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Peeps? Butterbutts? What are these birders talking about?

Birders love to share, so don’t feel like you have to know everything

People who watch birds have developed nicknames and a whole lingo to talk about the birds they love. But don’t feel like you have to know everything – or anything! Birders love to share. Peeps are sandpipers. Can you guess what butterbutts are? Listen to today’s episode and find out!

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Full Transcript



Birdwatcher Lingo

Written by Monica Gokey


This is BirdNote.

Birds communicate with each other in the most enchanting ways.


Birdwatchers also have their own way of saying things. Say you’re birding and you hear this,

[song of a House Wren]

A birder might say, “Aww, another LBB.” That’s short for “little brown bird.” It’s a bird that’s small, brown, and common… and sometimes… impossible to figure out.

[song of a House Wren]

Ah, of course! It’s a lovely little House Wren.

What do you think a birder might say when she hears this?

[whistle of a Snowy Owl]

If it’s a first-in-a-lifetime sighting, you might call this Snowy Owl a lifer.

And if you saw it in a field in New Jersey—[whistle] it’d be a vagrant - someone who doesn’t belong ‘round these parts.

There’s also slang for different species. Peeps? Sandpipers.

Can you guess what a “butterbutt” is?

[short song of a Yellow-rumped Warbler]

It’s a Yellow-rumped Warbler! The “butterbutt” is for the bright yellow patch above its tail feathers.

Birders love to share, so don’t feel like you have to know everything. Just ask somebody with binoculars! There’s always more to learn about birds.

Until next time, I’m Mary McCann.


Producer: John Kessler

Managing Producer: Jason Saul

Editor: Ashley Ahearn

Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone

Assistant Producer: Mark Bramhill

Narrator: Mary McCann

Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. House Wren ML 210537 recorded by B Rideout; Snowy Owl ML 137339 by P Taylor; Yellow-rumped Warbler ML 129418 by G Keller.

BirdNote’s theme was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.

© 2019 BirdNote   June 2019

ID#  birding-27-2019-06-10  birding-27

Pig = rock pigeon
Butter butt = yellow-rumped warbler
Modo = mourning dove
Peeps = sandpipers

Sights & Sounds