Friday, 25 November 2011

The Dusty Lurker


English bird names just haven’t had the same amount ofimagination or free-form thinking  put into them as some other natural history orders have. Moths  ( The Alchemist, Merveille du Jour , The Suspected) and fungi (Destroying Angel, Slippery Jack, Dead Man’s Fingers) certainly have. They sound like characters from the works of Tolkien and Dickens.

Compare them to Dunnock. What a dull name. It is, it must be said, not a remarkable bird to look at even if it has a very interesting sex life (look it up if you are curious). The derivation of the name ‘Dunnock’ is, according to Wikipedia:
“this usage(Dunnock) has much to be said for it, based as it is on the oldest known name for any of the species (old English dun-, brown, + -ock, small bird: "little brown bird"), and a much more euphonious name than the contrived "Accentor".

So, in some ways Dunnock does exactly what it says on the tin. But we can do better than that. What about Dusty Lurker. Or Drab-coated Dandy. Or even The Unremarkable.

All better than Dunnock any day

1 comment:

  1. How about Grey-throated Cloaca-pecker.

    Off the top of my head it's just some of the waders that have anything like decent vernaculars (at least in British birds) mainly because they don't have Wader in the name (vs Duck, Warbler, finch, Falcon, Eagle etc). Oystercatcher, Avocet, Turnstone for example.

    One fungi I really want to see just because the name sounds great is Amethyst Deceiver.

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