Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Bird-Nerd-ing Out

Birding hasn't been on my agenda for quite a long time now and I've been missing being out in the wilderness. The next best thing for me was to turn to my bookshelf and give in to my inner nerd. I finally finished the book I borrowed from my friend Jon J. some months back.



Yes, Latin for Bird Lovers by Roger Lederer and Carol Burr. I learned more than I expected to learn in the book and it was awesome! I took down some notes to make sure I would remember the bits of information I read. Here are most of my notes:

So, there were words that I was already familiar with, such as:

Anas
- Greek for "duck" 
as in Anas luzonica or Philippine Duck

Calvus
- meaning "bald"
as in Sarcops calvus or Coleto

There were also lots of other gems of information that I learned while going through the book. I do hope I remember all of them!

Accipiter
- means "to take, grasp, receive", used for raptors
as in Accipiter virgatus or Besra

Alba
- means "white"
- as in Motacilla alba or White Wagtail
- other forms of the word are albi-- , albus, etc


Batrachostomus
- Greek words batracho meaning "frog" and stoma meaning "mouth"
as in Batrachostomus septimus 
or Philippine Frogmouth

Cisticola
- Cista meaning "wooden basket" and colo meaning "dwell" to describe the nests typical of cisticolas
as in Cisticola juncidis or Zitting Cisticola

Erythrogaster
- Greek words erythros meaning "red" and gaster meaning "belly"
as in Pitta erythrogaster or Red-bellied Pitta

Falco
- Falcis meaning "curved blade or sickle"
- as in Falco peregrinus or Peregrine Falcon


Gallirallus
- Galli meaning "chicken" and rallus meaning "rail or thin"
as in Gallirallus torquatus or Barred Rail

Gerygone
- pronounced ger-IH-gon-ee
- Greek words goryo meaning "sound" and gone meaning "born of; offspring"
- as in Gerygone sulphurea or Golden-bellied Gerygone, which loves to sing!


Halcyon
- Greek for kingfisher
as in Halcyon smyrnensis
or White-throated Kingfisher


Lanius
- means "butcher"
- as in Lanius cristatus or Brown Shrike, which is known as a "butcher bird"


Muscicapa
- Greek words musca meaning "fly" and capio meaning "capture"
as in Muscicapa ferruginea
or Ferruginous Flycatcher

Nycticorax
- Greek words nyx meaning "night" and corax meaning "raven"
as in Nycticorax nycticorax
or Black-crowned Night-Heron

Pitta
- means "small bird" in East India
- as in Pitta sordida or Hooded Pitta


Pycnonotus
- Greek words pychnos meaning "strong or thick" and notos meaning "back"
as in Pycnonotus goiavier or Yellow-vented Bulbul

Rhabdornis
- Greek word rhabdotos meaning "striped"
as in  Rhabdornis mysticalis
or Stripe-headed Rhabdornis

Zosterops
- Green words zoster meaning girdle and ops meaning "eye" describing the white eye ring 
as in Zosterops meyeni or Lowland White-eye

There were also other words that don't really have any Greek or special background:

Boobook
- used based on the call of different owl species
and
Ninox
- which the book says has unknown derivations
Like this would-be lifer for me, it is unknown
if it is a Northern or Chocolate Boobook

The book also taught me about the people some birds are named after, like:

  • Anna's Hummingbird was named after Princess Anna d'Essling, Duchess of Rivoli. I've always been curious who Anna was =)
  • Gould's Bronze Cuckoo was named after John Gould, taxidermist of Charles Darwin, artist, and author.
  • Everetti, as in Zosterops everetti or Everett's White-eye, is after British collector Alfred Everett.
  • Jefferyi, as in Pithecophaga jefferyi or Philippine Eagle, is after Jeffery Whitehead, father of John Whitehead who was an English explorer and naturalist.
  • Kochi, as in Erythtropitta kochi or Whiskered Pitta, is after after Gottleib von Koch who was a German collector and taxidermist. It's pronounced KOCK-eye.
  • Steerii, as in Pitta steerii or Steere's Pitta, is after American ornithologist, Joseph Steere.

This one was really interesting to me, because it is a more folklore-ish background of naming a bird rather than based on field marks, plus I also like cuckoos:

Cacomantis
- Greek words caco- meaning "bad omen" and mantis meaning "seer or prophet"
as in Cacomantis sepulcralis
or Rusty-breasted Cuckoo 

I can finally return the book to Jon! Yay! There was much more I learned on top of what I have included here and I really hope I remember everything... or, maybe I'll just have to get myself a copy of the book ;)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Are You Like The Cuckoo?

Cuckoos are one of my favorite birds. I really like how they look and their unique breeding behavior. They are nest parasites, meaning they leave their eggs in the nest of other birds to be cared for and fed by the usually much smaller surrogate parents. I dream of witnessing this behavior first hand, as I've only seen videos and photos on the web and from friends. But as curious and amazed I am at this cuckoo behavior, it's not amusing seeing it in humans, not literally of course. So allow me a poem and pardon my blatant analogy with the cuckoo... I just need to vent.



Are You Like The Cuckoo?

Are you like the cuckoo?
Who searches for a nest
And leaves her eggs in the care of others
And lets them do the rest.

Are you like the cuckoo?
Who goes her merry way
Starts a new life and responsibilities
But for the dirty work, flies away.

Are you like the cuckoo?
Who calls noisily unseen
And lets the other birds do the work
While all you do is preen.

Are you like the cuckoo?
Who enjoys this evolutionary "perk"
Of starting something, yet leaves it to others
Others who are willing to work.


I mean no offense to all the cuckoos around the world, it just seemed like the perfect analogy to me. They are still one of my favorite birds and their behavior really fascinates me. I'm sharing a video I saw on the YouTube channel of Wildfowl & Wetland Trust (WWT) of a young cuckoo being fed by its smaller, surrogate, hard working parent. Enjoy!