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Scott said: We should keep in mind our human labels may oversimplify  
the complicated but intriguing relationships among groups of similar  
organisms.

Yes! Thatís exactly what we want to do when we label.

We humans have worked so hard to make a clear distinction between us  
and all the other species with whom we share the planet. Many of the  
distinctions didn't hold water (we're the only ones with language;  
we're the only one who feel love and grief; we use tools; we perform  
multistep reasoning; we play). One distinction that might work is: we  
label. Labeling makes us feel that we live in an organized and  
predictable world.

The trouble is that Nature doesn't like clear categories. The history  
of human knowledge is full of realizations that some group of  
categories we so carefully developed really didnít work.

I think itís fun and fascinating to label birds: to start out with  
the basics and then move on to recognizing fall warblers and figuring  
out the age of gulls and wondering if I might be looking at a mallard- 
shoveler hybrid. But conversations like the one about naming flickers  
remind me that thereís deep satisfaction in just watching!

Maeve Kim

Jericho Center