American Birding Podcast



The 10 Most Commonly Missplepled Words in Briding

We’ve all done it. Lord knows, I’ve done it. We’ve misspelled bird names. And it’s no wonder. I mean, we birders routinely have occasion to say–and write–such words as Phainopepla and Pyrrhuloxia. Anzalduas and Wakodahatchee. Kenn with two n’s, ffrench with two lower-case f’s, and Louis Fuertes’ middle name. I even have in my possession here a Birding manuscript with Apu’s surname. (It’s Nahasapeemapetilon.)

And rectrix. It’s not retrix, and the plural isn’t retrices.

How about bird names themselves? Phainopepla and Pyrrhuloxia are so weird that I think many of us take the time to look them up and get it right. I still find myself looking up Tamaulipas, every time I need to refer to that crow (or is it a raven?) I’ve never seen. No, the tricksters are the ones that don’t seem that hard. Without further ado:

Stellar's Jay. Photo by (c) Bill Schmoker.

Stellar’s Jay. Photo by (c) Bill Schmoker.

  • Forester’s Tern
  • American Kestral
  • Great-crested Flycatcher (and Great-crested Flycather)
  • American Widgeon
  • Common Mynah
  • Stellar’s Jay
  • Scripp’s Murrelet
  • MacGillivary’s Warbler
  • Ridgeway’s Rail
  • Heerman’s Gull, Hermann’s Gull, and especially HEGU

I’m sure I’ve missed a bunch. Can you think of others?

And remember: We’re all friends. We’ve all done it. I sometimes wonder if I’ve misspelled more bird names than anybody in the history of American birding.