Using proper names

Jim McKenney
Sat, 22 Dec 2007 12:24:21 PST
Diane asked: " Do bird watchers ever use scientific names, or is it just us
plant folks?"

The birders I know have always used common names. 

Although we share a language with the residents of the UK, by and large we
don't have the same birds. That has not stopped us from recycling some good
names. The birds called black bird, robin, warbler, oriole and - remember
the fun we had with this one a while back? - buzzard in North America do not
belong to the same families (in the zoological sense; names ending in -idae)
as the birds of the same name in England. 

Their blackbird is a member of the thrush family, Turdidae and is very
closely related (same genus) to our robin. Our blackbirds (the name is
applied to several species of several genera) are placed in the  Icteridae.
Their robin belongs to the Muscicapidae, although older books list it as a
member of the Turdidae (in either case, not the same genus as our robin).
Our warblers are placed in the Parulidae, theirs used to be in the Sylviidae
but are now broken up into several families; our oriols are Icteridae,
theirs are Oriolidae.  
Our sparrow hawk and their sparrow hawk are both hawks, but different ones. 

There are others.

And our buzzards...

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7 where we have gone through at
least a full cup of millet and about the same amount of sunflower seeds
today at the feeders. 
My Virtual Maryland Garden
Webmaster Potomac Valley Chapter, NARGS 
Editor PVC Bulletin 
Webmaster Potomac Lily Society

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