22 March 2009

Avian Nomenclature for North America Needs Certainty and Stability

An incessant and certainly endless change that causes constant and ongoing consternation to denote bird occurrence records for North American and elsewhere is an always changing nomenclature. Constant changes mean endless revisions in common names and taxonomic order.

It is questionable whether there is anyone's bird list which matches what is now supposedly the accepted nomenclature of the proper common name, listed in a nomenclature order that some self-appointed authorities convey as being correct.

It is now spring 2009, and more changes will need to be considered, again, based on published citations issued in recent and pending months.

One particular foreign species, for example, a starling, is now not the European Starling, but is rendered as the Common Starling, with the A.O.U. group now in synch with the I.O.C. group.

How many bird watchers on the continent have matching records? There has been some discussion about the abbreviated code for the species on an online forum, so there is some attention being given to the change, though when this discussion ends is not readily apparent. Who will update each of the historic designations, as it won't just happen without some apparent effort!

Which list is authoritative and should be a given attention for presenting a valid list of species for some place? Acceptable common names have been revised by groups of apparent authorities that obviously change names and taxonomy based on their understanding of bird characteristics. This view is valid but continually problematic, again and again.

The changes require constant and ongoing revisions that require changes again and again. Some dedicated few working for free and providing the amazingly valuable results online, document and present the historic record for ornithology for a particular expanse, whether worldwide or local, have to deal with these changes.

The views of an authoritative group recognized via a limited perspective, apparently, seem to be indifferent to what may be wrought onto others. What they present is what shall be accepted and used to be correct, without some consideration of the revisionary effort needed to make changes to fit their decisions.

The changes are incessant whatever the source. The self-designated authorities issue more changes in the manner how bird species are identified and listed. The species don't change, but their interpretation always does.

As changes in nomenclature have been unending for centuries, the revisions are based on some perspective of records during several millennium for North America.

Historic ornithologists that have actually spent so much time rectifying the changes in accepted bird names need stability in order to summarize and present a valid list of species in some accepted manner, rather than again and again making another change based on some groups view.

Changes cannot be easily ignored as nomenclature is based on something that is supposedly consistent for a period of time. Yet, it always changes every year, based on opinions that are based in some seemingly obtuse sense of reality. How many of the people that prefer to change common or scientific names have actually had to deal with the records of historic ornithology and the obscure terms presented by people that issued important notices of bird occurrence.

There are probably very few modern ornithologists that have a valid view of the submissions freely given by so many watchers that thought their sightings were important enough for then to write it down and send it on to some publication.

Records need to presented with validity, but since the continually endless, and ongoing changes can't be ignored because some people prefer to continually change nomenclature cannot present a list that provides stability for more than a year's time.

How outdated is the list of species for the multiple thousands of records for collected specimens at the Smithsonian Institution with its hundreds of thousands of carcasses? According to their presentation, the taxonomy is more than an decade out of date, as their bird names are based on information from the mid-1990s.

How can a valid list be presented with endless changes in taxonomic order and approved names?

When will the endless changes be finished and allow the common bird watcher and historic ornithologist to present a list of species of some sort that is not outdated?

Since bird nomenclature cannot be readily presented in an acceptable manner to allow easy edits for record keepers, perhaps the given strictures should just be ignored?

Will this mean chaos and uncertainty? Probably over the long term. Personally, a list presented using archaic terminology is just as accurate as anything using the most recent terms. And such a list has some special appreciation and proven value forged through time beyond one year after another.

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