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Former good article nominee Ornithology was a Natural sciences good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
March 13, 2009 Good article nominee Not listed
WikiProject Birds (Rated B-class, Top-importance)
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This article has had a peer review which is now archived.
WikiProject Animals (Rated B-class, High-importance)
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Untitled edit[edit]

I am expert. I specialise in Geese and Ducks and would like to help improve your Ornithology article, particulary with respects to Geese and Ducks. George 22:03, 30 Sept 2006 Ornithological observations can be quite droll, but given the right author and perspective, the study of birds can come alive. The writings of both Annie Dillard and John James Audobon attest to each author’s natural affinity for birding. A passage from Audobon’s Ornithological Biographies, describing the patterns of a great number of pigeons, bears a striking parallelism to a passage from Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Each account varies in certain aspects of style and tone while agreeing on others. However, after examination, the bird patterns described in one may very well have been identical to those of the other. The interesting comparisons and contrasts between each author’s methods of describing the birds are reflective of the effects of the birds on each author. John Audobon and Annie Dillard’s rendering of birds contain some notable comparisons as well as some prominent distinctions. First, each account gives evidence of the excellent observational abilities of the author with specific and copious commentary by each on the patterns and behaviors of birds. However, equally as numerous are the differences in style between the two. For instance, the methods of observation clearly affect each author’s description. Audobon’s opening line, characteristic of most scientific accounts, describes the setting of his inspections, both time and place. Nowhere in Dillard’s piece is location described (accept the title). This shows the more technical nature of Audobon’s writing as opposed to Dillard’s artistry. Also, each writer’s use of metaphor is peculiar to his and her specific voice. Audobon’s metaphors and similes are short and scientific in nature, describing appearance instead of symbolism. “The air was literally filled with Pigeons; the light of noon-day was obscured as by an eclipse; the dung fell in spots, not unlike melting flakes of snow.” Distinctively, the extended analogy of Dillard’s composition portrays the beauty of the bird’s actions. Also, Dillard makes it evident that she is familiar with the craft of weaving. “They seemed to unravel as they flew, lengthening in curves, like a loosened skein… Each individual bird bobbed and knitted.” This achieves a more emotional effect than Audobon’s erudite comparisons. In addition, Audobon’s exact figures (“163 [dots] had been made in twenty-one minutes”) contribute to his mathematical description while Dillard’s approximations (“they flew directly over my head for half an hour”) reflect her opinion that exact numbers are irrelevant. The appendage to Dillard’s passage incorporates an aspect that is nonexistent in Audobon’s piece. While the introspective reflection logically follows her imaginative account, it sharply contrasts with the strictly informative description of Audobon’s passage. There are numerous similarities and differences between Dillard and Audobon’s descriptions. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:23, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

The "links" issue[edit]

This certainly needs sorting out. It seems quite odd that there are some links to organisations and not to others. Would something like a dmoz link at the bottom to ornithology sites help to tidy up the article a little. Equally the publications section seems to be advertising for some publications? --Herby talk to me 14:37, 9 October 2006 (UTC)


Should birdwatching garner an explicit mention somewhere under "Popular ornithology"? Circeus (talk) 07:32, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

Done. Shyamal (talk) 07:45, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

Some feedback[edit]

A MOS issue is naming of headings and avoiding repeating the article name in the heading title. eg. rename the 3 subheadings under history:

  • Antiquity
  • (something sciencey?)
  • Birdwatching

Remove 'ornithological' from 'techniques' heading.

Others I'll have to think about. cheers, Casliber (talk · contribs) 09:41, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

Thanks, have attempted another alternative. Made the other changes as well. Shyamal (talk) 10:07, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

It is a good choice of article and could be a really fascinating FA. I get this feeling it could/should be alot bigger and more comprehensive but I don't know at the moment what else should be in it. I'll have to think on this one. cheers, Casliber (talk · contribs) 10:13, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

The science of ornithology has a long history and the study of birds has helped in the development of numerous concepts in mainstream biology. - the 2nd part of this sentence is a bit vague. Being more specific would help. cheers, Casliber (talk · contribs) 10:14, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Birds have interested humans since very early times, and stone age drawings of birds are possibly the oldest indications. - oddly constrcuted sentence which ends rather abruptly. I know what you mean and it is a point which needs making and I too am puzzled how to phrase it. cheers, Casliber (talk · contribs) 10:16, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Rewritten a bit. The lead summaries will need some skilled copyediting. Perhaps a request on the League of CEs may help. Shyamal (talk) 10:50, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Erm, not yet. Wait till we're satisfied the article is comprehensive first. Otherwise you end up overrunning nice smooth text with new stuff. cheers, Casliber (talk · contribs) 11:28, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

Zebra finch genome[edit]

The draft genome has been publicly available since last summer, so it's not merely ongoing, even if there doesn't seem to be a journal article yet. Narayanese (talk) 19:37, 20 February 2009 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Ornithology/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Hi, I'll be reviewing this article. The rules for GA reviews are stated at Good Article criteria. I usually do reviews in the order: coverage; structure; detailed walk-through of sections (refs, prose, other details); images (after the text content is stable); lead (ditto). Feel free to respond to my comments under each one, and please sign each response, so that it's clear who said what.

When an issue is resolved, I'll mark it with  Done. If I think an issue remains unresolved after responses / changes by the editor(s), I'll mark it Not done. Occasionally I decide one of my comments is off-target, and strike it out

Thanks for bringing this to GA review - editors often prefer to avoid big topics because of the amount of research involved.

Sorry for taking so long to post comments - nearly a week since I signed up to review it. Apart fror real life, one of the difficulties is to see how to improve the article - there's a lot of interesting material, provided the citations stand up; but the structure is unclear and the relevance of some of the the points is also unclear. However these are things I think a determined editor could put right in a week or two.

Peer review[edit]

The Talk page says there's a peer review. Has this finished? There should not be 2 different reviews of the same article at the same time. --Philcha (talk) 19:05, 5 March 2009 (UTC)

I looked. There is no active page at WP:PR so I suspect it is closed. Casliber (talk · contribs) 23:31, 13 March 2009 (UTC)


  • Nothing about the palaeontology of birds? Thomas Henry Huxley, aka "Darwin's bulldog", noted the similarity of bird and dinosaur skeletons in the late 19th century, you'll find refs at Dinosaur and / or Origin of birds. Also Alan Feduccia, who is AFAIK an ornithologist rather than palaeontologist by training, has caused controversy (over 10 yrs ago now? see Origin of birds) by suggesting that the fingers that form birds' wings are not those that formed theropods' hands. It's your call how much detail you go into, and this may depend on how easy it would be for a reader to cross-refer to another article without losing the thread - wikilinks, "main articles", "see also" etc. are a bit of a lottery, as the potential link targets are sometimes not too helpful. --Philcha (talk) 19:05, 5 March 2009 (UTC)
  • Has molecular phylogenetics made any significant contributions to ornithology? --Philcha (talk) 19:05, 5 March 2009 (UTC)
  • Damn, there was another omission I noticed, but have forgotten what it was while writing the previous comments. I hope it comes back to me. --Philcha (talk) 19:05, 5 March 2009 (UTC)


  • The "History" section is a bit of a jumble. For example its current 3rd para notes how Xenophon describes the abundance of ostriches in Assyria, but it's unclear how the next sentence (brood parasitism by the Asian Koel) relates to historical geog distribution, and the rest of th para seems to be about bird art. The first problem is where to draw the line between historical and current ornithology - even the article gets muddled about this, e.g. sub-section "Scientific studies" says scientific ornithology emerged in Victorian times, but "Early History" gives some examples of quite respectable science, e.g Aristotle's observations of cranes' migration and Frederick II of Hohenstaufen's experiment (1194 – 1250) on how vultures depended on their eyes to find prey. As a result the chronological approach contains a mix of folklore and scientific aspects. Perhaps it might be useful to separate these aspects, but that would leave a difficulty about where to put the bloopers, e.g. hibernation of swallows or emergence of barnacle geese from sessile crustaceans. You might get some ideas on structure from the few articles on disciplines / fields of study that have reached GA - it appears none have reached FA.
  • While writing this I've been having a think, it's quite difficult to structure this. I think one major reason is the very fuzzy boundary between science, practical rules of thumb (farmers, hunters, etc.), the hobby, art, etc. - do other branches of zoology have such strong non-scientist participation? I suggest you sketch out a proposed structure here for discussion before making major changes. --Philcha (talk) 19:05, 5 March 2009 (UTC)
  • I suggest the item about the influence on Darwin be moved to "Relationships with other sciences" - this was not ornithology for its own sake. --Philcha (talk) 19:05, 5 March 2009 (UTC)
  • Likewise the stuff on ecology (species-area effect).
  • Ditto immunology. Although I'm less sure that this belongs in the article, as it was just a matter of using the birds as "white mice", not studying them as birds. --Philcha (talk) 19:05, 5 March 2009 (UTC)
  • Etc., including economics. --Philcha (talk)
  • Therer are several items whose relevance is no clear, e.g, the quality of Oriental bird art, Meyr and allopatric speciation. --Philcha (talk) 09:03, 6 March 2009 (UTC)
  • I'm in 2 minds about the the separation between "In the field" and "In the laboratory" - there's significant overlap / duplication in the apects of birds that can be studied in the 2 types of environment, e.g. migrations can be observed and also analysed by variations in hydrogen isotope ratios. --Philcha (talk) 19:05, 5 March 2009 (UTC)

A few other comments[edit]

  • Some of the English prose is quite poor, e.g. "In his day the Osprey was well known but disliked for it was believed to empty their fishponds (whose?); anglers used to mix their bait with its fat{so what?)" However I'd leave the copy editing until the structure's resolved and we know what the focus of each section should be. --Philcha (talk) 19:05, 5 March 2009 (UTC)

Result of this review[edit]

Apart from the note that the PR is no longer active, there's been no response to my comments in 3 weeks. I have to conclude that this article fails to reach GA standards. It's a pity because the article seems to have the ingredients, if they're baked right - and WP has too few GAs or better on high-level overview topics. --Philcha (talk) 08:37, 26 March 2009 (UTC)


  • It might be cool to mention that the Romans practiced a form of divination from the flight of birds -- some of our modern vocabulary derives from this. The person who did it was called an "augur", the thing he did was called "reading the auspices", and a good prediction was called "auspicious". This was a standard thing to do before any important action such as a battle. Looie496 (talk) 01:04, 13 March 2009 (UTC)

- - - - - please add review comments /responses above this line - - - - -
If you want to start a new section of the Talk page while this review is still here, edit the whole page, i.e.use the "edit" link at the top of the page.

Books on the history of ornithology[edit]

I added the reference to a fine and in my opinion highly relevant recent book on the history of the field: Valerie Chansigaud (2009): History of Ornithology. New Holland, London, ISBN 978 1 84773 433 4. But User:MrOllie deleted it. I'd be most grateful for an explanation. Ornithologician (talk) 17:41, 26 September 2010 (UTC)

In fact, I feel it would be good to add an earlier classic book of this type: Erwin Stresemann (1975). Ornithology from Aristotle to the Present. Harvard University Press. Ornithologician (talk) 17:50, 26 September 2010 (UTC)

In fact, while Stresemann is mentioned in the article, there is not a single citation to his work. Unless there are objections, I'd like to add the sources above. Ornithologician (talk) 17:54, 26 September 2010 (UTC)

You used it to reference the statement 'the science of ornithology has a long history', a trivial reference to an obvious statement. It seemed to me that the insertion was more about adding an artificial reference to the book than about adding and referencing useful new information. - MrOllie (talk) 18:03, 26 September 2010 (UTC)
Stresemann's books is a good source but it is not used here, a lot of the history there was already documented by Newton and others. So while something new may be cited, it is currently not needed as a support reference. A separate "Other sources" section could be added. As for the book by Valerie who is active on the French Wikipedia, the focus I believe is predominantly on art. May be useful for developing some other article on natural history art. Shyamal (talk) 05:39, 27 September 2010 (UTC)
I see the point about Chansigaud. But Newton (Ian, not Alfred) is cited three times; the earlier work of Stresemann not at all. I am afraid this does not really look like a balanced article to me. Ornithologician (talk) 20:02, 27 September 2010 (UTC)
Um... Not balanced because it doesn't reference the book you think it should? Find something new that it adds to the article (i.e. beside what's already referenced) and add it in. Otherwise, the article is already well-referenced. Yes, it's using somebody else's book, rather than Newton's. But unless Newton is saying something else — which isn't already included in the article — not using the Newton reference is hardly unbalanced! MeegsC | Talk 11:05, 28 September 2010 (UTC)
I guess you mean Stresemann's book, not Newton's. Wouldn't you agree that absence of citations to one of the century's preeminent ornithologists makes the article unbalanced? Are you saying we should always just cite the most recent textbooks and ignore the pioneers? For now I put it in the rudimentary Stresemann article... Ornithologician (talk) 19:01, 2 October 2010 (UTC)
It does not make the article unbalanced unless Newton has some point of view which is not being properly reported. - MrOllie (talk) 00:14, 3 October 2010 (UTC)
Put it in 'Other Sources' if you like, but far better just pick the best facts that it contains and the article doesn't, add them and cite to the relevant pages in Stresemann, and there'll be light instead of heat for once. All the best, Chiswick Chap (talk) 07:16, 25 April 2014 (UTC)

Proposed merge with History of ornithology[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
The result of this discussion was to Merge

4 years after its creation, this article is still duplicated and vastly outshined by Ornithology#History, which has much more thorough coverage. At the time of its creation, the creators invoked WP:DEMOLISH to avert a merge/deletion, but 4 years later WP:REALPROBLEM and WP:PUTEFFORT seem more appropriate (in essay terms, the "house" is already built, and History of ornithology is a cardboard box with a door drawn on it). It makes little sense to direct the reader to an impoverished subtopic article when the primary article already explains the topic in depth. --Animalparty-- (talk) 04:41, 25 April 2014 (UTC)

It's a lame effort as it stands, though as far as WP:PUTEFFORT is concerned, it does scrape over the bar (there are citations). As for being a WP:REALPROBLEM, it's real enough, and could fill large textbooks, so an article is justified: if well-written it would be far longer than the current (quite nice) section in Ornithology. For example, pioneers Bewick (ah, he's in a later section...) and Montagu are not even mentioned - you will easily find others - so an additional history is readily justified. Who knows, maybe I'll make a start on it. As always, we'll do better to work on articles than talk pages. See you there. Chiswick Chap (talk) 07:26, 25 April 2014 (UTC)
 Done Completed the merger. If you have any questions regarding it, ask me. Ljgua124 (talk) 06:22, 20 June 2014 (UTC)

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

Some thoughts about study classification[edit]

First, a disclaimer: I'm not an ornithologist. I'm not a biologist. I'm not even a scientist. As such, I won't feel very offended if you decide to take what I say here with grains of salt--I'd advise you to, in fact. Nonetheless, I believe this is a point worth mentioning:

In order to reach the ultimate conclusion that I want to share with you, I'm first going to need to construct a very boring and truistic series of axioms and deductions thereof. Bear with me, please.

1. All birds are dinosaurs.

2. All dinosaurs are reptiles.

3. Ergo, all birds are reptiles.

Don't worry, that's not my actual point.

1. Ornithology is the scientific study of birds.

2. All birds are reptiles.

3. Herpetology is the scientific study of reptiles.

4. Not all reptiles are birds.

5. Ergo, ornithology is a sub-discipline of herpetology.

This article states that ornithology is a branch of zoology--and that's not incorrect. Zoology encompasses all animals, which includes reptiles--and, therefore, birds.

But, leaving it at that isn't quite descriptive enough--to me, at least. We're missing an opportunity to disseminate additional information that is relevant to the subject, I would argue.

Now, I know the term 'reptile' is virtually meaningless, from a standpoint of systematics--however, in that light, the term 'reptile' is generally taken to be synonymous with 'diapsid'--a classification for organisms which have two temporal fenestrae in their crania. To put it in less fanciful terms, it just means that they have two gaps (excluding mouths and whatnot) in the back of their skulls. All of what we typically call 'reptiles' have this trait in common--or, if they do not, are descended from organisms which did.

With all that out if the way, the truly salient point here can be divulged: All birds are diapsids, too--as are/were all dinosaurs.

Some states actually require one to be a licensed herpetologist in order to own certain birds--mostly ratite birds, like emus, as I recall.

As such, I believe we should edit this article to where it sheds a proper amount of light on this little detail.

Oh, and sorry for taking so long to get that across. Ghost Lourde (talk) 17:31, 16 April 2015 (UTC)