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The Vernacular Name of Passer Domesticus in North America

Tracy I. Storer
Publication Information
5 (September-October)
From Field and Study

The Vernacular Name of Passer domesticus in North America

In the March-April, 1916, issue of THE CONDOR Mr. H. H. Mitchell questions the advisability of using the name English Sparrow for Passer domesticus, the House Sparrow of Europe. The statements of Mr. W. B. Barrows have a bearing on this point. In 1889 Mr. Barrows wrote “The name English ‘Sparrow’ is a misnomer, as the species is not confined to England, but is native to nearly the whole of Europe. The fact that most of the birds brought to America came from England explains the origin of the misleading name by which it is now so widely known that any attempt to change it would be futile” (The English Sparrow in North America, U. S. Dept. Agric., Div. Om. and Mamm., Bull. 1, 1889, p. 17). On the same page Mr. Barrows states that the first birds were brought from England to Brooklyn in 1850, and on this and succeeding pages he gives records of the principal early importations and transfers of the species from one city to another. Inasmuch as the name English Sparrow was considered too well fixed to change as long ago as 1889, any attempt to correct the error now seems hopeless.

Tracy I. Storer

Berkeley, California

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