from North American Bird Folknames and Names by James K. Sayre

Copyright 1996. All Rights Reserved.




This book was written by an amateur birdwatcher to fill a void in modern American bird literature: a book devoted exclusively to the listing of North American bird names and folknames that have been used over the past three hundred and seventy-five years. Many of the older folknames are dropping out of usage in our modern times with the homogenization of modern mass culture. The professional ornithologists have also played a role in the phasing out of the older more colorful and localized folknames, in their unending pursuit of the rationalization of both common names and scientific names of birds.


My original inspiration was finding an old book, entitled, Bird Neighbors, written by Neltje Blanchan, and copyrighted in 1897, 1904 and 1922. In the book's text, placed beneath the common name and the scientific name, was a short list labeled, "Called also:." I found that many of these names are interesting and amusing. I decided to research the subject of old folk-names for birds in my local library. Nothing. I checked in other city public libraries. Again nothing. Finally, I checked several University libraries in the San Francisco Bay Area. Again I found no published books that were devoted exclusively to North American bird names. I did find books listing bird names for England and for Australia. I decided to take it upon myself to research, write and publish this book and to fill a hole in the field of American bird literature.


The most dedicated collector of American bird names was W. L. McAtee, a federal government biologist, who over a period of forty years, accumulated many thousands of bird names. He had created a manuscript for a book to be entitled, "American Bird Names: Their Histories and Meanings."

Some of these names were published in naturalist and ornithological journals in the mid-1950's. He listed many roots or origins of the names that he listed in those pages. [McAtee].


This book was originally written on the Macintosh Classic computer using Microsoft Word as the word processing language. Each bird name was individually highlighted and set as an index entry to create the long index at back of this book. It was formatted in FrameMaker on a Quadra 605 Macintosh computer. Draft copies were printed on a Hewlett Packard DeskWriter.


Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Please feel free to Email the author at sayresayre@yahoo;com.

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Web page last updated on 8 June 2003.