Letters

Published on 01 January 1912 in Letters

S I R S , — I have lately had occasion to refer once more in the Field to the correct way of spelling the name of this bird, and I should like to have the opportunity of discussing the m a t t e r in your pages. The form ‘ ‘ dunlin ” is doubtless t h a t which is to be found in most works on British birds ; b u t the question is, looking to the etymology of the name, and the oldest form of it, whether this is correct. I venture to think not, and for the following reasons :– The meaning of the n a m e ‘ ‘ dunling ” is the little dun thing, a diminutive akin to grayling, titling, sanderling, duckling, and gosling, and this is the spelling to be found in the oldest mention of the name, which occurs in the Durham, Household Book, containing the accounts of the Bursar of the Monastery of Durham, A . D . 1530-4. The price then paid for these little birds, known elsewhere as stint, purre, sand-lark, and ox-bird, was a t the rate of 4d. a dozen. In an article on ” English Bird Names,” published in the Field of J a n u a r y 12th, 1884, I took occasion to refer to what I conceive to be the proper spelling of the name dunling, and in the second edition of m y Handbook of British Birds (1901)

Click here to download the full article.