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Old Monday 21st June 2004, 16:32   #1
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Birding Slang

Birding Slang

As with almost any hobby, birding has developed its own peculiar argot which can mystify the uninitiated. Hopefully this section will make things clearer. (Not that you absolutely have to know any of it.)

Please add any that are not listed!

Tick - a species new to any of the various lists you might keep, as in 'year tick' (new for the year; you get lots of these in January), 'British tick' (you've seen it abroad, but not in Britain), trip tick (new for whatever excursion you're currently undertaking), garden tick, shed roof tick etc. Not that you have to keep any lists at all, but most birders do.

Lifer - a species that you have never seen before in your life anywhere in the world ever. In other words, a tick for your life list.

Megatick - an extremely good tick, by virtue of the bird being rare and probably either very colourful or awesomely huge to boot. A good tick not just for you, but for any birder, even the most jaded of veterans.

Crippler - a megatick, which leaves you emotionally crippled by its beauty/size/whatever as well as its extreme rarity. (Not all megaticks are cripplers, since a lot of very rare birds are actually small and grotty with no potential to cripple whatsoever).

Sibe - a bird that normally lives in Siberia but has got lost somewhere along the way and pitched down in some grotty housing estate. Usually small and uncolourful, but rare.

Sum plum - summer plumage. A lot of rare (and not-so-rare) birds are only likely to be seen in Britain on their autumn migration, by which time they're normally in their dowdy winter plumage, so getting one in sum plum is a bonus.

LBJ - a Little Brown Job. An amazing number of birds are small and brown or some other unexciting colour, even in sum plum, and they all look almost exactly like at least a dozen other species. Female or immature birds are quite likely to be LBJs, and identification can be tricky even for the experts.

BOP - Bird of Prey. Although many BOPs are big and impressive, they aren't always readily identifiable, so this generic acronym can come in handy. Many BOPs never get identified at all.

Twitcher - obsessive list-keeping birder who goes after rare birds found by other people. Twitchers might cross half the country overnight to see one tatty brown thing sitting half a mile away on a bleak expanse of mud. Twitchers invariably have huge lists that only impress other twitchers. Surprisingly, they are not always good at identifying birds, because they leave all that tedious business to other birders. From twitcher you also get the verb to twitch, to go out with the deliberate intent of seeing one particular rarity you've been told about, and you don't need to be a dedicated twitcher to do this.

Dude - a casual birder who prefers pleasant surroundings and nice weather. Usually satisfied with quite common birds that would drive a twitcher insane with boredom. Dudes tend not to be too hot on identification either, but on the plus side they keenly enjoy the birds they do see and not just as ticks on a list. Nothing to be ashamed of. (However, there are some irritating dudes who think they know far more than they do and run up lots of stringy records (see 'stringy')).

Birder - anyone inbetween obvious twitcher and obvious dude. Keen but not obsessive, well genned up on identification and stuff, and well acquainted with the local hot birding sites. Birders find the rarities for twitchers, and are generally happy to help dudes with the LBJs (qv).

Dip out on - fail to see a particular bird, usually one you've gone out to twitch. It was there, but you dipped out on it. The bird in question may then be referred to as a dip.

Grip someone off - if you dip out on a bird and someone else doesn't, then he or she has gripped you off. This usually happens through the vagaries of chance (you turned up too late, went to the wrong turnip field, whatever) but the intense rivalry of twitchers can lead to them intentionally gripping each other off, through deliberate misinformation, suppression of information, or even scaring the bird away before anyone else can see it. Petty, maybe, but it has been known to happen. (Though knowledge of some rarities is suppressed for more practical reasons, such as to keep armies of twitchers away from private land or the breeding sites of vulnerable species.)

Stringy - suspect identification. A claimed rarity that turns out be something common. Birders that do this on a regular basis get tagged as stringers. Sometimes this derogative label is justified, other times it isn't.

Seawatching - sitting for hours and hours on a windswept clifftop, beach or harbour wall, eyes glued to the sea in the hope that something interesting will fly by eventually. Usually tedious beyond description, but the only way to see some of the more ocean-bound species away from their inaccessible breeding grounds. It helps to have a good telescope, since the birds might be miles away (literally, sometimes), and someone to talk to is a good idea unless you really want to go mad. The only rule of thumb with seawatching is that it only stands to be worthwhile if the weather is truly foul (but foul weather doesn't necessarily mean productive seawatching). Strictly for the dedicated.

Vis mig - visible migration. Most birds migrate to some extent, and it's one of the most attractive things about birding that almost anything can turn up almost anywhere. Migrants are often found after they've pitched down overnight, but you can also see them actually on the move. There's something rather exciting about this overtly purposeful movement, even when the birds in question are really quite common. It's not every day you see a woodpecker bounding over the waves or a big BOP (qv) flapping over the local shopping centre.

Mike
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Old Monday 21st June 2004, 17:48   #2
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We all can make a "Birder's Dictionary" and sell that at the BF stand at Rutland.
Well, it might sell, naaaa probably not.
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Old Monday 21st June 2004, 19:39   #3
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CMF (for "cosmic mind-f****r") - the same as a crippler (qv).

Plastic - adjective used to describe a bird that has escaped from captivity.

Blocker - a rare bird that has not occurred for many years so that long-standing twitchers have it on their lists, but younger ones are effectively "blocked" from getting it onto theirs. In Britain a classic example is MacQueen's Bustard (last record 1962).

Tart's tick - a species that should be on every serious twitcher's list because at least one bird has been easily "available" in the past.

Two-bird theory - A face-saving device. You see a bird and identify it as something rare. Someone else twitches it and re-identifies it as something very similar, but common. Rather than admit you got it wrong, you resolutely maintain you were right and that there were actually two birds present: the rare one and the common one.
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Come doleful owl, the messenger of woe,
Melancholy's bird, companion of Despair,
Sorrow's best friend and Mirth's professed foe
The chief discourser that delights sad Care.
O come, poor owl, and tell thy woes to me.
Which having heard, I'll do the like for thee.

(Anon c.1607)

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Old Monday 21st June 2004, 21:48   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluetail
CMF (for "cosmic mind-f****r") - the same as a crippler (qv).
Plastic - adjective used to describe a bird that has escaped from captivity.
Thank you! Now the thread "Plastic Ducks" makes a lot more sense...

Mike
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Old Monday 21st June 2004, 22:43   #5
Bluetail
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Edited my previous post to include some more.
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Jason
Come doleful owl, the messenger of woe,
Melancholy's bird, companion of Despair,
Sorrow's best friend and Mirth's professed foe
The chief discourser that delights sad Care.
O come, poor owl, and tell thy woes to me.
Which having heard, I'll do the like for thee.

(Anon c.1607)
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Old Monday 21st June 2004, 23:55   #6
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A lot more here:

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=4694

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=14263

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Old Tuesday 22nd June 2004, 02:28   #7
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dickie birds: those nearly-impossible-to-identify silhouettes, often seen at a distance annoyingly high in the treetops, creating the situation where identification is often dependent only upon experienced knowledge of the location, its usual inhabitants and their behavior. Can be useful in small birding groups when a moderately experienced birder feels the need to impress those less experienced or less familiar with the surroundings: "Oh, those? Cedar Waxwings. Lots of those about here . . ." Most useful when you are the more experienced birder, and there's no one about to contradict you.
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Old Tuesday 22nd June 2004, 07:38   #8
Charles Harper
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Did a quick spin through all three threads (thanks, Michael). Only vocabulary item that springs to mind that I couldn't find is good old

Woodbird: the progenitor of Polyethylene Bird, Aluminum Can Bird, Black Garbage-bag Bird, Dead Leaf Bird, etc.
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Old Tuesday 22nd June 2004, 12:11   #9
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P***- Boiler
A fellow birder / dude / twitcher who hangs off your shoulder & makes your p*** boil due to their often inane &/or boring / pompous ramblings.
SE

Last edited by CJW : Wednesday 23rd June 2004 at 14:55. Reason: Bad language - may offend.
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Old Tuesday 22nd June 2004, 19:37   #10
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A few more that seem to be used among those people I bird with-----

Insurance tick - a sub species that might get to be split to a full species.
Armchair tick - when the above gets full species status.
Wire climber or fence hopper - an Escapee.
Prune - Dunnock...... short for Prunella
Camera dancer - a particularly obliging bird photographically
Lappo _ Lapwing.
Nearly bird - one of those annoying objects, usually on telegraph poles, that resembles an owl

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Old Tuesday 22nd June 2004, 19:43   #11
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http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=14263

Not sure why, but this thread has become "unstuck". I thought it was quite useful, especially for beginners.
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Old Tuesday 22nd June 2004, 19:45   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by helenol
http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=14263

Not sure why, but this thread has become "unstuck". I thought it was quite useful, especially for beginners.
What does that mean? "unstuck"?

Mike
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Old Tuesday 22nd June 2004, 19:49   #13
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Mike, I asked, a while ago that the thread become a "sticky", meaning it usually stays in sight on a particular forum. Very useful when searching for information etc.

Lots of people are unaware (myself included) of alternative names for birds etc, therefore this particular thread was relatively easy to search out, thus eliminating the endless search, particularly for newcomers to the forum who may not be too familiar with the layout etc.

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Old Tuesday 22nd June 2004, 20:00   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by helenol
Mike, I asked, a while ago that the thread become a "sticky", meaning it usually stays in sight on a particular forum. Very useful when searching for information etc.

Lots of people are unaware (myself included) of alternative names for birds etc, therefore this particular thread was relatively easy to search out, thus eliminating the endless search, particularly for newcomers to the forum who may not be too familiar with the layout etc.
I think you mean another thread. I just started this one yesterday....

Mike
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Old Tuesday 22nd June 2004, 20:03   #15
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Mike, Mike... the thread I am referring to is the one I started ages ago! Not yours. (thread nr. 14263)
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Old Tuesday 22nd June 2004, 21:54   #16
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There's great potential here, but it could on forever. Every birder I know has nicknames for birds and, as it goes, you hear them an dpick them up. Michael F.'s spoonerisms (on the old thread) remided me of some favourites

Rough-buggered Lizard - Rough-legged Buzzard
Tool Kit - Coal Tit
Sand-filled Broadpiper - Broad-billed Sandpiper
Two-billed Crossbar - Two-barred Crossbill

Just as the AOU codes have started to enter the language, so have some BTO Ringing codes (which are five letters not two like the other BTO Codes). I like

Yebwa - Yellow-browed Warbler
Spoffle (from Spofl) - Spotted Flycatcher

Then there's others

Ten-minute Stint - Temminck's Stint
Trog (from Tree Sprog) - Tree Sparrow
Zombie (from Bonxie) - Great Skua
Woodmick - Woodpigeon


There's thousands!!
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Old Wednesday 23rd June 2004, 04:07   #17
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Quote:
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Every birder I know has nicknames for birds
Rough-necked Buzzard
Left-footed Falcon
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Old Wednesday 23rd June 2004, 12:10   #18
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I was thinking more about slang for birding terms, not nicknames for birds.....I think everyone has a nickname for a certain bird and it could go on forever. Oh my God! I sound like a Moderater!

Thanks,
Mike
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Old Wednesday 23rd June 2004, 12:14   #19
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... Oh my God! I sound like a Moderater!
...

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Don't worry,Mike,you'll have to learn to spell it first
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Old Wednesday 23rd June 2004, 12:16   #20
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Don't worry,Mike,you'll have to learn to spell it first
Moderjtor?....

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Old Wednesday 23rd June 2004, 12:17   #21
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Meduraiter?...
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Old Wednesday 23rd June 2004, 12:17   #22
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Mod.....Oh hell! The Gods!!!!

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Old Wednesday 23rd June 2004, 12:28   #23
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Now you've got it!
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Old Wednesday 23rd June 2004, 12:37   #24
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bowling in

moving off trail and into cover in order to trouser the rare - not incompatible with fieldcraft (see below) when practiced by a hardcore birder but guaranteed to raise the hackles of dudes and twitchers standing in the gallery and desparate to tick the boy

Fieldcraft - a now redundant method, especially shunned at twitches, involving use of cover, stealth and judgement to allow close approach to a bird. Best practised by those with experience and patience of stalking birds in forests and jungles
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Old Wednesday 23rd June 2004, 14:23   #25
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Poop - A small (usually Sparrow like) bird, that can't be identified, or won't allow you to ID it. A fellow birder and friend uses this term...

Tribe - A general expression describing the birding community especially when seen in a group...

Mike
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