Sunday, January 06, 2008

Ruby, Ruby

Sometimes I wonder why some birds were given seemingly inappropriate names. Take the Northern Beardless Tyrannulet, for example. For the life of me, I just couldn't fathom why a bird could be beardless. Another name that baffled me was the Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Everytime I see and photograph this species, there wasn't any ruby on its crown. I had the suspicious feeling that some devious ornithologist played a dirty joke on bird-watchers. "Try to find a red-color on the head of that one. Ha!" must have been in the mind of the mischievous taxonomist responsible for this apparent misnomer.

Little did I know that on a dreary, rainy day outside my window, I would be proven utterly wrong in my etymological cynicism. As I was checking if the feeders needed replenishing, I saw a small, olive bird flitting from branch to branch in a leafless tree across our porch. What grabbed my attention was a flash of red on the head of this tiny bird. Realizing that I just saw the proof that Ruby-crowned Kinglets were indeed appropriately named, I ran for my camera.

With the prevailing weather conditions and the little bird's constant motion, getting its photograph that would show its pride and glory was quite a challenge. In the end, I managed to get a few so-so shots - documentary evidence that would forever remind me of my reckless and unfounded conclusions on avian nomenclature.

To the ornithologist/taxonomist who named the Ruby-crowned Kinglet, my sincerest apologies to you, sir/ma'am!

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