Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Musical Tribute to Turdus Migratorius; Identifying Birds By Their Funny Walks

I mean really, Turdus? Don't tell me someone wasn't snickering when they named that bird. Latin is such a cruel language.

When the Red Red Robin Comes Bob-Bob-Bobbin' Along...

Funny - brings to mind a bird walk I went on many years ago with a park ranger in Yosemite. He took the "bird walk" bit literally, and demonstrated for us the distinctive walks of the different birds. Some bounce, some strut, some swagger, etc. Some, like swifts and hummingbirds, don't walk at all (at least when anyone is looking). Ducks waddle. Spotted Sandpipers teeter. Jays hop. Ravens amble. Pipits meander. Longspurs crouch and crawl. Robins take short runs ending in sudden halts, which I guess could be described as bob-bob-bobbin' along. That may even be the technical term.

I see a new frontier of bird identification waiting to be explored. Maybe someday you'll open an issue of Birding to see an article on high-stepping among the icteridae, or comparing the foot speed and relative bounciness of Northern and Louisiana Waterthrushes. When you do remember you read it here first.


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