North American Bird Folknames and Names

Book Features

    CHOICE Magazine Book Review, 10/96

    "Sayre has prepared a compendium of names and folknames for more than 500 North American birds. Many of these names are rapidly being forgotten, even as birdwatching continues to grow in popularity; thus it fills a valuable niche in the reference library. It is organized in taxonomic sequence, so anyone who is familiar with a bird checklist should find it easy to use. In addition to a complete index enabling the reader to determine which bird was once called the "Pork'n Beans" (common nighthawk), the author includes a discussion on the etymology of bird names, and a section on British bird name origins. The book is easy to use, providing both entertainment and utility. It should be in the reference section of any natural history or academic library. General; undergraduates through faculty." - D. A. Rintoul, Kansas State University.

    Nature Canada Book Review, Spring, 1997

"What might a bog-pumping hell-driver be? What about a mosquito hawk? Or an ant woodchuck? When you read this book, you'll discover that they rare, respectively, the American bittern, the killdeer, and the flicker. Its author (James) Kedzie Sayre, found a glaring hole in North American ornithological literature. To fill it, he researched the contributions of the first English and European settlers, and Mexican and Caribbean influences to make a fascinating list of bird names. Over 8000 folknames and names for over 500 species of North American birds are listed here. The first 75-page-section etymology explains the origin of common North American bird names such as crow, coot, and kite, as well as some of those found in zoos. The index is exhaustive and the author has also shared his primary sources of information. I can attest to the usefulness of North American (Bird) Folknames and Names firsthand. When a colleague came back from Yellowstone recently and asked what an "ouzle" was, I didn't have a clue. Even the local experts were dumbfounded, but an answer was quickly found in this book. An ouzle turned out to be a dipper, which goes back to the Old English "osle" for blackbird. Some of the names Kedzie has listed are obvious, others witty, and others downright obscure. How do you figure that the American wigeon turned into a zanzan? And I don't even want to get into the warblers: a yellow-throated creeper is actually the yellow-throated warbler, the yellow-crowned warbler is really the chestnut-sided warbler, and the summer warbler and the willow warbler are both the yellow warbler which also shares spider warbler with the yellow-rumped warbler. Confusing as the names may be, this is a most useful book." - Cendrine Huemer. 



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Copyright 2003 by Bottlebrush Press. All Rights Reserved.

Web page last updated on 9 June 2003.