Bird Names by Dru Brooke-Taylor

Bird Names

For various reasons, I’ve been at home all day.  Seeing the quiz of bird names, and the answers set me thinking. I realised that although I don’t use the names, I did know some of them. But there are still other names that I use in preference to the official names in the books. I first learnt my birds over 60 years ago.  Some of the names in the books were different then, some of the books listed more than one name, and some names were current among family and friends. So I thought, if people were interested, I’d list some of these. I’ve put them into three categories.

I hope I’ve got them in approximately the right order but the official order changes so often.  I may be out of date. I’ve left out the obvious shortened ones like Tuftie, Fudge Duck, Manxie, Hoodie etc.

A. Names I use instinctively or in preference to the official names

Freak Duck - any sort of hybrid duck
Redhead - female Smew
Dabchick - Little Grebe
Tippet Grebe - Great-Cested Grebe in winter plumage.
Tarrock - 1st year Kittiwake
Blue Darr - Black Tern, hence White-winged Darr and presumably Whiskered Darr
Bonxie - Great Skua
Tystie - Black Guillemot
Peewit - Lapwing
Great White Heron - Great White Egret. Egret to me = Little Egret, the one with the plumes unless prefixed by anything else, e.g. 'Cattle'.
Frenchman - Red-legged Partridge
Red Game - Red Grouse
Black Game - Black Grouse  - male is Blackcock and female Greyhen.
Town or Street Pigeon - feral version of Rock Dove - the ones in lofts are Domestic Pigeons
Cat Dove - Collared Dove (this one is curious as this species has only become prevalent within my lifetime; so the name must be recent)
Screech Owl - Barn Owl
Sea Eagle - White-tailed Eagle
Ring-tail hawk - female Hen Harrier
Ossifrage - Bearded Vulture
Yaffle - Green Woodpecker
Hedge Sparrow - Dunnock
Redcap - female Blackcap
Bramblefinch - Brambling

B. Names I sometimes use or have heard in use

Wild Duck - Mallard, esp fem.
Cuddy Duck - Eider
Rain bird - Red-throated Diver
Solan Goose - Gannet
Thick-knee - Stone Curlew
Green Plover - Lapwing (also just ‘Plover’)
Puit - ditto , a different pronunciation of Peewit.
Sea Pie: Oystercatcher
Hanser (the ‘a’ is long) - Heron (Grey)
Boomer - Bittern
Buff-backed Heron - Squacco Heron
Land Rail - Corncrake
Moorcock - Red Grouse
Ring Dove - Woodpigeon
Brown Owl - Tawny Owl
Howlet - I think I’d now regard this name as having transferred to a Little Owl.
Fern Owl - Nightjar
Goatsucker -   (ditto)
Glead - Red Kite
Windhover - Kestrel
Lammergeier - Bearded Vulture
Devil Bird - Swift.
Water Wagtail - Pied Wagtail
Water Ouzel - Dipper
Ouzel Cock - male Blackbird. I suppose therefore Ouzel Hen but I’ve never heard it.
Stormcock - Mistle Thrush (almost in category A)
Willow Wren - Willow Warbler (possibly also Wood Wren for Wood Warbler)
Zitting Cisticola - Fan-tailed Warbler
Reedling - Bearded Tit.
Tom Tit - Blue Tit
Ox-eye or Ox-eye bird - Great Tit.
Butcher-bird - Red-backed Shrike
Spink - Chaffinch
Green Linnet - Greenfinch
Reed Sparrow - Reed Bunting
Water Sparrow -   ditto

C. Names I know exist but don’t use and haven’t actually heard used

Summer Teal - Garganey
Old Squaw - US for Long-Tailed Duck
Loon - Diver, prefixed by which sort.
Eared Grebe - Black-necked Grebe
Horned Grebe - Slavonian Grebe
Mother Carey’s Chicken - Storm Petrel
Molleymawk - Black-browed Albatross
Jaeger - Skua, prefixed by which sort
Dovekie - Little Auk
Puttock - Buzzard
Cushat - Woodpigeon
Gowk - Cuckoo
Pied Woodpecker - Great Spotted Woodpecker
Barred Woodpecker - Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
Titlark - Meadow Pipit
Stare - Starling (sometimes I think also Sturnel)
Hedge Accentor - Dunnock
Mavis - Song Thrush (I slightly wonder if that’s the derivation of the name)
Redbreast - Robin
Ruddock - (ditto)
Sprosser - Thrush Nightingale
Spadge or Spadger - House Sparrow
Aberdevine - Siskin
Yellow Bunting - Yellowhammer

If you know or use any other names for birds please send in your versions and we will add them to this list