Helm Dictionary of Bird Names by James A Jobling ISBN 9781408125014 Christopher Helm | Hardcover | 2009 | £39.99

The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names lists the generic and specific name for almost every species of bird in the world and gives its meaning and derivation. In the case of eponyms brief biographical details are provided for each of the personalities commemorated in the scientific names. James Jobling is a former civil servant with a lifelong interest in birds and their names.

The new book is basically an update & expansion of Jobling’s earlier work A Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names (1991). Anyone who liked the first book is going to like this one; and there’s enough new material in it to make purchase worthwhile even if you already have the first book.As with any such works there are times when Jobling’s explanation of eponyms is wrong, having continued to research ever since “Whose Bird” was published in 2003 we have tracked down an awful lot of original etymologies including, for example, A M Bailey’s obituary in The Auk in January 1981 where it is clear that the eponymous sparrow is named after him and not after Vernon O. Bailey as Jobling has it. With a one man work like this I strongly feel that publishers should earn their money by careful editing and using well placed readers… any one of the authors of ‘Whose Bird’ published by the same company, would have been happy to take a look before it went to press had we been approached.

But that is by the by… this is yet another terrific resource to those interested in taxonomy, nomenclature and the history of ornithology… I have no hesitation in recommending the book.

FatbirderBuy this book from www.nhbs.com