Proposal (824) to South American Classification Committee


Change English name of Oceanodroma hornbyi to Hornby’s Storm-Petrel


Our website states the following in relation to what we call currently call Ringed Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma hornbyi).


Called "Hornby's Storm-Petrel" in Carboneras (1992a), Ridgely & Greenfield (2001), Onley & Scofield (2007), Dickinson & Remsen (2013), and del Hoyo & Collar (2014).  SACC proposal to standardize as Ringed Storm-Petrel passed.  SACC proposal to change English name did not pass.


10a. Oceanodroma hornbyi is treated here as breeding in South America based on the assumption that it breeds somewhere near its nonbreeding grounds, which are exclusively off the southern Pacific coast of South America; its breeding grounds, however, are unknown.


Background: Oceanodroma hornbyi was historically known as Hornby’s Storm-Petrel, and more recently has been known as Ringed Storm-Petrel. More background can be seen in the previous proposals that passed.  See my previous proposal on my view on patronyms, especially with respect to storm-petrels.


Opinion: There is no new information here. I noted above I have some opinions on storm-petrel names and patronyms. However, I must admit that out of all of the things I have voted for on this committee, the single one that rattles around in my brain is my initial decision, when I first was asked to join this committee, to change the English name of O. hornbyi to Ringed Storm-Petrel.  I think this was a big mistake!  The name Hornby’s is still the preferred name by the seabird folks I know.  Ringed is not the only storm-petrel that has a ringed/belted pattern, and although the name has some history, the important part is that it never really caught on with seabird people that I talk to.


Note: The breeding grounds of Oceanodroma hornbyi have now been found in the desert of Chile. So we can confirm at this point that it is a breeder in South America. **


Recommendation: I suggest that Oceanodroma hornbyi revert to its older and more established name, Hornby’s Storm-Petrel.  This name is unique, memorable, and actually restores tradition and stability.  As well, as more storm-petrel forms are elevated to species status, it is clear that the most appropriate names will be patronyms.  Note that even in this 2018 paper that describes the breeding grounds of O. hornbyi, it is called Hornby’s Storm-Petrel.  We really should change the name back to the one that is preferred and used by the seabird community.




Carboneras, C. 1992. Family Hydrobatidae (storm-petrels). In Handbook of birds of the world (Josep del Hoyo, Andrew Elliott, and Jorgi Sargatal, Eds.). Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, vol. 1.

Del HOYO, J., AND N. J. COLLAR.  2014.  HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Vol. 1: Non-passerines. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

DICKINSON, E. C., AND J. V. REMSEN, JR. (eds.).  2013.  The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World. Vol. 1. Non-passerines.  Aves Press, Eastbourne, U.K., 461 pp.

ONLEY, D., AND P. SCOFIELD.  2007. Albatrosses, Petrels, and Shearwaters of the World.  Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 240 pp.

Ridgely, Robert S., and Paul J. Greenfield. 2001. The birds of Ecuador: status, distribution, and taxonomy. Cornell Univ. Press, Ithaca, New York, 1: 110.


Alvaro Jaramillo, May 2019


** Note from Remsen: Thanks to Alvaro on this; footnote rewritten.



Comments from Remsen: “YES, reluctantly.  Although “Ringed” seems to be a pretty good description of this species, I’ll go with what is most commonly used by seabird people, according to Alvaro, Steve Howell, and the information they have cited.”


Comments from Stiles: “YES for reverting to Hornby’s Storm-Petrel, especially as this name is preferred by those most familiar with these birds.”


Comments from Stotz: “NO.  Similar to previous case, I prefer descriptive names.  In this case within the range of this Humboldt Current endemic, it is a uniquely descriptive name.  I am generally in favor of retaining Meyer de Schauensee English names for purely South American species like this one, unless there is a taxonomic change that requires a change. MdS was the original standardization of English names for South American birds, and I think we benefit greatly from leaving his names alone, except where there is a compelling reason for a change, which this isn’t.”


Comments from Zimmer: “YES -- no point in continuing to swim against the current on this one, and I agree with Alvaro’s broader point concerning the particular appropriateness of patronyms to many of these storm-petrels (and other tubenoses).


Additional Comments from Remsen: “I was about to be persuaded to switch by Doug’s comments on this endemic South American bird, but Murphy (1936) and Hellmayr & Conover (1948) had it as “Hornby’s Petrel”, so the name predates Meyer de Schauensee, whose names were also influenced by Eisenmann, who crusaded to remove patronymic English names by inventing novel descriptive ones despite a half-century or more of stability in terms of usage of those patronyms.  I regard Murphy’s classic volumes as foundational for seabirds, especially of W. Hemisphere.  Given that as Kevin and Alvaro noted, we’re out on an island in terms of perpetuating “Ringed”, I’m in favor of “Hornby’s”.


“Also, Manuel Plenge dug this out in his original proposal:


‘Bourne and Harris (1968) criticized the change of name from Hornby's Storm-Petrel to Ringed Storm-Petrel (Meyer de Schauensee 1966) and among other things stated: "While it is perhaps understandable that some people may object to eponyms commemorating English admirals, the series of descriptive names for seabirds recently introduced by certain authorities on South American landbirds are rarely either shorter or more helpful for identification than the established names, and we are sorry to see them changed."’