NANFA-L-- Re: parakeets and common names

Subject: NANFA-L-- Re: parakeets and common names
Date: Wed Nov 17 2004 - 10:43:55 CST

This confusion simply points up the nature of commonly used names for organisms. An animal is, in the vernacular, whatever it is called. But that does not clarify its classification or systematics, nor does it suggest anything about its evolutionary relationships. Thus, we have the "loach" that was commonly called a "red tailed shark," in the aquarium trade. Neither shark nor loach tells us much about the animal. Another fish example is the common name "pacu" applied to any vegetarian, deep bodied characin by many. But in S. America this name is applied more narrowly, and mostly to modest sized species, while the fish best known to N. Americans by that name is one that grows to huge size, and is called tambiqui in S. America. Incidently, it is one of the most delicious fishes I have ever eaten, especially when roasted over a campfire alongside the Rio Negro!

The word parakeet is commonly used for lots of different fairly small parrots. One currently resides in the wild in S. Texas for that matter, though whether the current populations are descendents of green parakeets that formerly resided in Texas, descended from escaped birds, or moved in from Mexico is unclear. The Texas Ornithological Union considers them to be a "native" population, because the same species did occur there in the 19th - early 20th century, though no records exist for the interim. This is a different species from the Carolina parakeet, native to much of the SE and part of the SW U.S., but becoming extinct due to habitat loss before the dawn of the 20th century.

Yes, the parakeets common in the pet trade are from Australia, and are called budgerears there, but many other birds have gone by this moniker. Not only are different animals called by the same common name, but often one population of animals bears a variety of common names, as also illustrated by this example, where the pet trade uses the name parakeet, but others call the birds by other names. The same situation holds for fish, but for the U.S. and Canada we have the official list from a joint committee of the American Fisheries Society and ASIH. The best way for people to be sure what animal they are dealing with, and even that is imperfect because of lack of precision in both nomenclature and systematics, is to use the scientific names, an admonition I violated purposely in this post to help illustrate the points.


David L. McNeely, Ph.D., Professor of Biology
Langston University; P.O. Box 1500
Langston, OK 73050; email:
telephone: (405) 466-6025; fax: 405) 466-3307
home page

"Where are we going?" "I don't know, are we there yet?"

----- Original Message -----
Date: Wednesday, November 17, 2004 8:45 am
Subject: Re: NANFA-L-- coasta rica

> parakeets...
> i double checked my book last night as we recently bought 3
> parakeets for
> the house and kids. intersting, active birds, we let them fly and
> walk around a
> bit each day. according to the book they do hail from austrillia
> and also
> known as budgies or budgeledears ( sp?). but i have heard of the
> carolina
> parakeet you mention. a little cross contenintal confusion in
> naming i reckon.
> oh yea on the caiman. ranger bob sent me a picture of his latest
> caiman
> rustle from a few weeks back. ( i will email you a pic or to
> anyone who requests
> it. ). those perfect dipnets really come in handy for a variety of
> critters.
> i keep mine ready in the back of the van.
> im looking forward to fritz posting photos.
> beans and rice... heck thats my favorite-in-a mexi eating house.
> but then i
> dont eat it for 2 weeks straight either. :) probably couldnt
> pysically or
> would regret it.
> i sure would like to snorkel some foriegn waters. anything
> memorable you
> saw? a concern for me would be picking up some kinda parasite...
> especially if i
> was way south or in africa. or austrillia. but i guess a similiar
> risk is
> eating and drinking in those places. i still think im carrying
> something from
> when i visited liberia years ago tho the tests say no. how do
> they know what to
> test or look for anyway!
> glad yall got to experience a bit of coata rica!
> casper

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: Fri Dec 31 2004 - 12:42:50 CST