Bird Name Challenges

Seychelles Black Parrot is actually Lesser Vasa Parrot (Coracopsis nigra) by Bob-Nan

Seychelles Black Parrot is actually Lesser Vasa Parrot (Coracopsis nigra) by Bob-Nan

As I have been working, behind the scenes to obtain photos for the Birds of the World pages, it has been a challenge to match the birds up with their new names. Apparently the I.O.C. (International Ornithological Congress) has a goal to standardize the English names of birds. That is a good thing, but it has problems.

Fantastic photographers (see sidebar-Photographers) have given their permission to use their photos, but the titles they use, don’t always coincide with the new names. So the progress has been slow trying to match the two together. It is not their fault, but changes just keep occurring. When all is said and done, when you link to a photo of theirs and the name is not the same as you clicked, not to worry. I have done my best to match them up properly. Many also give the Scientific name which is a great aid. I have had to “Google” many of the old names to try to come up with the correct new one.

An article puts all of the Naming in good perspective. “New Standard Bird Names – do we need them?” by Sumit K. Sen, from the Birds of India website does that. Here is just one his thoughts:

Bird renaming it seems is not a task, but a passion. Year after year birds are renamed by whoever has the ability to get anything printed. Some birds are particularly at risk and go through name changes as fast as their numbers decline. The only relief for them may be extinction – but that may still not be ‘name-change’ relief for us. We may suddenly be told that it was not a yuhina that went extinct – but was an epornis all the time! I am still waiting for someone to propose that the Dodo is entirely inappropriate (especially as there are some suggestions that the etymology of the word ‘dodo’ may have derogatory connotations associated with it) and the bird should certainly be called a ‘Mauritius Flightless Pigeon’ and we will soon learn that ‘as dead as a Mauritius Flightless’ is more appropriate usage over ‘as dead as a dodo’. It is coming, believe me!

Madagascar Bee-eater is the Olive Bee-eater (Merops superciliosus) by Bob-Nan

Madagascar Bee-eater is the Olive Bee-eater (Merops superciliosus) by Bob-Nan

You will find his comments interesting. In the mean time, the birds have been merrily doing what God told them to do, and that is reproduce and fill the earth. Luckily, they do not wear name tags that have to be replaced every so often to keep up with their new names.

Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you: birds and cattle and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, so that they may abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth. (Genesis 8:17 NKJV)

6 thoughts on “Bird Name Challenges

    • Look like this Steller’s Jay photo by Ian(Click link). Others seem to think a Blackbird that is showing its iridescence could appear to have a bluish look.


  1. Where’s Adam when we need him? He was good at naming.
    I enjoyed Sumit K. Sen’s quotation. I just hope the names aren’t too confusing.


    • Most of the names are not confusing unless you are used to the old one. It sure makes it hard when you are looking in an older bird guide and looking up one of the newer names. The search engines, like Google, are invaluable.
      Thanks for stopping by Morningjoy and April.


  2. I totally understand the challenge involved in changing names. When my mom was killed, I took on doing the family genealogy. What made it so difficult was that diseases of today existed 100 years ago, but you’d never know it because they were called by another name. What a nightmare it was, trying to figure out causes of death!

    Well, as the poet said, “A rose by any other name still smells as sweet.” Amen!


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