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Avian misnomers (1 Viewer)


Just an earthbound misfit
It occured to me the other day that many of our feathered friends have either misleading or inaccurate English names. I thought it might be fun to see how many the members can come up with. Please no duplication.

I will start with one highlighted to me by my 8 year old grandson

#1 Black-headed Gull (it's brown)

cheers alan


David Daniels
United States
2. Ring-necked Duck.

It’s almost impossible to see the dark brown ring between the purple head and black breast. I’ve seen thousands of Ring-necked Ducks, but saw the ring only once, at very close range and in good lighting conditions.


Lisa W

Staff member
Hooded Oriole and Scott’s Oriole, the Scott’s has the hood not the hooded. Took me the longest time to get them straight.


Well-known member
Bohemian Waxwing. I truly can't imagine how it got this name, as it's only an irregular winter visitor in Bohemia!
Well, on the other hand, at least it's the only bird (AFAIK) with the prefix "Bohemian". Maybe the person naming it just wanted an excuse for some regional representation :unsure:

Hooded Oriole and Scott’s Oriole, the Scott’s has the hood not the hooded. Took me the longest time to get them straight.
Also, they're technically not orioles (as in: related to the Golden Oriole), but troupials (oriole analogues from the Americas)...


Jan Ebr
Czech Republic
Marsh Tit- never seen one in a marsh. a bird of deciduous woodland.

Is a wetland in a forest still "marsh" in English or not? Here in Poland we have a lot this kind of habitat where you have deep mud, peat and small water bodies in a forest and Marsh tits love that.


Well-known member
Bird namers don't get colours right very often, do they (Green Sandpiper?) and sometimes they use the flimsiest of evidence (Spotted Flycatcher). They must have been having a rare moment of enlightenment when they named Red-flanked Bluetail...or is that flank orange?

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
Stygian Owl - As stygian means of or relating to the river Styx in Greek mythology, how does this name attach to a bird that isn't even found in Europe?


Jan Ebr
Czech Republic
Named after their socially unconventional lifestyles - including hanging around in groups in unexpected places (such as supermarket car parks), and in fairly flamboyant style.

You are actually onto something, as it seems that the Waxwings are actually named after their wandering lifestyles - however that's still a "second hand misnomers", because "bohemian" is used for this because somebody in France once thought that the likewise wandering Roma people come from Bohemia, which is however not true.

In any case, for "flamboyant style" the Czech people (currently residing in Bohemia) are the worst representatives you could ever choose :)

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