Proposal (645) to South American Classification Committee


Change the English name of James’s Flamingo (P. jamesi) to Puna Flamingo



The species Phoenicoparrus jamesi is known both as James’s Flamingo (as in SACC) and Puna Flamingo.  It appears that Meyer de Schauensee (1970) was the person who introduced Puna Flamingo as a name?  The name Lesser Andean Flamingo, versus Greater Andean Flamingo for P. andinus, has also been used but it did not gain much traction.


Because many recent publications (Blake 1977, Fjeldså & Krabbe 1990, Sibley and Monroe 1990, del Hoyo 1992, and del Hoyo & Collar 2014) have used Puna Flamingo, we need to address a potential name change. As I see it, the patronym is unique and memorable. It is also the older name, and matches up to the scientific name.


“Puna Flamingo” is moderately confusing as its close and broadly sympatric relative is the Andean Flamingo. Both are Andean, and both live in the Puna, neither is a great name. But if we maintain usage of James’s Flamingo, then we do not have two names with somewhat overlapping meaning. I think it clarifies potential confusion.


Who was Harry Berkeley James? Here is some information,  … see, if it wasn’t named the James’s Flamingo we would never have remembered this intrepid naturalist.


I don’t want to get into the issue of Google ranks for names on this one because it is particularly misleading. Flamingos are popular birds, so they are written about by a broad spectrum of users throughout the world, broad enough that I am unsure as to how this usage would skew the abundance of the names in the Internet.


Recommendations: I suggest a NO vote for a change to Puna Flamingo, because this James’s is the older name, matches the scientific name, decreases confusion, and honors a naturalist who would otherwise be entirely forgotten.


Literature Cited


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


Alvaro Jaramillo, September 2014





Comments from Remsen:  “NO.  Meyer de Schauensee was under the influence of Eisenmann, who did not “believe in” patronyms and changed many established names of Middle American birds that honored major contributors to the region’s ornithology.  The anti-patronym sentiment is fueled by the point that these names do not help in field identification, and that a goal of English names is to facilitate this.  I appreciate this point, but I note that field ornithologists are not the only ones who use English names.  I personally like retaining commemorative names because I value learning about ornithological history, such as the example above, and I know I am not alone on this.  In this particular case, as Alvaro notes, “Puna Flamingo” adds absolutely nothing to help with field identification and is actually potentially confusing in that 3 species of flamingo occur in the puna.  (Andean is equally bad, but it is likely the only name associated with the species as far as I know).  For these reasons, we retained James’s Flamingo in Dickinson & Remsen (2013), as in Hellmayr & Conover (1948) and most older and many recent references.”


Comments from Robbins: “I could go either way on the English name of Phoenicoparrus jamesi.  Certainly using Puna Flamingo gives more information about the bird than James’s, and Harry James is still immortalized by the specific name.  So, flip a coin.”


Comments from Frank Gill: I agree completely with your and Alvaro's position to retain "James's Flamingo" which is a well established English name.  I also favor the use of patronyms where appropriate.  They capture some of the significant history of ornithology that would otherwise be lost and they provide a welcome antidote to plumage and range descriptors.”


Comments from Stiles: “NO. Especially after having delved into the ancient history of hummingbird names, I appreciate the significance of (most) patronyms, so here’s to intrepid Harry!”


Comments from Stotz: “NO. Given that the other 2 flamingos in the Andes have English names that follow their scientific name and there is no compelling reason for a change to Puna Flamingo.  I favor continuing James’s Flamingo.”


Comments from Zimmer: “NO.  I personally like patronyms, because they honor contributors to the field, teach us some history, and are more memorable/unique than the often-lame attempts to capture diagnostic field marks in one or two words.  A name reflecting a restricted distribution or habitat is great, but in the present case, “Puna” does neither, at least, not in the sense of providing separation from other species of flamingos.”