Aims, What's in a Name, Your Comments


The aim of this website is to place the Birds of the World in Common Name Groups which will be meaningful to most "birders". Names like Waterfowl, Birds of Prey, Waders, Shore Birds, Game Birds, Warblers, Babblers, Sunbirds, Weavers and Finches are already widely used. These names relate to where the birds are found, what they do, how they nest, what they eat etc. I use common names as listed on behalf of the International Ornithological Congress.

What's in a Name.

Although these Common Names have been assembled following a set of rules they do not so far encourage the use of the same Common Name for all members of a genus. So for instance in genus Corvus we still have Raven and Crow. Taking this thought a bit further "birders" talk about "Birds of Prey" but this phrase means different things to different people. There is a degree of confusion about which birds should be included and which should be excluded. The same is true of other Common Name Groups.

Being a "lumper" rather than a "splitter" (most birders will understand the terms) one of my aims is to promote more thought and discussion about Common Name Groups with a view to achieving a degree of consensus about what we mean. I used to talk about better definition of terms used but I have realised that the word “definition” implies a level of precision which is unnecessary and unlikely to be achieved. I now prefer to focus on "keywords" and "key phrases" which help to clarify which birds are included and which are excluded when I talk about a particular Common Name Group.

Common Names for groups of birds need to be presented in a way which leaves no doubt about which birds are included and which are excluded. I use common names as listed in Birds of the World, Recommended English Names published by Gill & Wright on behalf of the International Ornithological Congress (IOC). Corresponding scientific names can be found from this document. This publication is gaining acceptance and appears (to me) to be quite widely used.

In the introduction the authors say “It (the document) does not achieve some potentially desirable consistencies, for instance, with respect to using the same group name for all members of a genus”. I realise that Group Common Names like Birds of Prey, Waders and Shore Birds are at a different level to the common names in the IOC listing but birders are using them without clear understanding of their meaning. That way lays confusion. I hope that the content of my website will help to dispel some of that confusion.

Your Comments.

The content of this website is obviously subjective but I would very much like to see other peoples thoughts if they are willing to share them. All you need to do is to click on Comments.

A review in June 2013 showed that most topics in this website were attracting visitor interest is reasonable depth. Access was mostly via search engines and keywords / phrases used suggested that the coverage I have in these Common Name Reviews is generally in the right areas of interest.