Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Confusing Bird Names

Some interesting anecdotes from the Grand Forks Herald on the confusion that can arise from the assignment of formal and colloquial common names to birds. For example, the bird known to scientists as the Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) is known locally by such varied and often derogatory names as crow-duck, lawyer, nigger goose, shag, and Taunton turkey (presumably a reference to a town of that name in Massachusetts). The latter reference reminds me that a former colleague of mine used to refer to any cormorant in southeast Alaska as a Norwegian turkey.

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