Lapwings, Loons and Lousy Jacks: The How and Why of Bird Names

Published by Pelagic Publishing

The Lapwing once had many regional names; the Loon has a British-American identity crisis and the respectable-sounding Apostlebird is often called a Lousy Jack. Why do bird names, both common and scientific, change over time and why do they vary so much between different parts of the English-speaking world? Wandering through the scientific and cultural history of ornithology takes us to the heart of understanding the long relationship between birds and people.

Lapwings, Loons and Lousy Jacks uncovers the stories behind the incredible diversity of bird names, explains what many scientific names actually mean and takes a look at the history of the system by which we name birds. Ray Reedman explores the natural history and folklore behind bird names, in doing so unlocking the mystery of the name Scoter, the last unexplained common name of a British bird species.



Historical Perspectives
Roots and routes
Widening horizons

The milestones
Developments before Linnaeus
Linnaeus and the Linnaean System
The evolution of formal English names

Inside the System
The matrix
Classic deviations
The names behind the names
Things in their place
Cardinal points
And the scientists didn’t always do so well
Warts and all

The names and the stories

New Horizons
North American names - Crossing the Great Divide
Australian names - Let’s go fossicking
Trinidadian names – The Tropical Trail

Journey’s End

Appendix: The Legends behind the Names