The source of bird names
- August 27, 2013 - 2:20 PM
Why is it called that?
Black-capped chickadee: Chickadee is onomatopoeic.
Sandhill crane: Often uses small hills for its courtship dance.
Frigatebird: Named by seaman for its habit of pursuing and robbing other birds.
Harrier: From the bird’s harrying of poultry, dates to 16th century.
Jaeger: German for hunter. Three species, all hunters.
Loon: Not for its maniacal call, but from old Danish or Swedish word loam or lim, meaning lame, in reference to the bird’s awkward movement on land.
Oldsquaw: No longer in use for its insensitive reference to noisy chatter. The bird is now known as long-tailed duck.
Phoebe and pewee: They sing their names.
Vesper sparrow: For its singing at dusk.
Magnolia warbler: First specimen was shot out of a magnolia tree by Alexander Wilson, America’s first true ornithologist. For obvious reasons he also applied the warbler names Connecticut, Cape May, Tennessee and Kentucky.
Mourning warbler: Its black breast suggested mourning clothes to its namer, Mr. Wilson.
Clark’s nutcracker: Named for the famed explorer.
Lincoln’s sparrow: 21-year-old Thomas Lincoln was with Audubon when this bird was first identified.
Sora: Named by American Indians, one of the few such names that have survived.
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