American common name with 'Place: Europe' in settings?

It’s been noted before no doubt at all. I am not really bugged by it, but it does surprise me a bit.

There’s our bird Bank Swallow, in Europe more regularly known by the local name (Oeverzwaluw) or as Sand Martin (the UK English name)
I would expect my settings to show Sand Martin rather than Bank Swallow…but it doesn’t.

My settings
Timezone GMT +1 Amsterdam
Locale: English (I prefer English names for international species)
Search place: Japan (My main area of interest on inaturalist)

Place: Europe

There seemed to be another switch somewhere I missed earlier, but I don’t see it.

Of course I tried to find a similar subject, and couldn’t find it either

Hope to hear from you

stay safe and cool


Hi @housecrows! When there is an issue with a particular species it’s best to flag it for curation rather than post on the forum.

Sand martin was set as the default name for several places, including the UK, but not Europe, so I added that to the list.


Just an fyi if you wish to see English language names, it may be better to set your choice to the UK rather than Europe. Continent level names are generally frowned upon (although they are allowed) as they can cause cascading issues.

Most species that have a name that is distinct from the “American” one will have it set to be used in the UK as appropriate.


Thanks @bouteloua,
It was meant as an illustration of a system oddity, not a taxonomic issue.
@cmcheatle i will have a look, i didn’t see uk as option i believe (mobile now)
Edit: there seems to be no option to set it to Uk iso Europe…
Where do you suggest I put UK?


I dont believe it can be set on the mobile, only on the web client by clicking the drop down next to your user icon, picking account settings and then filling in the ‘Prioritize common names used in this place.’ box which is in the centre of the middle row.

That field can be reached on your phone too, I tried in both but no, it only gives continents as option.

It’s not utterly important but sometimes confusing, as I think it also influences how I see f.e. Common Teal in Japan: Anas crecca is the species, Anas crecca crecca the subspecies both here and in Japan. Anas crecca carolinensis the American subspecies, yet the common name in both Japan and Netherlands (at least on my account) is Green-winged Teal, the European way to name Anas crecca carolinensis.
In Europe ‘our’ subspecies would be called Common Teal. When Green-winged Teal pops up, you take notice as that subspecies is a relative rarity.

Just start typing whatever entry you want.

When a common name should be assigned as the default for a certain place, please do flag it for curation. The flags are for much more than just taxonomic issues. : )

I think it might be understandable that i didn’t think of that but the ‘clear’-option could have been a hint

I will have a go at it with the Japanese teals…thanks for the encouragement @bouteloua

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But what’s the point of having a common name for the whole continent? Not just this case, but generally.

It’s just that we in Europe (or maybe Eurasia) are used to UK English names for birds, next to -of course- the names in the various languages.
Eurasian-Birdbooks with an international appeal used to be in English and used to use English names. I bought my first serious birdbook only in the nineties (Lars Jonsson) and he used British names for European species and rarities.
In this example: Green-winged Teal is - in Eurasia - the name for the rarity Anas crecca carolinensis. In Japan too this bird is a rarity.
Whenever someone adds an INAT-record of Common Teal in Eurasia I used to see ‘Green-winged Teal’ as that is the common name in the US apparently.

An alarm goes off in my head and I rush to check if carolinensis is meant or just A.crecca crecca. In this case the issue caused confusion…not just with me.

The other case Sand Martin or Bank Swallow is merely a question of habit, I guess.

It might have been easier if we all used the same names, but as we are often used to one of two namelists (US or UK) we hesitate to pick one over the other.

sorry for the not so clear reply…

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Those are UK names and they’re used in guides simply because they’re in English. They make point if there’re Old World names and New World names, while we have separate names for each country, and even if most of Europeans talk English it doesn’t mean they know common names in English, I feel it’s kinda strange why those are applied to such big part of the world with so many languages there.

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Hi Melodi,
I wrote about other languages above. I’m all for language diversity also in species names, of course. But I was talking here about which English list we follow where when writing about birds abroad or about native birds with foreign language birders (in this case)

hope i made it a bit clearer


What you desribe is UK-created vs North America-created names, it’s understandable that names are different, and as others stated to not see USA names it’s better to use UK list, what I wanted is to hear what moderators and curtors can say about the EU list existence and now I also want to know how someone understands which name is for Europe as there’s 4 “English” names for Riparia riparia.

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