Thursday, 11 October 2018

Call me old fashioned but...

...I really cannot get used to the current running order of the ornithological systematic list. I grew up with the beginning of the list starting with the Divers, followed by Grebes and then into Fulmar, Shearwaters and Gannet - you knew where you stood (or, at least, where you listed). And then, some years ago, it was all change and somebody decided that we ought to start off with the Swans... wtf? I didn't roll with that one at all.

And then in 2015 it was decided to follow the systematic list as used in the Handbook of the Birds of the World (HBW) and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World (Volume 1)

So now we are asked to start with Common Quail, then whip through the game birds before - yes, you've guessed it - we are back to Swans and Geese again. Ducks are next to show up (as expected) but not for them to then be followed by Pigeons!! Then Sandgrouse??? Then Swifts???!!!! And when Divers resurface (geddit?) and we are then treated to Bustards, we seem to hit a sea of calm with a reversion to what we all used to enjoy, a familiar, settled systematic list.

But oh dear, worse is to come. Raptors used to be all together in one talon-clinging brotherhood. Now falcons have been removed, to be replaced in the running order by Hoopoe, Woodpeckers and Bee-eaters before they are allowed to appear. By now I'm apoplectic with rage.

By the time we come across the fact that Pylloscopus Warblers have been put ahead of Sylvias I'm so numbed that it just doesn't seem too much of an issue. Wagtails and Pipits have been divorced from Larks and now appear, flung way up the list, just before Finches. At least the Finches are still at the backend, where we (thankfully) finish off with Buntings - just as it always has been and should be. Phew...

A taxonomist would no doubt explain to my feeble mind why this is necessary. To me it is just tomfoolery. Whenever I construct a working list it is STILL in the old currency. Call me a Luddite, but my systematic list is still in pounds, shillings and pence; still in pounds and ounces. And no, I'm not a rabid Leaver. Far from it.


  1. The first order you mention is how my ancient Observer's Book of Birds had them!

  2. I agree Steve. I can still troop out the old Vouus order no bother but this new one is bollocks really. It might matter to the scientists but to the birder it matters not one jot. Start off with Red throated Diver and end with Corn Bunting and you wont go far wrong...( If I remember rightly my first Heizel Fitter and Parslow ended with Crows? Or maybe I am delerious...

    1. Maybe we could start a 'Are you for Vouus?' campaign

  3. and then we get all the crap whereby birds are given new names such as "Northern Wheatear" - sorry but it'll always be plain old Wheatear to me.