BCR 160: Stephen Moss, Naturalist & Author

Stephen Moss is a naturalist, broadcaster, television producer, and author. In a distinguished career at the BBC Natural History Unit his credits included Spring watch, Birds Britannia, and The Nature of Britain. His books include A Bird in the Bush, A Sky Full of Starlings, The Bumper Book of Nature, and Wild Hares and Hummingbirds. Originally from London, he now lives with his wife and children on the Somerset Levels.

Show Notes: 

  • What is the oldest bird name in the English language and what language was in born in?
  • Walk us through the history of the word Crow and it’s application over the years.
  • The Anglo Saxon Wheatear “White-arse” still lives in modern English along with yellowhammer and redstart, tell us what about the journey of these words through history.
  • Ray and Willugby brought further changes to ornithology and bird names, what was their major contribution?
  • George Montagu created the Ornithological Dictionary, what was the significance of this work for bird names?
  • How many North American warblers are named after women?
  • What’s the story of the Dartford Warbler, which was discovered in Dartford but with no real affinity to the place and the man, John Lathan who discovered it?
  • Who was Max Nicholson and what changes to bird study, to counter the “Victorian leprosyof collecting” did he promote?
  • What view of bird taxonomy do Richard Crossley and Thomas Bewick seem to have in common and why may this be needed for bird guides?
  • Charles Sibley, Burt Monroe and Jon Alquist in the 1990’s dropped a proverbial bomb on bird naming. Tell us how phylogeny and DNA shook things up and just how many species of birds are there?
  • Finally, please tell us the story of Mrs. Moreau’s Warbler, named for a love story, which is one of the world rarest birds, the Winifred’s warbler.

Mentioned In This Episode:  

Stephen Moss – Naturalist, Author & TV Producer

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