Public Release: 

Book on birds the first to set English-language naming guidelines

Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

PHILADELPHIA -- Now you don't have to learn Latin to know all the birds of the world and learn different names for the same species on different continents; you just have to have a good memory.

More than 10,000 birds are described in Birds of the World, a new book by Frank Gill and Minturn Wright, both trustees of The Academy of Natural Sciences. This 272-page book provides the first standardized English-language nomenclature for all living birds of the world. Previous checklists, including those by Sibley and Monroe, Clements, and Howard and Moore, were primarily taxonomic works that used different names for the same species. Birds of the World recommends one universal English-language name for each species based on the rules and principles developed by leading ornithologists worldwide and endorsed by members of the preeminent International Ornithological Congress.

Gill, of Rushland, Pa., and Wright, of Berwyn, began the book project 15 years ago when Gill was Curator of Ornithology at The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia's natural history museum. Gill, an elected member of the International Ornithological Congress, and Wright, a lawyer and international birder, are Academy Trustees. Gill is a past president of the American Ornithologists' Union, author of the textbook Ornithology, and editor of the encyclopedic series Birds of North America: Life Histories for the 21st Century.

Birds of the World, published by Princeton University Press, starts with a discussion of the authors' rationale for naming conventions. A list of more than 10,000 names follows, in taxonomic order, with relevant scientific names and a brief description of the birds' breeding range. An accompanying CD contains full text and additional information on species distribution.


The Academy of Natural Sciences, is Philadelphia's natural history museum and a world leader in biodiversity and environmental research. The Academy's mission is to create the basis for a healthy and sustainable planet through exploration, research and education. The Academy is located at 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway and is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and weekends until 5 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for children ages 3-12, students with college I.D. and military personnel, $8.25 for seniors, and free for children under 3.

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