• BirdForum is the net's largest birding community dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE!

    Register for an account to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Avian misnomers (1 Viewer)

MJB

Well-known member
Ah but loon! You do know that could be construed as offensive because it is an insult towards people with mental health problems. Whereas diver is just an derogatory term for centre forwards with a penchant for amateur dramatics.

David
But a loon is a dialect word of long provenance in north-east Scotland for a young man, a young lady being called quine...
MJB
 

Xenospiza

Distracted
Supporter
But a loon is a dialect word of long provenance in north-east Scotland for a young man, a young lady being called quine...
MJB
I will not be trying it out should I ever find myself in Northeast Scotland again.

Grey-tailed and Wandering Tattler: both still fit when you exchange them.
Canary Islands Stonechat: as it (now) only occurs on Fuerteventura I think it could be a bit more specific.
Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler: unlike Savi's (not Grasshopper) Warbler, River (not Grasshopper) Warbler, Lanceolated (not Grasshopper) Warbler and Grasshopper Warbler it does not sound like a member of the Orthoptera.
 

Lerxst

Well-known member
Although the name is descriptive and basically correct, Curve-billed Thrasher seems like a terrible name to me because the bill in not nearly so curved as for, say a Crissal or LeConte's.

And then there is the abominable redundancy of Curve-billed Scythebill.
 

Nightjar61

David Daniels
United States
Greater Prairie Chicken and Lesser Prairie Chicken. As far as I can tell, there are no birds on any world checklist called chicken, other than these two. Chicken, of course, is the common name for the domestic variety of Red Junglefowl and their meat. It’s like calling a bison Prairie Cow or Prairie Beef.

These birds are grouse, not chickens. And the Sharp-tailed Grouse is in the same genus, so why isn’t it called Sharp-tailed Prairie Chicken? Better names would be Greater Prairie Grouse and Lesser Prairie Grouse.

Dave
 

Xenospiza

Distracted
Supporter
Greater Prairie Chicken and Lesser Prairie Chicken. As far as I can tell, there are no birds on any world checklist called chicken, other than these two. Chicken, of course, is the common name for the domestic variety of Red Junglefowl and their meat. It’s like calling a bison Prairie Cow or Prairie Beef.

These birds are grouse, not chickens. And the Sharp-tailed Grouse is in the same genus, so why isn’t it called Sharp-tailed Prairie Chicken? Better names would be Greater Prairie Grouse and Lesser Prairie Grouse.
I went to the Prairie Dog town in Lubbock once but all I saw were rodents.
And I had no luck finding Prairie Warbler there either!
 
Last edited:

qwerty5

Well-known member
United States
I'm sure someone has already said this but Purple Finch is far from purple.
Magnolia Warblers don't favor magnolia trees.
Connecticut Warblers are rare in Connecticut.
 

WoodpeckerMaster

Well-known woodpecker
United States
I'm sure about a trillion people have already done this but the Red-Bellied Woodpecker is among the most poorly-named birds in the world. It was named after a faint red streak on its chest that is almost never visible, since it is almost always seen perched on the side of a tree, where only the back and head are visible! Personally, I would name it the Red-Capped Woodpecker, which is a much more noticable detail.
1623069294511.png
 

qwerty5

Well-known member
United States
I'm sure about a trillion people have already done this but the Red-Bellied Woodpecker is among the most poorly-named birds in the world. It was named after a faint red streak on its chest that is almost never visible, since it is almost always seen perched on the side of a tree, where only the back and head are visible! Personally, I would name it the Red-Capped Woodpecker, which is a much more noticable detail.
View attachment 1389660
They were named when birds were taken as specimens, so the belly was easy to see when held in the hand. I often see the red belly when they perch on a small branch over my bird feeder. They perch facing me so that the belly is visible underneath the branch. But I agree, it is rarely visible except in special situations. Another good name is Zebra-backed Woodpecker. My dad knew them as Zebra Birds until he learned the official name from me.
 

WoodpeckerMaster

Well-known woodpecker
United States
Another good name is Zebra-backed Woodpecker. My dad knew them as Zebra Birds until he learned the official name from me.
I like that name. I kinda wish I could just call them Zebra's on birding walks, but it would confuse other people, and maybe even go on big searches for something that isn't there and isn't native.
 

WoodpeckerMaster

Well-known woodpecker
United States
Connecticut Warblers are rare in Connecticut.
I know, I was excited because I'm going to Mystic, Conneticut and I was hoping to see one... until I checked their range! By the way, does anyone know of any birds that I may not have seen in New York but appear in Conneticut?
 

Xenospiza

Distracted
Supporter
Masked Shrike - one of the few shrikes that does not really look "masked" to me! "Diademed" would fit this nice species better.
White-winged Snowfinch - actually a White-winged Snow Sparrow (I am fine with snowfinch, but it is a misnomer!)
Desert Finch - Oasis Finch would be more accurate (Trumpeter Finch is the genuine desert finch). I know oases tend to be found in deserts.
 

jurek

Well-known member
Names like White-winged Snowfinch show damage done to English by freezing official bird names.

Natural language made bird names by applying an adjective to a familiar word. So 'snow finch', Moorhen is 'moor hen', oystercatcher in some languages is 'beach magpie' etc. Then ornithology books came and killed the natural evolution of language. So the modern bird names are ungainly mess. First half are old names which were in use when first ornithology books came, like Moorhen. The second half are long and practically unusable names created by piling up adjectives on a frozen stem world, like White-winged Snowfinch.

Normal language should change by simplifying names in common use. For example White-winged Snowfinch might become Snowbird or similar, Red-bellied Woodpecker could become Zebrapecker etc. If one worries about stability and identifying what exactly the bird is, this is done by scientific names.
 
Last edited:

jurek

Well-known member
Stock Dove which completely changed its meaning. Now it sounds like a favorite of financial investors (a Bitcoin Bird?). The word stock meant a tree trunk, but even many English dictionaries don't list this meaning nowadays.

Check this, not serious, thread. About one third of birds are wrongly named in one way or another, at least in Europe:
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top