The Vanishing Mew Gull - Pelagic Publishing

The Vanishing Mew Gull

A Guide to the Bird Names of the Western Palaearctic

  • A comprehensive dictionary of bird names of the Western Palaearctic.
  • Vernacular and scientific names are covered, as well as their history.
  • Classification and nomenclature discussed, as well as the evolution and development of modern names.

    • bird names
    • birds
    • Coming Soon
    • nomenclature
    • ornithology
    • taxonomy
    • western palaearctic
    • western palearctic


    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.

    DOI: 10.53061/XNWK2436


    • Ray Reedman has produced a comprehensive etymology of both the English vernacular and scientific names of all Western Palearctic bird species. If you have ever wondered who Stejneger was, or what is the origin of the name Scoter (if known!), this is the book for you. This is a unique resource for anyone interested in how the names have evolved, what they mean, and how errors and misunderstandings have sometimes been perpetuated in the names we now use.
      —Neil Bucknell, Vice President, British Ornithologist's Union

    About 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.

    Bibliographic Information

    • 336 pages
    • BISAC SCI070040, SCI087000, NAT004000