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how the Jamaican mango hummingbird got its name

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Old Thursday 27th February 2014, 09:06   #1
Fred Ruhe
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how the Jamaican mango hummingbird got its name


Eleazar Albin in Don Saltero’s coffee-house in 1736:
how the Jamaican mango hummingbird got its name,
Trochilus mango

Archives of natural history 40.2 (2013): 340–344


The Jamaican hummingbird that Eleazar Albin called the “Mango Bird”, which was the basis for the Linnean name Trochilus mango, is shown likely to have been based on a specimen he saw in Don Saltero’s Coffee-House in Chelsea, London, in 1736, that was probably a gift of Sir Hans Sloane.
The name “mango-bird” has long been in wide use for certain south Asian orioles, especially the Indian Golden Oriole (Oriolus kundoo), at least one specimen and nest of which was also on display in Don Saltero’s. Albin’s text concerning two species of Jamaican hummingbirds contains numerous dubious or erroneous statements and his use of “Mango Bird” for the hummingbird was most likely a lapsus confounding another bird he had heard of at Don Saltero’s, particularly in light of the fact that the mango
tree (Mangifera indica) was not introduced into Jamaica until 1782. Thus, the modern use of the word “mango” in connection with an entire group of hummingbirds arose through a purely fortuitous mistake and the birds never had any association with the mango tree.

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Old Thursday 27th February 2014, 09:08   #2
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Sorry, I was to quick with posting.

Here is the pdf:

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Old Thursday 27th February 2014, 16:12   #3
Björn Bergenholtz
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Another possible explanation, a pure speculation ...

Thanks, Fred, for posting that pdf, I had´nt seen it before ...

And I totally agree with the authors of the article, that the "Mango Humming-birds" has nothing to do with the Mango tree (or fruit) Mangifera indica, which is often claimed. The bird name "Mango Bird" (applied on some Jamaican Hummingbirds) was heard in that London coffee-shop in the 1730's – long before any such trees was ever planted on Jamaica.

But I do have an alternate theory. I don´t say it´s true, but it could be the explantion, or at least a hint, what´s behind the "Mango" in today's Humming-birds!

Olson and Levy seem to have missed that the local name, for several Humming-birds, on Jamaica is, or at least have been; "God-Bird" – as they glittered divine (I guess). It´s quite possible, especially if you consider the strong accent of many Jamaican's (sometimes ends of words is left out) that "God-bird" can sound like "Go´-bird". Also consider that the Jamaican locals also are known to add the word Man to various larger items of its kind, like for example "Man Dandelion" for the large-leaved bushes/trees Cassia occidentalis and C. ligustrina versus "Woman Dandelion" for the small-leafed C. tora.

I think it could be a "Man God-Bird" as in "big Humming-bird" (or if whomever said it meant "Male God-Bird"?) that easily could have been misinterpreted, and transformed to "Mango Bird" and later "Mango Humming-birds"!?

If there, on top of that were true Indian "Mango birds" Oriolus kundoo present in the same collection it´s easy to understand how any such misunderstanding could have taken place! I don´t say that this is the explanation, but it might be. This is a pure speculation of mine. A play with words, a possibility. Take it as such, and nothing more.

It´s a thought ...

Last edited by Calalp : Thursday 27th February 2014 at 16:21. Reason: typo
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Old Thursday 27th February 2014, 18:24   #4
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Why not discus your theory with Olson and Levy?

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Old Friday 7th March 2014, 10:38   #5
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I like Bjorn's theory. I have been thinking what Albin meant by saying Mango bird was an "imposed name"?? One definition is where native peoples have a native language name for something and the europeans call it something that makes sense in their language and sounds like the native language term. The French version of Albin uses for imposed name "fiction".
The French catalogue, (index?) calls the Mango bird as Les Murmures de mango. What is a Murmures?
French Albin: . (p.20)
English: . (p.45)
Catalogue of Don Saltero: .
Latham in one of his books repeats Albin's story about the Banana bird ganging up on bigger birds. Albin was German with the last name of Weiss which he changed when he got to England. I think the person who was in Jamaica in 1701 was James Salter (Don saltero) who travelled with Hans Sloane. Sloane travelled to Jamaica.

Last edited by mb1848 : Friday 7th March 2014 at 10:46.
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