Birding comes complete with its own language, a language often modified by various individuals and circles of friends. In America, birders chase rarities. In Britain, rarities are twitched. One may be classified as a lister, a twitcher, a birder, or a birdwatcher (what is the difference between the last two anyway?). When we carry binoculars, we carry bins. Then there are the various aliases assigned to certain species of birds. For example, our fast food feeding friend, the House Sparrow, is known to many as the Burger Kinglet. If you thought only two North American species belonged to the genus Regulus, think again. Regulus whopperii has joined their ranks. And when birders catch a fleeting glimpse of some drab bird, it quickly gets dubbed a LBJ…or Little Brown Job. In all likelihood, it’s another House Wren.
House Wren, Photo courtesy of Evan Barrientos
There are also nicknames less widely known, ones we make up with our friends and don’t utter outside the realm of local birding because they would not make sense to anyone else. Last summer I birded the Pawnee Grasslands with a friend from Florida. We quickly decided Horned Larks were the least intelligent birds on the grassland, as they had a tendency to flush from the car and continue flying directly in front of it. We weren’t too surprised to come across a few road killed larks. We now call them “ding-dongs” (like the Hostess treat).
Such birderisms are rampant. What goofy nicknames or convenient abbreviations have you added to your birding lingo?