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A major ornithological reference, giving the derivation and meaning of all valid scientific bird names. Over 8,500 names are defined, including some historical synonyms. Each species is listed both under the generic and the specific name, thereby allowing for future taxonomic revisions. After a short explanation of the history and purpose of scientific nomenclature, there is discussion of the ways in which birds have been named eg: for their appearance, or after a person or place.