There are no items in your cart
rss

December 2022

Vol. 50, No. 6

Naming Birds: Wherefore Art Thou Vireo?

Caitlin L. Miller and Jeffrey Boone Miller

When you see a bird’s common English and scientific name in a Bird Observer article, e.g., Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus), do you skip over the often unfamiliar genus and species names? Or, do you perhaps wonder what the scientific names mean in English, how names are chosen, or whether names can be controversial? In this article, we hope to pique your curiosity by providing a brief introduction to bird naming. Though not experts, we have found that learning about scientific and common English bird names has deepened our engagement with birds, birders, and bird science.

To get started, here are translations of the scientific names of five birds well known to New Englanders—can you identify each bird’s common English name? (Answers at the end.)

  1. Migrating thrush
  2. Rooster rooster
  3. Many-colored black-haired bird
  4. Blood-colored crimson bird
  5. Pure speckled bird
To view the rest of the article you'll need to subscribe. Bird Observer publishes original articles on birding locations, on avian populations and natural history, on regional rarities, field notes, field records, photographs, and art work.
Bird Observer logo

Our mission: to support and promote the observation, understanding, and conservation of the wild birds of New England.

Bird Observer supports the right of all people to enjoy birding and nature in a safe and welcoming environment free from discrimination and harassment, be it sexual, racial, or barriers for people with disabilities.
© Copyright 2023 by Bird Observer, Inc.