Subject: Re: English names
Date: May 1 09:53:49 1995
From: Serge Le Huitouze - serge at

Stuart MacKay writes:
> Don, I'm so high in the Goshute Mountains, Baccus wrote:
> > How about the Brits? If the Brit ornithological usage is to
> > NOT capitalize (I don't know - I'm curious here), we could
> > find ourselves in the interesting situation of discussing
> > related birds, one NA and one Brit, in differing case if we
> > wish to be Ornithologically Correct.
> Bird names, certainly within my experience, are capitalized. The second
> word in hyphenated pairs isn't. Same as it is/could be/should be/won't be
> (delete as (in)appropriate, over here.

My 1 French Franc contribution:
In french also, bird names are capitalized. The rules are not numerous and
quite easy to memorize.
Basically, the first word in the bird's name is capitalized, as well as the
genus name (of course, sometimes it's the same :-). Moreover, any proper
name which is part of the bird's name is also capitalized.
A few examples:
- Macreuse noire (Black Scoter, _Melanitta nigra_)
- Grand Gravelot (Common Ringed Plover, _Charadrius hiaticula_)
- Bernache du Canada (Canada Goose, _Branta canadensis_)
- Carouge a tete jaune (Yellow-headed Blackbird,
_Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus_)
BTW, this last Latin name is really nice, being so informative.
Thouhg it's not really Latin anyway :-)

> Latin names work wonders over the Globe, everybody knows them, well nerdy
> science types at least :-) and even if the species is not familiar then the
> genera at least gives a clue - sometimes !!!

Thanks for me, Stuart !
By the way, the european Willow Warbler is _Phylloscopus trochilus_,
not _P. trochiloides_ :-). You probably "had" the latter (a siberian bird) when
"hunting" in Scandinavia ...

> In Europe there are at least two or three "regional/national" names for each
> species, multiply this up by the number of countries and the problems of
> communication are huge. Latin names, although at first glance obscure, do a
> really good job.

That's what I always (well, since I've been birding seriously) thought. Two
years ago, before going for holidays in Scotland, I decided to enrich my Latin
names list (yet another silly list, probably ...)with the species I was
likely to see there.
A few weeks later, in Lochgarten (a RSPB reserve hosting a pair of nesting
Ospreys), I tried to communicate with someone of the staff, asking for things
to see in the surroundings. I tried to make him speak latin, but ... nope, he
didn't know ANY Latin name ! SIGH

-Serge "latin birder" Le Huitouze

A bird in the bush is better than two in the hand.

Serge Le Huitouze Intelligent Software Group
email: serge at School of Computing Science
tel: (604) 291-5423 Simon Fraser University
fax: (604) 291-3045 Burnaby, B.C., V5A 1S6 CANADA