Monday 15 August 2016

Bird Names: Part One

I was thinking recently about how birds are named. Some are named after how they look or the person who 'discovered' them. Some are named in a way that we can't help but think 'Where did that name come from?'. I've decided to split the post into three parts, one for bird names that make sense,  another for names that make no sense, and a third for how bird names can be pronounced in many different ways. This post covers some of the ones that make sense. Enjoy!


The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is a welcome visitor in any backyard. This year has been very slow for me and a few others that I've spoken to. This species is named for the adult male's red throat that, in the right light, will appear very shiny. I don't have any pictures of an adult male, but I do have a female on the window feeder. Click here to visit the All About Birds page.

The Blue Jay is also a bird that is a favourite in the backyard. A little known fact to most people is that the Blue Jay is a migratory bird. In the fall, around the same time that hawks are migrating, this bird heads south by the thousands. I think that Hawk Cliff and the Point Pelee area are the best places in southern Ontario to witness the migration. As the name suggests, the Blue Jay is named because it is blue. I do not have a good photo of the Blue Jay, so I took one from the internet. Click here to visit the All About Birds page.

Photo: http://0.tqn.compg

The Red-tailed Hawk is a majestic bird that is most often seen sitting on telephone poles or soaring overhead. If you see a hawk at the side of the road it is most likely a Red-tailed (but look carefully in the winter at it could be a Rough-legged). This species is named because of the rusty colouring of the tail, however the hawk does not acquire its red tail until around one year of age. Click here to visit the All About Birds Page.

The Great Blue Heron is a bird even non-birders can easily pick out among a stand of reeds. As its name suggests, it is Great - one of our largest herons, Blue - okay, it might be more of a grey, but you can sort of see the blue tinge, and a Heron. Click here to visit the All About Birds page.

Last, but certainly not least, is the Whip-poor-will. This birds name comes from the sound it makes. A repetitive WHIP-poor-Will! can be heard in the evenings and early mornings in certain areas. This bird is part of the Goat Sucker family, and is seldom seen. I have no photos available for this bird, so I got one off the internet. Click here to visit the All About Birds page.


I know that there are many more birds that I didn't cover in this post. Please comment below if there is a bird that needs to be included, and I will add it. Parts two and three will be coming out soon!

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