Monday, 18 April 2011


A-Z Challenge – ‘O’

One of the best books I have read recently was ‘How To Be A Bad Birdwatcher’ by The Times columnist Simon Barnes. So I thought I would write about birds. Unfortunately bird begins with ‘B’; being a twitcher or a tweeter is no help either; I’ve had to settle for ‘O’ for Ornithology and birds whose names begin with ‘O.’

The shortest bird name I could find is the ou, a fruit-eating honeycreeper from Hawaii with a stout bill and green and yellow plumage. I’ve never seen a picture of one and have no idea of its size; I’m told it’s very rare and may even be extinct.

In North America the orioles are smaller and slimmer than an American robin and are closely related to the blackbirds. The Northern Oriole also known as the “Baltimore” Oriole may be recognised by its flame-orange and black pattern and black head. The Northern (“Bullock’s”) Oriole is similar but has orange cheeks and large white wing patches. Neither can be confused with the Orchard Oriole which is dark-hued with a deep rich chestnut rump an underparts.

The Osprey, or Fish Hawk, is found in America and in Great Britain where it has been successfully reintroduced after being nearly driven to extinction. This medium sized bird of prey has white underparts, dark brown upperparts and a white head. It hovers over the water on its large wings before diving feet first to catch its prey. A majestic sight indeed.

 Osprey with Big Fish (By Tim from Ithica: CC A 2.0)

Most people will be familiar with the concept of the wise old owl. There are many species to choose from – over a hundred in all, eighteen in North America, ten in Great Britain. The Barn Owl is common to both locations and is probably the best known with its dark eyes set in a white heart-shaped face. At night its whitish underparts and silent flight gives it a ghostly look as it cruises the fields for mice.

Eastern Screech Owl ( By Wolfgang Wander: CC A-S A 3.0)

The oxpecker is a brown African bird related to the starlings that feeds on the parasites that infest the skins of grazing cattle and large wild animals.

If you believe the world is your oyster then you need the oystercatcher to be your friend. This wading bird with black and white plumage and a strong orange-red bill feeds mainly on shellfish.

If none of the birds I’ve described take you fancy then I shall bury my head in the sand and pretend to be an ostrich.


Rosalind Adam said...

I've done a bit of bird watching and I've often heard an owl but I've never actually seen one. It's something I'd love to do.

sue said...

No head burying needed Bob ;) your time on the golf course obviously paid off. We have a beautiful owl called a Tawny Frogmouth - it's the only type I've ever seen in the wild. Sue@JumpingAground (Alliteration & drabbles)
Sue@traverselife(Workplace bullying)

Robyn Campbell said...

I would love to see an owl in the wild. How magnificent and regal they seem to me.

Christine H. said...

I may have to go out and get that book.

Karen S. said...

interesting book! ...I'm sharing a great gift....and honoring you with an award! Just go here to collect it! Bob this is for you,

shelly said...

:) My daughter No-No's been told recently that her eyes are owl eyes.

alberta ross said...

please don't bury your head - sand is not a nice taste! great pictures - like the blog too - sorry it's taken me so long to wander around here - there's just so many! in two weeks all will be quiet - will we all miss the buzz I wonder

Bob Scotney said...

@Karen S; thanks for the award Karen. Verstile is a word I have trouble - perhaps I'll save it for 'V'.