Bird Name Quiz

Delving in the loft the other day I came across some of my father’s old books. Amongst them was an absolute gem, handed down from my grandmother’s family. Published in 1890, it is titled Glossary of Dialect and Archaic Words used in the County of Gloucester.

Chaffinch Many of the words relate to the county’s agricultural heritage and, to my delight, there are numerous mentions of bird, animal and plant species.

Some of them came about very obviously, based on colour or sound. Anyone who has ever listened to a Chaffinch will immediately understand when the name “Pink” came from. “Witwall” is rather harder to understand. How that represented a Great Spotted Woodpecker is open to conjecture.

Prize for the most names goes to the Green Woodpecker, which rejoices under the names of: Eckle, Equal, Equaw, Eeckwall, Hakel, Heckle, Hickwall, Laughing Betsy, Wood-spite, Yaffel and Yuckel.

Just for fun, here are ten bird species, listed only by their dialect names. Can you guess the ten species?

  1. Black Steer, Stare, Steer
  2. Mumruffin, Poke pudding, Oven-builder, Underground Oxeye
  3. Blue Hawk
  4. Brown Hawk
  5. Oodle, Woodwail
  6. Burrow-duck
  7. Quice, Zoo-zoo
  8. Firebrand, Firetail
  9. Felt, Veldwer, Vildyveer, Vilt, Velt
  10. Blue Isaac, Chubby, Haysuck, Hayzick

All are well-known species, and all were/are seen in Gloucestershire.

Answers next week.

Don’t forget, the most comprehensive book of birds in Gloucestershire ever produced is now available, and features ten of my illustrations.


About Jackie Garner

Wildlife artist.
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