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IOC World Bird List V1.7 (1 Viewer)

They're there to be used...but in too many instances - unfortunately - are not.

The birding/ornithological community, over the years, has tended to run away from scientific nomenclature, to develop 'standardized common names', and to use these instead of scientific name. It's not something you can be 'for' or 'against' - it's a simple fact, and it's been so for decades...
Combine this with English being the main international/scientific/Internet language: one of the consequences is that, now, if I want to search for information about a particular bird (e.g., on the web), I may have a better chance to find what I'm looking for using its English name(s) than using any scientific binomial. This, despite English is not my mother language, and the information may have been made available by someone whose mother language was not English either...

In the birding literature yes (or rather maybe, since I don't know if the rot has gone as far as you imply), but in the "scientific" also? Really? Surely the scientific name always appears in the technical literature? But, I'm not a biologist so correct me if I'm behind the times here.

And, of course, there's been a trend for the international standardization of English common names. That's what I (& others) are deploring. The main problem from my point of view is not standardization as such, but the tendency for the international names to drive out the regional ones even within the local area. The AOU drags its heels, but generally caves in at the end, and the North American field guides slavishly follow the AOU's (or its ABA shadow's) lead, often not even mentioning the former names in the new editions. As a result, many wonderful old names disappear annually from the language. I'm aware, of course, that such losses mean little or nothing to non-native speakers or even, indeed, to the speakers of other English dialects--thus all the "leave our bird names alone, you barbarian" back-&-forth between American & British birders. [I mean really--who could possibly prefer "Little Auk" to "Dovekie"?]

So, for my part, I will continue to fight the good fight & resist the new names as long as I can, and will (doubtless) continue to lose.
 
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standardization should for the most part merely effect official lists and checklists...I don't see it affecting common usage if people continue to utilize the name. Most of the birders around here still call harriers Marsh Hawks, and they are not corrected. Of course in the long term, the "new" names will gain dominance as people start growing up with them. However one could argue that the English language is constantly evolving, and many of the common names used a century ago have completely fallen to the wayside.
 
No, it does affect us. Looking at the IOC's bird list pages, it shows that many publishers will now be printing their bird guides using these names. Going on what they're saying there, it's unlikely that my kids will be able to buy a bird guide with the same names as I grew up with.
 
standardization should for the most part merely effect official lists and checklists...I don't see it affecting common usage if people continue to utilize the name. Most of the birders around here still call harriers Marsh Hawks, and they are not corrected. Of course in the long term, the "new" names will gain dominance as people start growing up with them. However one could argue that the English language is constantly evolving, and many of the common names used a century ago have completely fallen to the wayside.

Maybe in Wyoming but here in Nevada just about everybody now calls them Northern Harriers (I've even been known to do so myself in weak moments). With regard to your general point, I don't see how changes in nomenclature established by fiat by an international standards organization can be described as "evolutionary". As has been pointed out, nowadays just about everyone learns bird names from field guides which--if for no other reason than to justify new editions--vie with one another in keeping up with the latest changes proposed by the IOC & other "official" naming authorities.

I also disagree with you about "Goosander" (your post #19), by the way, which is exactly the kind of quirky name that I would like to see preserved. "Common Merganser", on the other hand, would be no great loss. But (my position) why not retain both & leave it to Mergus merganser to keep the taxonomy straight?

How about "Baldpate"? What's its status among Wyoming birders? Everybody called them this a few years ago in Nevada, but now that the name has disappeared in the field guides all one hears (except from a few hunters) is "American Wigeon".
 
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It's unlikely that my kids will be able to buy a bird guide with the same names as I grew up with.

These things happen, Tony: the "names I grew up with" in Britain include Hedge-Sparrow, Swallow, Cuckoo, Swift, Kite, and Heron.

But I do agree to some extent: it seems wrong to force American names on Britain, and vice versa of course, when there's nothing wrong with the existing ones.
 
There's also an other large advantage. The use of standardised english -excuse me- British names and scientific names is also very important if you want to compare different studies. With changing views on namegiving, you'll find that names are constantly changing. It is then very helpfull if at least one of the names is still the same. You increase this enormously by also standardizing your British names.

I think the IOC list is a very good compromise and probably the best thing you can find at the moment. By the way, does anybody knows when new changes are planned?
 
But even then, it changes within this list quite a lot from year to year. If you use the most up-to-date names from the IOC list, then you stand a chance of the name being obsolete the next. I'd say it's more important to standardise the scientific name - then it's accessible to everyone, regardless of language.
 
But even then, it changes within this list quite a lot from year to year. If you use the most up-to-date names from the IOC list, then you stand a chance of the name being obsolete the next. I'd say it's more important to standardise the scientific name - then it's accessible to everyone, regardless of language.

Except that such a standardization is not the point of the scientific name. That name is supposed (I believe) to reflect the current view of relatedness: that is why the Cichlherminia lherminieri will soon be known as Turdus lherminieri, it is no longer believed to be fundamentally different from all the other Turdus thrushes.

Niels
 
The next update of the IOC list will come out this month including major revisions of families and genera. We'll post its release here.

Sally Conyne & Frank Gill
 
Except that such a standardization is not the point of the scientific name. That name is supposed (I believe) to reflect the current view of relatedness: that is why the Cichlherminia lherminieri will soon be known as Turdus lherminieri, it is no longer believed to be fundamentally different from all the other Turdus thrushes.

Niels

I wasn't going to come back to this subject, buuuuut, given the message accompanying the v2.0:

cotinga1 said:
The IOC World Bird Names Website http://www.worldbirdnames.org/ has been updated. List 2.0 contains 10,331 species classified in 42 Orders, 226 Families and 2199 Genera. This is a major update that includes revisions of the family classification as well as species taxonomy. It is the first step in aligning the world list with advances in understanding the evolutionary relationships of birds based on the recent surge of DNA studies. Among other changes, the list now includes more than 200 recently split and newly described species, revisions of the Old World Warbler Families, and a resequencing of suboscine families to align with South American Checklist Committee classification. We invite you to explore the list, hope you find it useful and welcome your feedback.

Sally Conyne & Frank Gill

Then it is now about the taxonomy - so if the names are changing with each taxonomic reassignment, as well as the scientific names, then that's going to make life difficult, surely?
So, say the fictional Backwards Godwit Limosa teenyweeni is found to be in a separate genus to the other godwits on account of it being half the size, thus becoming the Backwards Halfwit Limosetta teenyweenia. Dorling Kindersly (who've pledged support to use the IOC list in their new books) now publish a new field guide. A birdwatcher who doesn't keep up to date with taxonomic developments, birding being just a hobby to him, now tries to find the bird in the book and can't, because the scientific name and vernacular name are now different.
Ok, so a bit of a stretch, but given that several groups have been split and renamed (guillemots, f'rinstance) on taxonomic grounds, then to be consistent, this would have to be done with all splits where a bird is reassigned to a new genus, no?
This is one of the problems with the list, even if I was in love with the idea of ditching traditional names in favour of new ones - the treatment is just not consistent.
 
But even then, it changes within this list quite a lot from year to year. If you use the most up-to-date names from the IOC list, then you stand a chance of the name being obsolete the next. I'd say it's more important to standardise the scientific name - then it's accessible to everyone, regardless of language.

Then it is now about the taxonomy - so if if the names are changing with each taxonomic reassignment, as well as the scientific names, then that's going to make life difficult, surely?
Dorling Kindersly (who've pledged support to use the IOC list in their new books) now publish a new field guide. A birdwatcher who doesn't keep up to date with taxonomic developments, birding being just a hobby to him, now tries to find the bird in the book and can't...

Surely you're not seriously suggesting that taxonomic study should henceforth be suspended for the convenience of Dorling Kindersley and its customers?

IOC's recommended English names are anyway now quite stable - only 26 changes amongst 10,331 species in V2.0 (with many of those limited to minor spelling refinements).

In the rare event of both the scientific and English names of a species being revised, it's not the end of the world if a hobbyist ends up getting a bit confused, is it? If he/she's really interested then they'll just have to do a spot of research. Worse things happen.

What exactly do you suggest as an alternative approach that would somehow be free of any such problems?

Richard
 
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In the rare event of both the scientific and English names of a species being revised, it's not the end of the world if a hobbyist ends up getting a bit confused, is it?Richard

Hobbyists? Surely, as far as the vernacular names are concerned, it's hobbyists on both sides of the issue. What do scientists care about the common names except as hobbyists?

Rather than attempting to "standardize" English common names, I think our authors would have done better to have simply recorded them--including major variants where such exist--& to have devoted the bulk of their effort to getting the taxonomy as up-to-date as possible (which I gather from comments on this thread they have in fact to a certain extent done & more power to them).
 
Surely you're not seriously suggesting that taxonomic study should henceforth be suspended for the convenience of Dorling Kindersley and its customers?

No and stop deliberately misunderstanding me. As menioned upthread, the scientific name should be about the taxonomy. And just who do you think reads these bird guides?

IOC's recommended English names are anyway now quite stable - only 26 changes amongst 10,331 species in V2.0 (with many of those limited to minor spelling refinements).

26 since the last update. How often are the updates? Fairly frequently,looking at the lists of them in this part of the forum.

In the rare event of both the scientific and English names of a species being revised, it's not the end of the world if a hobbyist ends up getting a bit confused, is it? If he/she's really interested then they'll just have to do a spot of research. Worse things happen.

What exactly do you suggest as an alternative approach that would somehow be free of any such problems?

Richard

As fugl said, sort the taxonomy and then start playing with the names, perhaps. Surely it doesn't make sense to have both vernacular and scientific names in a state of flux? And why the big push to have non-specialist books using the names? If it's for the sake of science, it might be an idea to leave it at just that - a list for scientists.
 
No and stop deliberately misunderstanding me. As menioned upthread, the scientific name should be about the taxonomy.

Sincere apologies if I misunderstood you - I promise it wasn't deliberate!

So we agree that scientific names will never be fixed - they will continue to change as we understand more about avian taxonomy.

As fugl said, sort the taxonomy and then start playing with the names, perhaps. Surely it doesn't make sense to have both vernacular and scientific names in a state of flux? And why the big push to have non-specialist books using the names?
So the problem is just with vernacular names (the taxonomy will never be sorted).

But I'm still unclear on what you believe to be the established English names that should be followed and not subject to any further change - Cornell/Clements, Dickinson, BirdLife International, HBW, AOU, Voous, Beaman, King, BWP, BOU, BBRC, UK400, AERC, DB, ABC, OSME, OBC, Christidis & Boles, particular field guides,...???

Typically the author of each new ornithological title makes an individual choice based upon personal background and preferences, and invariably ends up pleasing some readers and irritating others.

The IOC team, with wide geographic participation, has reviewed this minefield and made a brave attempt to rationalise all these alternatives.

No one is forcing authors to use these names. But in time, if an increasing number choose to do so (or at least include them as alternatives to their own choices), surely there would be less confusion than at present.

Richard
 
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Sorry about that, Richard - a bit tense here running around three ill girls, so I'm a bit ratty at best. ;)
Don't get me wrong - I really do respect the effort, skill, insight and time that goes into this list. I think it would be a very good thing to have a list that everyone can use in a scientific setting, especially as taxonomy is unclear. I do feel this is undermined if the vernacular names change with the scientific names. I also don't see the harm in leaving names that are commonly used where the bird mostly reside as they are. So, I don't have a problem with the North American 'sparrows' being closely related to buntings, etc, but I can't see why the need is there to change well-known and well-used names that are not taxonomically incorrect to suit taxonomic developements, while leaving others that are clearly not correct with respect to taxonomy. This is where I feel the list is not consistent and needs clarifying: is every taxonomic reassignment to be accompanied by a change in vernacular (resulting the potential problem above) - and if so, then are other taxonomic inconsistencies going to be changed? - or do we have a list that mainly keeps local status quos and is unchanging (except for splits and lumps, etc) and acts an anchor while taxonomy goes through its changes?
Even outside of the 'they changed our bird names!' argument, it's something I feel needs a lot more careful thought before proceeding along those lines.
 
I think it would be a very good thing to have a list that everyone can use in a scientific setting, especially as taxonomy is unclear. I do feel this is undermined if the vernacular names change with the scientific names. I also don't see the harm in leaving names that are commonly used where the bird mostly reside as they are. So, I don't have a problem with the North American 'sparrows' being closely related to buntings, etc, but I can't see why the need is there to change well-known and well-used names that are not taxonomically incorrect to suit taxonomic developements, while leaving others that are clearly not correct with respect to taxonomy. This is where I feel the list is not consistent and needs clarifying: is every taxonomic reassignment to be accompanied by a change in vernacular (resulting the potential problem above) - and if so, then are other taxonomic inconsistencies going to be changed? - or do we have a list that mainly keeps local status quos and is unchanging (except for splits and lumps, etc) and acts an anchor while taxonomy goes through its changes?
Even outside of the 'they changed our bird names!' argument, it's something I feel needs a lot more careful thought before proceeding along those lines.
OK, I can see that a major concern of yours is that vernacular names will continue to undergo wholesale changes to reflect the underlying taxonomy more precisely. I would be equally concerned.

But I don't think that will happen to any great degree. Taking the latest update as a case in point, there are 190 revisions of genera, but from a quick check (somone will prove me wrong), only one of these has resulted in a change to the vernacular name: Band-tailed Eremobius reverts to the more traditional B-t Earthcreeper (the use of Eremobius was a bad decision in the first place). Or to take your example above, I'm sure that the New World sparrows will never be renamed as buntings, despite President Obama's desire to be more globally inclusive!

The approach may therefore seem inconsistent. But I think IOC has just tried to iron out a few 'oddball' cases, rather than attempt to achieve universal conformance between family (or genus) and vernacular name.

Richard
 
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