A few years ago I posted a link to Denis Lepage’s Avibase, an amazingly comprehensive bird site (“containing over 4.5 million records about 10,000 species and 22,000 subspecies of birds, including distribution information, taxonomy, synonyms in several languages and more”), but Arthur Smith’s Bird Dictionary, an idiosyncratic potpourri of information dumped onto a single huge page (and for some reason hosted on the site of an antibiotics lab), is well worth bookmarking as well (if, of course, you’re into bird names):
English names for birds are many and varied due to this language being widely spoken throughout many countries of the world and names have differed even from region to region within those countries. This not only provides a wealth of names but also confusion. This author has attempted to collect and identify these names with the relevant scientific names together with some of the legends, collective nouns, etymology, classification and interesting facts for certain species where these are unusual. No attempt has been made to the record the distribution of the various species, and for this the reader is referred to the work of Sibley & Munroe.
Linnaeus started to bring order to the naming of flora and fauna with his scientific naming of the plant and animal kingdoms, but the impact on the layman is negligible; vernacular names are (or were) created spontaneously, sometimes in isolated communities. Currently there is a movement to bring rationality to the English names. When this is achieved the abundant variety will be lost and in time, inevitably, forgotten. It therefore appeared desirable that there be a record made. This is this work’s raison d`etre.
I like the spunky attitude and linguistic focus, and although it doesn’t have equivalents in other languages, it does have etymologies, which Avibase lacks. (Thanks, Greg!)