In 2017 I started a blog called OneWordBirds.com. Below you will find the archived posts from that blog, and a few new ones. First, some preamble…
If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve got at least a little bird-nerd in you (or you’ve taken a seriously wrong turn somewhere on the internet highway). It’s my experience that bird-nerds like you and me enjoy a little trivia, and often have particularly strong opinions about bird names.
Every time a bird name is changed or updated there is a predictable hue and cry from birders. Debates rage and tempers flare, even long after the offending alteration has taken place. Names are important to us – they help us make sense of the world of birds, and thereby perhaps bring some order into our own worlds too.
There are nearly 11,000 species of birds in the world, and this necessitates a great diversity of unique names. Logically then, very few species have simple names comprised of only a single word. These species are often enigmatic and independently fascinating, earning their one-word names through unusual physical characteristics, life histories or behaviours. Only 146 species belong in the mononym club, and each gained membership in its own way.
The OneWordBirds project aims to shed a little light on these select few, and in doing so perhaps find a little meaning in the apparently meaningless. It may be that there a great truths about life hidden deep within these pages, or it may not. Maybe OneWordBirds is what you make of it. Your mileage may vary.
- A Humble Beginning: the Dunlin
- A Devastating Loss: the Lammergeier
- A Cartoon Supervillain: the Shoebill
- A Hidden Gem: the Gadwall
- A Living Fossil: the Hoatzin
- An Aside: Many-word-birds
- A Lasting Impression: the Killdeer
- A Code Breaker: the Sora
- A Solo Act: the Secretarybird
- A Confusing Origin: the Archaeopteryx
- A Hopeless Vagrant: the Smew
- An Aside: SixWordBirds
- A Block Buster: the Kakapo
- A Funk Fixer: the Gyrfalcon
- A Distinct Advantage: the Hawaiians
- A Bittersweet Swap: the Blackthroat
- A Stress Reliever: the Razorbill
- An Aside: Would-Be One-Word-Birds
- A Project Pet: the Budgerigar
- A Freaky Fisherman: the Osprey
- An Aside: a Few Proposals
- A Stubborn Survivor: the Dovekie
- The Morepork (and Four Other Ridiculous Birds Named After Sounds)