Books  Zoology  Ornithology  Taxonomy & Nomenclature 

The Scientific Nomenclature of Birds in the Upper Midwest

By: James Sandrock (Author), Jean C Prior (Author)

192 pages, b/w illustrations

University of Iowa Press

Paperback | Mar 2014 | #216490 | ISBN-13: 9781609382254
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £19.95 $24/€22 approx

About this book

The translation and explanation of genus and species names yield markers to help us identify birds in the field as well as remember distinctive traits. Having a basic understanding of the scientific and common names of birds reveals insights into their colour, behaviour, habitat, or geography. Knowing that Cyanocitta means "blue chatterer" and cristata means "crested, tufted" or that Anas means "a duck" and clypeata means "armed with a shield" tells you just about everything you need to identify a Blue Jay or a Northern Shoveler. In this portable reference book, James Sandrock and Jean Prior explain the science and history behind the names of some 450 birds of the Upper Midwest states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Since many of these birds occur throughout the United States, The Scientific Nomenclature of Birds in the Upper Midwest can also be used by birders in other parts of the country.

The authors examine the roots, stems, and construction of scientific names from their classical Latin and Greek or other linguistic origins. The translations of these words and insights into their sources yield quirky, tantalising facts about the people, geography, habitat, and mythology behind bird names. Each entry also includes the bird's common name as well as local or regional names. Beginning birders confused by scientific names as well as more experienced birders curious about such names will find that The Scientific Nomenclature of Birds in the Upper Midwest opens unexpected connections into linguistic, historical, biological, artistic, biographical, and even aesthetic realms.

Highlighting the obvious and not-so-obvious links between birds and language, this practical guide continues a long scholarly tradition of such books by and for those afoot in the field. Whether you are hiking with binoculars or watching a backyard bird feeder or reading at home, The Scientific Nomenclature of Birds in the Upper Midwest will greatly enhance your appreciation of birds.

Write a review

There are currently no reviews for this product. Be the first to review this product!


An active birder familiar with the ornithology of the United States, Canada, and Europe, James Sandrock is professor emeritus of German language and literature at the University of Iowa. With Jean Prior, he is the coauthor of The Iowa Nature Calendar (Iowa, 2007).

Jean Prior has been a research geologist for the Iowa Geological Survey, editor of the annual journal Iowa Geology and of the book Iowa: Portrait of the Land, author of Landforms of Iowa (Iowa, 1991), and lead author of Iowa's Groundwater Basics. With James Sandrock, she is the coauthor of The Iowa Nature Calendar (Iowa, 2007).

Bestsellers in this subject

Latin for Bird Lovers

NHBS Price: £14.99 $18/€17 approx

Lapwings, Loons & Lousy Jacks

NHBS Price: £19.99 $24/€22 approx

The Eponym Dictionary of Birds

NHBS Price: £59.99 $73/€67 approx

Whose Bird?

NHBS Price: £17.99 $22/€20 approx

Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names

NHBS Price: £39.99 $49/€45 approx