Sunday 22 January 2012

Larus hyperboreus

Glaucous Gulls - Larus hyperboreus
I finally caught up with the two Glaucous Gulls at Uiskentuie this morning. Yippee!

For Christmas I got many wonderful books including one on lichens which I've yet to inflict on this blog, oops, I mean which I've yet to use to impart knowledge and joy to followers of this blog! Another was one which I shared some time ago - Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. This is a wonderful volume and I decided to look up the scientific names of our recent white-winged gull visitors. I discovered that Larus, the family name, means rapacious seabird (usually a gull).

Larus hyperboreus translates as 'rapacious seabird of northern parts'. (Huperboreoi is Greek for people of the extreme north.)

Larus glaucoides (Iceland Gull) translates as 'rapacious seabird of  blue-grey likeness.' Surely this would be a more appropriate name for the Glaucous Gull. Its English name is also a bit of a misnomer, given that this gull breeds in Greenland and northern Canada, but not Iceland!

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