New Standard Names
for birds in India

 
home  I  galleries  I  trip reports  I  checklists  I  beginners  I  sites  I  articles  I  guestbook  I   misc

.....................................................................................................................................................


IOC's Standard names for Birds Occurring in India - Changes only
 

 

 

Intermediate Egret = Yellow-billed Egret
Black-rumped Flameback = Lesser Goldenback

Common or standard names of birds evolved over time. Many had linkages to local usage and differed from place to place. New species discovery, splits of existing species, changes in taxonomy of existing species and many other reasons contributed to the emergence of new standard English bird names year after year.  There has always been merit in helping everyone interested in birds to speak the same language as far and efforts have indeed been made with almost predictable regularity every decade or so to do just that. We in India are particularly blessed in this as we started life with Oates and Blanford's names in 1890 , streamlined it with Ripley's work in 1961, almost ignored Sibley and Munro's 1990 recommendations but generally surrendered to Inskipp, Lindsey & Duckworth's 1996 adaptation of Sibley and Munro's work as contained in "An Annotated Checklist of the Birds of the Oriental Region".

Since 1996 many changes have taken place in standard bird names here in India and the world over.

The International Ornithological committee, who are a group of about 200 international ornithologists, organize the International Ornithological Congress (IOC). The IOC commissioned  Frank Gill and Minturn Wright (Co-chairs, IOC Standing Committee on English Names) to "to facilitate communication in ornithology and conservation through the use of a standard set of English names of the world bird species" (see Reference 2 below) in 1991. This project was completed in 2007 and has since been updated, last in June 2008. The June 2008 update is particularly important for India as it includes splits proposed by Rasmussen and Anderton in 'Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide'.

The net result of this renaming process affects about a staggering 250 species (if one includes new splits) compared with the Annotated Checklist . So Indian birdwatchers will have to relearn or learn afresh over 20% of the English common bird names if they want to communicate effectively with others who use the same language. That these changes were made "based on interregional agreement and global consensus" (see Reference 2 below) goes to show how keenly we defended the position and the existing names.

In case you are frustrated with these attempts to force us to align with the way of thinking of others and feel that this is just another attempt to sell new books or whatever else, please read my personal comments here.

In case, however, you are of the true tribe of birdwatchers who have no time for such diatribes and would like to get on with the next twitch please follow this link to get straight into the changes.

New Standard Bird Names - do we need them?

IOC names for birds occurring in India

Happy Birding!

Sumit K Sen
September, 2008
Kolkata, India


References and Sources:
1. Gill, F. & M.Wright. (2006). Birds of the World: Recommended English Names. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press
2. Gill, F., Wright, M. & Donsker, D. (2008). IOC World Bird Names (version 1.6). Available at
http://www.worldbirdnames.org/
3. Grimmett, Richard; Inskipp, Carol & Inskipp, Tim (1998): Birds of the Indian Subcontinent. Christopher Helm, London.
4. Inskipp, Tim; Lindsey, Nigel & Duckworth, William (1996): An Annotated Checklist of the Birds of the Oriental Region. Oriental Bird Club, U.K.
5. Rasmussen, P. C. & Anderton J.C. (2005) Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide, Smithsonian Institution

Further reading
1. 10,000 Birds: Good, Bad, and Ugly of the IOC Recommended English Names
2. Marine Ornithology: Birds of the world: Recommended English names
3. Aimophila Adventures: Gill & Wright, Birds of the world: Recommended English names

Updated: 04/30/2011 

 

   
.......................................................................................................................
     
©
Sumit K Sen 2001 - 2009    I   
All rights reserved    I    Last updated 30 Apr 2011    I    Contact Us