The world’s birds are among the most beautiful and diverse creatures. With so many species of birds, scientists have had to come up with some creative names. Bird of paradise and golden pheasant are great names that suit their namesakes. However, some names are a bit more “interesting.” The topic of this article is inappropriate and funny bird names that actually exist! You won’t believe some of these names are real!
Learn all about these fantastic bird species and their hilarious names while you enjoy a good laugh!
1. Blue-Footed Booby
As we begin our inappropriate-names-list, let’s ease in with the rather tame blue-footed booby. Several subtropical and tropical islands in the Pacific Ocean, such as the Galapagos, are home to these goofy birds with bright aqua feet. According to some sources, their name is derived from the Spanish word “bobo,” which translates to “foolish.” While the bird isn’t actually foolish, they tend to walk with a silly trademark waddle. They must have seemed clumsy to early explorers when they first discovered them!
2. Andean Cock-of-the-rock
On a sub list of incredibly inappropriate names, the Andean cock-of-the-rock might be right at the top. The Peruvians must have a sense of humor, because this is their national bird. Easily recognizable, the Andean cock-of-the-rock male is one of the most striking birds. Its head is a brilliant red orange, its wings are black and white, and its bill is almost hidden behind its large crest. So how did this bird come to be called a “cock”? According to early observers, the male reminded them of a rooster. The rock part refers to their nesting habits, as they have a tendency to build their home on rocks and ledges.
The hilariously named dickcissels inhabit fields and prairies of the midwestern United States and are closely related to cardinals. The male has a black throat patch, yellow chest, gray crown, and gray cheeks. During breeding season, his head and chest will grow brighter.
The unusually funny bird name originates from the male’s song. While perched atop a small tree, he will take the opportunity to emit a sharp song that sounds like the word “dick.” This is followed by buzzes that sounds like ciss. It is common for them to sing their notes in groups of threes. On a more serious note, their scientific name, Spiza americana, is a translation of the English word “American finch”.
4. American Woodcock
Another name worth a chuckle is the American woodcock. A spring and summer resident of the northern United States, the American woodcock spends the colder months in the southern region. If you think “woodcock” is funny, wait till you hear its other names! These birds are also known as timberdoodles, Labrador twisters, night partridges, and bog suckers. Due to its main habitat of wooded forests, the name makes sense. Interestingly, they are the only birds with a 360° horizontal field of vision and 180° vertical field of vision, which makes them one of the most visually skilled birds in the world.
5. Great Tit
You’re probably thinking this one was named by a middle school class of prepubescent boys. If you’re wondering why any self-respecting scientific community would name a bird “tit,” you should know that the bird was named decades before ‘tit’ became slang for a female bosom. In fact, this bird got its name from the titmouse. The Old English word “tit” means little, and “mouse” is a variation of māse, a bird name of Germanic origins. It is found throughout the world, including parts of North Africa. A wide range and frequent closeness to humans make this bird particularly interesting to study.
6. Himalayan Snowcock
Himalayan snowcocks are members of the Phasianidae family and are found across the Himalayas and parts of the Pamir mountains. Their habitats include alpine pastures and steep rocky cliffs, where they dive down to escape predators. In the Ruby Mountains of Nevada, a wild population of these creatures has established itself since the 1960s. The name “cock” comes from the habitat in which they live and the word cockerel, which refers to a young rooster. Its characteristic features include its long neck and bulky body. Snowcocks resemble partridges in appearance and have long tails. The males and females resemble each other, but the males are slightly bigger, and the females are duller colored.
7. Rough-faced Shag
The rough-faced shag, a species of seabird native to New Zealand, is also called the king shag, an equally uncouth name. There is quite a bit of rarity associated with this species. For at least 240 years, the small population has been restricted to four very small islands in the Marlborough Sounds. The word “shag” actually refers to the bird’s crest, so let’s all get our minds out of the gutter. In adults, the head and upper parts are black, except for a white marking near the front edge of the wings. Sometimes the upper back has a white patch as well.
8. Horned Screamer
Quite a kooky name, don’t you think? There are three types of screamers: horned, southern, and northern. Compared to the other two species, the horned screamer is the largest. Normally found in South America’s wetlands, the horned screamer is endemic to the region. These birds have a reputation for making quite a lot of noise, as you might imagine. Besides the fact that they have an incredibly loud call, their legs also contain air sacs that are used to generate sound when they move.
9. Satanic Goatsucker
This ridiculous bird name is also quite descriptive. The satanic goatsucker, also known as the satanic nightjar (Eurostopodus diabolicus), is a medium-sized, greyish-brown bird from Indonesia. As you may suspect, a local superstition surrounds this species, which is named for the repetitive “plip-plop” sound it makes at night. Locals believe this bird tears people’s eyes out while they sleep, thus the “plop!” Its list of macabre names continues: the Sulawesi nightjar, Heinrich’s nightjar, the diabolical nightjar, and the devilish nightjar. There has been a decline in the use of these names in recent times. However, advocates of this species believe the name “satanic” will increase public awareness and conservation interest.
10. American Bushtit
In spite of its small size and unremarkable appearance, the American bushtit has distinct characteristics that allow it to be easily identified. They have a short, stubby bill, a short neck, and a round head, giving them a chunky appearance. Although the bird is tiny, it has a tail that may appear unnaturally long when you take into account its overall size. Like the great tit, its name derives from the Old English meaning of the word “tit”. There is a reasonably high chance of seeing this bird across its habitat range, which extends from southernmost British Columbia around Vancouver south to northern California and beyond.
What is the Most Complicated Bird Name?
While we have looked at some wild bird names that may make you giggle a little bit, let us look at one that will make your tongue tie up a little bit!
We think the most complicated bird name out of all of the avians is actually the Pyrrhuloxia. Where do you even start with the pronunciation? Is it like a funeral pyre, or is it like a kitten purring? And which syllable do you drop the accent emphasis? Have fun with this one!
You can fragment the name into five syllables to begin. “Peer” is your first one. “Uh” is your second. “Lox” (think lock and key) is your third. “Eee” (think eerie) would be your fourth. And “ah” is your last. Here is how it appears when using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA): pɪrəˈlɒksiə. There you have it!
The photo featured at the top of this post is © BlueOrange Studio/Shutterstock.com
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.