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Addendum to Taxonomy Article

Here’s an addendum to the article about The Taxonomy and Classification of Parrots . It’s about scientific vs. common names for birds.

What’s in a Name?

Every parrot species will have both a common name and a scientific name.  The common name is the name that will be generally be used in casual communications.  For example, “Blue-fronted Amazon” is the common name of a parrot species. The scientific name of a species will have two parts and will be referred to in formal publications.  “Amazona aestiva” is the scientific name for the Blue-fronted Amazon.  The first part of a scientific name will be the genus the animal is in, and the second part is called the “specific epithet.”

Blue-fronted Amazon, Amazona aestiva

Many parrots have multiple common names, sometimes even in a single language.  For example, in English, the Blue-fronted Amazon can also be called the Turquoise-fronted Amazon or the Blue-fronted Parrot.  Many conures have multiple common names, and they are referred to as “parakeets” in some publications.  For instance, the Cherry-headed Conure is sometimes called the Red-masked Parakeet.

Many parrot species have common names that are very similar sounding or even identical. For example, the Rose-fronted Conure can also be called the Rose-fronted Parakeet or the Red-crowned Parakeet.  The Red-fronted Kakariki is sometimes referred to as the Red-fronted Parakeet.  I think it would be easy to mix up “Red-fronted Parakeet” and “Red-crowned Parakeet.”  “Vulturine Parrot,” is an alternative name for the Pesquet’s Parrot but can also refer to a rare species of bald-headed parrot found in the Amazon.

However, each species of parrot (or of any organism) will have only one scientific name.  Thus, there is only one Amazona aestiva (Blue-fronted Amazon), Aratinga erythrogenys (Cherry-fronted Conure), Pyrrhura roseifrons (Rose-fronted Conure), Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae (Red-fronted Kakariki), Psittrichas fulgidus (Pesquet’s Parrot), and Pyrilia vulturine (Vulturine Parrot).  The scientific name of a species will be the same in all languages as well. The scientific name of a species is always referred to in scientific publications so that it will be very clear which species is being referred to.

Red-fronted Kakariki AKA Red-fronted Parakeet Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae

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  1. September 18, 2010 at 7:54 pm

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