Friday, 5 October 2007

Parochial issues

After a gap of many years, a couple of years ago I resubscribed to BB (British Birds Magazine, to the non-British readers of this), and have found the content a delight to read. However, my reading is blighted by the ludicrous use of nomenclature. In this tercentenary year of the Birth of Linneaus, it is worth recalling that Scientific names were developed in order to provide stability, and to ensure that scientists knew precisely which species was being discussed. However, BB along with many county bird reports, now not only use latin names as if they were confetti, but also try and use 'international' standardised vernacular names. This, to me totally misses the point, and wastes a lot of space. Provided a standard nomenclature is used, there is absolutely no necessity to have both scientific and vernaculars, and, certainly no need, in a paper on British Birds to refer to Eurasian this and European that. If it is deemed essential to have latin names, then each issue could have an appendix at the back giving them. This would make papers a lot easier to read and save endless repition of latin names.

The reason this came to my attention was that not having kept up with recent taxonomic changes I came across this new species of bird, the Great and Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) (see Vol 100:528). Of course it dawned on me pretty quick, this was the Great Tit (Parus Major) and Blue Tit (P. caeruleus). But the thought of the Great and Blue Tit as a lifer has a certain appeal.

1 comment:

  1. By a curious coincidence, I got my copy of the current BB today, and there is a major article on Bird taxonomy -- but alas, no mention of my particular gripe