech list or would Czech birders want it in the Czech language?
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Old Sunday 21st June 2020, 17:48   #167
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But why does someone interested in bird automatically have to share your interest in language? To me, your line of argumentation is simply abusing the fact that birds need to have a name for practical purposes in order to push your other hobby onto other people. This I see happen quite often and it constantly irritates me - every discussion about the use of language is overtaken by people for whom the language is the hobby and who act like that is something universally noble, which it simply isn't. It's perfectly okay to not be interested in language - yes I fully agree that in this day and age, any person that doesn't know the meaning of the words doesn't want to - but I don't agree that it is a bad thing.
Ok, yes, I can see that, and if we were designing bird names from scratch where none had been before then yes, there would be a case for consistency and common sense. But we're not. We have the names we have, lots of people already use them, and big changes would cause big confusion. That's not to say that big change should never happen, just that really there should have to be a very very good reason for it. Part of the point that I was (badly) making is that you don't have to know what Ferruginous means to know what a Ferruginous Duck is, how it can be identified, where it comes from and so on. Changing its name to Chestnut has negligible positive effect, so why consider it? And besides, in twenty, thirty, forty, however many year's time whose to say there won't be people complaining that Chestnut is too esoteric and we should be talking about "Sort-of-reddish-brown Duck". Because by sidelining names like Ferruginous a whole new trenche of words become the least widely used, and end up being targeted for phasing out, which is what I mean by impoverishing a language. And finally, if we are to replace Ferruginous with anything it should be Rusty, not Chestnut.
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Old Sunday 21st June 2020, 17:49   #168
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How about Blue-diademed Motmot, with its rarely-used term, versus Lesson's Motmot, in which case the name is almost always pronounced wrong - as if it were the English word for what your teacher gives you, as opposed to a French surname.

Poor René Lesson!
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Old Sunday 21st June 2020, 17:51   #169
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This list is for English speakers isn't it?

Would you make allowances such as this with the Czech list or would Czech birders want it in the Czech language?
But it isn't used just by English speakers, as I have explained above. Your language is the closest thing that we have to a universal world language, you will have to accept that. It isn't so bad because you already heavily benefit from it by everything being published in it.
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Old Sunday 21st June 2020, 17:51   #170
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Yeah, I am quite torn on that suggestion of non-English names. Because I like the philosophy, but don't like the practical impact. To be fair, I think something like "Nene" is still much easier for most of the world population than "Ferruginous", so it still wins even from the practical point

I have no clear idea what Ebr means (I also haven't been born with it), it may be related to the German word Eber, which is supposedly a Wild Boar male (but it's not daily used I am told?). Anyway, bird names serve a bit different function, possibly to much broader set of people - I am just trying to imagine my partially dyslectic wife birding somewhere abroad being told that some bird is "Ferruginous something" and trying do Google it, there is simply no way she ever types it even remotely right from just hearing it. If it were "Rusty", that's a word she has heard and will maybe make just one mistake and Google will guide her. She is an extremely smart person, with a PhD in Astrophysics, but words are just hard for her - and that's a relatively common disability. If we can make the world easier for people with disabilities, why not?
Maybe not just you or your wife - aka Fudge Duck
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Old Sunday 21st June 2020, 17:58   #171
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But it isn't used just by English speakers, as I have explained above. Your language is the closest thing that we have to a universal world language, you will have to accept that. It isn't so bad because you already heavily benefit from it by everything being published in it.
And I think that you have to accept, that speakers of a language that is not their own, will not always be as proficient as a native and should not presume to tell them how to produce a list to accomodate their own inadequacies.

I would not dream of telling any other nation, that they have to dumb down their language because I'm not as good at it as they are.
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Old Sunday 21st June 2020, 19:11   #172
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You've just explained effortlessly why the suggestions upthread of using non-English words to create English names should be mercilessly shot down in flames.
Yes i suppose you don't need foreign names when there are perfectly good English names that can be used. Like Kookaburra and tanager for instance.
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Old Sunday 21st June 2020, 19:22   #173
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Originally Posted by JWN Andrewes View Post
I cannot see justification for a single one of these. We should not be afraid to maintain or use little understood words; it has never been easier to track down the meaning of words we don't know. Anyone who doesn't know the meaning of the word Pectoral, or Ferruginous, or Lanceolated, simply doesn't want to. Changing to Banded, Chestnut and Streaked merely takes steps to impoverishing the language. I knew about these birds, understood what they were, could read and talk about them, before I knew what their qualifiers meant and it simply didn't matter. The fact that some birds have esoteric names is a good thing, it encourages the curious to widen their vocabularies, and that should not be sacrificed simply to appease people who don't want to learn. Give me Lacrimose Mountain Tanager and Diademed Sandpiper-plover over Crying or Crowned any day.
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Old Sunday 21st June 2020, 20:44   #174
Xenospiza
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Originally Posted by Lerxst View Post
There is at least one (and I think only one) bird name that honors two different individuals. What is it / are they?
Verreaux's (Verreauxs's) Eagle is another one.
But you must be thinking of Archbold’s Newtonia (hurray for searchable lists).
I had to look in the book: it's not the worst one. Rufous-fronted Warbler-Vanga then? Desert Warbler-Vanga?
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Old Sunday 21st June 2020, 21:00   #175
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Yes i suppose you don't need foreign names when there are perfectly good English names that can be used. Like Kookaburra and tanager for instance.
And indeed many others. But proliferating them now, totally unnecessarily and not to the clarification of anything, seems absurd, as already indicated.

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