The Language of Birding

Bird watching is like an addiction. Once you are hooked, there is no getting away from it. Since doing so is hopeless, you need to understand the terminology you will here.

Abmigration is the movement of a bird from one breeding area to another by pairing in a flock with a bird from the new area. They then travel during the next season.

Air sacs are a section of a bird’s respiratory system. They are attached to lungs and extend throughout the body cavity. Depending on the species, can temporarily store large amounts of air to cool the body and maximize oxygen intake.

A Field mark refers to distinctive characteristics used by a birder to identify particular birds in the wild. Field marks can be coloring, shapes, size and so on.

Plumage generally refers to the feathers on an adult bird. If the species molts only once a year, adults are considered to have basic plumage. Double molts is a sign of breeding and basic plumages.

The term Papilla refers to a colorful knob often found on the beak or mouth of a hatchling. It acts as a target for the parent to place food upon return to the nest.

The act of mobbing is very interesting amongst birds. It refers to the little guys standing up to a big predator. Many smaller birds will unite to attack and drive away a larger predator. This act is particularly prevalent during nesting periods.

The act of probing refers to bird conduct during feeding sessions. Birds will probe areas such as dead bark, mud and what have you to find food. The type of probing is dependent upon the particular bird and is a crude method for identification.

Shearing is a flight specific activity to certain birds. It is the graceful act of dipping the edge of one wing into water and then slowly rotating to dipping the other tip while flying across the water.

The speculum is a marketing area found on a duck. Many ducks have a patch of color on their wings. The color distinction and shape can be used for identification purposes.

As you know, the legs of birds are odd. The tarsas is the element of the leg that is just below the leg and above the ankle. It is considered part of the ankle anatomy.

As with humans, bird drumming refers to a noise made by birds. It is typically done by males to attract females. The drums are often trees or other structure that produce a particular noise when knocked.

Twitchers do not refer to birds, but those of us that watch them. If you get head over heals about it, you can get very excited and even nervous about a new sighting. This is known as twitching and you are a twitcher!

Nidifugous refers to a certain type of bird and the hatching process. Many chicks are born unable to take care of themselves. Nidifugous chicks are self-sufficient for the most part immediately after hatching.

The most important thing about bird watching terms is to understand their place. They can help you understand what you are seeing, but should not divert you from the pure beauty of the sighting.