SOSA, COMO and EGGOs: maybe birding shorthand should be a NOGO

An autobiography in bird abbreviations, from the pages of my notebook to you.

When I’m out in the field, I still use a pencil and a notebook to keep track of what I see. It’s a little old-fashioned, sure. I jot down species mostly using banding code abbreviations, that generally take the first couple of letters of the words in a species’ name. For single-word species it’s the first four letters. I’ll buy a Moleskine for note-taking at a local shop so I don’t have to bother going to a MALL (Mallard).

In terms of a newsletter topic, this could easily VEER (Veery) into corny territory and maybe there should be BANS (Bank Swallow) on this excuse for a post. But why not go with the FLOW (Flammulated Owl) and see what may COME (Common Merganser) of this idea.

Some of you may know that years ago, I got lost in the Canadian BUSH (Bushtit) while on a canoe trip. My friend and I thought about trying to wander on and on but that was a NOGO (Northern Goshawk). The final paddle of the trip was WAVI (Warbling Vireo), but we made it across the lake. 

My first night in Chicago years ago, I went to a Thai restaurant in Uptown and ordered a spicy LARB (Lark Bunting) salad. This was around the time that SOSA (Solitary Sandpiper) was still starring for the Cubs. One of my favorite songs back then was Funkdoobiest’s “Oyé PAPI (Passenger Pigeon).”

Finally, when we had kids there was nothing left to do but sing “This Little PIGR (Pine Grosbeak) Went to Market.” As they got older, both girls got into LEGOs (Lesser Goldfinch); one of their favorite breakfasts remains EGGOs (Egyptian Goose). We’ve generally allowed for a laissez faire, EURO (European Robin) style of parenting, and that means they can do what they want. So far they haven’t shoved us into the OVEN (Ovenbird).

You might think that you CANT (Canyon Towhee) become an expert in birding, but if there is a WILL (Willet) there’s a way. I suggest a good pair of gloves so your hands don’t get cold in the SNOW (Snowy Owl). In pre-pandemic times I’d visit the BARS (Barn Swallow) to warm up, sit down and add up my results. I’d BUFF (Bufflehead) up on my knowledge of Belgian beers while avoiding going HOME (Hooded Merganser).

Speaking of the pandemic, that guy in New York, COMO (Common Moorhen), did a great job early on. People were EAGR (Eared Grebe) and his praises were SUNG (Sungrebe), though now you can see what a DICK (Dickcissel) he is. I blame most of the pandemic on MAGA (Masked Gallinule), though. Thoughts on Covid aside, if you believe there’s actually a Masked Gallinule you better look up a world LIST (Little Stint) of birds.

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