* The things they say
Many birdwatchers find that bird calls and songs are an invaluable aid to identification, particularly where thick foliage or poor light makes sighting difficult.
But with so many species, how are they to remember which bird sings which song?
This is where mnemonics come in handy. By translating the bird's utterances into a similar-sounding human phrase, the task of association is made easier, particularly, one suspects, if the phrase in question has an amusing ring.
Here are some examples from a list of American bird calls, which perhaps demonstrate that it is not only humans who are divided by a common language.
American bittern: gulp-a-pump
Baltimore oriole: here, here, come right here, dear
Barred owl: who-cooks-for-you, who-cooks-for-you-all?
Black-legged kittiwake: kitty-waaak
Black-throated blue warbler: please, please, please squeeeeeeze
Black-throated green warbler: trees-trees, murmuring-trees
Brown thrasher: drop-it, drop-it, cover-it-up, cover it-up, pull-it-up, pull-it-up
California quail: Chi-ca-go, Chi-ca-go
Canada warbler: chip-chupitty-swee-ditchety
Carolina chickadee: Car-o-li-na
Carolina wren: tea-kettle, tea-kettle, tea-kettle
Chestnut-sided warbler: pleased-pleased-pleased-pleased-ta-meetcha
Eastern meadowlark: but-I-DO-love-you
Eastern towhee: hot dog, pickle-ickle-ickle
Golden-crowned sparrow: three blind mice
Hermit thrush: why don't cha come to me? Here I am right near you
Indigo bunting: fire, fire. Where, where? Here, here. See it, see it?
Song sparrow: Madge, Madge, Madge, pick beetles off, the water's hot
White-eyed vireo: quick give me a rain check