Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What's in a Name?

...Sometimes, a lot of letters. America has a hallowed tradition of taking long names from the old world, or, worst of all, the non-American world, and shortening or anglicizing them as a part of the immigration/legalization process. While this tradition doesn't carry over into birding exactly, since European migrant birds were not as variegated as their human counterparts, I was surprised/unsurprised to find that Old World bird names far outpace those of North America.

This came up the other day when I was discussing the longest North American bird names with a friend. We came up with Northern Beardless Tyrannulet and American Three-Toed Woodpecker, both of which are 27 letters in length (a particularly impressive for one of North America's smallest flycatchers). These seemed like pretty solid numbers, but how do they compare on the global scale?

Well, coming in from Europe and the Old World, Middendorff's Grasshopper-Warbler (28), Stuhlmann's Double-collared Sunbird (31), and Southern Blue-eared Glossy Starling (31), alas, put the North American birds to shame. My question to you all though, you who know much more, is whether or not there are any representatives in South America, or maybe east Asia, that are pushing up on three dozen letters?
Sure, sunbirds are gorgeous, but we can't let the title go to something called Stulhmann's! What else is out there?