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Species Names

          The GRIN species list is based on a synthesis of general treatments, primarily Stresemann and Amadon (1979), Amadon and Bull (1988), Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993), del Hoyo et al. (1994), and Dickinson (2003), supplemented by numerous regional references and more recent information in the primary literature. In general, a conservative approach is taken so that more detailed information can be provided on forms which have different conservation problems and ecological situations from their most closely related and widespread congeners. This has resulted in the recognition of 331 full species of diurnal raptors in the GRIN database. The list is not static and is changed regularly in response to new research results. Suggestions on the taxonomy followed here are welcomed.

          The overall intent of GRIN is to assist conservation efforts, not to impose taxonomic direction. In cases where there is substantive disagreement between leading authorities over the status of a taxon, an attempt is made to mention all alternative views.

          Gill and Wright (2006) recently produced a list of recommended English vernacular names on behalf of the International Ornithological Congress and with input from leading regional authorities. A majority, but not all, of their recommendations are adopted here. In particular, their treatment of compound names is welcomed. Following their approach, most hyphenated terms are eliminated, except where the second word is a type of bird, and the taxon is not in that group, but something different. Thus, "hawk-eagle" would still be hyphenated, but not "serpent eagle," "fish eagle," or "forest falcon." Exceptions have been made in cases where a long and widely accepted usage dictates a single word, e.g., "sparrowhawk."

          English vernacular (common) names have been chosen with a bias toward preferred local usages. Thus, the Buteo species in the Old World are called "buzzards," and those in the Western Hemisphere are called "hawks." In addition, English spellings for terms such as "grey" or "gray" coincide with the usual spelling within the range of the species, leading to "Gray Hawk" of the Americas, "Grey Falcon" of Australia, and "Grey Kestrel" of Africa.

          Although most compilers of long lists of bird names eventually arrive at the conclusion that common names are almost not worth the trouble, especially in global communication, it is still hoped that the Gill and Wright list will help move ornithologists toward some semblance of unanimity in the choice of vernacular names, at least those in English.

           A dictionary of alternate and obsolete names, mostly English, is built into the GRIN database so a search on an "old" or alternate name, e.g., "Turkey Buzzard," will yield the desired species account, i.e., Cathartes aura.

          The species dropdown list is long. To speed up searches, enter a single letter, which will advance you to the first generic name beginning with that letter (e.g., entering the letter "e" will move the dropdown to Elanoides with a single keystroke).

Literature Cited:

Amadon, D., and J. Bull. 1988. Hawks and owls of the world: a distributional and taxonomic list. Proceedings of the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology 3:295-357.

del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott, and J. Sargatal. 1994. Handbook of birds of the world. Vol 2. New World vultures to guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Dickinson, E.C. (ed.). 2003. The Howard and Moore complete checklist of the birds of the world. Third edition. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.

Gill, F., and M. Wright. 2006. Birds of the world: recommended English names. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.

Sibley, C.G., and B.L. Monroe, Jr. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT.

__________. 1993. A world checklist of birds. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT.

Stresemann, E., and D. Amadon. 1979. Falconiformes. Pp. 271-425 in E. Mayr and G.W. Cottrell (eds.), Check-list of birds of the world. Vol. 1. Second edition. Museum of Comparative Zoology, Cambridge, MA.

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