Monday, July 23, 2007

Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)

What daft names we give our birds! A sensible British naturalist suggested the name Pied Woodpecker as being a better description of D.major but it didn't catch on. Nor did his suggestion that the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (D.minor) be called the Barred Woodpecker. Ah well, it's all history now since the BOUffoons decided they own the vernacular names and can change them at will (Winter Bloody Wren, Grrrrr)
My favourite bunch of daft names are the ones the Victorian ornitho-hunter-gatherers gave to the members of a rather drab African genus of little brown birds called Cisticola, which, as you all know, contains 51 species, of which only one, Cisticola juncidis, the Fantailed Warbler (or, as we are now supposed to call it, the Zitting Cisticola), is found in Europe.
Look at this for a list as zany as anything The Goons could have come up with:
Tink-tink Cisticola
Wing-snapping Cisticola
Cloud-scraping Cisticola
Croaking Cisticola
Stout Cisticola
Wailing Cisticola
Rattling Cisticola
Churring Cisticola
Siffling Cisticola
Foxy Cisticola
Piping Cisticola
Lazy Cisticola
Chattering Cisticola
Bubbling Cisticola
Singing Cisticola
Winding Cisticola
Chirping Cisticola
And (I think quite rightly), amongst the rest there is a Red-faced Cisticola, totally ashamed of his close relatives. Believe me, the above names are genuine: even my fevered wine-soaked imagination could not have invented anything quite so bizarre. All this was prompted by the appearance of D.major on the nut feeder just outside my back door, bless him (or her).

To conclude, here is a Fantailed Warbler (C.juncidis). I told you they were drab little brown birds. Maybe they deserve their flamboyant names just to give them a bit of pezazz.

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