Home Page Glossary


This page should provide explanations of various terms and abbreviations used in this website ( and others ). If there is anything you feel should be included ( or that you would like explained ) please contact us.


 

Abdomen

In birds and mammals the part of the body containing the principal digestive organs. In insects the segmented part of the body behind the thorax.

Acro.

Abbreviation for Acrocephalus, usually used in the field to refer to an unidentified warbler of this group ( Reed, Marsh, Sedge, Aquatic, Moustached Warbler etc. ).

Ad.

Adult, in birds this means a bird that has attained final plumage.

Aestivation

The summer equivalent of hibernation i.e. dormancy in hot or dry weather.

Albino

Totally lacking in pigment, this results in white feathers or fur and pink eyes and fleshy parts.

Bill

Alternative name for the beak, technically called the rostrum.

Bonxie

Frequently used name for the Great Skua ( Stercorarius skua ). Originated in Shetland meaning “dumpy bird”.

Bridled

Guillemot showing a white eye-ring and mark running back on the side of the head. Rare in Devon, becoming more common farther north.

Brood parasite

Birds such as cuckoos which lay their eggs in the nest of another species.

Cetacean

Marine mammal ( Whales, Dolphins & Porpoises ).

Corvid

Any member of the Crow family ( Raven, Rook, Crow, Jackdaw, Chough, Jay ).

Cryptic colouring

Camouflage markings to provide concealment from predators, the best local examples being Woodcock and Nightjar.

c.y.

Calendar year

Dabbling duck

Ducks which feed in shallow water, usually by up-ending. Mallrds, Gadwall etc.

Dark phase

A variety within a species with darker plumage ( but not melanistic ) e.g. Dark phase skuas

Diving duck

A family of ducks which find their food by diving beneath the water, Pochards, Tufted Ducks etc.

e.

East

Echolocation

The method of navigation and food location used by bats where they emit high-frequency sounds and can judge distances by sensing the reflected sounds.

Eclipse

Non-breeding plumage ( mainly in ducks ) which is dull in comparison to breeding plumage, often of short duration.

Exuviae ( exuvia )

The cast larval skin of a Dragonfly or Damselfly. Often diagnostic.

Eyass

 Female falcon, usually used for the Peregrine.

Eyrie

The nest of any Bird of Prey, usually reserved for man Eagle nest.

f.

Female

Fledgling

A young bird which has left the nest but is not yet independent of its parents.

Frons

In Dragonflies the front part of the head in front of the eyes.

Hibernation

Dormancy ( sleep ) and lowered body temperature in winter.

Hippo.

Abbreviation for Hippolais, usually used in the field to refer to an unidentified warbler of this group( Icterine, Melodious Warbler etc. )

Hirundine

Member of the family of Swallows and Martins, often used about mixed flocks ( does not refer to Swifts )

Iccy.

Abbreviation for Icterine Warbler

Imago

An adult insect.

Immature

In birds, not yet sexually mature but having left the nest, in some large seabirds ( Gannets etc. ) this may be five years.

Jaeger

Alternate name for Skua, often used in N. America, from the German for hunter.

Juv.

Juvenile, usually a young bird that has left the nest before its first moult.

Larva

In insects the stage after the egg, nymph or caterpillar.

Leucistic

A rare mutation where colour is reduced in intensity often resulting in a washed-out appearance.

Light phase

A variety within a species with paler plumage ( but not leucistic or albino ) e.g. Light phase skuas.

Loon

North American name for Divers, used in some books.

m.

Male.

Macro moth

Loosely, a large moth species with a fore-wing over 1cm long.

Mandible

The separate parts of the beak ( upper and lower ), correctly the lower part ( the upper being correctly termed the maxilla ).

Melanistic

Having an excess of dark pigment ( melanin ) giving a darker than usual overall appearance.

Migration

A seasonal movement of an entire species population ( usually north-south and back ), usually associated with breeding and food availability.

Morph

Correct term for a “phase”

n.

North

Nestling

A young bird still in the nest.

Nymph

In dragonflies etc. the larval stage.

Ovipositing  In insects, egg laying. The eggs are laid through a tube called an ovipositor enabling the eggs to be placed precisely

Pelagic

In birds, a species which lives out to sea, only coming ashore to breed ( Shearwaters, Petrels etc.), also refers to a trip to see such species.

Phase

( correctly a morph ), a variation widespread amongst a species, usually in colour, e.g. dark / light phase Skuas.

Phylosc.

Abbreviation of Phyloscopus, used in the field to refer to an unidentified member of this group (

Pied

In birds, a rare mutation with abnormal patches of pale or dark plumage. Usually white patches on dark birds, commonest in Blackbirds and crows.

pl.

Plumage

Porro prism

Type of binoculars where the arrangement of prisms gives a wide appearance with stepped barrels, considered by some to be old fashioned but often has a wider field of view and slightly better 3d appearance. Not usually waterproof.

Pupa

In some insects the chrysalis stage, where a larva ( caterpillar etc. ) changes into an adult, usually within a hard shell.

Race

In a species, a different group from a specific area, often a sub-species, e.g. “continental race Coal Tit”:- a Coal Tit that is blue-grey above rather than the olive-brown on UK birds.

Raft

A flock of birds ( usually auks or ducks ) resting on water.

Raptor

Bird of prey.

Reeling

The song of Grasshopper Warbler ( and some other Locustella warblers )

Reverse migration

A tendency to migrate in precisely the opposite direction than is normal for a species, thought to be caused by a fault in the “wiring” of the brain. May enable a species to colonise new areas.

Roding

The display and territorial flight of the Woodcock, usually at dusk, tree top height

Roof prism

Type of binoculars where the arrangement of prisms gives straight barrels, usually more expensive, more likely to be waterproof.

s.

South

S.

Summer ( plumage )

Sawbill

Fish eating ducks with tooth-like serrations along bill. Goosander, Red Breasted Merganser and Smew

Sea duck

Ducks such as Scoters and Eiders which live mainly at sea.

S/pl.

Summer plumage, typically breeding plumage.

Sp.

Species. Usually used to refer to either mixed species groups from one family or birds which cannot be identified to a species but where the family is known ( i.e. “unidentified auk sp.” )

Stifftail

A family of diving-ducks which often carry their tails upright – Ruddy Duck.

Stoop

The hunting dive of a bird of prey, usually restricted to Peregrine Falcon.

Stranding

In cetaceans etc., becoming stuck on shore. Rescue attempts are made but frequently end in failure.

Talon

Claw of a bird of prey.

Teneral

In dragonflies and damselflies, a newly emerged adult, usually lacking full colour and with weak wings, may take a week to finally mature.

Thorax

A part of the body, in mammals and birds the chest area containing heart, lungs etc., in insects the part of the body where the legs attach.

Tiercel

A male falcon, usually used for the Peregrine.

Torpor

Prolonged sleep with lowered body temperature, usually associated with hibernating mammals but has been noted in Swifts and Nightjars.

Tubenose

A member of the family of Petrels and Fulmars, they have a tube structure on top of the bill. One of few bird families with a well developed sense of smell.

Twitcher

An obsessive birdwatcher ( origin uncertain ). Used ( wrongly ) in the media to refer to any birdwatcher.

Twitch

A group of birdwatchers watching a rarity.

Vagrant

An animal that has strayed outside their normal range.

W.

Winter ( plumage ).

w.

West.

W/pl.

Winter plumage. Non breeding, usually less conspicuous.

Wreck

The arrival on land ( often in large numbers ) of pelagic species ( auks, petrels etc. ), usually caused by gales, can cause mass fatalities.

 

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07/05/06