Friday, August 21, 2009

Calling Things What They're Not

When we moved up here near my wife's sister's and husband's restaurant near Cooperstown, we did it to be near family during these hard times of little income for me. But if you looked at me now, you'd think it was for the birds.

Because I've become a backyard bird watcher. 41 species out these glass doors on our back porch so far! I have a feeder with black oil sunflower seeds, one with suet, and another for humming birds. I never gave much of a damn about the feathered ones before, but this past winter, it became my new favorite thing.

The Orange Mohawked Woodpecker (AKA the red-bellied woodpecker)Our favorite species we call Ziggy (as in Stardust). It's the red-bellied wood pecker, which should be called the orange Mohawk woodpecker. The hairy woodpecker is just feathered like the rest. The purple finch looks like it was dipped in Burgundy--not really purple. And so on.

Now, a lot of the bird (re)naming went on back when white men cutting out across the continent practicing biological and good-ol'-guns-n'-butter warfare. I haven't found a resource with the Native American names for these birds yet, so I call them as the early musketeers did. Like the Lincoln Sparrow: not for the President, but the first guy to shoot one. Call it red-neck bird taxonomy (of course, red-neck comes from the Battle of Blair Mountain, in which the workers were the red-necks, and the good guys, and were the only US Citizens ever bombed by the US Army, so the term "red-neck bird taxonomy" fittingly misfits).

So, when a bunch of gun-toting, evolution denying, climate change causing, pollution spewing, superstitious, KKK loving lynching parties call The President of the United States a socialist, I just look at the history of bird naming by racist white guys in this country, and I figure, well, they've probably got it wrong. Again.

No comments: