Archive for the 'Bird Word' Category

Bird word: Lifer

  • Lifer: the first ever time that a birder sees a species of bird it is called a “lifer”or a “tick”.

Birders are like everyone else; they love to see new things – in their case it’s new birds.

Many birders keep a life list of all the birds they have ever seen. Some of these can number in the thousands because there are potentially 9,730 birds to put on your life list (give or take a few dozen/hundred depending on which list you consult). Very few birders have reached the dizzy heights of having seen over 8000 different kinds of birds in their lifetime. And it takes a lifetime of dedication, determination, planning and quite a deal of spare time and cash. Oh – and a healthy dollop of good luck at being in the right place at the right time.

My life list is very modest; it’s in the mid 300s. I’ve not travelled extensively around the world for the purpose of birding. As a result, the chances of me seeing a “lifer” is still very high. With over 9000 species yet to see worldwide I’ll need another several lifetimes to get even near to that magical 8000 mark. Even in Australia I’ve yet to see more than half the species possible.

A “lifer” is sometimes called a “tick.” This comes from the habit of birders who make lists of species seen “ticking” off each species seen on a list.

For more articles about words associated with birds, go to my Glossary of Bird Words here.

Bird Word: Immature

  • Immature: this is the stage of a bird’s life from when it fledges, or flies, until it is ready to breed.

Immature birds can be very confusing to identify. In many cases they have not yet developed their adult plumage. Good Field Guides will show these variations in the illustrations. In some cases it would be wise to also check the descriptive text of the field guide.

This variation in plumage colours and patterns just adds one more dimension to this fascinating thing called birding. It means that we always have to be alert and constantly learning.

An immature bird is similar to a juvenile, though these two terms can have subtle differences in meaning.

Rufous Whistler (juvenile male)

Rufous Whistler (juvenile male)

Bird Word: Juvenile

  • Juvenile bird: a young fledged bird that has not yet reached sexual maturity.

One has to be careful with juvenile (or immature) birds. It can be tricky identifying them. This is because young birds recently out of the nest sometimes have non-adult plumage. Their colours and feather patterns can vary markedly from the adult plumage and markings. This can be so for as long as a year or more after hatching.

Most good Field Guides will show plumage variations either in the illustrations or explain them in the text – preferably both. Look for these variations when trying to identify a young bird.

Juvenile Striated Pardalote

Juvenile Striated Pardalote

Bird Word: Mallee Tree

  • Mallee: this is a word I use often in my blog because I live in the Mallee districts of South Australia. Mallee is a group name for eucalypt trees which form dense scrublands and are usually found in arid or semi-arid parts of Australia. They are usually multi-trunked trees growing from a single underground stump called a lignotuber.

The mallee regions of Australia are quite extensive, stretching from southern western Australia through southern south Australia into northern Victoria and western New South Wales. Mallee scrubs can be quite thick, and almost impenetrable in some places. It is the preferred habitat for some of our bird species including:

  • Malleefowl
  • Purple-crowned Lorikeet
  • Mallee Ringneck Parrot
  • Scarlet-chested Parrot
  • Mallee Emu-wren
  • Yellow-rumped Pardalote
  • Mallee Heathwren (also called Shy Heathwren)
  • Black-eared Miner
  • Purple-gaped Honeyeater
  • Yellow-plumed Honeyeater
  • Southern Scrub-robin
  • Red-lored Whistler

Of course, many of the above species are found in other kinds of habitat, and there are many other species which can be found in the mallee habitat (click here for more photos).

Mallee Scrub, Murray Bridge

Mallee Scrub, Murray Bridge

Bird Word: Life List

  • Life list: a list of birds a birder has seen in their life time. Many also keep year lists, month lists, week lists or day lists. Other lists include place lists, state lists, country lists, lists of birds seen on television, in movies, from their office window – in fact, this listing is limited only by the birder’s imagination, time available and interests (and level of sanity).

I am a self confessed list maker.

It is one of the reasons birding appeals to me. I keep lists. All kinds of lists. Here is a list of lists I keep:

  • A list of all the birds I’ve ever seen (my “Life List”).
  • A list of all the birds I’ve seen in each state of Australia.
  • A list of birds I’ve seen in Australia, Thailand and Nepal (that counts as 3 lists!)
  • A list of places I’ve been birding (its’ a long list).
  • A list of books I have read over the last 40 years (it’s a very long list).
  • A list of things I have done this year – and last year – and the one before that…
  • A list of things to do today.
  • A list of articles, poems and stories I’ve had published (it’s a growing list).
  • A list of books and stories I’ve written that I want to send to publishers (it’s a list that should be getting shorter [sigh]).
  • A list of the titles of blog articles I’ve published and the dates published (that’s 3 lists because I run 3 blogs)
  • A list a potential articles to write for my 3 blogs (another 3 lists).
  • A list of…

Actually – I think you get the picture, and it’s not a pretty one!

And then, in the mid 1990s I bought a birding data-base to record all my bird records. This was heaven! Now I can generate all kinds of lists at the touch of a few keys strokes. Wonderful.

What kinds of lists do you keep? Tell me in the comments section.