Sunday, June 11, 2006

Bird identification

Why is this bird called a "Scissor-tailed flycatcher?"

Because it catches flies, of course!

You’ve seen lots of the bird pictures Carol has taken. Many of the birds were from our back yard and from the golf course. Well, one part of that activity that Carol enjoys (me too, for that matter) is identifying the bird species we see.

(If you missed them, here are some links: Back yard birds, Cock fight, Belton birds, and Belton birds-1.)

ANYway, part of the identification sometimes requires us to go to a handbook and compare our pictures to those in the book. Another part is listening to their songs or calls.

That’s one of the (VERY) few areas in which I might be better than Carol. I’ve always had an ear for music, and seem to be more adept at distinguishing between subtle tones and notes than she is. I’ve succeeded in teaching her to identify cardinals by their distinctive “WEE-choo, WEET, WEET, WEET” song.

Our local Red-bellied Woodpecker (misnamed, because its HEAD is red, not its belly – but that’s what our book call them!) has a “bre-e-e-eep, bre-e-e-eep” call.

Last week we saw and photographed a small bird with a sharp-pointed beak. Later we identified it as a “Carolina Wren.” (What was a Carolina Wren doing in South Texas? No telling.) It had a loud, piercing call that sounded like, “TEA-kettle, TEA-kettle, TEA-kettle.”

As I said, that’s part of the fun of identification.

This morning Carol came in from the back yard and proudly announced that she had heard the distinctive call of a woodpecker. She identified it immediately and sure enough, when she spotted it, that’s what it was.

I asked her if it made a “bre-e-e-eep, bre-e-e-eep” call.

She gave me a blank stare. “No. It made a “rat-ta-ta-ta-ta-tat.”

I snorted coffee out my nose.


Unknown said...

*immediately following suit*

THAT was priceless!!

Karyn Lyndon said...

I thought they sounded like "uh uh uh UH uh"

kenju said...

All too often in the spring, we hear the rat-a-tat-tat of red-headed woodpeckers, having a go at the cedar siding on our house. I bang on the wall at them and they "bang" back.....LOL

Duke_of_Earle said...


Sounds like you're referring to Woody. His cousins here in South Texas have a bit of a different accent.


kenju said...

I came back to say that the scissor-tail is sitting on a scissor-tailed tree

Anonymous said...

Can these birds be domestically trained ?
They would be quite handy if you wanted to get the top of an icepole.

I can never find my scissors.

Hale McKay said...

LOL - Thank goodness I wasn't drinking anything when I got to the end of the post.

I love the sound of onomatopoeia in the morning.

That's a great picture, by the way.