Re: What’s in a (Bird) Name

With the greatest of respect, I, (a longstanding “birder”) find the proposed bird name changes written about in Julia Zarankin’s Last Word article asinine! What a flavour is lost when changing Lewis’s Woodpecker or the Baltimore Oriole when one knows of the reasons behind the name? Or Wilson’s Warbler, or the employment of famous Audubon upon a bird name, or the Bonaparte Gull, or the Franklin’s Gull, etc. etc. And what about names of birds in other countries, many more of which use some ornithologist as a first name? All this because someone did not like a first name due to some historical weakness of the name of one bird?

You all should be ashamed of yourselves thinking that new, unsophisticated birders will enjoy, somehow more, the adding of a sometimes prominent physical feature to a bird name. The characteristic symbol is often not even recognizable and may confuse with other similarly characterized birds. And just think of the innate confusion caused by such changes in hundreds of current bird books (though creating new horizons to the authors)?


– Richard Tafel, North Bay