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Acros and Acronyms- birding terms explained! - beginning birders

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Old Friday 16th February 2007, 01:00   #1
dantheman
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Acros and Acronyms- birding terms explained! - beginning birders

Following recent discussion on certain birding terms and their use, the feeling was mooted that use of these terms was elitist and served to alienate less experienced birdwatchers. It was felt by many that this was not done on purpose, and that really we are all one big happy family.

Thus I thought it may be useful to have a little thread where various birdwatching terms and their definitions could be posted, to share some of these terms and spread the information around.

Simple rules.
Do: a) post birding terms and their definition (literal or otherwise), possibly also with a link to a relevant thread.
b) pose a question of a term you don't understand
c) reply to a question
d) post an alternative reply, expand upon an earlier explanation
e) include terms, words, phrases, abbreviations, acronyms- all good

Dont: a) get involved in discussion on why you hate a particular word, abbreviation etc, bring it up on this thread for example
(http://www.birdforum.net/showthread....1&page=1&pp=25)
b) try and go offthread toooo much (unless it gets too boring here)
c) Someone may think of something else later

Enough of the intro. . . .
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Old Friday 16th February 2007, 01:05   #2
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For starters:

Acros- Acrocephalus warblers (10 european species) Reed and Sedge warbler etc. Most live in open swampland habitat. (See page 280 of 'New' Collins Fieldguide. for further intro to this genus and the following 2)

Hippos- Hippolais warblers. eg Icterine Warbler. Usually found in woods or bushy habitats. p280

Phylloscs- Phylloscopus warblers. eg Chiffchaff. Genus containing 11 species. Breed in woodland, often feeding in the treetops. p280

The above are 3 of the 4 european warbler families, often referred to by some experienced birders by the abbreviations given (as in there's an interesting looking hippo in that bush. . . .)
For some discussion on the pros and cons of using see here http://www.birdforum.net/showthread....1&page=1&pp=25 (again!)
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Old Friday 16th February 2007, 01:08   #3
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Mipit- contracted form of Meadow Pipit. Used as shorthand eg in notebooks. Use can spill out into more common usage though (probably for the worse?).

Sprawk- Sparrowhawk. As above (has been said that can be a more suitable name given the sometimes very fleeting views you have )


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Old Friday 16th February 2007, 01:09   #4
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Chiff/willow- occasionally you may come across this one. Means you haven't been able to suss which one it is on the views you have had! (of Chiffchaff and Willow warbler)

Bonxie- Traditional northern name for Great Skua (Stercorarius skua)

Pom- Abbreviation of Pomarine Skua (S. pomarinus)

White-winged gull- Iceland Gull and Glaucous Gull
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Old Friday 16th February 2007, 17:23   #5
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Perhaps a quick note on taxonomy would be helpful to some people... I could start at Kingdom but instead I'll start at...

Class - Birds are all in the same class Aves. Other classes include all the mammals (Mammalia), Reptiles (Reptilia) and amphibians (Amphibia). Some people include birds in Reptilia, but that just confuses matters...

Order - Orders include groups such as Anseriformes (ducks, geese and swans), Charadriiformes (waders, gulls and terns) and Accipitriformes (birds of prey). All bird orders end with "-iformes", but this isn't the same for all Classes. The biggest bird order is Passeriformes, known as passerines, perching birds or songbirds. They have feet that automatically grasp branches, and are (generally) the most accomplished singers of all birds. It includes crows, thrushes, tits, warblers, finches, sparrows, buntings, wrens, dippers, pipits, shrikes, swallows and many more.

Family - Orders are divided into families. For example, out of the passerines above, they belong to their own families. For example Corvidae (crows, magpies, jackdaws, jays, ravens, choughs etc), Sylviidae (warblers, blackcaps, goldcrests, firecrests etc), Fringillidae (finches, crossbills, linnets, twites, canaries etc), Turdidae (thrushes, chats, robins, nightingales etc). All families end with "idae", and a member of a group can be described as a corvid, sylviid, fringillid, turdid, or described as corvine, sylviine etc, although some of these are more used than others.

Genus (plural genera) - this is a further division of family, and forms the first part of the bird's Latin name. A genus is always written in italics (or, very occasionally, underlined), and with a capital initial. For example the crow family contains the genera Corvus (carrion crow, hooded crow, jackdaw, rook, raven), Garrulus (jay), Pica (magpie) and Pyrrhocorax (chough).

Species - a species is defined roughly as an animal, plant etc that is distinct enough to be able to breed only with members of its own kind. Some different species do interbreed (such as ducks of the genus Aythya), but their young are very rarely viable (that is they are usually sterile). A species is written as the bird's genus and then a distinct name. For example Corvus corone (carrion crow), C. corax (raven) and C. frugilegus (jackdaw).

When writing several birds of the same genus, it is customary to write just the initial of the genus as I have done above. The second part of the Latin name is always written with a lower case letter, even when an animal is named after a person or place. Some birds can have the same second part to their Latin name (eg Great Egret Egretta alba and Barn Owl Tyto alba), but never closely related ones.

Subspecies - a subspecies is a distinct population with a species with significant differences, but that can still interbreed fully with other subspecies within the same species. Staying with crows, an example of this is the carrion crow (Corvus corone corone) and the hooded crow (C. c. cornix). This can be abbreviated when making lists, as with species. Sometimes a subspecies can be "upgraded" to full species level following research, and equally a species can be "downgraded" to a subspecies.
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Old Friday 16th February 2007, 21:50   #6
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Godwits:

Barwit - Bar-tailed Godwit
Blackwit - Black-tailed Godwit
Hudwit - Hudsonian Godwit

Pipits:

Mipit - Meadow Pipit
Tripit - Tree Pipit
Wapit - Water Pipit
Ropit - Rock Pipit

(all of these phrases for Pipits should be avoided unless you want to be severely beaten because they are horrible!)

I've got a whole list of these somewhere, i'll have to dig it out.

Mike
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Old Friday 16th February 2007, 22:33   #7
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Naturepete, your above post is very helpful, and clearly explains how the taxonomic system works.
However, although many older fieldguides treat Carrion and Hooded Crows as subspecies, they are in fact now treated as separate species by the BOU.
Carrion Crow= Corvus corone
Hooded Crow = Corvus cornix
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Old Friday 16th February 2007, 22:41   #8
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I suppose this perfectly illustrates your example, that subspecies can be 'upgraded' to full species level, and is commonly known as a 'Split'.
If you've already seen both subspecies/species, and you're hungry for new birds to extend your list, then this would constitute an 'armchair tick'.
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Old Friday 16th February 2007, 22:45   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Feely
Ropit - Rock Pipit
or I've more commonly heard 'Rockit'...
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Old Friday 16th February 2007, 23:00   #10
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Geebs (pronounced 'Jeebs') and Leebs can be Great and Lesser Black-backed Gulls respectively. And quite justifiably - their full names waste so much useful breath.
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Old Friday 16th February 2007, 23:09   #11
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Great Thread for us people who seriously want to join the jargon club. Thanks Dantheman for the chance to collect and understand these things. (I am not being ironic at all either!) Thanks also for the taxonomic explanation NaturePete! I really appreciate it - I've been looking for something like that. It helps those of us who are interested in getting to grips with the Latin names - although I understand that not everyone is....
Then, thanks to everyone else for the other acronyms so far. I knew some but didn't know the geebs and leebs - love them!!!
Keep 'em coming peeps!

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Old Friday 16th February 2007, 23:30   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flippsy
Great Thread for us people who seriously want to join the jargon club. Thanks Dantheman for the chance to collect and understand these things. (I am not being ironic at all either!) Thanks also for the taxonomic explanation NaturePete! I really appreciate it - I've been looking for something like that. It helps those of us who are interested in getting to grips with the Latin names - although I understand that not everyone is....
Then, thanks to everyone else for the other acronyms so far. I knew some but didn't know the geebs and leebs - love them!!!
Keep 'em coming peeps!
Peeps - what birders across the pond (from Europe - ie America!) call small Calidris waders (as a generic group) , we usually call them Stints.

Mike

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Old Friday 16th February 2007, 23:34   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gavin Haig
Geebs (pronounced 'Jeebs') and Leebs can be Great and Lesser Black-backed Gulls respectively. And quite justifiably - their full names waste so much useful breath.
Never heard this before, i usually call them GBB's & LBB's (but spoken as in Ceebeebees!)

Whilst on Gulls - an obvious one: Med Gull = Mediterranian Gull and "beeaitchjee" = BHG = Black-headed Gull
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Old Friday 16th February 2007, 23:35   #14
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Raptors= birds of prey (ie eagles, hawks, falcons and the like NOT owls)

(BOP= Birds of prey. Not in very common usage.)

Manxie= Manx shearwater (Puffinus puffinus)

'Commic' Tern = Common/ Arctic terns (on a seawatch) too distant to differentiate safely enough between the two (probably should be seen more often!)
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Old Friday 16th February 2007, 23:40   #15
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A very simplified distinction of the 3 main type of people birdwatching:

Birdwatcher- someone who enjoys watching (observing) birds as well as getting involved in any of a number of other bird- related activities.

Birder- some more experienced birdwatchers like to be called birders (some don't, though) More likely to be involved in more serious study (?) eg doing counts.

Twitcher- person who, as the 'main' thrust of their hobby attempts to see as many rare birds in the uk (or other country)as they can (usually on an annual basis), which have been found by others. This can involve lots of travel and high levels of commitment at the top end.

(The media like to use the term 'twitcher' a little too frequently in inappropriate circumstances (eg 'Village pond saved by the local twitchers'. Whereas the term 'Birdwatcher' can still roughly be used as an all-encompassing word)

See this thread for relevant discussion (BIRD WATCHER or TWITCHER): http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=77658
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Old Friday 16th February 2007, 23:58   #16
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endem - endemic
EBA - Endemic Bird Area
rare (singular or plural) - as in 'looks good for some rare/rares today'
skulker (n) - difficult bird to observe such as thrushes, wren babblers, pittas etc
bowl in (v) - not to hold back from the birds, shall we say.
porn star (v) - to show rather well as in 'the Pacific Diver was porn starring all morning'
hoover (v) - to see a lot of important birds in a short time. 'I hoovered all the endems'
trouser (v) - similar to above, more often applied to singular birds - 'we trousered the diver'
OBC - Oriental Bird Club
NBC - Neotropical Bird Club
ABC - African Bird Club
OSME - Ornithological Society of the MIddle East
Kid Lister - young but keen birder
'nuts off' - particularly showy or vocal - as in it was calling/showing its nuts off

my fave - have you seen any cranes? Uttered by most visitors to the Horsey area, usually before a Hello or good morning and seldom followed by a thank you after good info is divulged. Will soon be met by blank looks if it carries on.

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Old Saturday 17th February 2007, 00:01   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flippsy
Great Thread for us people who seriously want to join the jargon club.
Cool. Glad this seems to be working well. (And it's not 'jargon', honest, it's 'Important Birding Words And Phrases (IBWAPs) )


Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveClifton
. . . subspecies, they are in fact now treated as separate species by the BOU.
BOU- care to go on? (And then there's BBRC, WeBS . . . etc etc!!)
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Old Saturday 17th February 2007, 00:12   #18
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Some more 'basics'

Ornithologist- person whose job it is to study birds. Professional. Scientist type.

County birder- someone who confines their main birding activity to their chosen (home) county. Can be competitive (against self or others), attempting to see (list) as many species in that county each year. Some former twitchers have switched to this activity.

Local patch worker- person who confines their main birding activity to their local area, often quite small such as a single reservoir, clifftop area, nature reserve etc

Lister- someone who lists! Year lists, Life lists, Country lists, Self-found lists etc etc. One of the aspects of birding is the collecting trait. Keeping lists to any degree is tied in with this. In the past shot birds or eggs would be collected. Now it is the lists of species seen. (Keeping lists can be a positive, and the life blood of some birders. Pushes some to seeing more birds, and in the process getting more records for the county/ area recorder, and thus increasing bird knowledge)

Lifer- a new bird for yourself. (In America called a 'life-bird')

Twitch- to go and see a bird which has been found by someone else (a rare bird in this context) (eg We're going to twitch the Waxwings in Norwich this weekend)

(There are many terms and phrases associated with twitching, which has grown almost its own language in many cases, including those for certain rarities, I won't go into them at this point, although some have filtered down into more 'mainstream' birding eg 'dipping' and 'ticking')

Dipping- missing out on seeing a bird you had hoped to see. (eg I dipped on the Bittern at Grove Ferry)

Ticking- 'getting' 'collecting' 'seeing' otherwise acquiring a bird.

EDIT: Please expand or correct if these are a little simplistic (but then that's the idea really)
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Old Saturday 17th February 2007, 00:17   #19
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Smile

allright - this is going into my favorites list - I especially like mr. Tim Allwoods "jargon" - gonna make me sound like a rock star at my next birding walk - mabey some crancky and confused faces when I call the Rose-breasted Grosbeak a "porn star " ! It will weed out the "jumpers" from the "experts" in any case ! - sorry I had to use all those emoticon thingys - lol
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Old Saturday 17th February 2007, 15:26   #20
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Some more basic(ish) terms:

Bins, Binos= Binoculars
Scope= Telescope
Swaro= Swarovski, one of the premier optics brands

Collins- The Field Guide. 'The Most Complete Field Guide To The Birds Of Britain And Europe' Black with flying Barn Owl on the front cover. However probably not the best choice for the beginner birdwatcher in the UK due to the sheer number of pages (400) and species involved (722). (compare to the 250 + regular uk species occurring, + another 100 or so scarcities and 'frequent rarities')
Discussion on field guides here for example;

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread....8&page=1&pp=25

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=75510

(Although I'm not sure any firm conclusions are reached wrt the best one for new birdwatchers)



BirdForum terms

BF= BirdForum
RF= Ruffled feathers
IBWO= Ivory Billed Woodpecker. One of the longest running threads on BF. Delving into Politics, Conspiracy Theories and much much more, (nothing to do with the lack of said woodpeckers to be found, of course. . . )
Mods= moderators

(Q- what do IMO and all that lot stand for??)
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Old Saturday 17th February 2007, 15:33   #21
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IMO = In My Opinion
IMHO = In My Honest (or Humble) Opinion
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Old Saturday 17th February 2007, 15:58   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NaturePete
IMO = In My Opinion
IMHO = In My Honest (or Humble) Opinion
Cheers, as I like putting my oar in now and then I will have to use these

Ringtail- Female (or immature) Hen Harrier or Montagu's (or indeed Pallid) Harriers. (They have a white rump!)

LBJ- Little Brown Job. ie small brown bird which you haven't yet id'ed (identified), maybe because it was in flight or too skulking. Could be something interesting, more than likely to turn out to be a Dunnock or similar. Any level of birder can get LBJ's, some of which may remain unidentified.
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Old Sunday 18th February 2007, 09:49   #23
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Alcid - an undetermined member of the Alcidae (usually Guillemot/Auk in the UK)
Corvid - a crow (can come in handy if you're unsure about Rook/Carrion Crow/Raven)
Plastic - a bird which is likely to have escaped from captivity
Escape - a bird that has escaped from captivity (don't use "escapee" if you wanna sound like a pro!)
Gripped off - what you are when you've just dipped a bird that other twitchers that arrived earlier managed to see.
Vis-mig - visible migration; hence vis-migging: watching visible migration (of land birds). If your watching (migrating) seabirds from the coast, you're seawatching if you take a ship out to sea to do the same, it's a pelagic (trip).

And now some conflict-inducing terms...
Suppression - keeping the presence of a rarity a secret. Something that gets many twitchers very angry even the suggestion of suppression will do that. However, suppressing a breeding rarity or one in a truly inaccessible area surely is justifiable.
Stringer - someone who claims a rarity without having seen enough detail, or who makes up details he hasn't seen. Usually, used for a birder that should know better and whose sightings are therefore easily dismissed by other birders. A beginner should be excused for making mistakes.
Dude - a term experienced birders use for people who look experienced, but lack skill (like being unable to tell a Common Scoter from an Eider, or a Curlew Sandpiper from a Bar-tailed Godwit). Not to be used in someone's face!
Robin-stroker - people who love their garden birds, but otherwise only show an interest in (easily recognisable) birds on organised trips. Again, not to be used in someone's face...
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Old Sunday 18th February 2007, 20:16   #24
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BOU - British Ornithologists Union. Their aim is to promote the study of birds, both within the birdwatching and scientific communities. Publisher of the official 'British List.'
THE BRITISH LIST - see above
BBRC - BRITISH BIRDS RARITIES COMMITEE. The organisation to which all British rarity records should be submitted.

BLOCKER - Term used by twitchers, for a bird that is so rare, and seen by so few, that it is unlikely be seen by many other people for many years, if ever. Consequently, it can help to 'block' others from keeping up with the lists of the few that have seen it.
ULTIMATE BLOCKER - variation on the above (but even rarer!)
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Old Monday 19th February 2007, 10:09   #25
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Lightbulb

Good initiative dantheman,
any chance that the BF administrators will install a glossary tool here in the forum?
Cheers,
Max
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