Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. (Genesis 2:19 NASB)
While working on the new updates for the IOC 2.10 Version, I kept noticing the word “color” in the scientific names as I sorted and resorted the Excel spreadsheet. This is a third of the “color” articles. There are concolor, discolor, bicolor, tricolor, unicolor, quadricolor, quinticolor, multicolor, versicolor, nocticolor, coelicolor, decolor, fumicolor, niscolor, schisticolor, subunicolor, sitticolor.
In the subspecies (ssp.) there are a few additional “colors” that show up – arenicolor, caelicolor, caerebicolor, cervinicolor, deserticolor, ruficolor, terricolor. For now, let’s see what the subspecies “color” birds are. Most have just only one or two birds with that “color” name. Where a photo of the subspecies could not be found, the nominate bird is shown.
arenicolor = aren, sand + color
Bar-tailed Lark (Ammomanes cinctura arenicolor) by Keith Blomerley
The Bar-tailed Lark (Ammomanes cinctura) is a species of lark in the Alaudidae family. It is found in Afghanistan, Algeria, Cape Verde, Chad, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel and Palestine, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia,and Yemen. Its natural habitat is hot deserts.
I do not know Latin, nor what Scientific words mean, but I have a copy of the Latin Vulgate on my e-Sword Program. I decided to look up these words and see what I might find. While searching for “aren” I found the word “harenam” which translates to “sand.”
How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee. (Psalms 139:17-18 KJV)
caelicolor = sky blue + color
“caeli” translates to “heaven” in most verses.
The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine: as for the world and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded them. (Psalms 89:11 KJV)
caerebicolor = caer (blue) + bicolor (Having two colors)
(Couldn’t figure this one out in Latin)
Blue Dacnis (Dacnis cayana, ssp caerebicolor)
Velvet Flycatcher (Myiagra hebetior) also known as Dull or Lesser Shining Flycatcher
The Dull Flycatcher (Myiagra hebetior) is a species of bird in the Monarchidae family. It is endemic to Papua New Guinea. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and subtropical or tropical moist montanes.
cervinicolor = cervix (neck) + color
“cervi” translates to “neck” in most verses. (cervis = stiff-necked)
He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy. (Proverbs 29:1 NKJV)
Velvet Flycatcher (Myiagra hebetior cervinicolor)
deserticolor = desert + color
“deserti” translates to “desert” or “wilderness“.
Indian Scops Owl (Otus bakkamoena deserticolor) – Video IBC
“A medium (smaller than the Collared) sized scops owl with large conspicuous ear-tufts. Sandy grey-brown, spotted and mottled dark brown and black. There is also a rufous phase. Underparts light grey-buff. Has a distinct nuchal collar and also a second collar on nape. Eyes are dark brown.” (Delhibird)
Common Miner (Geositta cunicularia deserticolor)
“The Common Miner (Geositta cunicularia) is a passerine bird of South America, belonging to the ovenbird family. It is a ground-dwelling bird which feeds on insects and seeds. It has about 9 different subspecies, some of which may be better treated as separate species.
It is 14 to 16 cm long with a fairly long, slightly downcurved bill. The plumage varies geographically but is basically brown above and pale below with a streaked breast, pale stripe over the eye, dark edge to the ear-coverts and pale rufous bar across the wing. The tail is dark with a buff base and variable amounts of buff on the outer feathers. The trilling song is often given in flight and also varies geographically.” (Wikipedia)
Chinese White-browed Rosefinch (Carpodacus dubius deserticolor) Video by Keith Blomerley
The Chinese White-browed Rosefinch (Carpodacus dubius) is a true finch species (family Fringillidae). It is one of the rosefinches that might belong in the genus Propasser.
It is found in China and Tibet. Its natural habitats are temperate forests and temperate shrubland.
ruficolor = rufilata (Latin), rufus, reddish + color
“rufi” translates to “red” or “Rufus“-a name.
In the first chariot were red horses; and in the second chariot black horses; (Zechariah 6:2 KJV)
in quadriga prima equi rufi et in quadriga secunda equi nigri (Zechariah 6:2 Vulgate)
“The Thekla Lark, Galerida theklae, breeds in Iberia, northern Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal to Somalia. It is a sedentary species. This is a common bird of dry open country, often at some altitude. It nests on the ground, laying two to six eggs. Its food is weed seeds and insects, the latter especially in the breeding season.
This is a smallish lark, slightly smaller than Skylark. It has a long spiky erectile crest. It is greyer than Skylark, and lacks the white wing and tail edged of that species.” (Wikipedia)
terricolor = terr- (dry land) or (land, earth, ground) + color
“terr+” brought up “3,147 verses found, 3547 matches” (Needless to say, I did not check them all out.) “terra” translates as above, “earth”, “land”, “ground.”
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (Genesis 1:1 KJV)
“The Plain Prinia, or the Plain, or White-browed, Wren-Warbler (Prinia inornata) is a small warbler in the cisticola family. It is a resident breeder from Pakistan and India to south China and southeast Asia. It was formerly included in the Tawny-flanked Prinia, Prinia subflava (Gmelin, 1789), resident in Africa south of the Sahara. The two are now usually considered to be separate species.
This skulking passerine bird is typically found in wet lowland grassland, open woodland, scrub and sometimes gardens. The Plain Prinia builds its nest in a shrub or tall grass and lays 3-6 eggs.”
White-browed Sparrow-Weaver (Plocepasser mahali terricolor) Video of (Plocepasser mahali melanorhynchus) IBC
The White-browed Sparrow-Weaver (Plocepasser mahali; Afrikaans: Koringvoël) is a predominantly brown, sparrow-sized weaver found throughout central and northcentral southern Africa. It is found in groups of two to eleven individuals consisting of one breeding pair and nonreproductive individuals.
P. m. terricolor is found towards the center of the White-Browed Sparrow-Weaver’s range, occurring predominantly in eastern Botswana.
I trust that you were not bored, but enjoyed the Latin lesson thrown in. I am always curious as to how they come up with these Scientific Names. It was interesting to find out some of these meanings. In the mean time we have seen some birds that the Lord created that we probably have never seen before. I love that Paradise Tanager the most, but the others are great also.
Articles for additional information:
Scientific bird names explained Very good
Zoological Nomenclature Resource
List of Latin words with English derivatives – Wikipedia
List of Greek words with English derivatives – Wikipedia
Key to the Pronunciation and Meaning of Scientific Names of Popular Species
What’s in a Bird Family Name
CalPhotos: Browse Bird Scientific Names
North American Bird Name Origins