Proposal (500) to South American Classification Committee


Change the English name of Nandayus nenday


Effect on the SA Check-list:  This proposal, if adopted, would change the English name of a species on our checklist to a previously established name.  This is one of several short proposals dealing with recent changes in English names of various species of parrots and parakeets.


Background:  Cory (1918) used the English name “Black-headed Parrot” for Nandayus nenday, a name that has for some time been widely used for Pionites melanocephala (which Cory called “Black-headed Caique”). Meyer de Schauensee (1966, 1970, 1982), in his foundational classification of South American birds, used the English name of Black-hooded Parakeet for Amazona aestiva.  That name remained the standard during the modern era of Neotropical ornithology at least until 1990; it was still used by Juniper and Parr (1997), although those authors substituted the avicultural name of “Conure” for “Parakeet”.  However, virtually every other recent authority (e.g. Collar 1997, Clements 2000, Gill and Wright 2006, Forshaw 2010) has switched to Nanday Parakeet/Conure, which is derived from the native Guäraní (Paraguay) name for the bird.  I’m not clear where this change originated (possibly with Sibley and Monroe 1990), or to what extent it was influenced by current avicultural naming conventions, but it seems to have taken over, and “Nanday Parakeet” is the name used in the Howard-Moore checklist (Dickinson 2003) that provided our base list for the SACC.


Analysis:  Unlike many of the name changes that have occurred among South American birds through the popular literature, the replacement of “Black-hooded” with “Nanday” actually has some historical thrust, given that the “new” name is derived from an old, regionally indigenous name.


“Black-hooded” is, without question, a more descriptive name, and targets the single most important field mark that unambiguously identifies the species.  On the other hand, “Nanday” is a more unique name that tells us nothing about the bird’s appearance, but which is unlikely to be confused with the name of any other parakeet.  In terms of name confusion stemming from the use of “Black-hooded Parakeet”, I would note that there is a Black-headed Parrot and a Brown-hooded Parrot, but there is nothing remotely similar among the parakeets.



Recommendation:  Unlike the other proposals dealing with the restoration of older psittacid names, I don’t have a strong recommendation either way on this one.  I would slightly favor Black-hooded Parakeet, simply because it is the name I first learned the species by, and because the name is not only descriptive, but points out a field mark that is unique among North American psittacids.  The species went by an English name that referenced the black color of the head from at least 1918 until 1990, which suggests a pretty stable and recognizable name.  Nanday Parakeet has more recent momentum, is memorable, dovetails nicely with the Latin name, and pays homage to an indigenous name for the bird.  I don’t think there is a truly bad choice here, but I do think it would be good to actually vote on it one way or the other, given that this was yet another case where we “inherited” a new name that hijacked an established name without any real discussion or debate.


I would also point out that English names of parrots in general have been in turmoil, with each new reference (e.g. Collar 1997, Juniper and Parr 1997, Forshaw 2010) introducing new names for well-known birds, many of which have not been widely adapted.  And this doesn’t even include the schizoid split between the various field guides and checklists on the issue of using “Amazon” versus “Parrot” for Amazona, and “Conure” versus “Parakeet” for Pyrrhura and Aratinga.  The result has been a body-punch to stability, to the extent that very few of the “new” names (some of which are actually throwbacks to Cory 1918) can really claim to be established, even if they have been used in several recent references.



Literature Cited:


CLEMENTS, J. F. 2000. Birds of the World: a checklist. Ibis Publ. Co., Temecula, California.

COLLAR, N. 1997. Family Psittacidae (parrots). Pp. 280-477 in "Handbook of the Birds of the World, Vol. 4. Sandgrouse to cuckoos" (J. del Hoyo et al., eds.). Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.


CORY, C. B. 1918. Catalogue of birds of the Americas. Field Mus. Nat. Hist. Publ., Zool. Ser., vol. 13, pt. 2, no. 1.

DICKINSON, E. C. (ed.). 2003. The Howard and Moore complete checklist of the birds of the World, Revised and enlarged 3rd Edition. Christopher Helm, London, 1040 pp.


FORSHAW, J. M.  2010.  Parrots of the world.  Princeton University Press, Princeton and Oxford.


GILL, F. B., AND M. WRIGHT. 2006. Birds of the World. Recommended English names. Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton.

JUNIPER, T. AND M. PARR.  1997.  Yale University Press, New Haven and London.


MEYER DE SCHAUENSEE, R. 1966. The species of birds of South America and their distribution. Livingston Publishing Co., Narberth, Pennsylvania.


MEYER DE SCHAUENSEE, R. 1970. A guide to the birds of South America. Livingston Publishing Co., Wynnewood, Pennsylvania.


MEYER DE SCHAUENSEE, R. 1982. A guide to the birds of South America, 2nd edition. Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


SIBLEY, C. G., AND B. L. MONROE, JR. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the World. Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut.

GILL, F. B., AND M. WRIGHT. 2006. Birds of the World. Recommended English names. Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton.



Kevin J. Zimmer, September 2011