Wednesday, December 7, 2011

#81 Old Names, New Names

I have been looking through records dating back to the 1950's of bird species seen on my "local patch" - John Heinz NWR at Tinicum, in Philadelphia. Of interest were the names that some of these birds were known as, only 50 years ago.

Whistling SwanPigeon HawkSparrow HawkUpland PloverLong-billed Marsh Wren and Short-billed Marsh Wren were what Tundra Swan, Merlin, American Kestrel, Upland Sandpiper, Marsh Wren and Sedge Wren, respectively, were called in those days.

Myrtle Warbler was, and still is, an abundant migrant here in the east, but that was the old name given to Yellow-rumped Warbler, which was once 'split' into two species, the other being Audubon's (in the west). There is talk that they may once again be 'split' in which case it would go back to being known as Myrtle Warbler.

One bird that did regain its old name (from the 1950's) is Common Gallinule (above). Until recently this was known as the Common Moorhen. The naming committees are in the process of straightening out all the common names of birds around the world, so that no two species have the same name, as was the case with this bird.  So the North American bird gets its old name back, Common Gallinule, and its European counterpart (a seperate species) now goes by the name of Common (or Eurasian) Moorhen.
photo © adrian binns

No comments:

Post a Comment