*** For those on the birdswa email list, you won’t have seen the
earlier discussion on common names, but most of what I say below is
WA related so I have included you. ***

As John Graff and others have said, the ‘white-headed’ stilt in
Australia is the Banded Stilt, not the ‘Black-winged’ Stilt. The
Black-winged Stilt has black on the back of the head and the neck.
Both have the (sub) specific name of ‘leucocephalus’ with different
genera which to me is strange to have both in the same family.

The IOC (and others?) has split the Black-winged Stilt and gave it
the name White-headed Stilt. This doesn’t just occur in Australia but
through quite a lot of South East Asia (if this includes Indonesia,
Moluccas, Sundas, Phillippines, etc?).

From BirdLife Australia’s perspective, we are trying to come up with
names for every taxa. It doesn’t matter whether you regard it as a
full species or sub species. A first pass was done for the sub
species but it needs revision. White-headed Stilt was heavily
discussed by the English Names Committee. There was strong resistance
to using White-headed. Black-necked and several other names were
discussed. Pied was initially mentioned but there was thought that
this was a common name in North America. When this was found to be
incorrect, Pied Stilt became our decision as it has long been called
Pied Stilt in NZ. We do prefer existing names, as long as they do not
clash. We hope that IOC and others will also adopt this name.

And so if ‘leucocephalus’ is not split, then the species name is
Black-winged Stilt and the sub species name is Pied Stilt. Both can
be used in the Australian context. They are both defined in the WLAB
(Working List of Australian Birds).

This is also the case for Western Ground Parrot. BA mostly accepts
HBW / BLI and they do not split WGP. So the species name is Ground
Parrot, but you can correctly refer to Western Ground Parrot and
Eastern Ground Parrot as these are the names for the sub species.
Without the split, the scientific name is a trinomial rather than a binomial.

Martin Cake has correctly pointed out that this has not been done for
some names in common use such as Kimberley Flycatcher, Paperbark
Flycatcher, Western Fieldwren, etc. They haven’t been discussed by
the ENC. I would hope that when we do that they will be changed.

The concept here is that if the sub species is later regarded as a
full species, that the common name should not need to change. This is
much easier than it sounds though, especially when there are multiple
sub species, and when some of the sub species are overseas, and when
several of the sub species would become the split. As Martin
correctly points out, the WLAB does not have a means of grouping sub species.

Martin has asked about names for the western sub species of
Australian Raven and Scarlet Robin which might be split. This has not
been discussed by the ENC, and obviously we would take other people’s
opinions into account if we know about them. Western Raven would be
unlikely to be an option, as ravens occur through most continents and
so Western would not really work. Western Scarlet Robin might be an
option (as we have Western and Eastern Yellow Robin) but that would
need the nominate form to be changed to Eastern Scarlet Robin or something.

Frank O’Connor Birding WA
Phone : (08) 9386 5694 Email :

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