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Every discipline has its own language.

My kids literally imbibed birdwatching with their mother's milk--it is 
possible to nurse a baby and hold a pair of binoculars at the same time (not 
possible with a bottle--another plug for breastfeeding!).  I taught my kids 
to identify birds by things that were familiar to them or very easily seen 
characteristics so here's some of our family birdslang:

Cow patties: Ruddy ducks inactive on the water with their heads pulled in 
look like a cow patty with a stick stuck in it.

Oreos: Scaup look like double stuff oreos with their black fronts and backs 
and white middles

Bandit birds: Common Yellow Throats because of their face masks

Big black butts: Gadwalls

Quarter hour bird: Bufflehead because the white on their heads look like it 
marks off 15 minutes on a clock

By the time Caitlin and Benjamin (I think they were 9 & 8 at their first 
official count) were old enough to officially participate in counts, etc, 
they knew the correct names of most of the birds we would commonly see.  I 
have also used these terms with very new birders and most said it helped 
them remember the names of the birds.

Dorothy Lambert

>From: Robert Fisher <[log in to unmask]>
>Reply-To: Robert Fisher <[log in to unmask]>
>To: [log in to unmask]
>Subject: Birdslang
>Date: Mon, 8 Aug 2005 09:49:00 -0500
>
>There is a lot of birdslang used by non-birding, ordinary people and not by 
>birders. For example, cuckoos are called "Rain Crows;" Common Nighthawks 
>are called "Bullbats;" Great Blue Herons are called "Cranes;"  Grebes are 
>called "Helldivers;" Turkey Vultures are called "Buzzards," etc. (Birders 
>call the last "TV's").
>
>Then there are the gunner's names for game species. Scaup are called 
>"Bluebills" (Greater Scaup are called "Broadbills" on the east coast); 
>Goldeneye are "Whistlers" and so forth.
>
>Many slang terms are highly regional. For example, scoters are called 
>"Coots" on the east coast. Mid-western duck hunters probably don't see 
>enough scoters to have a name for them.
>
>Finally, official changes in bird nomenclature relegate older names to a 
>status that may be equivalent to slang when birders continue to use them. 
>For example, many birders still call Long-tailed Ducks, "Oldsquaw," and the 
>eastern subspecies of Yellow-rumped Warbler, "Myrtle Warbler."
>
>Bob Fisher
>Independence, Missouri
>[log in to unmask]
>
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