Proposal (14) to South American Classification Committee


Change English name of Sula granti from Nazca Booby to Grant's Booby


Background. Pitman and Jehl (1998) recommended that Sula granti be recognized as a separate species, the Nazca Booby. This based on their review of geographic variation in populations in the eastern Pacific.


Comments. The English name (Nazca Booby) was selected because "recognizes that the current breeding range and probably evolutionary history of this species is closely associated with the Nazca Crustal Plate" (Pitman and Jehl, 1998). This is not a good choice, because the majority of the people, Peruvians or other nationalities, relate the name Nazca to the town of that name in the Department of Ica, south of Lima; the Nazca culture and the Nazca lines (located in Nazca), and not to the Nazca Plate.


Conclusions.  In order to avoid confusion on the geographical occurrence of this species, a change in the English name is recommended.


Proposal.  I propose that the name Nazca Booby be changed to Grant's Booby. Before Sula granti was recognized as a species, Hellmayr and Conover (1948) used the name Grant's Blue-faced Booby for Sula dactylatra granti. To my knowledge no other name has been use for this population.



Hellmayr, Charles E., and Boardman Conover. 1948. Catalogue of birds of the Americas and the adjacent islands. Part I, no. 2. Field Mus. Nat. Hist., Zool. Ser., 13: 128.

Pitman, Robert L., and Joseph R. Jehl, Jr. 1998. Geographic variation and reassessment of species limits in the "Masked" boobies of the eastern Pacific Ocean. Wilson Bull. 110: 155-170.


Manuel Plenge, May 2002




Comments from Doug Stotz:  “NO. I think that the possibility of confusion over the geographic distribution of a seabird is limited, given that Nazca is inland. This is sort of like arguing that Inca Tern is not appropriate for Larosterna because the Incas were an Andean culture. The name Nazca Booby is certainly much more memorable than Grant's Booby. Although Manuel does demonstrate that Grant's has a history of use as an English name for the former subspecies, I don't think that can compare with the immediate adoption of Nazca Booby by many sources after its recognition as a separate species. Finally, I am generally in favor of following the English name suggestions of people that describe or raise taxa to the species level unless there is a clear reason not to do so.


From Tom Schulenberg:  "NO. I prefer to retain the name Nazca Booby.   I don't know how many people will "get" the connection with the Nazca plate, but even if few do, I don't think any harm will arise. I doubt if confusion with the town in the desert will happen or cause problems (note  Doug's comments about "Inca Tern"). And "Nazca" sounds more interesting than does (yawn) "Grant's".


From Mark Robbins:  "After reading Doug's comments concerning the English name of S. granti, I would like to change my vote to a "NO".


From Gary Stiles:  "I like Nazca Booby, it's quite an evocative name for a seabird (and I am not overly fond of patronyms, on the whole)."


From Alvaro Jaramillo:  "NO. I appreciate Manuel Plenge's problem with the name. However, Nazca Booby has been widely accepted in the few short years the name has been used and it would cause a good deal of confusion to change it right now. Besides, I do like Nazca Booby as a name. While it may cause some confusion with the town of Nazca, and the Nazca culture I think that having the word Nazca in the English name is great. By changing Nazca Booby to Grant's Booby we would lose the word at least from Ornithological circles and that would be a shame.”