Names rarely tell the whole story
A further complication to grasping the relationship between different bird species comes with the naming of species. You might think that the humble House Sparrow, for example, is closely related to the Song Sparrow, common and widespread in the USA. You’d be wrong. New World sparrows are, in fact, much more closely related to our buntings. There are numerous other examples, especially in those parts of the world formerly colonised by Britain. Settlers had a habit of naming the birds they saw in their new homes after similar-looking species back home, regardless of any actual taxonomical connection between the two. So, Australian Magpies were so called because they were black and white, and had sturdy bills, like their European namesakes. In fact, though, they’re not corvids – they’re ‘butcherbirds’. If you’re birdwatching abroad, then, beware – names are no more than a rough guide to relationships between species.
AUSTRALIAN MAGPIE They’re butcherbirds, not corvids