Readers’ wildlife photos

May 9, 2021 • 8:00 am

It’s Sunday, and that means we have a themed batch of bird photos from John Avise. John’s captions are indented, and you can enlarge his photos by clicking on them.

Eponymous Birds, Part 1: Non-Passerines

Eponymous species are those named after a particular person, typically the scientist or explorer who discovered and described that species.  Dozens of North American birds are eponymous.  Today’s post provides several examples that involve non-Passeriforme species (next week’s post will show some eponymous members of the Passeriformes).  To learn much more about each person after which a bird was named, you can do a Google search (such as “Buller, ornithologist”; or “Buller’s Shearwater”) and read the relevant Wikipedia link.  Because nobody is faultless, I wonder how many of today’s eponymous names will ultimately survive the ruthless scrutiny of Critical Race Theory!  All of these pictures were taken in Southern California.

JAC note: Do notice that the majority of the birds contain the eponym in their Latin binomial as well as in their common name. If you’re going to eliminate the eponyms, you nevertheless still must keep the Latin name, which cannot be erased.

Buller’s Shearwater, Puffinus bulleri:

Brandt’s Cormorant, Phalacrocorax penicillatus:

Swainson’s Hawk, Buteo swainsoni (light phase):

Swainson’s Hawk, dark phase:

Cooper’s Hawk, adult, Accipiter cooperii:

Baird’s Sandpiper, Calidris bairdii:

Bonaparte’s Gull, Larus philadelphia:

Forster’s Tern, Sterna forsteri:

Heermann’s Gull, Larus heermanni:

Costa’s Hummingbird, Calypte costae:

Gambel’s Quail, Callipepla gambelii:

Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii:

Ross’s Goose, Chen rossii:

Vaux’s Swift, Chaetura vauxi:

Wilson’s Phalarope, Phalaropus tricolor:

Wilson’s Plover, Charadrius wilsonia:

8 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Phalaris, Greek for Coot, -pous, Greek for foot, becomes Latin, Phalaropus and French Phalarope, Wilson, being named for Scottish/American ornithologist Alexander Wilson, so we have Alexander Wilson’s Coot-Foot, a cute but dorky looking bird. Don’t think I’ve ever seen one in person though. Wilson seems to have been quite important in early ornithology but alas died quite young. I do enjoy learning the history behind the names. Neat post, awesome photos (as always).

  2. Beautiful pictures of beautiful creatures!

    The Vaux’s Swift reminded me that several residents in my area, Southern California, have reported their houses invaded by hundreds of swifts coming down the chimney and pooping everywhere inside the home. The article said these were Vaux’s Swifts but then I read that these are a different species from Chimney Swifts, known for this behavior, though very closely related. Vaux’s Swifts supposedly lack the chimney-diving behavior of their relatives.

  3. I knew that Thomas Nuttall (1786-1859) was an important North American botanist, but I didn’t know until now that he also made major contributions to ornithology. He was born in England, but lived and worked in the U.S. for much of his life. I don’t know whether he had any unsavory characteristics.

    Nuttall named a lot of plant species, and he also had a lot named after him. Unlike the situation in birds, plant common names are not standardized, so they are less dependable; one species might have multiple common names, or the same common name might be used for more than one species. This also means there would be no way to formally change eponymous common names in plants in a way that’s comparable to what’s being discussed for birds.

    1. I tried to read but was hit with the “free trial, cancel any time” stuff. I’m not surprised he would be in the sights of the woke but his legacy is too great, too widespread, too important to be ignored and swept under the rug.

    2. I was very surprised to see that the ‘decolonising the curriculum group at Sheffield University Dept of Animal and Plant Sciences have labelled J B S Haldane as a ‘racist and eugenicist’ whose theories ‘served as justification for slavery and mass slaughter’. I believe this is a very serious mischaracterisation of a man who was a fierce critic of eugenic policies.

  4. A very nice set of eponymous bird photos. That Forster’s tern looks like a fighter jet- but much more beautiful.

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