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Views of Clark County - Musings on Winter Waterfowl & Name Games

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Walking along Lacamas Lake the other day we saw a lively display of birds flying about, roosting on logs, and playing in the water.  Given the recent ice and freezing rain, we were impressed with all the lively activity.  It was energizing, hinting at spring’s return. We were familiar with most of them, but one brightly-colored bird stood out – we couldn’t quite place it, so we went home to do some research. (More on that later).

What started as a serious research project quickly took an amusing turn. I know there is an amazing variety of resident and transient waterfowl in the lake, since it is located along the migratory Pacific Flyway.  But, reading the many descriptive bird names, I started noticing connections I hadn’t seen before and couldn’t resist a little wordplay. In other words, you could say the lexicology of ornithology is a hoot.

Some observations:
The international representatives are a worldly bunch: Canadian geese, American Coots, European Starlings, and Eurasian Wigeons to name a few.  Kind of like a gaggle of U.N. delegates.

Not to be judgmental, but the Lesser Scaup, Common Mergancer, Great Blue Heron and Greater White-Fronted Geese, are no superlative match for the Stellar Jays.

Hairstyles and sartorial splendor abound: Bald Eagles, Hairy Woodpeckers, Tufted Ducks strut alongside Black-Capped Chickadees, Golden-Crowned Kinglets, Belted Kingfisher, and Double-crested Cormorants. There hasn’t been this much preening since Paris Fashion Week.

On a more contemplative note, we kept our distance from the Townsend’s Solitaire and the Hermit Thrush, while commiserating with the Mourning Dove and Dark-eyed Junco.  But then we partied all night with Harlequins, Evening Grosbeaks, and Warbling Vireos, thanks to Grey Goose and Wild Turkey.  We gave it a rest before we all got too Pie-Billed (Grebe).

Oh, and that bird we were trying to identify?  It’s a Bufflehead! Kind of how I felt after writing this post.

(Posted by Bernie, aka “The Lacamas Lake Loon.”)

Filed under: Lifestyle | Nature