Saturday 3 September 2016

Birder Talk

Birders use a lot of weird words. Whether they're talking about a piece of equipment or a bird, to a non-birder (or even a birder) it can make no sense. I've compiled a short list of birder "slang" that I've actually heard in the field. I tried to define them to the best of my ability. If I missed a major one, or you want to contribute to the words, leave a comment!

Bins - Short for Binoculars.
           "May I borrow your bins?"

Nash - Short for Nashville Warbler.
            "There's a Nash!"

Maggie - Short for Magnolia Warbler.
                "There's a Maggie!"

Philly - Short for Philadelphia Warbler.
             "There's a Philly!"

Merg - Short for Merganser
             "There's a Merg!"

LBJ or Little Brown Job - An unidentifiable small brown bird.
                                              "It's a LBJ...does that count on the CBC?"

Pish - The art of making kissing noises and other weird noises to bring in birds.
           "I'll try to pish."

Lagoon - The nicer term for poop pond.
                 "No it is not a Sewage Treatment Facility...It's a Lagoon."

Empid - a) Short for Empidonax
               b) An almost impossible to identify flycatcher 

                Birder One: " What's that Empid over there?"
                Birder Two: " Is it vocalizing?"
                Birder One:  " No."
                Birder Two: " I guess we'll never know..."

Dip - When one goes to a location to see a certain bird (see Target Bird), then doesn't see it.
          "I dipped on the Red-necked Phalarope."
Lister - One that keeps track of all the birds he or she observes.
              "I'm a lister."

Life List - A list of all the birds one sees over their lifetime.
                  "Currently my life list sits at 221."

Year List - A list of all the birds one sees over a year.
                   "There are 211 species on my year list right now."

Trip List - A list of all the birds one sees while on a trip.
                   " I saw 52 species at Point Pelee on April 23."

Big Day - Birding usually for 24 hours straight, but for those who cherish sleep, less than that.
                 "I recorded 84 species within the Pelee birding area during the big day."

Spark Bird - The bird that got you started in birding. (what was yours? comment below)
                       "My spark bird was the American Goldfinch."
                       (Actually, mine wasn't a bird at was eBird!)

Bushwhack - When one goes off the beaten trail in search of birds...and ticks.
                       " I found the Winter Wren while I was bushwhacking."

Butter butts  - A Yellow-rumped Warbler.
                         "There's a few butter butts up in the tree with the Yellow Warbler.

Butter Butt!

Lifer - A bird that one had never seen before.
            " I saw 18 lifers on my trip."

Year Bird - A bird that one sees for the first time that year.
                    " The Common Nighthawk I saw at the park is a year bird."

FOY - Short for First of Year (see Year Bird)
            " That Palm Warbler is a FOY for me."

Target Bird - A bird that one travels to a location just to see that bird.
                        "My target bird is the Gyrfalcon."

TV - Short for Turkey Vulture.
         "That's not the's a TV"

Nottabird - a) Something that looks like a bird at a distance, but isn't when looked at closer.
                    b) My Common Nighthawk
                    "Oops, that's nottabird!"


Twitcher - One who regularly "chases" rare birds (see Twitch).
                    "I'm quite the twitcher."

Twitch - To go see a rare bird.
                "That was one of the easiest twitches I've ever made."

Neotrop - a) A Neotropic Cormorant
                 "There's been a Neotrop that's been hanging around with the Double-crested."
                 b) A neotropical migrant such as Vireos, Warblers, and Tanagers.
                 "Hopefully in a couple weeks, the neotrops will begin to migrate through."

Sharpie - Short for Sharp-shinned Hawk.
                 " There's a Sharpie flying from left to right above the tree line."

Coops - Short for Coopers Hawk.
              "Ah, what do you know...there's a Coops flying with the Sharpie."

Patch - A local/familiar birding location.
             "I've recorded 60 species at my patch."

Birder - a) One who devotes his or her life to the best "hobby" that exists.
               b) A word that we constantly have to explain to non-birders.

               Non-birder: "So, what's a birder?"
               Birder: "It's a person who has the best pastime in the world."
               Non-birder: " What?"
               Birder: "They watch birds."


  1. I just thought of a couple I missed...

    Lake Watch - Sitting in one spot staring at a lake waiting for a bird to materialize.
    "I saw two Red-throated Loons and one Jaeger sp. on my lake watch."

    FOS - First of season, the first bird one sees that season.
    "I saw a FOS American Kestrel today."

  2. Star-bag - European Starling

    Owling - birding specifically for owls