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Thread: Old-timey names of local birds

  1. #1

    Default Old-timey names of local birds

    A while back, on www.archives.org I ran across a county history book published in the 1880's for some county in Illinois. (Don't ask me to remember which county or the title of the book! My memory's not that good.) The fascinating bit was that there was a chapter on the local flora and fauna, with a page or two dedicated to avian fauna. It was interesting to see what names the locals were using for the birds in their area. A lot of them were recognizable to me, others I could guess at ("bluebill" for Ruddy Duck???), and others were utterly mysterious.

    So now I'm curious: what local historic names of bird species in Texas, Oklahoma and Lousiana have you encountered?

    Jean

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    Default Re: Old-timey names of local birds

    Bluebill is a term for Scaup. There are many old names for birds, as well as colloquial names. Blue Quail or Cottontops come to mind for Scaled Quail.

    C

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    Default Re: Old-timey names of local birds

    I commonly hear locals say redbird for Northern Cardinal.

    btw, Jean, if you have or can get hold of John K. Terres's The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds you'll find any number of colloquial names and earlier common names for each species listed in the Other Names section of each species writeup. Bluebill is one of the alternate names for both species of scaup (per a photo caption, because they're hard to tell apart in the field) and Ruddy Duck as well. Thus, for examples:

    for Lesser Scaup: blackhead, blackjack, creek broadbill, river bluebill, river broadbill, bullhead.

    for Greater Scaup: American scaup duck, big blackhead, big bluebill, blackhead, black-neck, bluebill, blue-billed wigeon, broadbill, bullhead, common scaup, floating fowl (!), flock duck, grayback, greater bluebill, greenhead, musselduck, raft duck, shuffler, troop-fowl.

    Ruddy Duck has a slew of colloquial names! More than I want to type here because the book is rather heavy, but a few are blatherskite, bluebill (no surprise there), booby coot, bristle-tail, brown diving teal, bumblebee duck, butterball, butter duck , dumb bird, dumpling duck, dun-diver, fool duck, hard-headed broadbill, hickory-head, light-wood knot, little soldier, mud-dipper (I think I actually heard that one once at Sunset Bay), paddy-whack, roody, rudder bird, sleepyhead, stub-and-twist, tough-head, water partridge, wigeon-coot.
    Betsy
    "My heart in hiding Stirred for a bird,
    -- the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!"
    (from "The Windhover" by Gerard Manley Hopkins)

    "My favorite weather is bird-chirping weather."
    Loire Hartwould

    "You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you're finished, you'll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird . . . So let's look at the bird and see what it's doing - that's what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something."
    Richard P. Feynman

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    N. Central Tx
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    850

    Default Re: Old-timey names of local birds

    Specklebelly goose -Greater White-fronted Goose

    Calico Heron - Little Blue Heron
    Lulu
    Happy Birding!


    Life Birds:449
    Newest Lifer: Northern Beardless Tyrannulet

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Carrollton
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    Default Re: Old-timey names of local birds

    One of my favorites is Anhinga...or Water Turkey!
    Carrie Steingruber
    Carrollton

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    Default Re: Old-timey names of local birds

    Speckle belly is common. Many hunters don't know Greater White-fronted Goose as any other name.

    Water turkey can refer to both Anhinga and either species of cormorant.

    Northern Shoveler can be referred to as spoonbill.

    There are a lot out there and sometimes they can represent several different species.

    C

  7. #7

    Default Re: Old-timey names of local birds

    Thanks for the pointer, Betsy. I need to get that book!

    Now I'm thinking. :-) How about skinny stabber for a Great Blue Heron, greentoe for coots, .....

  8. #8

    Default Re: Old-timey names of local birds

    When I moved to Texas, I had to re-learn "butter butt"

    In most of the world, a "butter butt" is a Yellow-rumped Warbler.

    With some of the people from whom I learned birding in NM, "butter butt" was a Green-winged Teal.

    Sheryll

  9. #9

    Default Re: Old-timey names of local birds

    Many of the hawks had names based on their diets/habitats. For example:

    American Kestrel = Sparrow Hawk
    Merlin = Pigeon Hawk
    Red-tailed Hawk = Chicken Hawk
    Peregrine Falcon = Duck Hawk
    Northern Harrier = Marsh Hawk
    Caleb Frome
    TX Century Club Counties: 34
    Collin Co. 252 (Barn Owl) - 230 in 2013

  10. #10

    Default Re: Old-timey names of local birds

    I heard somebody recently mention "Bulbat" for Common Nighthawk. I hadn't heard that in years.
    Wild Birds Unlimited - Dallas
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