• 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.

Birds name (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
Probably this isn't the right thread to post my question, but I haven't found others.

How do you write the birds common name in english/american language?

Just one example:

Airone bianco maggiore (in italian language we write the first capital letter and the first letter of the other words in lower case letter)

In english Western great egret or Western Great Egret?
When the second word is preceded by dash? Bee-eater or Bee-Eater?



delia todd

If I said the wrong thing it was a Senior Moment
Staff member
Opus Editor
Hi Ric

Some websites apparently are moving to all small initial letters, i.e western great egret.

However, many think this is a great mistake and prefer the main words to have an initial capital, i.e. Western Great Egret.

Mostly, the word following a hyphen would be a small letter, as in your case Bee-eater. Though there are some instances where it's too species such as ummm.... Robin-Chat (made that up LOL) where both may be capitalised.

Hope this helps, but you've opened a can of worms so there are bound to be other views than mine.;)


Stop Brexit!
The first letter of a word at the start of a name, or after a space, is a capital letter; the first letter of a word after a hyphen is lower case:
Great White Egret
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater


duck and diver, bobolink and weaver
Just to stir the pot, I've been challenged on this kind of thing:

When using a bird's name in a sentence such as

"I was sitting in the garden when a dunnock hopped past" you apparently use lower case.

But if you are referring to it in a diagnostic way, then you use upper case

"There are three species on my bird feeder: Blue Tit, Dunnock and Robin."

Straight from the Pedantics Association - sorry, Pedantics Society

edit: Note also my avatar tag line, which someone pulled me up on years ago, and I haven't bothered correcting yet
Last edited:


Speak softly and carry a long lens
It depends whether you're writing for birders, or for a general audience.

The usual rule for English is that you only capitalize "proper" nouns (plus the first word of a sentence) -- same rule as Italian, different from German.

So in ordinary usage, you'd say "we photographed a bald eagle."
Example: https://www.sciencealert.com/this-i...ing-right-down-the-lens-is-stunning-the-world
(The headline is another special case - some, but not all, Newspapers Write Their Headlines Like This.)

Birders, certainly the ones who use this website, prefer capitalize species names, to avoid confusion. Did you see a Yellow Warbler? That's clear. But if you saw a yellow warbler, it might have been one of a dozen species.

Users who are viewing this thread