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Taxonomy & Bird Names

This section includes both the science of naming (taxonomy) and sites helping with common names or translation of names into other languages. There are several explanations of taxonomy both in terms of how birds are named and the phylogentic tree of families and species etc. Names old and new, common and scientific, as well as some hints at the attempt to unify English common names across the world.

Birders should try their best to familiarise themselves with the scientific (not Latin as scientific names are often mixtures of Latin and Greek and even other languages entirely) names of familiar birds becuase it enables us to talk across the nations. The word Paradae means something on both sides of the channel and Atlantic but not all of us know what a chickadee or a tit is. You don`t even have to set out to learn the names just look at them everytime you check your list or consult the fieldguide and you will surprise yourself at how many scientific names you already know.

Useful Reading

100 Birds and How They Got their Names

by Diana Wells - 297 pages, b/w illus. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill 2001

ISBN: 156512281X

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A Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names

by James A. Jobling Oxford University Press 1991

ISBN: 0198546343

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A Thesaurus Of Bird Names: Etymology of European - Lexis Through Paradigms

by Michel Desfayes - 1998. Musee Cantonal d'Histoire Naturelle, Sion, Switzerland. Two volumes, 1240 + 1288 pages, CDROM. $476 for the set or each component can be purchased separately (Volume 1, Cloth, $238.00; Volume 2, Cloth, $251.00; CD-ROM, $338.00).This remarkable work contains some 100,000 names of 450 species of birds in 40 Indo-European languages; this monumental work deals not with scientific names or 'Linnaean' nomenclature, but with names for birds that exist in other than the scientific idiom-the so-called 'common' or 'folk' names for birds.

ISBN: 2884260218

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Avian Systematics and Taxonomy

Edited by Dr J.F. Monk. British Ornithologists' Club, 1992. 312 pages.

Elsevier's Dictionary of Bird Names

in Latin, English, French, German, Italian - by M Wrobel - 1436 pages - Elsevier 2002

ISBN: 0444508368

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Lapwings, Loons & Lousy Jacks: : The How and Why of Bird Names

by Ray Reedman| Pelagic Publishing | Hardback | July 2016 | 292 Pages | Black & White Photos |

ISBN: 9781784270926

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The Bird Man: A Biography of John Gould

by Isabella Tree - Hardcover, 250 pages - Ebury Press 2003

ISBN: 071262158X

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The Clements Checklist of the Birds of the World

6th Edition by [the late] James F Clements published by Christopher Helm [Hardback £40]

ISBN: 9780713686951

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The Eponym Dictionary of Birds

by Bo Beolens, Michael Watkins & Michael Grayson | Hardback | 14 Aug 2014 | Bloomsbury

ISBN: 9781472905734

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The Howard & Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World

EC Dickinson (Editor), JV Remsen Jr. (Editor) | 461 pages, with CD-ROM | Aves Press | Hardback | May 2013 | Edition: 4| Price: £59.99

ISBN: 9780956861108

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Whose Bird?

Men and Women Commemorated in the Common Names of Birds by Bo Beolens and Michael Watkins 400 pages, b/w photos. Christopher Helm 2003

ISBN: 0713666471

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World Bird Species Checklist

by M G Wells, Worldlist

ISBN: 0953242005

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Other Links

Allopatric Speciation


This figure illustrates the sequence of events which may ultimately result in allopatric speciation. Once a physical barrier to migration allows the two descendent groups of the original population to exhibit independent adaptation to local climatic conditions, accumulated differences may ultimately result in reproductive isolation. If such isolation results, even after the barrier is later removed, the populations will not be able to interbreed. This page was last updated on January 10, 1999. Send comments or questions to Gary Anderson…

Babel Bird (Bird Name Translator)


A new internet-program for bird name translation. The program runs on our website since much of the interesting information on birding websites consists mainly of bird names and locations, the program makes birding websites understandable by one mouse click. Bird names are selectively translated into a wanted language and then added to the original bird names or replacing them. It is even possible to surf the web with our program as the start page. Just enter the address of the website you would like to visit, choose the options and go on. All the websites you visit by a link from an already translated website will be translated as well! The design of the sites does not change. Another option of the program is to translate your own texts, you can for example add scientific names to your bird lists or translate them into English before publishing them in EBN, national mailing lists, your own website or elsewhere. Further information on the program can be found in the helpfile: http://www.babelbird.de/help_e.html for those who would only like to translate single bird names, we developed babelbirdy at: http://www.babelbird.de/birdy_e.html this program works also with parts of bird names. We would like to improve the programs so every comment is appreciated.

Bird Bytes - Bird Taxonomy for Birders


This is the top (root, home) page to my web pages on bird taxonomy, as well as a bit on EuroBirdNet Netherlands. I try my best to keep the information contained as up-to-date as possible, but work and family life usually take priority, as well as birding itself obviously - Rolf de By`s website back in action after a short break.

Birds of Sweden (in 17 languages)


Birdwatcher's Dictionary


Run from an alphabetical list this is a useful on-line reference work.

Dutch - English - Scientific


Eponym Dictionary of Birds


To learn more about this book - described by the Fatbirder as probably the best book ever written in the entire history of the universe, not that I am biased or anything… - visit this website

Icelandic - Scientific


Irish - English - Latin


Linnean Society


As we enter the 21st century the Linnean Society of London remains a leading forum for contemporary discussions on genetics, natural history, systematics, biology and the history of plant and animal taxonomy. As the world`s oldest extant biological society, we are also proud of our heritage.

Overview of systems for encoding bird names


Among programmers, good programs or systems are often described as robust. Such systems should be easy to learn and use, and they should not tend to confuse users or mangle data. Design of a good encoding system involves more than just the problem of representing the data. We should consider human factors as well.

Recent Splits


Check out which bird species have been split or lumped…



Sitio en español que aborda a las aves desde un punto de vista científico y veterinario…

Taxon Advisory Group


The mission of an AZA Taxon Advisory Group (TAG) is to examine the conservation needs of an entire taxa, and to develop recommendations for population management and conservation based upon the needs of the species and AZA-accredited Zoos and Aquariums, Certified Related Facilities, and Sustainability Partners. TAGs are responsible for developing an action plan that identifies essential goals, scientific investigations, and conservation initiatives needed to best serve ex situ and in situ populations.

The Auk


SORA - Searchable Ornithological Research Archive

Western Palearctic Birds


Interactive DVD

World Bird Names


The site supplements the book "BIRDS OF THE WORLD - Recommended English Names" By Frank Gill and Minturn Wright…

Zoonomen Nomenclature


Another world species list but very comprehensive and usefully laid out. A tribute – Dedicated to the late Burt L. Monroe, Jr.; in memory of his knowledge, enthusiasm, support, and help.