Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Birds

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The justification given to support capitalisation of bird species names is that capitals would be useful to avoid possible confusion is some cases (e.g. Common Starling). One can understand these concerns, but capitals are not needed to avoid potential misunderstandings: anybody can use direct links to Wikipedia articles to make everything clear (e.g. common starling avoid any potential uncertainty). Mama meta modal (talk) 21:40, 14 March 2014 (UTC)

Using too many Wiki-links would be inappropriate and could disrupt the readers concentration having to do a lot of clicks to look at other pages. A printed hard copy will not have active Wiki-links. Snowman (talk) 19:01, 15 March 2014 (UTC)
@Mama meta modal: we only link at the first instance in an article anyway. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 19:06, 15 March 2014 (UTC)
The move request is a joint move request for four pages, but one of the pages is not like the other three. "Crowed Crane" (to "Crowned crane") is for a name of a group of birds and so the move to the lower case (un-capitalized) form is uncontroversial. The other three are names for bird species. I think that this combination of four pages should not have been bunched together. Snowman (talk) 10:24, 17 March 2014 (UTC)

Request for comments[edit]

There is now also an ongoing request for comments on the same subject: Talk:Crowned Crane#Request for comments.

Do not hesitate to come and comment on this question. Mama meta modal (talk) 08:52, 16 March 2014 (UTC).

Discussion on Crowned Crane talk page now advanced to covering about all bird pages[edit]

Now the discussion has become a Request for Comment on capitalization of all bird names (unless I am reading it incorrectly). Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 19:17, 15 March 2014 (UTC)

Listing on the dab page[edit]

Some recent edits to the Crowned Crane dab do not seem to me to be helpful, so I attempted to enhance the dab, but my edits were largely reverted, before I had finished. As far as I am aware the Red-crowned Crane is not called a "crowned crane", so I had put it in a new "See also" section with simple explanation to reduce confusion. I think that the dab could be re-classed as a "Set Index Article", which permits simple explanations. Alternatively, there may be a case for turning the dab to a redirect to Balearica, but that would need a RS for the specific use of "crowned crane" to refer to the genus. Any comments? Snowman (talk) 11:20, 17 March 2014 (UTC)

Do you know absolutely-positively, everywhere, that it is not? See IOC's position on standard group names at paragraph #10 at here. The idea of a disambig page is to help people find what they need. If we're going to declare that word A means B but not C, we have to provide RSs that say that. Point of process, since I'm the reverting editor, you should have been talking to me at my talk page or at the article talk page instead of by stealth reference somewhere else.NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 13:38, 17 March 2014 (UTC)
  • I wrote this here partly because the person who reverted my enhancements provided the edit summary; "Getting rather silly are we not?", which did not inspire me to communicate directly with that person; see reverting edit. Snowman (talk) 19:50, 17 March 2014 (UTC)
There's always WP:DR when you feel slighted, and if your alternative efforts when that happens might be perceived as stealth forumshopping it would probably be good to to at least use Template:User. At any rate, I feel the same way when I see edits based on "as far as I know". I suggest we call a truce and move on, with WP:FOC. If you've got RSs that negate the statement "crowned crane might refer to the Red-crowned Crane" by all means, restore your work. NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 20:19, 17 March 2014 (UTC)
The Wiki article on the Red-crowed Crane does not say anything about calling or classifying this species as a crowed crane. Perhaps, the person who wrote "Getting rather silly are we not?" will be able to provide RS to show that he is correct and that I was getting rather silly. Alternatively, perhaps he would say that he has no evidence to support his revert. Of course, the Grey Crowned Crane and the Black Crowned Crane both have a mass of gold-coloured plumes on their heads that could look like a crown (a superior sort of hat) to some. The Red-crowned Crane just has a blob of red on the top of its head, probably over its crown (anatomical expression for a part of the head), but it does not have a mass of plumes on its head. Snowman (talk) 21:00, 17 March 2014 (UTC)
What I meant was that it's a simple disambig page, and its only purpose is to help readers get where they're going. As such, a simple list best meets that purpose, at least in my opinion. Struck me as "silly" to add layers of complexity and parsing to a simple disambig page. Your mileage may vary. NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 01:06, 18 March 2014 (UTC)
@NewsAndEventsGuy FWIW, accusations of stealth editing aren't exactly AGF either Jimfbleak - talk to me? 07:16, 18 March 2014 (UTC)
I agree! As it says at AGF, you AGF unless there is reason to doubt. Is Template:User hard to use or something? At any rate, I'm going to stop posting here, and invite further discussion at my user talk page. Per the talk page guidelines, we really should be using this space for trying to improve Wikipedia:WikiProject Birds instead of duking it out over ed behavior, and mea culpa for starting us down the ed behavior path. Anyone feels the need, I agree to participate in the WP:DR process of their choice, but please bring it up at my user talk page. NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 08:29, 18 March 2014 (UTC)
Asking "What is the true start of this disagreement, setting aside subsequent ruffled feathers?" made me start thinking about how I read DABs, and I started wondering how ya'll view them? Most DABs, of course, start with "The word X might refer to.... A, B C." To me, such DABs do not define any etymological significance to the phrase being disambiguated. The language merely helps people quickly find the material they are looking for. However I can see that others might reasonably read DABs with a more authoritative voice, e.g., "Well gee, Wikipedia said it's OK to call Red-crowned Cranes just 'crowned crane'". Or from the editor's point of view, "We shouldn't encourage people to call Red-crowned Cranes just 'crowned crane'." And so the standard boilerplate
"The word X might refer to.... A, B C."
is ambiguous. Would it improve that specific DAB, and DABs in general, if the boilerplate were instead something more like
"If you searched for the word 'X', you might be looking for information on..... A, B, or C"?
To me that sort of boilerplate would reduce confusion/ambiguity as to the etymological significance of our disambiguation page, and would make it easier to compile them without disputes of the sort that arose in this instance. Of course, this is really a question for a broader venue, and I may pursue the matter at such a venue. For my part, the origins of this specific hiccup lie in this sort of etymological ambiguity, so do any of you who are also familiar with this instance have insights/improvements/condemnation of the idea? Let 'em rip! NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 09:44, 18 March 2014 (UTC)
My intention is to discuss the dab here with people who edit bird pages as a hobby or anyone who can advance the discussion. I did not expect any replies that mentioned stealth editing. I think that discussing RS for edits on bird pages is within the scope of this talk page. As far as I am aware, part names are not included in the main list of DABs, but I think that it is reasonable to put "Red-crowned Crane" in a "See also" section. I have not referred to this discussion as a dispute. The Template:Set index article (SIA) style for disambiguation pages is relevant, which permits more detail to reduce confusion. I was intending using the SIA format, so discussing the DAB format may be unnecessary. I will finish my planned work on the list, so that people can discuss the finished product (not work that was stopped by a reverting edit). I have tried my best to advance the discussion and be informative. Any comments? Snowman (talk) 10:27, 18 March 2014 (UTC)
Replied to part at talk page for Snowmanradio (talk · contribs) NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 19:36, 18 March 2014 (UTC)
(Later) The SIA idea is new to me. Thanks for bringing it upNewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 23:42, 19 March 2014 (UTC)

I'm not a bird project person, but I'd encourage you to go back to tagging it as a SIA. That format allows you to use references, and more extended descriptions than what the WP:MOSDAB allows. After repeatedly seeing editors removing useful content (that actually helped people figure out which ambiguous term they were looking for), on the grounds that it wasn't MOSDAB compliant, we've made most of the "DABs" on plant common names into SIAs. The downside is that SIAs don't have some of the bot-driven features of DABs (i.e. editors aren't notified when they link to the SIA, nor is it possible to flag SIAs with lots of incoming links), but I really think going with the SIA format for ambiguous common names of organisms leads to "disambiguations" that are more useful to the reader. See greasewood for an example of a plant where the looser format of SIAs is really taken advantage of. Plantdrew (talk) 23:04, 19 March 2014 (UTC)

Very useful comment that, thanks. NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 23:40, 19 March 2014 (UTC)
  • There is more discussion on the lists talk page at Talk:Crowned_Crane#Contents_of_the_"Crowned_Crane"_dab, where I have raised the helpful guidelines: "A disambiguation page is not a search index . Do not add a link that merely contains part of the page title, ..."; see WP:NAMELIST. This guideline affects the listing of Red-crowned Crane. As far as I am aware, the Red-crowned Crane is not a crowned crane, but happens to have "-crowned crane" as part of its common name. Snowman (talk) 10:24, 21 March 2014 (UTC)

The dab is getting IP edits reverting it to a format that includes the Red-crowed Crane in a simple list. The Red-crowed Crane is not in the Balearica genus and it not called a crowed crane. There are also guidelines about part names in dabs, which affect "Red-crowned crane". Three IP addressees have edited the dab and are all based in Switzerland. One IP reverted three times within 24 hours. Is it worth protecting the dab page for a while. Snowman (talk) 10:18, 25 March 2014 (UTC)


The discussion was closed (and the pages moved) on 26 March 2014, see Talk:Crowned crane#Requested move for details.

Mama meta modal (talk) 20:49, 26 March 2014 (UTC).

I don't believe there was a consensus to move all the pages. There was a small consensus that on the dab page "crowned crane" did not refer to a specific species, so the capitalization rule of WP:BIRDS did not apply. But the move has also been applied to Black crowned crane, etc. which are species. Is this now to be taken as a precedent to move all bird articles to sentence case? If so, a larger RfC is needed. Peter coxhead (talk) 23:21, 26 March 2014 (UTC)
Given past experience at the aircraft project and the "hyphen hysteria" (oh, pardon me, em- and en-dashes), this is likely to be continually hammered and hammered and hammered at until the project gives up in disgust... - The Bushranger One ping only 23:39, 26 March 2014 (UTC)
The problem for Wikipedia is that what typically happens is not that the WikiProject reluctantly accepts its views being over-ruled but that at least some individual members of the WikiProject give up editing in disgust. The number of WP editors continues to decline; there's a constant call for editors with more expertise; yet when such editors appear and apply their expertise, all and sundry jump up and down criticizing and attacking them. Peter coxhead (talk) 00:20, 27 March 2014 (UTC)

This was a highly questionable close - so I have opened up a Move Review at Wikipedia:Move review/Log/2014 March Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 00:26, 27 March 2014 (UTC)

Agree. I think it was a nice trick to mix multiple discussions and confuse anyone about what was being debated. Shyamal (talk) 00:52, 27 March 2014 (UTC)
Peter coxhead, did you mean you think that the admin's closing was incorrect/questionable, or that the admin's closing only pertained to one of the four articles (i.e., "Crowned crane")? The admin who closed the discussion renamed all four articles titles using lower case. Regarding capitalization within the articles:
  • In "Crowned crane", the closing admin also changed the three IOC-listed species names to lower case within the article ("black crowned crane", "grey growned crane", and "red-crowned crane"), but left the non-IOC-listed synonym "Japanese Crane" as upper case.
  • "Black crowned crane" is having a minor edit war, and currently uses upper case in the article text, but uses lower case in the taxobox.
  • "Grey crowned crane" currently uses lower case in the article text, including for common names of its non-IOC-named subspecies and the non-IOC name "black-crowned crane", but uses upper case in the taxobox.
  • "Red-crowned crane" currently uses lower case in the lede and taxobox, and changed "crane" to lower case in the synonymous non-IOC-listed common name "Japanese crane", but uses three capitalization variations arbitrarily in the rest of the article: "Red-crowned Crane", "Red-crowned crane", and "red-crowned crane". Common names of other bird species in the rest of the article use upper case, except for "white-naped crane".
I'm not picking sides, just stating facts. :-) Agyle (talk) 15:39, 27 March 2014 (UTC)
Good point. I agree that when "crowned crane" applies to a genus or group of species it should not be capitalized. So the disambiguation article "Crowned crane" is correctly titled. But unless and until the current consensus supporting the use of capitalized IOC names is changed, IOC names should remain capitalized both as titles and in running text. Peter coxhead (talk) 17:09, 27 March 2014 (UTC)
Yes. The mixing of the dab page change and the changes to an arbitary bunch of species articles was a problem from the beginning. Shyamal (talk) 18:42, 27 March 2014 (UTC)
You mention a consensus for capitalisation, could you give us the reference? It might be only a limited local decision... (WP:CONLEVEL). What is more, Wikipedia did not say that nobody should ever refer to the work of the International Ornithological Committee, it simply said that we do not follow the same capitalisation rules as them. Mama meta modal (talk) 19:54, 31 March 2014 (UTC).
WHich, you mean in real life, like this one? Or here somewhere? Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 19:58, 31 March 2014 (UTC)
I think too much importance is given by those who read the MoS to decide whether a particular capitalization rule is "correct" or not. Most substantial editors on Wikipedia, I suspect, prefer to write in a specific area rather than to decide style policies that cover the vast diversity of topics that Wikipedia covers. Who among us would know that it is "Hermitian matrix" (after Charles Hermite) but "abelian group" (after Niels Henrik Abel) other than editors who actually work on mathematics. I am not sure it helps to label a decision like that as being something to deplore as LOCALCONSENSUS. Editors contributing substantial content need to be able to find the "convention" in use and not worry beyond that. Capitalization, following the IOC list, is for most of us just a convention, one that allows project-contributors to collaborate meaningfully on the substantial aspects without wasting time. If the technical means existed for applying a new convention across the 10000+ species articles, I suspect that more here would be happy to consider options. Here is a nice little essay on conventions in writing - Shyamal (talk) 10:41, 2 April 2014 (UTC)
It's not about what's "correct"; it's about what's most useful to our general readership, which is not forcing what most of them see as ungrammatical style tweaks on all of them for no net gain.
  1. Not even ornithologists agree that capitalization of bird common names is "correct" within their own publications, and even where some of them of course do, they don't even agree on how to do it. There is no real convention here; there's a would-be convention advanced by one organization, a kind of "UN" of ornithology about which many regional, longer-established authorities are skeptical (it's stepping on their toes), and the practice is not universally accepted even within the field to which it pertains. Advancing this as a "standard" that Wikipeia "must" use is a blatant falsehood. WP:LOCALCONSENSUS isn't about "labeling" and "deploring", it's about stopping division "we are our own sovereign entite and these articles are ours" behavior by wikiprojects and other small, self-selecting groups of editors. MOS people didn't write that. That policy was written by the community in response to multiple WP:RFARB cases along the same lines.
  2. All serious, ongoing multi-author publications have style guides, at one level of formality or another. All ornithologists are used to adapting their style to whatever publisher they are submitting something to, and we all know here that not only do virtually no journals outside of ornithology permit capitalizing bird species names even in ornithology articles, but some ornithology journals don't use it either, nor do most newspapers, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other mainstream sources. Field guides are a non-issue; they all, on all topics, capitalize or use boldface or both as a form of emphasis as a reading aid. It's not an encyclopedic style, but a highly specialized one for field guides. WP is a mainstream, general-readership source, not one of the select IOC-camp ornithology journals, and not a field guide. See WP:SSF for more detail (it's an essay that explores the reasoning in more detail for why MOS does not and cannot prescribe every specialist style quirk, especially when they conflict with normal English usage).
  3. There is no conspiracy against this project and you need to stop these persecution complex histrionics, and treating project members like me who disagree with some of you as "enemies" in a "style war" (not my term - it originated here). People just disagree with you. No amount of insisting (incorrectly) that you have a "convention" and a "standard" and that reliable sources completely support you is going to change that. It's not some cabal of MOS people, but people from all over the project at all levels of involvement who disagere with you. No MOS regulars had anything to do with that RM case (and probably won't with the next, or the next, or the next - they have better things to do than stalk bird article talk pages). The issue is never going to go away because the average readers (you know, those people we're actually writing an encyclopedia, not an ornithology secret club website for?) have a consistently predictable, immediate and often visceral "what on earth is this illiterate capitalization doing here?" reaction every time they enter a birds article here. It's a serious WP:NABOBS PR problem for Wikipedia, a thousand times a day here. Meanwhile precisely zero ornithologists or birdwatchers cannot recognize a bird common name that isn't capitalized; it's a habit every single one of the participants in this project (who agree with it at all, which isn't all of them) picked up as adults, and you all know it is a specialist-publication convention. And no one buys the disambiguation reason. You distinguish the species Mexican jay from jays of multiple species in Mexico by simple writing and linking, as I just did in this very sentence.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  22:10, 7 April 2014 (UTC)
PS: Analogizing there being a difference between "Hermitian matrix" and "abelian group", to this project asserting that birds must specially capitalized here, is a false equivalence. There is no project claiming that all scientific concepts named after a person must be capitalized and that it's a convention they can force on everyone else. There are no mainstream style guides insisting that abelian be capitalized or Hermitian lower-cased. There is no evidence that lower-casing of abelian is some quirk that is not permitted in more general science journals or in mainstream writing. Basically, nothing about this is comparable to the bird caps situation at all.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  22:16, 7 April 2014 (UTC)
Response to your points.
  1. "There is no real convention here" - Just because there is a debate does not mean we should not stick to some convention. There is probably something to debate on just about any Wikipedia article. Guidelines exist to help in making choices when multiple names and representations exist. I am not sure of the history but Polbot and early users have used a particular style on a large number of articles. Our guidelines reflect the majority usage and may have been perhaps a choice that was forced by the pioneers. Sometimes you stick to pioneers simply because change is costly and involves a lot of work but it may also be acceptable because it is not entirely "wrong". The vast majority of editors here will never know to find or look up the Wikipedia style page but will look at exemplars and work in a similar way, perhaps even copy paste and then edit. Comparing newspapers (not even a reliable source for technical subjects!), dictionaries (non-specialist dictionaries are for the most part not even considered reliable), encyclopedias (a tertiary source is at best an outline meant for starting off research) is not particularly helpful. Your suggestion that Wikipedia is for general readership and should therefore be a shallow work of scholarship is something that may need more supporting user preference data. The idea for most editors, at least in the high quality articles is to offer a range of depths for the reader. The ideal article provides a general outline in the lead and delves into serious specialist level further on. (for an example of something that perhaps a general users will never have to worry about - see Laplace transform - as far as the talk page goes, nobody has had a visceral responses to it just because they did not understand it)
  2. "... the practice is not universally accepted even within the field to which it pertains. Advancing this as a "standard" ..." - You do not seem to realize that there really is no such thing as a taxonomic gold-standard. Every author actually has a right to decide whether something should be published as a new species and if it has been wrongly considered as a new species, another author has the right to sink it as a synonym. That process is not controlled by anyone. In fact most of science is not controlled. That would be counterproductive. The one organization that exists, the ICZN, only governs the rules of naming. It does not decide on circumscription, or what characteristics decide on membership to a particular species. The interpretations of species limits is what taxonomic and systematic research are about and nothing is static. That is precisely why we need a guiding standard (and exceptions can be made and are indeed made now and then) - there are many to choose from - the IOC list has some advantages over others - i) it is free and accessible; ii) regularly updated; and iii) we do have an option to argue with the IOC on any bad name usages or other issues.
  3. "All serious, ongoing" publications work with a hierarchical setup where house rules are applied without discussion. WP is not such a place.
  4. "have a consistently predictable, immediate and often visceral "what on earth is this illiterate capitalization doing here?" - that this is actually so is something that needs supporting data. My own suspicion is that style is probably way down in impact on the list of quality indicators. You get enough "visceral" responses to just such things as "color" v. "colour" but we (at least the majority who are in good mental health) can learn to live with this and a lot other inconsistencies.
  5. "by simple writing and linking" - one of the rules on Wikipedia is that you link only on the first use and in an article titled X you never link X.
  6. "Analogizing ... difference between "Hermitian matrix" and "abelian group", to this project asserting that birds must specially capitalized here, is a false equivalence" - you are interpreting this wrongly. One of the claims being made is that WP:BIRD is the sole offender of consistency because some/most of the "members" there apparently show some kind of holier-than-thou attitude by way of their expertise (reading between the lines of SMcCandlish's personal essay Wikipedia:Specialist_style_fallacy). The reality is that there are so many deviations from the standard style across the fields, maths, astronomy, breeds, cultivars, chemistry, pharmacy, biology and that these are sometimes very specific and need to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Fundamentally, at least for me, this is a mass collaboration project, across fields, with a vast diversity of editors, style rules should be minimal and allow for deviations based on what reliable sources on the specific field follow. That would be the way to actually go forward if collaboration is considered important.
The feeling I get is that you are tilting at this windmill (WT:BIRD) more often simply because it has more active editors.
Coming to the topic of capitalization itself, I have checked something on the history of capitals usage. This seems to be a tradition that is fairly old and found on both sides of the Atlantic in bird publications. There are lots of inconsistencies as well. There are of course bird books that avoid some problems by using other typographical means such as SMALLCAPS. Related to the topic are lots of philosophical underpinnings on the idea of species and there are numerous debates. There are major philosophical debates on whether a species should be considered as an entity or as a group of individuals. That in turn leads to numerous debates whether we should write "the Formicidae are" or "the Formicidae is", both of which are correct and depend on whether we are talking about the family entity or the members of the family. Similarly "The [G|g]olden [E|e]agle is" or "[G|g]olden [E|e]agles are" can depend on whether we talk about the species as an entity or about individuals of the species. Assuming for the moment that we do agree to go ahead with lower case usage, converting the case of 10,000+ species may seems mechanical but numerous rewrites may be needed to resolve the species-as-entity and species-as-individuals ambiguities. Based on a few sample pages of the Handbook of the Birds of the World (the single most comprehensive reference on birds), it seems like family introductions use capitalized bird names in running text, but species descriptions often make use of Latin abbreviated binomials in running text (and I agree that is not for a generalist audience). The results of not making appropriate amends after conversion to lower case would leave us in a situation where far more people would be exposed to many more "visceral" responses and in far more pages. (For example, if someone were to write some notes on the species and distributions in the genus Cisticola, it would be difficult to understand lower case writing and it would be far better to stick to binomials) I am no expert on philosophy and linguistics, but it is quite evident that the whole topic remains and will remain contentious not just here but among specialists and in reliable/peer-reviewed literature. Shyamal (talk) 06:03, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Atkins, Anselm (1983). "The capitalization of birds' names". Auk 100 (4): 1003–1004.  - supports lower case, notes that ornithological usage is curiously insular and suggests that the use of adjectives such as "common," "eastern," "lesser," or "gray" in a bird's name is a mistake that could be fixed. This is in response to the capitalization convention included in [COUNCIL OF BIOLOGY EDITORS. 1978. Council of biology editors style manual: a guide for authors, editors, and publishers in the biological sciences, fourth ed. Arlington, Virginia, Council of Biology Editors]
  • Potter, Eloise F. (1984). "On capitalization of vernacular names of species". Auk 101 (4): 895–896.  - This of course has been dismissed by SMcCandlish as "non-sense".
  • Jensen, Richard J. (2011). "Are species names proper names?". Cladistics 27 (6): 646–652. doi:10.1111/j.1096-0031.2011.00357.x.  - "Some argue that species names are Millian proper names: names that have no meaning. Others have countered that species names are Millian general names that have stipulative definitions. Here I argue that species names belong to neither category. In particular, unlike Millian proper names, species names have unique referents and are connotative. Further, species names are names of intension that, unlike Millian general names, refer to specific collective entities. Because species names have unique properties not associated with Millian general or proper names, but recognizing the similarity to proper names in most respects, I propose that they be categorized as extra-proper names."
  • de Queiroz, Kevin (2011). "Plural versus Singular common names for Amphibian and reptile Species". Herpetological Review 42 (3): 339–342.  - "use of singular common names as the equivalents of the scientific names of species is inconsistent with modern species concepts and the meanings of the words from which the names are formed, and therefore, that plural common names should be used instead", "Under the interpretation of the common names of species as proper names (e.g., Parkes 1978; Potter 1984), those names are commonly capitalized. However, because common names are more appropriately interpreted not as the names of species as wholes but as names of the sets of organisms of which species (as population lineages) are composed (de Queiroz 1995), common names are not, strictly speaking, the names of individual species. Therefore, they are not proper nouns and need not be capitalized (compare Atkins 1983). This conclusion is consistent with the use of common names for the organisms comprising our own and other species (“humans,” “dogs,” “cats,” etc.), which generally are not capitalized. I am not arguing however, that common names should not be capitalized. There may be other reasons for capitalizing common names, such as distinguishing the common names of species from general descriptions of organisms (e.g., “Green Frogs” versus “green frogs”) and ease of recognition while reading (Nelson et al. 2002; Parkes 1978).
  • McKinsey, Michael (2010). "Understanding proper names.". Linguistics and Philosophy 33 (4): 325–354. doi:10.1007/s10988-011-9080-y. 
  • - Summary: you do need to follow specialists
  • - Summary: it does produce emotional responses
  • Newton, Alfred & Hans Gadow (1896). A dictionary of birds. London: Adam and Charles Black.  - One of the first specialist dictionaries in ornithology - written by Alfred Newton (Cambridge Professor who was not particularly "illiterate")- uses capitals. Newton wrote the entry on Ornithology in the 9th edition of the Encylopaedia Britannica - and you can see it here. So EB was not above using capitals either.
@Shyamal: - I think you'd better paste all these links above at Wikipedia_talk:Manual_of_Style#Evidence_supporting_option_2 and quickly. I'd do it myself but can't claim the attribution.....Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 12:31, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
@Casliber: Feel free to re/use content here. I am not particularly motivated to enter these tiresome discussions. Shyamal (talk) 14:03, 9 April 2014 (UTC)

Another bird name discussion[edit]

Re; Wikipedia_talk:Manual_of_Style#A_new_proposal_regarding_bird_article_names. Snowman (talk) 15:19, 9 April 2014 (UTC)

I despair. Narrow-minded pedants wanting to ride rough-sod over birding tradition. A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds [1] Chuunen Baka (talkcontribs) 17:05, 9 April 2014 (UTC)

New discussion[edit]

The important discussion started on Talk:Crowned crane and Wikipedia:Move review/Log/2014 March#Black crowned crane now moved to Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style#A new proposal regarding bird article names.

Mama meta modal (talk) 21:05, 9 April 2014 (UTC).

Current state of African Grey Parrot/Timneh Parrot taxonomy...[edit]

See Talk:Talking_bird#Taxonomy_of_African_grey_parrot. What's the current situation with regards to the African Grey Parrot and the Timneh Parrot being considered separate species? BirdLife International split them in 2012, but it seems that the WP articles have not been updated to reflect this - they're still showing them both as subspecies. Is there any particular reason why it was decided not to go with the new taxonomy? --Kurt Shaped Box (talk) 20:50, 23 March 2014 (UTC)

My opinion is that the split should be accepted here, that most of the material in African Grey Parrot should be moved to Congo Parrot or Congo Grey Parrot, with a genus article called African grey parrot or possibly Psittacus. Maias (talk) 01:24, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
See also the previous discussion from June 2012; Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Birds/Archive_61#New_African_Grey_Parrot_split. Snowman (talk) 11:09, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
  • I think everyone agrees, it's just a matter of somebody doing it.... FunkMonk (talk) 20:50, 26 March 2014 (UTC)
Timneh Parrot has been changed now. I also created a stub at Psittacus. The African Grey Parrot article is quite daunting... :) --Kurt Shaped Box (talk) 20:39, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
I also think (and I am aware that not everyone will agree) is that there is a hell of a lot of redundant verbiage in the common names, and that it would be simplest to have 'Congo Parrot' and 'Timneh Parrot' for the species and (if not Psittacus) 'Grey parrots' for the genus. Shoehorning 'African' in as well is unnecessary when Timneh and Congo both indicate more specific range. Maias (talk) 23:17, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
No, we won't agree, per WP:COMMONNAME. "African Grey Parrot" is what everybody refers to it as, if that's redundant it should be taken up with the greater world. - The Bushranger One ping only 23:39, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
That's fine as the genus common name - i.e. 'African grey parrots' - but, for the species, adjectiveally overdone names such as (for example) 'Timneh African Grey Parrot' are grotesque. Maias (talk) 01:07, 30 March 2014 (UTC)
Prior to splitting the taxa were called "Congo African Grey Parrot" and "Timneh African Grey Parrot" and I think that these names should be kept on the Wiki unchanged until other names become established. As far as I can see, the new genus is called Psittacus and it does not have any other name. Snowman (talk) 20:49, 30 March 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, 'Congo African Grey' and 'Timneh African Grey' just seem to be the names that are commonly used in the real world. There are others too, such as 'Cameroon African Grey', 'Ghana African Grey' and 'Princeps African Grey' that are sometimes still used, but I think it's been established by now that these don't actually exist as separate taxa. --Kurt Shaped Box (talk) 21:25, 31 March 2014 (UTC)
I think that the current page for the African Grey Parrot could make a good bases for a genus page, so it could be moved to Psittacus. Then new pages for "Congo African Grey Parrot" and "Timneh African Grey Parrot" would need to be enhanced. Most of the work is relabeling, because most of the details of the two taxa are already present. Snowman (talk) 09:36, 2 April 2014 (UTC)
The Timneh Parrot has been accepted by the IOC on Thursday --Melly42 (talk) 10:19, 5 April 2014 (UTC)
OK, that makes it clearer what to call it on the Wiki. Snowman (talk) 19:01, 5 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Yes, I think that the two are a forked topic. It might be best for a specialist administrator to do the merge to retain as much of the edit history as possible. Snowman (talk) 21:24, 6 April 2014 (UTC)
Psittacus was just a redirect before I created the current stub. Not much history to merge, really. --Kurt Shaped Box (talk) 22:49, 6 April 2014 (UTC)
Is African Grey Parrot the proper name then? Is there any evidence this would cover the genus (the distinction is of course redundant now, as the clades both only contain the same two species) as well? FunkMonk (talk) 01:09, 7 April 2014 (UTC)
Excuse me, I do not understand what User Funk Monk is asking or why. My assumption is that the genus and the two species should each have a separate Wiki article. As far as I am aware, "African Grey Parrot", "Grey Parrot" (Grey or Gray can both be used) are widely used common names for one the species. Of course, if there is a RS that would verify a common name for the new genus, then that common name would be a candidate for the name of the genus article on the Wiki. The Scientific name for the genus would be used on the Wiki in the absence of a RS that says that the genus has a common name. Snowman (talk) 09:07, 7 April 2014 (UTC)
Would this work: for simplicity User Kurt Shaped Box could copy most of the Psittacus page to the introduction of the African Grey Parrot page (there would not be an attribution problem, because the text on the Psittacus page is all his work), delete the Psittacus page, and then move the African Grey Parrot article (with its long edit history) to Psittacus. A new article about the species African Grey Parrot would then need creating. When the page structures are ready, then perhaps discussions would clarify what needs to go on each page. Snowman (talk) 09:17, 7 April 2014 (UTC)
I'm not sure which part of my comment you misunderstood, because you seem to have answered my question with your follow up. FunkMonk (talk) 13:34, 7 April 2014 (UTC)
I note that the main pages have been moved, but "Talk:African Grey Parrot" needs to be moved the the new genus page to follow its main page. Snowman (talk) 18:39, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
Update: This move has been completed. Snowman (talk) 12:15, 10 April 2014 (UTC)

Anyhow, says that "recognition of subspecies P.t. princeps under review". Does that mean that they're thinking of bringing the Princeps African Grey back now? As a subspecies of the TAG now? --Kurt Shaped Box (talk) 20:59, 7 April 2014 (UTC)

  • It sounds like someone is thinking about it. I wonder if the conclusion will be controversial or widely accepted. Snowman (talk) 18:30, 9 April 2014 (UTC)

Would someone who knows how to do this and make it look good be able to create a range map for Psittacus erithacus, please? We don't have one yet (that I could find), though there is one for timneh already... --Kurt Shaped Box (talk) 23:19, 10 April 2014 (UTC)

I could if you show me a source I can base it on. FunkMonk (talk) 05:37, 13 April 2014 (UTC)
Cool, thanks! :) This looks like a good one that you could use. --Kurt Shaped Box (talk) 07:39, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
How's this?[2] FunkMonk (talk) 12:12, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
May need indication of the ranges of the two new species. Snowman (talk) 19:51, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
I'd need a source for that too. FunkMonk (talk) 02:45, 15 April 2014 (UTC)
Forshaw has a range map in his identification guide to parrots. The smaller range including Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast is for the Timneh. The larger range and the islands are for the Congo. In this book the range for the Timneh is only approximately half of the area on the above internet image being only that part nearer to the coast. I have no idea which is the more accurate. I would write in the reference on a Commons image, if you use this information to make the map. Snowman (talk) 09:52, 15 April 2014 (UTC)
The rangemap at the BirdLife link I posted is for the Congo Grey alone. Here's the page for the Timneh to compare... --Kurt Shaped Box (talk) 11:19, 15 April 2014 (UTC)
The two ranges linked to external websites are approximately consistent with the range map in Forshaw 2006 for the two species. Snowman (talk) 13:09, 15 April 2014 (UTC)
So, if we're going to assume that the BirdLife maps are accurate and up to date, then File:Timnehdist.gif needs updating on Commons to include the Timneh population in Guinea-Bissau. --Kurt Shaped Box (talk) 16:34, 15 April 2014 (UTC)
So the map is ok? FunkMonk (talk) 20:50, 15 April 2014 (UTC)
Looks great to me! Provided that no-one else has any objections, I'd say job done... --Kurt Shaped Box (talk) 22:45, 15 April 2014 (UTC)
Alright, added. Seems we need a new Commons category for the other species, by the way, and then to recategorise a lot of images. FunkMonk (talk) 03:32, 16 April 2014 (UTC)

Birds for identification (159)[edit]

Looks like an adult female L. c. lucionensis. Even disregarding the date, the plumage is too developed for juvenile. Possible that it's a first winter female rather than full adult, but that's just guessing since I know almost nothing about this ssp. Jimfbleak - talk to me? 20:35, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
I agree; ID details indicate both are Great Egret. Nice images. Maias (talk) 23:31, 10 April 2014 (UTC)
@JJ Harrison: - please do make the corrections to your excellent images. Shyamal (talk) 06:21, 11 April 2014 (UTC)

RFC on NCCAPS[edit]

WP:Naming conventions (capitalization) (WP:NCCAPS) has a new RFC proposal at Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions (capitalization)#Removed false promotion of a wikiproject essay as a "guideline" related to bird name capitalization. The wording is convoluted, but I think approval would mean that NCCAPS would no longer mention WikiProject Birds naming conventions. It's less clear if species articles would be renamed/edited to lower case. So far consensus favors lower case bird names by 3 to 1. Agyle (talk) 03:13, 7 April 2014 (UTC)

Actually, it's to remove deference of WP:NCCAPS to WP:BIRDS#Naming in a hatnote there (a POV-fork from MOS:LIFE) and especially the false elevation of the latter to "guideline" status in that hatnote. It wouldn't affect the in-context link to that wikiproject page in the prose there. Don't be melodramatic. I'm altering the false and blatantly WP:CANVASSING heading here to something neutral.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  21:35, 7 April 2014 (UTC)

Question on common name capitalization[edit]

This has probably been asked many times, but WP:BIRDS doesn't cover it and I don't want to dig through the archives. Is there a general consensus within the bird project for how to capitalize alternative common names, as opposed to the single official IOC common name for a species? And within alternative common names, should a distinction be made between those the IOC mentions as unofficial, and those that it doesn't? Agyle (talk) 22:10, 7 April 2014 (UTC)

MOS:LIFE indicates lower-case for them. The reason WP:BIRDS has been maintaining capitalization of IOC names is that it is a published and [supposedly] universal standard in the field, and thus [to supporters of the idea] a special case. Virtually no members of this project would advocate capitalizing cougar, for example, and decapitalizing such things since 2008 has been almost totally noncontroversial. This "special case" is not true of any other species common names (or some make a case that for a few types of insects and plants that there are similar alleged conventions, but let's not get distracted).

The problem is that that present advice at MOS seems to be to capitalize all common names (i.e., including "Cougar" or whatever) in any article that capitalizes the common name of its subject, but this probably needs to be revisited for clarification at WT:MOS, as it raises a number of problems. E.g., it's ungrammatical and original research to capitalize many foreign words, which many vernacular names are, in languages with less lax proper noun rules as English, just as one example. I also suspect that the consistency-within-the-article idea was backed by people who detest the capitalization even more than I do, specifically because it would lead to people capitalizing animals like "Cougar" in bird articles, which would irritate random readers even more and generate an increase in anti-WP:BIRDS#Naming controversy. In the interim, we always want redirects to exist from common names, both lower and upper case, to whatever the real article name is.

I don't think anyone could fault you for lower- or upper-casing non-IOC common names in and only in ornithology articles, at this particular point in time. It's "correct" to do it for the within-an-article consistency reason and it's "correct" to not do it because we don't capitalize common names of species other than one project has a local consensus to do so for IOC names in articles within their scope.

I would lean toward not capitalizing them, because the advocates of the consistency language obviously did not think through the secondary effects of imposing that consistency restriction (or did and WP:POINTedly don't care). Even if I supported capitalization, I would probably stick to advocating only capitalizing the IOC names, because demanding caps all over the place looks unreasonable and badly undermines the [already not entirely solid] argument that there's something special about the IOC list, that we should treat it as somehow reliable as to style itself not just the reliability of the names, style aside, that it lists. I don't really buy that "IOC is special" argument, but I would like to see it rise or fall on its own merits, not because some people confuse the difference between a formally IOC-advanced name and one that isn't, or between such a formal name and capitalization-for-emphasis in a field guide. I care about that on-it-own-merits issue more than some of you would give me credit for, because it has implications for a lot of other stuff, not just bird capitalization (and because I'm a logician, not a politician, and I believe that process is important here, though far short of bureaucracy).  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  23:31, 7 April 2014 (UTC)

See Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style#Remove "Use a consistent style for common names within an article".  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  15:33, 8 April 2014 (UTC)

Question on Southern Boobook[edit]

I was looking into Southern Boobook, which is linked as the model article for bird naming in WP:FAUNA. While the article is titled Southern Boobook, that name isn't mentioned in the article text, and the opening sentence uses the name Morepork. The opening section has been disputed for ten years, with different editors replacing the material with various common and binomial names, without citing sources. Two references cited elsewhere in the article (IUCN and a book) list both Southern Boobook and Morepork as names for Ninox novaeseelandiae.

I summarized some taxonomy sources in Talk:Southern Boobook. Two main approaches are:

  • Treat Southern Boobooks and Moreporks as a single species, Ninox novaeseelandiae. IUCN does this, and I think the IOU (IOC) formerly did.
  • Treat them as two species, Morepork (N. novaeseelandiae) and Southern Boobook (N. boobook). The IOU (IOC) and ITIS (1, 2)/Catalogue of life do this.

Websites like the Encyclopedia of Life and Avibase present both views from information from other sources.

Which should be followed in this case? I was leaning toward separation, since WP:BIRDS relies on the IOU for naming, and started a Draft:Morepork stub, but would defer other opinions here.

Agyle (talk) 22:10, 7 April 2014 (UTC)

Wouldn't it have to be a preponderance of reliable sources, accounting for their relative reliability on the subject? IOC itself is not a taxonomic authority, however much some of us like their common names list (even I favor it, just not basing encyclopedia style decisions on it). So, IOC classification can't be used as rationale, pre WP:UNDUE. IOC's agreement with ITIS might be non-trivial, but it can't be the deciding factor, surely.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  22:46, 7 April 2014 (UTC)
This is tricky - I recall this being discussed on birders' lists as the Tasmanian and NZ populations of boobooks appeared to be more closely related to those in northern Australia - generally the IOC reflects consensus, but can lag at times. I will try and take a look where the research lies currently, but I suspect the situation is not settled. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 23:16, 7 April 2014 (UTC)

Wasn't this specific page being used to illustrate an example at one or another of the guidelines and other pages? It rings a bell. I think it was being used as an exampel of an article bieng at IOC name, but having lots of common names, some in English, some not, or something like that. I'm not sure it can be used as an example of anything, because its facts are in flux, and at this point the name in its article title isn't even mentioned in the lead at all. Whatever the eventual outcome of the taxonomic debate in the real world, it needs to be moved to an article title that agrees with the text.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  01:49, 10 April 2014 (UTC)

There is a very strong possibility we will be splitting the species into three - given that novaezealandiae is the NZ one, it'll likely be at Morepork - I just need to read the paper on the talk page - this is a teeny bit premature. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 02:16, 10 April 2014 (UTC)
User:SMcCandlish, the guideline WP:FAUNA lists it as the example of how to handle bird names. There's no doubt the article needs attention; it's being further discussed in Talk:Southern Boobook. Agyle (talk) 05:42, 10 April 2014 (UTC)


Are there any distinct formal breeds of birds – named, selectively bred varieties, covered by conformance standards for shows, managed in studbooks, trademarked/patented for agricultural proposes, or otherwise reliably identifiable as breeds? I do not mean wild populations, landraces or subspecies. I was surprised not to find anything like at at Parrot given how popular the birds are and how many breeders there are. I'm not sure I've encountered formal breed of cockatiels, budgies, etc., either. In case it's not clear what I'm talking about I mean the difference between Labrador Retriever (formal breed), St. John's water dog (landrace/population from which that breed and others was formalized), dog (species).  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  00:32, 8 April 2014 (UTC)

Poultry fanciers are pretty specific and dogmatic about breeds, with The American Standard of Perfection, British Poultry Standards, and (less significantly) Australian Poultry Standard among the popular guidelines for poultry shows. Breed-specific clubs like the Belgian d'Uccle & Booted Bantam Club sometimes have their own guidelines. Category:Chicken_breeds or Category:Bantam chicken breeds will lead to some specific breeds if you're interested, and Belgian Bearded d'Uccle is an example of one specific bantam breed. ––Agyle (talk) 00:55, 8 April 2014 (UTC)

See the subcategories of Category:Domesticated birds. Plantdrew (talk) 00:57, 8 April 2014 (UTC)

Thanks. I'm suprised it's all so agricultural. I guess the pet trade in birds has had insufficient time to develop many distinct breeds?  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  14:34, 8 April 2014 (UTC)

Bird vocabulary in French[edit]

Please see Wikipedia:Reference desk/Language#Any French ornithologists in the house? (version of 02:49, 9 April 2014).
Wavelength (talk) 02:59, 9 April 2014 (UTC)

Invitation to Participate in a User Study - Final Reminder[edit]

Would you be interested in participating in a user study of a new tool to support editor involvement in WikiProjects? We are a team at the University of Washington studying methods for finding collaborators within WikiProjects, and we are looking for volunteers to evaluate a new visual exploration tool for Wikipedia. Given your interest in this Wikiproject, we would welcome your participation in our study. To participate, you will be given access to our new visualization tool and will interact with us via Google Hangout so that we can solicit your thoughts about the tool. To use Google Hangout, you will need a laptop/desktop, a web camera, and a speaker for video communication during the study. We will provide you with an Amazon gift card in appreciation of your time and participation. For more information about this study, please visit our wiki page ( If you would like to participate in our user study, please send me a message at Wkmaster (talk) 05:30, 10 April 2014 (UTC).

Needed fossil bird articles[edit]

If anyone wants to rapidly expand their number of created articles, or are simply bored, here is a list of fossil bird genera with dozens of red links, all needing articles: FunkMonk (talk) 06:06, 13 April 2014 (UTC)

Request for article reviewers[edit]

Questions have been raised about the accuracy of science articles written by the prolific author Cwmhiraeth (talk · contribs). The background can be read in a regrettably long and bad-tempered thread at Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/IncidentArchive835#Harassment. If you do not want to read the whole thing, start here. To her credit, Cwmhiraeth has initiated Wikipedia:Editor review/Cwmhiraeth. It would help to generate light, rather than more heat, and to decide whether there is a serious problem, if scientifically-qualified editors uninvolved in the row could review some of Cwmhiraeth's articles and comment at the editor review. JohnCD (talk) 21:11, 14 April 2014 (UTC) This edit unsigned by User Cwmhiraeth at 06:28, 16 April 2014

Links to archived AN/I thread updated. JohnCD (talk) 13:39, 17 April 2014 (UTC)

Merge discussion[edit]

I have suggested a merge of Shaheen Falcon into Peregrine Falcon. Comments welcome at Talk:Peregrine Falcon Shyamal (talk) 02:12, 18 April 2014 (UTC)

Very short stubs[edit]

Articles like "White-whiskered Spinetail" are very short, but they haven't been merged. Does a consensus exist on not merging them? If so, could you please point me towards the relevant discussion? Thanks. --Leptictidium (mt) 13:22, 18 April 2014 (UTC)

I think only subspecies articles are occasionally merged, not full species. FunkMonk (talk) 13:41, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
Never ever? Even if the article consists of only two lines of text?--Leptictidium (mt) 14:13, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
Not when it comes to extant species at least. All valid, extant species (of any kind) should have articles.[3] It becomes a bit more iffy when it comes to prehistoric species, because there is often little to write about them (and their validity is always in flux), so they are usually redirected to the genus level. FunkMonk (talk) 14:25, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
@Leptictidium: as a challenge, pick any taxon at all you find as a one line stub and I bet we can expand it. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 14:40, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
Oh, I know you could. Actually, I agree with all of you. It's just that on the Catalan Wikipedia there's a handful of people who'd have us merge off such species articles into the article about the genus, so I've come here to see if you can give me a few arguments to use against them. Thanks.--Leptictidium (mt) 14:54, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
Right, well the best thing is to expand any article that is discussed. After you show how this can be done a few times they should figure it out. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 15:10, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
And if you are struggling for sources and are prepared to translate, ask here. The species you quote has about 60 lines on HBWonline which I would be happy to send you. There is also a IUCN page on every species with status, range and some ecology Jimfbleak - talk to me? 18:29, 18 April 2014 (UTC)