Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Birds of the World

World birders will be happy to hear about this:

More than 10,000 birds are described in Birds of the World, a new book by Frank Gill and Minturn Wright, both trustees of The Academy of Natural Sciences. This 272-page book provides the first standardized English-language nomenclature for all living birds of the world. Previous checklists, including those by Sibley and Monroe, Clements, and Howard and Moore, were primarily taxonomic works that used different names for the same species. Birds of the World recommends one universal English-language name for each species based on the rules and principles developed by leading ornithologists worldwide and endorsed by members of the preeminent International Ornithological Congress....

Birds of the World, published by Princeton University Press, starts with a discussion of the authors' rationale for naming conventions. A list of more than 10,000 names follows, in taxonomic order, with relevant scientific names and a brief description of the birds' breeding range. An accompanying CD contains full text and additional information on species distribution.
This should help sort out some of the confusion. Of course, it will only help if people adopt the recommended names. I suspect that there will continue to be at least some degree of variability in the general birding public. In the meantime, Avibase still helps sort out some of the nomenclature issues.

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