What is the ruling on using seagull in official field guides

I’m making a field guide, and for now I’m at the pigeon section. When I reach the Charadriiformes I wish to name the species “lesser black backed seagull” and “black headed seagull” “Franklin’s seagull” etc.

Seagull is not an official name and why would you want to use longer names? Black-headed gull is much more a lake gull than a seagull, it’s ridibundus for a reason.


It’s more of a take an jab against people who will constantly correct people who say “seagull”, kind of my way of straying from the norm. I was wondering if I were to publish the field guide, would it still be considered credible in ornithological communities due to

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It’s much more credible just to use gull. Gull species don’t include “seagull” in them, so I don’t see a reason to. For example, If you called a herring gull a “herring seagull,” you’d not only be changing the common name for this species, you’d also encourage beginner identifiers to start using this name. Seagull is not a proper name, so just stick to gull.


While I can appreciate your enthusiasm to tilt against naming conventions, no worthy publisher would ever substitute “seagull” in the common names for this group of species. A self-published field guide with such usage would likely be panned by critics and would not be well received by the birdwatching community in general. “Seagull” is a useful but colloquial name; there are any number of species which live/breed/migrate/winter at inland locations for which that word is just misleading–including the Franklin’s Gull among many others. As well, organizations on most continents have committees which have worked to standardize common name usage and invariably–and long ago–settled on “gull” as the proper name for this group of species.


The birding community is not easily gulled. :grin:


I see, I’ve always thought about the whole species spending time inland, and (kind of) countered it with questions like “is a horned grebe still a horned grebe outside of breeding plumage?” Or “when a greater spotted eagle matures and loses all its spots, is it still a greater spotted eagle”

The naming conventions and agreed upon common names seem to be compelling, so I guess I have to refer to the common name of the species as “gull”

There are already four (!) different global lists of bird names, each with some differences. I would suggest to base your names on one of these rather than bring in any new names, unless there are very compelling reasons of local usage. From a recent paper:

…the international ornithological journal IBIS follows the International Ornithological Community (IOC) World Bird List (hereafter IOC; [20]), whereas several major museums around the world use the Howard and Moore Checklist of the Birds of the World (hereafter Howard and Moore; [21]). The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World (hereafter eBird/Clements; [22]) is curated and applied by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and is implemented by all of their programmes including the citizen science programme eBird (eBird.org), the Macaulay Library, and the species life-history resource Birds of the World (birdsoftheworld.org). Finally, the Handbook of the Birds of the World and BirdLife International Digital Checklist of the Birds of the World (hereafter HBW & BirdLife International; [23]) is the taxonomy followed by BirdLife International when conducting Red List assessments for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).


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