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Field Guides & Natural History  Ornithology  Taxonomy & Nomenclature

The Vanishing Mew Gull A Guide to the Bird Names of the Western Palaearctic

By: Ray Reedman(Author)
374 pages, b/w photos
The Vanishing Mew Gull
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  • The Vanishing Mew Gull ISBN: 9781784274627 Hardback Apr 2024 In stock
Price: £64.99
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About this book

Modern taxonomic studies have created a revolution in the genetic sequencing of bird families and have resulted in confusing changes to the names of many species, particularly in the scientific nomenclature. This book presents all the birds of the Western Palaearctic under the latest taxonomic scheme followed by the International Ornithological Congress. The geographic scope embraces about 10% of the world's bird species, covering almost 1,100 in total. Each species is considered in order, discussing aspects of both vernacular and scientific names, as well as supplementary information such as status, appearance and history. An introduction elucidates the history of the linguistic elements concerned, taking into account the major languages of Europe, and offers a condensed analysis of the 'authority' for any bird names.

Good dictionaries of avian names are thin on the ground: most are only partial in coverage, and the majority are word-centric. Hence, British and European birds have long lacked a work that truly wraps the names – both vernacular and scientific – around the birds themselves.

This reference will be appeal to any bird enthusiast, but also to those seeking out the background on particular species or simply trying to make some sense of what can seem like a somewhat confused scenario. Filling a critical gap, it will be a useful tool for any student of ornithology, whatever their level of experience.


About this book
The linguistic background

Wildfowl and gamebirds
Nightjars to pigeons
Rails to flamingos
Buttonquails to painted-snipes
Sandpipers to pratincoles
Gulls to tropicbirds
Divers to shearwaters
Storks to pelicans
Osprey to mousebirds
Hoopoe to parrots
Tyrants to larks
Bulbuls to silviid babblers
Parrotbills to treecreepers
Mockingbirds to chats etc.
Dippers to pipits
Finches to cardinals

Glossary and explanatory notes
Organisations and their acronyms
Who’s who? The names behind the names
Photographic captions and credits
Index of vernacular names
Index of scientific names

Customer Reviews


After graduating in French in 1962, Ray Reedman taught at an independent school, retiring as Senior Master in 1998. He has since focused on a variety of activities related to ornithology, including organising programmes, courses and field trips. He has also travelled and birded extensively abroad. His 2016 publication, Lapwings, Loons and Lousy Jacks: The How and Why of Bird Names, blends his love of language, literature and history with his enthusiasm for all matters ornithological.

By: Ray Reedman(Author)
374 pages, b/w photos
Media reviews

"Ray Reedman has produced a comprehensive etymology of both the English vernacular and scientific names of all Western Palearctic bird species. If you have ever wondered who Stejneger was, or what is the origin of the name Scoter (if known!), this is the book for you. This is a unique resource for anyone interested in how the names have evolved, what they mean, and how errors and misunderstandings have sometimes been perpetuated in the names we now use."
– Neil Bucknell, Vice President, British Ornithologist's Union

"The Vanishing Mew Gull explains in a fascinating way the origin of both the common and scientific names of our birds. After Reedman's explanation they all make sense, and it makes you look at birds in a different way. This is a must-have book for anyone interested in ornithology."
– Hein van Grouw, Senior Curator, Bird Group, The Natural History Museum at Tring

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