I am a native in this world And think in it as a native thinks

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Sunday bird blogging Christmas edition

And Merry Christmas from a lowly house sparrow, a male to partner the Reno female from a few weeks ago.

I got soup to go and ate in the park one day last week, mostly because there will be so few days in the next couple of months where that's even a possibility.  The accompanying roll was dry and crumbly and when I brushed the scraps from my lap I was suddenly mobbed by thirty or forty house sparrows (a gull and a starling showed up as well but they never had a chance.)

I got the field guides for my April trip to Africa this week, and I've been learning the birds of southern Africa, exotic new classes like sugarbirds and mousebirds and sunbirds.

Some of the names appear to reflect a real lack of commitment on the part of European settlers determined to make the birds in their new home fit into the established taxonomy: Sparrowlark! Cuckooshrike! (See American Robin.) Or else they were named by committee.

But many of them sound like made-up names from a Monty Python skit about bird-watchers. Sociable Weaver! Rattling Cisticola! Shaft-tailed Whydah! Spotted Thick-Knee! And my personal favorite, the Chestnut-Vented Tit-Babbler!

I must give a mention to the poor Lark-Like Bunting, which is apparently the house sparrow of South Africa. Not only did it get a name that points out what it isn't instead of what it is, the guidebook describes it as "a drab-looking bird that is difficult to identify." I will definitely be on the lookout for it.

1 comment:

Tandava (Carol Henning) said...

"Chestnut-Vented Tit-Babbler"? Wow... quite a name. I don't even know how to assemble those words into a description of a bird... but I bet some people do. I wish I spoke bird.

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