Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Exotic Bird Identification

One of the things I love most about going bird watching in a new location, especially ones far away, is the challenge of identifying new birds.

When you go birdwatching in the same places time and again, like I did with Mr. Field Notes here at the reservoir, it becomes easy to identify the regulars. Sometimes that's all you see. I like novelty, and of course actually seeing a "life bird," but what really excites me is the challenge of identifying the new birds. It's part of the fun of foreign travel! Seeing the kingfisher in Japan was definitely a highlight as was the hoopoe in Tunisia.

I put up this bookmark for sale today on etsy, and I am clueless about what the birds on the stamps are! Perhaps some bird enthusiasts may drop by here and be able to tell me the general type of the birds. Their scientific names aren't given on all of the stamps.

I think one of them is some sort of dove or pigeon. What's the difference between those anyway?

One of the yellow ones looks like a finch based on the bill, but then again maybe it's a type of sparrow?

Some birds go by a different name in another location even though they are effectively the same bird. That only adds to the confusion of bird names. And don't even get me started on how amusing it is to see old bird guide books! Genus names change - not species or common names - entire genuses. Or is it geni?


Alasdair said...

I think it is genera :)

You know, I am with you, 100 percent, on the go-new-places, see-new-birds thing. I guess I kind of undercut myself a little on the challenge because I can't help but study the field guides...

My understanding is that the new thought in pigeon/dove land is that pigeons will be a term generally reserved for larger species, while dove will be used for the shrimpy ones. We'll see how that goes.

Bird names, scientific and otherwise, are a mishmash for sure. Their common names vary, too, by who's talking about them. Hunters have a whole bunch of oddball names for ducks, for example, names you probably have never heard used. The American wigeon for example, is sometimes called a baldpate. You can see why, but random.

DancingFish said...

There was a Science Friday all about pigeons a while ago. It was fascinating. I think they really are a rock dove. Could be very wrong about that though.