Proposal (#226) to South American Classification Committee

Lower case "p" in English name "Storm-Petrel" (Hydrobatidae)

[Carry-over text from Proposals 214-218 (and see that proposal for Parkes's rules): 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.


Please see 'Additional Footnote on Storm-Petrels' above for discussion. For the reasons stated, I would recommend a "NO" vote. In my mind, Hydrobatidae are "Petrels" in the vernacular, thus there is no misnomer that would require a lower case "p". However, as some may be inclined to take a different view, a proposal is raised for completeness.

Thomas Donegan, August 2006

Addendum from Remsen: Gill and Wright (2006) use "Storm Petrel", without hyphen.


Comments from Remsen: "NO, for the reasons given by Donegan."

Comments from Stiles: "NO. When I was "into" pelagic trips as a student, they were just plain "petrels", but "Storm-Petrel" seems pretty solidly entrenched in recent publications."

Comments from Zimmer: "NO, for the reasons given by Donegan."

Comments from Stotz: "NO retain Storm-Petrel. Storm-Petrel is a relatively recent creation for things long called petrels. I think the claim that they are not really petrels is difficult to accept."