Monday, September 17, 2012

what's in a name?

Europe's common redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus)

Still at home recuperating, living vicariously through others.

Marie poised a comment/question to my last post: "I wonder about the redstart's actual name...I see no red on this bird."

Yep. There in lies the bugaboo. American redstarts have no red; the males have orange markings, the females yellow. Our bird got its name because someone a long time ago in a galaxy we call home, thought they looked and acted like redstarts found in Europe. Redstart is apparently a corruption of the Old German word rothstert which means "red tail."

At the time folks thought the Old World redstarts were thrushes and the New World redstarts were warblers. Now, the European redstarts are considered to be flycatchers and the American versions are still called warblers but they really are not related to Old World warblers, so it's all kind of a mishmash of good intentions and faulty nomenclature.

"What's in a name?" sighed Shakespeare's Juliet. 

1 comment:

Dorothy said...

I have wondered about some of the names of other birds, etc. I don't know if we have those Redstarts here in MS or not, but I'm never seen one, to my knowledge.
Sending you some good vibes and healing thoughts this morning,