In honor of naturalist John James Audubon’s birthday today. Here is a list of bird species names that also have other meanings.
- A grouse is a ground dwelling bird.
- Grouse as a verb means to complain or gripe about one’s problems.
- A snipe is a bird with a long straight bill, round body, and long legs. It inhabits marshlands or coastlines. At beaches it eats insects, snails, tiny crabs, fish eggs, and tiny fish. In the marsh it eats insects and small fish.
- Snipe as a verb:
- It can means to hunt snipe birds for food.
- It can also mean to use a gun as a sniper, shooting from a well-concealed position.
- Verbally, it means to deliver sharp criticism or nasty rude comments. It happens by the minute on social media from trolls.
- A songbird famous for bursts of flying and catching insects in the air. “Skylark” is a famous song written by Hoagy Carmichael & Johnny Mercer.
- Lark can mean an easy task or a prank.
- Lark as a verb can means to play a prank, or make a little journey.
- In the phrase “<<do something>> on a lark” means to do something on a whim or spontaneously.
- A Cardinal is a North American songbird that forages on seeds and nuts. The birds have a crest of hair atop their heads. The males have vermillion red feathers, making it one of the continent’s most colorful and recognizable birds. The female’s feathers are a dowdy taupe brown with dark red details. Both male and female have coral orange beaks.
- A cardinal is also a high ranking member of the clergy in Roman Catholicism. They famously wear red. Should the pope die, an international council of cardinals gathers in Rome, Italy to elect a new one.
- A cardinal sin is one of the 7 deadly sins in Christianity: greed, gluttony, envy, lust, anger, sloth, and pride.
- An albatross is a very large white coastal bird that dives in the ocean for fish.
- An albatross around one’s neck means something that is a pain or a nuisance. It comes from the poem ”The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” by Coleridge. The mariner hero is cursed with wearing a dead albatross around his neck because he killed it.
- A robin is a songbird with a dark head and back, with a brightly colored chest and belly. (The North American robin is black-brown on its back with an orange chest; it is actually related to the thrushes. In the UK, the bird is small and round. Its back is grey with an orange chest. In Australia, the bird’s back is grey and its chest is fuchsia pink.) Robins eat worms and insects.
- This is also a first name for both sexes.
- Famous fictional Robins:
- Robin Sherbatsky on US 2000’s sitcom How I Met Your Mother
- Robin Culcord on 1980s US sitcom Cheers
- Robin, Batman’s sidekick in Batman comics, graphic novels, and movies.
- Famous fictional Robins:
- A swan is a large swimming and flying bird. Their feathers are solid white or black. Their beaks are orange or red. Their feet are webbed.
- In pop culture, a black swan is an unforeseen, surprise event that has major impact—financially, culturally, or both. It entered pop culture thanks to a 2007 book The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
- The term “swan song” means a farewell performance or one last elegant gesture before death, a job departure, or other ending. It comes from the long held (but mistaken) belief that swans are quiet their whole lives, but sing just before death. Again, it’s a myth.
- A goose is a large swimming and flying bird with a long neck. They make honking noises and are rather tempermental birds. Goose is also used to refer to the female, while gander is used for males. Geese are raised domestically for eggs, meat, and foie gras (fatted goose’s liver.)
- Goose as a verb means to poke someone else between his/her buttocks to startle them.
- Goose can mean a silly or ignorant person.
- “Goose up” means to give a vehicle some gas, add some alcohol to a food recipe, invest money in a struggling program or venture, or to do some to motivate activity or interest.
- In the phrase ”my/your goose is cooked,” the subject is doomed or stuck in a bad situation with no escape. It is referenced in ”Wake Up Little Susie” by the Everly Brothers.
- A duck is a swimming and flying bird that is about 1/3-1/2 size of a goose. It has a short neck. Ducks make quacking noises. Male ducks are called drakes, they have a trademark curled feather in their tails. Ducks are also farmed domestically for eggs and meat.
- Duck can also mean a cotton-based fabric, also called canvas. Historically it has been used for clothing, athletic shoes, tents, boat sails, and portrait and landscape painting surfaces.
- Duck as a verb means to dodge, or quickly move out of the way on an incoming object, for example, a ball, a puck, or a frisbee.
Maybe the most famous domesticated bird worldwide. Chickens come in white, black, auburn red, and/or with variegated feathers. The females are hens, the males are roosters (or cocks), and the babies are chicks or peeps.
- Chicken as an adjective can also mean to lack courage or nerve. No one who’s ever seen roosters battle one another could accuse these birds of cowardice.
- TRIVIA: Key West, Florida is home to feral chickens. Cubans brought them ages ago for cockfighting contests, and when that practice was outlawed, the birds were released into the streets to fend for themselves. The birds are a protected species on the islands like any seagull, flamingo, pelican, or osprey. They are an unofficial mascot.
- TRIVIA: Rhode Island’s state bird is the Red Rooster. The University of South Carolina’s mascot is a Gamecock, which is a fighting rooster. Coastal Carolina University’s mascot is a Chanticleer, a French fighting rooster.
- A kiwi is a flightless brown bird with a long curved beak for getting bugs from the soil. It is native to New Zealand. It is nocturnal, meaning it feeds at night.
- A kiwi can also mean an oblong brown fuzzy fruit with a bright green center and black seeds.
- A Kiwi is also a word meaning a person from New Zealand.
- A turkey is a large ground dwelling bird that is pear-shaped: it has a tiny head, a large bulbous body, and spindly long legs. Like chickens, peacocks, and pigeons, they have a prancing style of walk. Wild male turkeys have colorful blue and red heads, a fleshy waddle that hangs from their nose, and fan shaped tails. Turkeys cries are called gobbles. Adult Male turkeys are called toms, adult female turkeys are called hens. Young males are jakes, young females are jennys. Turkeys are also raised domestically for their meat.
- In the phrase ”talk turkey,” the speaker wants to talk frankly, seriously, he/she means business.
- in the phrase ”cold turkey,” the speaker (or someone they know) has abruptly gotten sober, meaning they stopped illicit drugs, alcohol, or both.
- In the sport of bowling, it can mean three strikes in a row.
- As an adjective it can mean someone or something is a loser, a flop, or a venture that didn’t pay off as promised.
- Turkey as a proper noun can mean a country south of Europe and western Asia. When trfer to the country, its people food, or customs, the first letter should always be capitalized.
WARNING: Things get more adult rated/explicit below.
- This is a coastal bird with colorful webbed feet for swimming.
- Booby or boob can mean a stupid person.
- Booby is also slang for breasts.
- A booby trap is a pitfall or other trap set for an unsuspecting (naïve) victim or “booby.”
- This is a small bird that hunts insects for food, also called a titmouse. Its beak is pointed and small. Some tits have crested feathers on their heads.
- Tit is slang for breasts.
- In British English, it’s also a derogatory term meaning an ignorant or foolish person.
- In older language, a tit can mean a small horse or a young woman.
- A dark colored, flying bird with a forked tail. Swallows catch flying insects in midair, especially at dusk or early morning hours.
- Swallow as a verb can mean to ingest food, medicine, or drink. In intimate/erotic situations, it means ingesting semen.
- Swallow can also mean to be absorbed or blend in so well (like in a crowd of people) so as to be unrecognizable.
- In the phrase ”tough to swallow,” given information is hard to accept or hear.
- In the phrase “swallow my pride,” it means a person is sacrificing some of their expectations to give an opportunity a chance.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED APRIL 26, 2022.