Birds


We have a division of labor in our household. I care about the spiders, Mary cares about the birds. She’s got feeders all over the yard, I raise flies and mealworms for the spiders. She’s signed up for FeederWatch, I tally up observations on iNaturalist. It’s not a competition, but she does score more daily points than I do. These are the birds she observed just yesterday.

House Wren, Common Grackle, American Robin, Pine Siskin, House Finch, Blue Jay, American Goldfinch, Downy Woodpecker, Eurasian Collared Dove, Yellow Warbler, Northern Cardinal, White-breasted Nuthatch, Chimney Swift, House Sparrow, Gray Catbird, Warbling Vireo, Chipping Sparrow, Black-capped Chickadee, White-throated Sparrow, Brown-headed Cowbird, Red-winged Blackbird, Purple Martin, Red-eyed Vireo, Trumpeter Swan, Swainson’s Thrush, Barn Swallow, Tennessee Warbler, Dark-eyed Junco, Hermit Thrush, Mourning Dove, Song Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Baltimore Oriole, American Crow, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Western Meadowlark, Common Yellowthroat, Wilson’s Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Indigo Bunting, Northern Flicker, European Starling, Eastern Bluebird, Hairy Woodpecker, Wood Duck, Common Nighthawk

OK, already. We got birds.

Comments

  1. StevoR says

    All at the feeder?

    Taking turns not fighting over it?

    Or in the garden or beyond generally?

    Impressive in any case.

    Now the list of observed spider species similarly observed would be… ?

  2. Matt G says

    I’m obsessed with my bird feeder. I got the “budget” bird seed, and the picky smaller birds flick away what they don’t want, and it ends up on the ground where the larger birds can get it.

    I highly recommend the Merlin bird identifier app that Cornell created. Lots of fun, even when birds don’t speak on command.

  3. Jack Krebs says

    A trumpeter swan? That’s a nice list. I assume she uses the merlin app to identify by song, maybe – true?

  4. asclepias says

    Purple martins? Damn! I had no idea they ranged that far! The only purple martins I’ve ever seen were from when I was working at Lava Beds National Monument in California.

  5. Tethys says

    I have spotted several swans in lakes this spring. They are very conspicuous with their bright white plumage and being enormous in comparison to geese.

    Whooping Cranes are another species that I spotted and heard a few times this spring. They are very reminiscent of dinosaurs.

    Both of these were brought back from critically endangered status, so it is wonderful to see them expanding their range.

  6. lasius says

    Sparrows and buntings? Weird. And here I thought there were no native sparrows or buntings in the New World.

  7. Tethys says

    @lasius

    House sparrows aren’t native to North America, but all the other species mentioned and more are common.
    The indigo bunting is also native, and not at all common.

    We lack Cuckoos, and the various colorful Tits.

  8. lasius says

    Well, indigo buntings aren’t actually buntings as I just checked.

    And neither are the sparrows mentioned actually sparrows. American common animal names are weird.

  9. Tethys says

    Should I mention Robins?

    Grosbeaks, Finches, Sparrows, Buntings
    Are all Fringillidae and they have a worldwide range. There are multiple native Buntings and Sparrows in NA.

    The non-native House Sparrow and Eurasian Tree Sparrow are Weaver Finches in the family Ploceidae, so it’s your sparrows which aren’t really sparrows.

  10. lasius says

    Grosbeaks, Finches, Sparrows, Buntings
    Are all Fringillidae and they have a worldwide range.

    No, only Finches are Fringillidae. Sparrows are Passeridae and buntings are Emberizidae.

    There are multiple native Buntings and Sparrows in NA.

    Not a single native member of Passeridae or Emberizidae. So your statement is false.

    The non-native House Sparrow and Eurasian Tree Sparrow are Weaver Finches in the family Ploceidae, so it’s your sparrows which aren’t really sparrows.

    No. They are in the family Passeridae, the sparrows. So they are true sparrows, while none of the American species are.

  11. Tethys says

    Lol, nein. That’s not what my field guide says.

    A passerine (/ˈpæsəraɪn/) is any bird of the order Passeriformes (/ˈpæsərɪfɔːrmiːz/; from Latin passer ‘sparrow’ and formis ‘-shaped’) which includes more than half of all bird species.
    Sometimes known as perching birds, passerines generally have an anisodactyl arrangement of their toes (three pointing forward and one back), which facilitates perching.

  12. lasius says

    Okay? What does this have to do with anything?

    We were talking abut families (suffix -idae), not orders. Yes, all the birds we were talking about are passerines.

  13. VolcanoMan says

    No Canada geese? Surely they have taken over your neighbourhood as they’ve taken over mine, in southern Manitoba. Easy points…I mean, if crows count, geese should as well. I’m even starting to see the first wave of goslings, presaging the extreme inundation to come.

  14. Tethys says

    @lasius

    You must have noticed that New World Sparrows are a real thing? It is very odd that you keep claiming that they aren’t really sparrows.

    Although they share the name sparrow, New World sparrows are more closely related to Old World buntings than they are to the Old World sparrows (family Passeridae). New World sparrows are also similar in both appearance and habit to finches, with which they sometimes used to be classified.

    My field guide lists many species of Sparrows, immediately after the Cardinals, Finches and Grosbeaks.

  15. lasius says

    Well as your quote accurately states, New World sparrows (Passerellidae) aren’t actually sparrows (Passeridae) and more closely related to buntings (Emberizidae). So as I said, there are no native sparrows in the Americas.

  16. Tethys says

    My quote is from ‘New World Sparrows, so noting that they are more closely related to Old World Buntings than OW Sparrows doesn’t render them ‘not sparrows’.

    The fox sparrow (Passerella iliaca) is a large New World sparrow. It is the only member of the genus Passerella, although some authors split the species into four.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fox_sparrow

  17. lasius says

    so noting that they are more closely related to Old World Buntings than OW Sparrows doesn’t render them ‘not sparrows’.

    Yes it does. Just because the common name in English has “sparrow” in it doesn’t make Passerellids sparrows. Or do you think jellyfish are fish, just because there’s “fish” in the common name?

    What’s next? Turtles are actually toads? In my native language the common name for turtle is “armored toad”. That doesn’t make turtles toads though.

    “New World sparrows” aren’t in the family Passeridae, so they are not actually sparrows. Easy as that.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fox_sparrow

    https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuchsammer

    The German common name is “Fuchsammer”, literally fox-bunting. Does that mean it’s actually a bunting? No.

  18. KG says

    Tethys@various,

    Which do you think were first called “sparrows”: those native to Europe (specifically, Britain), or those native to North America? European colonists in the Americas and elsewhere applied the common names of European birds (and other animals) to superficially similar species in the lands they were colonising. Sometimes these were genuinely closely related to the European originals, sometimes they were not.

  19. StevoR says

    @19. John Morales : “I’ve got chickens in the back yard. They’re birds.”

    My folks ahve chooks. I see a lot of magpies, eastern spinebills, ravens, the occassional Rosella or rainbow lorikeet and more.

  20. Tethys says

    @KG

    Precedence in naming has been subject to revision based on genetics. New World Sparrows – Passerillidae is the official classification given by ornithologists.

    The genera now assigned to the family Passerellidae were previously included with the buntings in the family Emberizidae. A phylogenetic analysis of nuclear and mitochondrial DNA sequences published in 2015 found that the Passerellidae formed a monophyletic group that had an uncertain relationship to the Emberizidae. Emberizidae was therefore split and the family Passerellidae resurrected.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_World_sparrow

  21. Alan G. Humphrey says

    There are several cuckoos, family Cuculidae, native to USA. Today I saw the New Mexico state bird, the greater roadrunner, with a small lizard in its beak, and which is the only member of Cuculidae native to where I live.

  22. beholder says

    There are lots of hummingbirds, kinglets, and goldfinches around at this time of year. Rarely I get to see larger birds, but they’re mostly scared away by the obligate hypercarnivorous birds (usually Cooper’s hawks and great horned owls) who are nesting nearby and who like to come to our yard for breakfast.

    If I’m lucky I can see any of: Gambel’s quail, roadrunners, turkey vultures, golden eagles, or migrating sandhill cranes.

  23. John Harshman says

    People, this is why we have Latin names. Common names are a mess. Birds variously called warblers, wrens, sparrows, buntings, robins, finches, grosbeaks, orioles, redstarts, and many other common names all belong to numerous different families in different places. Australian magpies aren’t even magpies. Nighthawks aren’t hawks. Meadowlarks aren’t larks. Owlet nightjars are neither owlets nor nightjars. Get over it.

  24. John Morales says

    Oh, right. Poesy. By England’s greatest 1-armed poet.

    Pointy Birds
    Pointy Birds,
    So pointy, pointy…
    Anoint my head,
    Anointy, nointy

    Should grackles chase,
    You, far away,
    You’ll point no more
    The pointed way

    And follow only lonely paths
    Like Jazz Musicians,
    Just smoking grass

    Once you were oh, so pointy, pointy
    Now dry, my head, no nointy nointy
    It aches and throbs, for lack of pointies
    So I lay me down, to dream of
    Crackers.

  25. lasius says

    @John Morales

    From Carmina Burana:

    Iam vernali tempore
    terra viret germine,
    sol novo cum iubare.
    frondent nemora,
    candent lilia,
    florent omnia.

    Est celi serenitas,
    aeris suavitas,
    ventorum tranquillitas;
    est temperies
    clara et dies,
    cantant volucres:

    Merulus cincitat,
    acredula rupillulat,
    turdus truculat
    et sturnus pusitat,
    turtur gemitat,
    palumbes plausitat,
    perdix cicabat,
    anser craccitat,
    cignus drensat,
    pavo paululat,
    gallina gacillat,
    ciconia clocturat,
    pica concinnat,
    hirundo et trisphat,
    apes bombilat,
    merops sincidulat.

    Bubo bubilat
    et guculus guculat,
    passer sonstitiat
    et corvus croccitat,
    vultur pulpat,
    accipiter pipat,
    carrus titubat,
    cornix garrulat,
    aquila clangit,
    milvus lipit,
    anas tetrinnit,
    graculus fringit,
    vespertilio et stridit,
    butio et butit,
    grus et grurit,
    cicada fretendit.

    Onager mugilat,
    et tigris raceat,
    cervus docitat,
    et verres quirritat,
    leo rugit,
    pardus ferit,
    panther caurit,
    elephans barrit,
    linx et frennit,
    aper frendit,
    aries braterat,
    ovis atque balat,
    taurus mugit,
    equus et hinnit.

    Lepus vagit,
    et vulpis gannit,
    ursus uncat,
    et lupus ululat,
    canis latrat,
    catulus glutinat,
    rana coaxat,
    anguis sibilat,
    grillus grillat,
    sorex desticat,
    mus et minnit,
    mustela drindrit,
    sus et grunnit,
    asinus et rudit.

    He sunt voces volucrum
    necnon quadrupedum,
    quarum modulamina
    vincit phenix unica.

    Iam horrifer Aquilo
    suavi cedit Zephiro,
    sole in estifero
    degente domicilio.
    dulcisona resonat harundo.
    floride cum floridis
    florent vites pampinis.
    odorifera
    surgunt gramina,
    gaudet agricola.

    Nunc dracones fluminum
    scatent emanantium;
    imber saluberrimus
    irrigat terram funditus;
    cataractas reserat Olimpus.
    redolent aromata,
    cum cinnamomo balsama.
    virent viola,
    rosa et ambrosia.
    coeunt animalia.

  26. John Morales says

    lasius, I can but bow my head reverently at such mastery of the form.

  27. lasius says

    I find it funny that even in medieval times people were writing down Latin poems that just list the sounds that animals make.

  28. KG says

    Tethys@25,
    Old World Sparrow:

    Old World sparrows are a group of small passerine birds forming the family Passeridae. They are also known as true sparrows, a name also used for a particular genus of the family, Passer.

    And from your own link:

    The genera now assigned to the family Passerellidae were previously included with the buntings in the family Emberizidae. A phylogenetic analysis of nuclear and mitochondrial DNA sequences published in 2015 found that the Passerellidae formed a monophyletic group that had an uncertain relationship to the Emberizidae.[1] Emberizidae was therefore split and the family Passerellidae resurrected.[2][3] It had originally been introduced, as the subfamily Passerellinae, by the German ornithologist Jean Cabanis in 1851.

    So the New World sparrow were originally misclassified as a subfamily of Passeridae: Passerellinae; the group was then shifted (as a subfamily), and subsequently given family rank (with a consequent change of name), but the name and status of the family Passeridae was unaffected by these changes.

  29. birgerjohansson says

    Would it be illegal to import a breeding population of kookaburras? Or hoatzis?
    It would make your local bird sounds even more interesting.
    -Also, are buzzards bona fide vultures or are they just in the same ecological niche?

  30. John Harshman says

    @KG: you misunderstood the reference. Passerellinae was a subfamily of Emberizidae, not Passeridae.

  31. Tethys says

    @KG

    Passerellinae; the group was then shifted (as a subfamily), and subsequently given family rank (with a consequent change of name), but the name and status of the family Passeridae was unaffected by these changes.

    Yes, and? They are still sparrows. Passer.
    It’s notable that lasius has not acknowledged that fact.

  32. lasius says

    @birgerjohanson

    Also, are buzzards bona fide vultures or are they just in the same ecological niche?

    Neither. Buzzards are Accipitrids of the genus Buteo. Like the common buzzzard or the red-tailed hawk (which incidentally, isn’t a hawk but a buzzard).

    The animals many Americans call buzzards are actually New World vultures (Cathartidae), not closely related to vultures (Accipitridae, subfamily Aegypiinae).

    So in conclusion. Vultures (Accipitridae subfamily Aegypiinae) are more closely related to buzzards (Accipitridae, genus Buteo) than to New World vultures (Cathartidae).

  33. lasius says

    Yes, and? They are still sparrows. Passer.
    It’s notable that lasius has not acknowledged that fact.

    I haven’t because they are not.

    Passerellidae is a distinct family from Passeridae. Not even closely related. Only Passeridae are sparrows. Ergo: Passerellinae are not sparrows. Easy as that.

    To quote wikipedia, like you did.

    Despite some resemblance such as the seed-eater’s bill and frequently well-marked heads, New World sparrows are members of a different family, Passerellidae, with 29 genera recognised. Several species in this family are notable singers. New World sparrows are related to Old World buntings, and until 2017, were included in the Old World bunting family Emberizidae.

    So they aren’t even closely related to sparrows. They are not sparrows.

  34. StevoR says

    A rose by any other name may still smell as sweet but seems a sparrow by any other .. taxonomic classification creates one helluva debate?

    Coz spoggies ain’t spoggies?

    W apologies to the Bard and fuck the oil company advertised..

    Does it matter to the birds?

    Seems it does for the birders.*

    (“Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad.” – Brian O’Driscoll apparently.

    https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/brian_odriscoll_680037

    But don’t let me stop yáll.. What family do the Aussie sparrows fit in?

    .* What’s the Linnean name for the Klingon Bird of Prey? What are the avian dinos like on Quonos and convergent evolution there or what?

  35. John Harshman says

    So they aren’t even closely related to sparrows. They are not sparrows.

    Or you could throw off the Euronormative shackles and realize that common names don’t have to reflect phylogeny. “Sparrow” isn’t a taxonomic term. Like “tree” or “toad”.

  36. John Harshman says

    What family do the Aussie sparrows fit in?

    There aren’t any Aussie sparrows, just three introduced species. Two of those are real Old World sparrows, Passeridae, and one is a Java sparrow, Estrildidae. No idea why nobody ever appropriated the name “sparrow” for any Australian birds, when they used pretty much everything else.

  37. KG says

    Yes, and? They are still sparrows. Passer.
    It’s notable that lasius has not acknowledged that fact. Tethys@38

    Passer is a genus of the Old World sparrow family Passeridae! RTFL.

    @KG: you misunderstood the reference. Passerellinae was a subfamily of Emberizidae, not Passeridae. – John Harshman@37

    No, I didn’t:

    The family Emberizidae was formerly much larger and included the species now placed in the Passerellidae (New World sparrows)…

  38. KG says

    As John Harshman said @42, common names don’t have to obey taxonomy. But this “What is a sparrow?” argument started when Tethys@12 bizarrely claimed;

    The non-native House Sparrow and Eurasian Tree Sparrow are Weaver Finches in the family Ploceidae, so it’s your sparrows which aren’t really sparrows.

    Neither the house sparrow, nor the Eurasian tree sparrow is a weaver finch in the family Ploceidae! Both are in the genus Passer within the family Passeridae. So Tethys, basing their claim on several errors in taxonomy, claimed in particular that the house sparrow, Passer domesticus, which was called a sparrow before there were any English-speakers in North America, is not a sparrow, while those superficially similar birds English speakers encountered in North America are sparrows!

  39. StevoR says

    @43.John Harshman : Thankyou. Something new learnt tonight by me. Appreciated.

    Birds are awesome but a little too quick for my reflexes and esp phone camera these days. Plant person* typing here. But, yeah, avian dinos – awesome too.

    .* Not literaly sadly. having the ability to photosynthesise would give me somuch more energy than I currently have. Sigh. Just metaphorically speaking in terms of my focus.

  40. John Harshman says

    @KG:

    No, I didn’t.

    Yes, you did:

    So the New World sparrow were originally misclassified as a subfamily of Passeridae

    The reference, however, refers to them as a subfamily of Emberizidae. And the original description is as a subfamily of Fringillidae. I’m not aware of any classification in which Passerellinae is considered to be within Passeridae.

    Anyway, New World sparrows are sparrows, New World warblers are warblers, New World blackbirds are blackbirds, New World orioles are orioles, New World quail are quail, tyrant flycatchers are flycatchers, and the American robin is a robin, so there.

    However, scarlet tanagers aren’t tanagers. There I draw the line.

  41. John Harshman says

    @lasius

    Complicated semantic problem. It may be that they are in your native language. Depends on whether they’re considered a sort of toad by the people who speak the language. Nobody thinks a decision tree is actually a tree, but people do think a song sparrow is actually a sparrow. (That doesn’t mean that they think it’s a passerid.)

  42. Walter Solomon says

    John Harshman #47

    However, scarlet tanagers aren’t tanagers. There I draw the line.

    What would them instead– black-winged Redbirds? They are like the opposite of red-winged blackbirds.

  43. says

    For what little it’s worth, as another researcher studying bird phylogenetics and systematics, I take the opposing view from Harshman and would consider only passerids to be “true” sparrows (making passerellids “not actually sparrows”). But yes, this type of semantic conundrum is exactly where the disambiguating value of scientific names comes into play.

  44. John Harshman says

    @Walter Solomon

    All the U.S./Canada “tanagers” are actually cardinals, members of the family Cardinalidae. But because “scarlet cardinal” doesn’t sound that great to me, I would prefer to rename them by their genus, Piranga, and so we get scarlet piranga, summer piranga, western piranga, etc.

    @albertonykus: do I know you? Passerids are of course “Old World sparrows”, not “true sparrows”. My New World chauvinism requires me to consider all our birds to be the true ones, if the choice must be made. We can at least agree, though, that New Zealand wrens and the various families of Australian wrens are not true wrens.

  45. beholder says

    @28 John Harshman

    Australian magpies aren’t even magpies. Nighthawks aren’t hawks. Meadowlarks aren’t larks. Owlet nightjars are neither owlets nor nightjars. Get over it.

    The penguin’s namesake and last representative of Pinguinus is extinct. By your logic, there are no more penguins.

    It’s semantic nonsense. People go around naming things without regard to rigid phylogenetic boundaries. Even if it allows for some mild confusion in other cases, I prefer to call a penguin a penguin because that’s what everyone else calls it.

  46. says

    @John Harshman No, I don’t believe we’ve met (beyond maybe the occasional passing interaction in a Tet Zoo comments section). Have enjoyed reading your research though!

    I’m a North American myself (albeit not currently living there), but I generally follow the logic that because the term “sparrow” and others like it were first applied to Eurasian groups and only later given to American and Australasian ones based on superficial similarity, that the former have a stronger claim to being the “true” bearers of those names. But under typical circumstances, I do refer to passerids as “Old World sparrows” (well, strictly speaking “Afro-Eurasian sparrows” would be my preference).

    And relating to the point made by @54 beholder: Yes, even I would concede that the the term “penguin” has become more strongly associated with the extant Southern Hemisphere group and would not insist otherwise.

  47. John Harshman says

    The penguin’s namesake and last representative of Pinguinus is extinct. By your logic, there are no more penguins.

    You underestimate my abilitty to wrestle logic into the desired conclusion. Penguins have inherited the name from the great auk, which no longer needs it. Priority is one criterion, but speciosity is another, geographic extent a third, and attractiveness might be a fourth. By various of these criteria, tyrannids are the proper flycatchers, spheniscids are the proper penguins, and parulids are the proper warblers. But I’ve asked them, and they’re all willing to share.

  48. Tethys says

    I appreciate John Harshman’s clarification of the latest developments in the official Latin nomenclature as applied to the group formerly known as Fringillidae (finches), which is now Cardinalidae. My field guide is outdated on the Latin, though of course the common names are unchanged.

    The House Sparrow is possibly the most common bird in North America, and has like wise been reclassified from a finch back into a sparrow using the latest genetic technology.

    The comment that started the debate over true sparrows vs false sparrows was this one.

    lasius@11- Well, indigo buntings aren’t actually buntings as I just checked.
    And neither are the sparrows mentioned actually sparrows. American common animal names are weird.

    Is embritz the common name of buntings in German?

  49. John Harshman says

    I appreciate John Harshman’s clarification of the latest developments in the official Latin nomenclature as applied to the group formerly known as Fringillidae (finches), which is now Cardinalidae.

    Not quite true. Fringillidae is still around. It just doesn’t cover as much as it used to. Nor did the house sparrow ever belong to either. It’s always been in Passeridae, long before there was genetic data.

    Indigo buntings aren’t buntings if you assume that means Emberizidae, as it does in Europe. There are no American emberizids, not even any introduced ones. We’re still going to call them buntings, even so.

  50. John Harshman says

    Birds that are called buntings occur in at least four families: Emberizidae, Cardinalidae, Passerellidae, and Calcariidae. In German most of them are called something-“ammer”, which we see a hint of in English “yellowhammer”. But some of them are something-“fink”. But not even all the “-ammer” are emberizids.

  51. Tethys says

    @John Harshman

    Not quite true. Fringillidae is still around. It just doesn’t cover as much as it used to. Nor did the house sparrow ever belong to either.

    Yes, I didn’t mean to imply that House Sparrows are included. The checklist in my field guide groups Cardinals, Finches, Buntings, and both European and NA sparrows as Fringillidae etc. I assume the etc refers to all the sparrows.

    I am intrigued by the Latin name Emberizidae. Latin nomenclature formed from a German word is unusual, but I’m not sure if Embritz is the current common name for a bunting in German. If so, it makes the vehement objections about buntings and sparrows make sense.

    I wasn’t expecting it to become a no true sparrow debate.

  52. lasius says

    As John Harshman said, the German namfor bunting is “Ammer” though I don’t know of a single bunting species that would be called “-fink.

    Nobody uses Embritz anymore.

  53. lasius says

    Incidentally, Alces alces, the scientific name of the elk, is another Germanic loan. And another animal that got a new name in North America.

  54. Tethys says

    Alces alces would be a Moose in North America, but Moose is an Algonquin word. Our Elk are Cervids.
    If Alc is Elk, does Ammer originally have the meaning of wheat-birds? (Emmer)

    Embritz looks like a good candidate for the etymologic root of the strange English word bird, which is brid in Old English. It’s not from the Old Norse word for birds, which is singular mus and plural misa. Mouse, mice.

  55. lasius says

    If Alc is Elk, does Ammer originally have the meaning of wheat-birds?

    Yes.

    Embritz looks like a good candidate for the etymologic root of the strange English word bird, which is brid in Old English.

    No. Embritz is just an old dialectal diminutive of Ammer.

  56. Tethys says

    Embritz is just an old dialectal diminutive of Ammer.

    What diminutive? OHG would stick an -el on the end.
    Embritzel or possibly embritzki. Embritzchen?

    I am endlessly surprised by German spelling.
    Embritz sounds like m-brids to English ears.
    It does explain Anglo-Saxon ‘brid’, as there was
    documented migration from the Rhineland and kingdom of Burgundy to Mercia in the Early Medieval period.

  57. lasius says

    Ammer -> Emmeritze -> Embritz

    I am endlessly surprised by German spelling.

    Why?

    It does explain Anglo-Saxon ‘brid’, as there was
    documented migration from the Rhineland and kingdom of Burgundy to Mercia in the Early Medieval period.

    Not really. For one, this would be an Allemannic term. But more importantly, it makes no sense temporally as OE “bridd” is attested from early medieval times, while Emmeritze/Embritz form is basically modern German. In OHG, that would have been something like “amarzo”.

  58. John Harshman says

    That’s a cardinal, not a bunting. Not a finch either though.

    Haven’t we been down that road enough? Are only fringillids finches? What, then, are estrildids? Should we rename Darwin’s finches too? And while we’re at it, which trees are the real trees? Obviously pines and elms can’t both be.

  59. lasius says

    Are only fringillids finches

    Yes.

    What, then, are estrildids?

    Dunno the English term, we call them “Prachtfinken”. But “Prachtfinken” aren’t “Finken” any more than jellyfish are fish.

    And while we’re at it, which trees are the real trees?

    Tree is an anatomical term, not a taxonomic term.

  60. John Harshman says

    Tree is an anatomical term, not a taxonomic term.

    So is “finch”. Incidentally, the German term for estrildid finches appears to be “-amadine”. But there are many fringillids that aren’t “-fink” in German; i’iwi, for example, are “Iiwikleidervogel”. So much for taxonomic terms.

  61. lasius says

    But there are many fringillids that aren’t “-fink” in German; i’iwi, for example, are “Iiwikleidervogel”.

    Taxonomic term doesn’t mean that every single species has to have that name as part of its common name. We don’t have “lion-cats” or “tiger-cats”. Doesn’t mean that they aren’t cats.

    Fringillids are finches, no matter what the individual species are called, and no other birds are, no matter what the individual species are called.

    Incidentally, the German term for estrildid finches appears to be “-amadine”.

    A few species bear that name, yes. But the common name for the family is “Prachtfinken”.

  62. John Harshman says

    Ha! I’iwis aren’t finches. “Finch” is a word that describes a bird with a particular sort of bill. It’s not a taxonomic term, not even in German. Hence “Indigofink”. Though I will say that German seems to follow recent taxonomic revisions much more closely than English does. I see that in German, Piranga “tanagers” are now “-cardinale” and Pteruthius “shrike-babblers” are now “-vireo”. Still, Geospiza “finches” are still “-fink”.

  63. lasius says

    Ha! I’iwis aren’t finches.

    Yes they are. They are members of Fringillidae, so they are finches. That’s like saying dunnocks aren’t accentors just because this one species doesn’t have accentor in its common name.

    “Finch” is a word that describes a bird with a particular sort of bill.It’s not a taxonomic term, not even in German.

    Citation needed.

    https://de.wiktionary.org/wiki/Fink

    Ornithologie: Vertreter der artenreichen Familie Fringillidae aus der Ordnung der Sperlingsvögel (Passeriformes)

    Still, Geospiza “finches” are still “-fink”.

    Yes, but despite that name, they are “Tangaren”. The common name has no bearing on wether they actually are finches.

  64. John Morales says

    [ :) ]

    I do love me some pedantry; such a shame I lack ornithological erudition.

  65. KG says

    John Harshman@47,

    The reference, however, refers to them as a subfamily of Emberizidae. And the original description is as a subfamily of Fringillidae. I’m not aware of any classification in which Passerellinae is considered to be within Passeridae.

    Thanks, I concede the point! I assumed Passerellinae must originally have been a subfamily of Passerellidae.

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