Proposals (214-218) to South American Classification Committee

 

Proposals for consistency of English compound bird names

 

Proposal 214: remove hyphen from English name "Painted-Snipe" (Nycticryphes)

 

Proposal 215: add hyphen to English name "Softtail" (Thripophaga)

 

Proposal 216: remove hyphen from English name "Bamboo-wren" (Psilorhamphus)

 

Proposal 217: remove hyphen from English name "Crescent-chest" (Melanopareia)

 

Proposal 218: add hyphen to English name "Antthrush" (Formicarius and Chamaeza)

 

Proposal: This series of proposals is aimed at harmonising the style of certain compound English names on the SACC list for birds following recommendations for bird English name usage by Parkes (1978). The two principal offending names are: "Bamboo-wren" (change to "Bamboowren") and "Crescent-chest" (change to "Crescentchest"). In each case, the proposed new name is widely used in modern ornithological publications and provides for consistency. Two other names that do not follow Parkes' recommendations, "Violet-ear" and "Tyrant-Manakin" (sensu Neopipo) are each subject to separate pending proposals (#187 and #199) for which support has been evident among those that have voted. Proposals are also raised in respect of three names that technically breach these principles: "Softtail" (change to "Soft-tail"), Painted-Snipe (change to "Paintedsnipe") and "Antthrush" (change to "Ant-thrush").

 

Discussion:

 

Parkes (1978) established the following rules:

 

RULE 1: Compound bird names should be spelled as a single word, unhyphenated, if:

 

A. The second component is the word "bird".

 

Examples on SACC list: Tropicbird, Frigatebird, Hummingbird, Puffbird, Nunbird, Rushbird, Thornbird, Bellbird, Umbrellabird, Mockingbird, Blackbird, Marshbird, Cowbird. 

 

B. The second component is a part of the body.

 

Examples on SACC list: Pintail, Spoonbill, Sheathbill, Yellowlegs, Sicklebill, Barbthroat, Lancebill, Sabrewing, Awlbill, Plovercrest, Thorntail, Goldentail, Goldenthroat, Blossomcrown, Piedtail, Jewelfront, Velvetbreast, Sapphirewing, Firecrown, Puffleg, Thornbill, Helmetcrest, Metaltail, Avocetbill, Spatuletail, Starthroat, Sheartail, Wiretail, Thistletail, Spinetail, Prickletail, Plushcrown, Graytail, Barbtail, Tuftedcheek, Recurvebill, Hookbill, Scythebill, Bristlefront, Bentbill, Flatbill, Spadebill, Flatbill, Sharpbill, Purpletuft, Waxwing, Wheatear, Conebill, Grosbeak, Redstart (Whitestart), Yellowthroat, Waxbill.

 

C. The name describes an activity of the bird (whether or not accurately!).

 

Examples on SACC list: Shearwater, Sandpiper, Turnstone, Kingfisher, Woodpecker, Earthcreeper, Reedhaunter, Canebrake, Brushrunner, Treerunner, Woodhaunter, Treehunter, Leaftosser, Woodcreeper, Gnateater, Flycatcher, Plantcutter, Berryeater, Fruiteater, Gnatcatcher, Mockingbird, Flowerpiercer, Seedeater.

 

D. The second component is a misnomer, either (1) a fanciful non-ornithological noun, or (ii) a group of birds to which the bird in question does not really belong.

 

Examples on SACC list: (i) Woodnymph, Sunbeam, Woodstar, Hillstar; (ii) Sungrebe, Sunbittern, Seedsnipe, Nighthawk, Antshrike, Antvireo, Antwren, Antpitta, Fruitcrow, Peppershrike, Gnatwren, Waterthrush, Meadowlark.

 

E. The second component is a broadly categorical bird name, not applying to any one particular kind of bird.

 

Examples on SACC list: Moorhen, Guineafowl, Bananaquit, Grassquit ("quit" being an old Antillean expression for a bird).

 

F. the name is onomatopoeic:

 

Examples on SACC list: Bobwhite, Killdeer.

 

EXCEPTIONS TO RULE 1:

 

A. Spelling as a single word would result in a double or triple letter, from the juxtaposition of the last letter of the first word and the first letter of the second.

 

Examples on SACC list: Thick-knee, Racket-tail, Fire-eye, Bare-eye.

 

B. An unhyphenated word would be excessively long (usually four syllables or more), or clumsy or imply an incorrect pronunciation.

 

Examples on SACC list: Chuck-will's-widow, Foliage-gleaner, Huet-huet, Firewood-gatherer, Cock-of-the-rock.

 

RULE 2: Compound bird names should be spelled as two capitalized, hyphenated words, if the second component is the name of a kind of bird and is not a misnomer, i.e. the bird in question does belong to that general group. The first component may be a noun or adjective.

 

Examples on SACC list: Crested-Tinamou, Whistling-Duck, Steamer-Duck, Piping-Guan, Wood-Quail, Giant-Petrel, Storm-Petrel, Diving-Petrel, Tiger-Heron, Night-Heron, Reef-Heron, Crab-Hawk, Hawk-Eagle, Forest-Falcon, Wood-Rail, Golden-Plover, Turtle-Dove, Ground-Dove, Quail-Dove, Ground-Cuckoo, Screech-Owl, Pygmy-Owl, Mountain-Toucan, Slaty-Antshrike, Streaked-Antwren, Tit-Spinetail, Wren-Spinetail, Barred-Woodcreeper, Beardless-Tyrannulet, Tit-Tyrant, Pygmy-Tyrant, Wagtail-Tyrant, Bristle-Tyrant, Scrub-Flycatcher, Rush-Tyrant, Tody-Tyrant, Tody-Flycatcher, Wood-Pewee, Black-Tyrant, Water-Tyrant, Ground-Tyrant, Shrike-Tyrant, Bush-Tyrant, Gray-Tyrant, Marsh-Tyrant, Chat-Tyrant, Field-Tyrant, Red-Cotinga, Tyrant-Manakin (Neopelma etc.), Shrike-Vireo, Wood-Wren, Nightingale-Thrush, Mountain-Tanager, Bush-Tanager, Ant-Tanager, Thrush-Tanager, Tree-Finch, Ground-Finch, Sierra-Finch, Diuca-Finch, Reed-Finch, Inca-Finch, Warbling-Finch, Yellow-Finch, Grass-Finch, Seed-Finch, Brush-Finch, Chaco-Finch

 

Exception to Rule 2: bird names that have become ensconced in the English language as nouns in their own right.

 

Exceptions on SACC list: Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

 

There are perhaps further principles that could be considered in the context of multiple name bird names. Bird names involving three or more separate words are clearly allowed without a hyphen where a locality is used as part of the name (e.g. "Rio de Janeiro Antbird", "Santa Marta Tapaculo"). However, there is a clear inconsistency between "Black-throated Blue Warbler" and many of the examples cited above. "Great Blue Heron" / "Little Blue Heron" is also an inconsistency but it would be inappropriate to hyphenate these names as to do so would imply a sister relationship between species in different non-monotypic genera. Finally, various taxa with a region modifier are also treated inconsistently on the list (some hyphenating, some not hyphenating, the former bird name). Some of these inconsistent names are so firmly entrenched, particularly in a North American context, that no proposal is raised here to deal with them here. 

 

The principles set out by Parkes (1978) appear to have been widely followed in more recent works. 

 

The English name "Tyrant-Manakin" (for Neopipo only) falls foul of rule 2 and is subject to proposal #187. The English name "Violet-ear" falls foul of Rule 1B and is subject to Proposal #199.

 

The following other bird names do not follow these principles and proposals are raised in respect of each of them:

 

Proposal 214: remove hyphen from English name "Painted-Snipe" (Nycticryphes).

This name falls foul of Parkes' rule 1(D)(ii) and rule 2.Nycticryphes semicollaris ("South American Painted-Snipe") is not a true snipe (sensu Gallinago, Scolopacidae) but is in a separate family Rostratulidae. The compound word is a three-syllable noun and causes no problems to pronunciation, thus does not fall in the exception to "Rule 1". The current name used is further wholly inconsistent with the name "Seedsnipe" (used essentially without exception for the Thinocoridae). The alternative name "Paintedsnipe" is used in some recent ornithological publications. However, hyphenated form is still by far the most widely used. A Google search shows 239 hits for pages using the non-hyphenated (or nonhyphenated??) name versus almost 400,000 for the hyphenated name (mostly in Australia), thus its use has not caught on as much as "Bamboowren" in particular (see below). Given widespread usage by native English-speakers in another part of the world, I would be more inclined to recommend a "NO" vote on this proposal for the sake of stability, although it may be helpful to seek Antipodean views on the topic as I am not fully aware of the relevant and salient literature used in that part of the world. Although not four syllables long, it could be argued that "Paintedsnipe" is more unwieldy than "Seedsnipe". If a "NO" vote passes, the first letter of the word "snipe" should at least be made lower case ("Painted-snipe" not "Painted-Snipe": see e.g. BirdLife International 2004 treatment) and a proposal will automatically be raised for this if this proposal is rejected.

 

Proposal 215: add hyphen to English name "Softtail" (Thripophaga).

This name falls foul of Parkes' exception A to rule 1 due to the double "tt" without hyphenation. However, I would argue that a separate and individual exception should exist for this name. The hyphenated name "Soft-tail" is essentially never used in ornithological publications. A Google search shows only 3 hits for pages using the hyphenated name (excluding multiple hits on one particular site). The "ftt" is further somewhat different from a [vowel]tt combination, e.g. double t in "racket-tail". The alternative for "racket-tail", "rackettail" would arguably confuse because the two "t"s would be merged into one sound ("ra-ki-tail"). Hyphenation of "racket-tail" is also consistent with use of similar formulations in other parts of the world, e.g. Greater Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus paradiseus in Asia. In "Softtail", however, the "f" before the "t" closes the sound associated with the first "t", meaning that the second "t" must be pronounced. Further, Softtails are closely related to birds called "Spinetail", "Prickletail", "Thistletail" and "Barbtail", thus "Softtail" somehow looks and feels right aesthetically. I would recommend a "NO" vote on this proposal.

 

Proposal 216: remove hyphen from English name "Bamboo-wren" (Psilorhamphus)This name falls foul of Parkes' rule 1(D)(ii) and rule 2.Psilorhamphus guttatus is certainly not a true wren (Troglodytidae). It is currently considered part of the tapaculos (Rhinocryptidae) though relationships are not certain (e.g. Ridgely & Tudor, 1994). The compound word is a three-syllable noun and causes no problems to pronunciation. The alternative name "Bamboowren" is widely used in various more recent ornithological publications (e.g. Ridgely & Tudor 1994, Handbook of the Birds of the World). A Google search shows 753 hits for pages using the non-hyphenated name vs. 198 for hyphenated. I would strongly recommend a "YES" vote on this proposal to adopt the non-hyphenated name as to do so would reflect majority recent usage and Parkes' rules.

 

Proposal 217: remove hyphen from English name "Crescent-chest" (Melanopareia).

This name falls foul of Parkes' rule 1B. "Chest" is a body part. The compound word would have three syllables and not cause pronunciation issues. The name "Crescentchest" is used in various ornithological publications (e.g. Handbook of the Birds of the World, Ridgely & Greenfield, 2001). A Google search shows 535 hits for pages using the non-hyphenated name, although the hyphenated name is more widely used (c. 23,000 hits). I would be surprised were the non-hyphenated name not to catch on in due course, given the obvious inconsistency of the hyphenated name and the approach of recent publications (as for Violet-ears in proposal #199). Now would seem an appropriate time for the SACC to formalise this change. I would recommend a "YES" vote on this proposal.

 

Proposal 218: Add hyphen to English name "Antthrush" (Formicarius and Chamaeza).

"Antthrush" falls foul of Parkes' exception A to rule 1 due to the double "tt" without hyphenation. However, in recent leading texts dealing with Neotropical birds, the non-hyphenated name "Antthrush" is far more widely used (e.g. Meyer de Schauensee publications, Birds of the High Andes (FjeldsŚ & Krabbe), Handbook of the Birds of the World (various), Birds of Colombia (Hilty & Brown), Birds of Venezuela (Hilty), Birds of South America (Ridgely & Tudor), Birds of Ecuador (Ridgely & Greenfield), Threatened Birds of the World (BirdLife International) and the SACC list (based on Dickinson 2003). A GOOGLE straw poll, surprisingly, shows considerable recent use of the hyphenated name in less formal publications: Ant-thrush: c.134,000: c.65,000 Antthrush. "Antthrush" is also arguably among the more unpronounceable of the English names subject to these proposals, presenting an ugly sequence of five consecutive consonants. However, its use is similar to that of "Softtail" (which feels right alongside Barbtail, Thistletail etc.). Formicarius and Chamaeza are closely related to Antpittas and were until recently part of the same family as birds called Antvireos, Antshrikes and Antwrens the generic name for which is Antbirds; thus Antthrush also feels right. Also, whilst Ant-Tanagers (Habia) are tanagers of some sort (although currently Incertae Sedis), Ant-thrushes are not thrushes (Turdidae) and the lower case / upper case distinction on the first letter of the second word could be lost on some. Although it technically breaks Parkes' rules, I would recommend a "NO" vote on this proposal for consistency in nomenclature with close relatives and due to entrenchment. In fact "Antthrush" and "Softtail" may together present an exception to Parkes' exception A to rule 1 for bird names where non-hyphenated treatment is consistent with the bird names of close relatives.

 

Reference:

Parkes K.C. 1978. A guide to forming and capitalizing compound names of birds in English. Auk 95: 324-326. Available at: http://elibrary.unm.edu/sora/Auk/v095n02/p0324-p0326.pdf.

 

 

Thomas Donegan, April & May 2006.

 

Additional footnote re "Storm-Petrels" (Hydrobatidae). In a recent discussion on NEOORN, Laurent Raty noted that the "Snipe" (Gallinago: Scolopacidae) / "Painted-Snipe" (Rostratulidae) proposal is in principle no different from "Petrel" (used for some Procellariidae) in "Storm-Petrel" (Hydrobatidae). However, I would suggest that, unlike for "Painted-Snipe" there is no misnomer in the name "Storm-Petrel" that would require correcting (per rule 1D above). Even if there were a misnomer, unwieldiness of "Stormpetrel" and entrenchment of "Storm-Petrel" are issues. Finally, simple "Petrel" (used widely for the Hydrobatidae until around the 1990s) would arguably be a better name than "Stormpetrel".

 

Regarding the lack of misnomer, the Hydrobatidae for a long time had non-compound vernacular names at least in Europe, e.g. "Leach's Petrel" (Oceanodroma leucorhoa), "Wilson's Petrel" (Oceanites oceanicus). Although I have not researched the point, I would suspect strongly that the Procellariidae today known as petrels were so named due to general superficial resemblance of the bill structure to that of Hydrobates pelagicus("European Storm-Petrel", known until about 10 years ago at least in the UK merely as "Storm Petrel") and smaller size to the Shearwaters (Puffinus: Procellariidae). Hydrobatidae are thought of as true "Petrels" by many people who use English names, thus the argument that there is a misnomer in "Storm-Petrel" that would require the hyphen to be removed is weak. Indeed, given the likely history of the names, deeming "Petrel" unavailable for the Hydrobatidae due to some Procellariidae sharing this name would seem very much a case of the tail wagging the dog.

 

I would argue that Storm-Petrel falls squarely within rule 2, which allows hyphenation and an upper case "P" for the compound name, hence no proposal was raised above nor is one raised now. However, notwithstanding the above, "Storm-petrel" (lower case "p"), used in some publications, could be regarded by some as reducing inconsistencies whilst recognising entrenchment of the name and may therefore be a better long-term treatment. A proposal will be raised for "Storm-petrel" together with the "Painted-snipe" proposal assuming rejection in due course of the "Paintedsnipe" proposal.

 

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Proposal 214: remove hyphen from English name "Painted-Snipe" (Nycticryphes)

 

Comments from Stiles: "NO. I'd leave Painted-Snipe as is É for one thing, it is a long-established name. For another, it IS a shorebird, even if not a Gallinago, and the name "snipe" has been applied to a number of shorebirds in the past."

 

Comments from Nores: "YES. Me parece acertada la idea de Donegan de uniformar criterios usados en los nombres comunes, aunque eso contradiga a muchas personas de habla inglesa. Si se usa sin gui—n en los nombres Woodnymph, Sunbeam, Woodstar, Hillstar, Sungrebe, Sunbittern, Seedsnipe, Nighthawk, Antshrike, Antvireo, Antwren, Antpitta, Fruitcrow, Peppershrike, Gnatwren, Waterthrush, Meadowlark, como fue se–alado por Donegan, tambiŽn habr’a que usarlo en "Paintedsnipe"."

 

Comments from Zimmer: "NO, for reasons well summarized by Gary."

 

Comments from Jaramillo: "NO - For stability of names, as well this would entail a new spelling of an entire family of birds. I would want to avoid that."

 

Proposal 215: add hyphen to English name "Softtail" (Thripophaga)

 

Comments from Stiles: "A very tentative, "tibio" YES. The change isn't necessary to enable a native English speaker to pronounce the name correctly, but it could be a useful aid to one whose native language was Spanish or Portuguese (assuming they would need to pronounce it in English in any case).

 

Comments from Nores: "YES. Aunque me supongo que el resto de los votantes dir‡n NO. A mi me gusta que los nombres sigan siempre una regla (en este caso la de Parkes), independientemente de como se hayan usado anteriormente."

 

Comments from Jaramillo: "NO - leave as is, not worried about the double t."

 

 

Proposal 216: remove hyphen from English name "Bamboo-wren" (Psilorhamphus)

 

Comments from Stiles: "YES, in the name of consistency. Actually, I thank Tom for bringing Parkes's "rules" to my attention - I had overlooked this paper!"

 

Comments from Robbins: "YES. Although he may not have coined the name, Meyer de Schauensee's 1966 landmark publication, which became the standard for ca. 25 years, used the name 'bamboowren'."

 

Comments from Nores: "YES. Por las razones dadas en las respuestas anteriores y por el hecho de que ya se ha usado en trabajos recientes."

 

Comments from Jaramillo: "YES - Tell you the truth, I didn't think it had a hyphen! I guess I had voted to remove the hyphen personally years ago."

 

 

Proposal 217: remove hyphen from English name "Crescent-chest" (Melanopareia)

 

Comments from Stiles: "YES, in the name of consistency. Actually, I thank Tom for bringing Parkes's "rules" to my attention - I had overlooked this paper!"

 

Comments from Robbins: "YES. Although he may not have coined the name, Meyer de Schauensee's 1966 landmark publication, which became the standard for ca. 25 years, used the name 'crescentchest'."

 

Comments from Nores: "YES. Por las mismas razones dadas en la respuesta anterior."

 

Proposal 218: add hyphen to English name "Antthrush" (Formicarius and Chamaeza)

 

Comments from Nores: "YES. Por las mismas razones dadas en la respuesta a la propuesta 215."