| The Vanishing Mew Gull – A guide to the bird names of the Western Palaearctic | Ray Reedman| Pelagic Publishing | 2024 | Hardback | 374 Pages | ISBN: 9781784274627 |

The Publisher’s View:

Modern taxonomic studies have created a revolution in the genetic sequencing of bird families and have resulted in confusing changes to the names of many species, particularly in the scientific nomenclature. This book presents all the birds of the Western Palaearctic under the latest taxonomic scheme followed by the International Ornithological Congress. The geographic scope embraces about 10% of the world’s bird species, covering almost 1,100 in total. Each species is considered in order, discussing aspects of both vernacular and scientific names, as well as supplementary information such as status, appearance and history. An introduction elucidates the history of the linguistic elements concerned, taking into account the major languages of Europe, and offers a condensed analysis of the ‘authority’ for any bird names.

Good dictionaries of avian names are thin on the ground: most are only partial in coverage, and the majority are word-centric. Hence, British and European birds have long lacked a work that truly wraps the names – both vernacular and scientific – around the birds themselves.

This reference will be appeal to any bird enthusiast, but also to those seeking out the background on particular species or simply trying to make some sense of what can seem like a somewhat confused scenario. Filling a critical gap, it will be a useful tool for any student of ornithology, whatever their level of experience.

The Author: After graduating in French in 1962, Ray Reedman taught at an independent school, retiring as Senior Master in 1998. He has since focused on a variety of activities related to ornithology, including organising programmes, courses and field trips. He has also travelled and birded extensively abroad. His 2016 publication, Lapwings, Loons and Lousy Jacks: The How and Why of Bird Names, blends his love of language, literature and history with his enthusiasm for all matters ornithological.

Fatbirder View:

Fatbirder followers will know I like books about the names of birds so much that I write them. My coverage is worldwide, but only eponyms, so for everything else I’ve relied on James Jobling’s work on the database at Cornell to fill gaps in my knowledge. But, as another reviewer wrote, this is “… a comprehensive etymology of both the English vernacular and scientific names of all Western Palearctic bird species” I’m sure that some of the eponyms will have been sourced from yours truly as I see an acknowledgement in this book.

Its full of stuff I knew, and a great deal more that I did not. I know just how many hundreds of hours go into researching this stuff and admire it greatly. The result is accessible, fascinating and very nicely put together. Terrific!

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