Black Noddy? Taiga Bean Goose? Yellow-faced Grassquit?
No, these aren't the names of the latest rock bands coming to you on Spotify, though it would be easy to be confused about that.
These are, in fact, bird names. Yes, there really is a Taiga Bean Goose. And a Tundra Bean Goose, too. Just in case you're not sure which bean goose you're looking at.
I've long been fascinated by bird names, some of which are downright goofy (see poll). Does the goose in question eat beans? Is it shaped like a bean? Does it live in bean fields? (Wikipedia says the name derives from its habit of grazing in bean field stubbles. But hey ... Wikipedia.)
Here's the Taiga Bean Goose. (Googled image; all other photos mine unless otherwise specified.)
I wish I had the answers for all the various bird names, but I don't. Fortunately, some names of bird species are easier to understand because their names are associated with an obvious characteristic (Red-winged Blackbird) or the name of a person somehow responsible for its discovery or naming (Mr. Swainson of Swainson's Thrush or Swainson's Hawk fame).
Most common of all among bird names are their associated colors and other visible characteristics. That makes sense, even when some of the other bird names leave you scratching your head. There are names for just about every color in the rainbow if you think about it. I have and I'm sharing some of them here.
Feel free to play this colorful game by sharing your own examples in the comments.
Greater Yellowlegs. No complaint here. It is what it is, though I wish the photo showed more of its long, bright yellow legs here covered by water. But a good name. An A+.
Yellow-rumped Warbler. Another perfectly named bird. It's even bending over a bit to show you why its name fits so well. Another A+.
Red-winged Blackbird. A trifecta! How could there be a better name? A+ for sure.
Green Heron. Playing a little fast and loose here, oh bird namers. Green Herons are one of the most complex-colored birds around. They have very little green anytime of the year, adult or juvenile, breeding or non-breeding. They are greenish on their heads, but this bird is much more bluish and gray, rust and brownish, white and just about everything else -- except green. I think a better name would have been Blue-Gray Reddish Streaked-breasted Heron. Green Heron gets a C+ from me.