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Where Are All the Queen Birds?

So many kings, no queens
© Richard Bowdler Sharpe View Large

In the world of birds, you’ll find King Penguins, King Vultures, King Eiders, 89 species of kingfishers, 11 species of kingbirds, and three species tiny kinglets. But of the 10,000 species of birds around the globe, there are no “queens.”* Once upon a time, there was a species of bird-of-paradise named Queen Carola’s Parotia (illustrated here). Carola was the wife of King Albert the 1st of Saxony, who also had a bird named for him, the King of Saxony Bird-of-Paradise. Alas, the queen’s bird had its name trimmed to the more tidy “Carola’s Parotia.” 

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Transcript: 

BirdNote®

Where Are All the Queen Birds?
Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote.

On an island in the Southern Ocean, a pair of King Penguins: [King Penguin pair calls, ML 42302 , 0.41-45 then 108-112] 

In Central America, an enormous Ringed Kingfisher: [Ringed Kingfisher calls, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/128045, 0.08-0.11]

While nearby, a Thick-billed Kingbird calls:[Thick-billed Kingbird call, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/109081, 0.08-09 repeated]

There's a King Vulture, a King Eider, 89 species of kingfishers, 11 kingbirds, 3 tiny kinglets - at least 115 birds across the world with the word king in their name. And no queens. 10,000 bird species – and not one “queenfisher” or “queenlet.”*

Elsewhere in nature, there's the Queen Snake, Queen Butterfly, Queen Angelfish, Queen Moth, queen bees, and queen ants. But perhaps the lack of "queen birds" isn't so mysterious. Nearly all the early explorers and naturalists who named birds were men. And when a bird flashed a colorful crown, male royalty must have come to mind first. Once upon a time, there was a species of bird-of-paradise named Queen Carola’s Parotia. Carola was the wife of King Albert the 1st of Saxony, who also had a bird named for him, the King of Saxony Bird-of-Paradise. Alas, the queen’s bird had its name trimmed to the more tidy “Carola’s Parotia.”

So today the scoresheet reads - king birds one hundred and fifteen. 

Queen birds, zero. 

For BirdNote I'm Michael Stein.                                                                               

###

Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. King Penguins [42302] recorded by Theodore A Parker III; Ringed Kingfisher [128045] recorded by Curtis A Marantz; Thick-billed Kingbird [109081] recorded by G A Keller
BirdNote's theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Dominic Black
© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org    February 2015   Narrator: Michael Stein

ID# names-03-2015-02-19    names-03    

A listener reminds that there is a bird known as the Queen of Bavaria Conure. This is an alternate name issue. We did a survey of all the king and queen names on Clements Checklist of Birds of the World, what most refer to as “the” standard world list, the one most commonly referred to on taxonomic issues. James Clements’ name for this species is Golden Parakeet, Guarouba guarouba. So, to the extent that names are standardized, the Queen of Bavaria Conure is an alternate name, perhaps most popular in the pet trade. Pet trade species often have several names that are used interchangeably. But if you have to choose one official common name – which is standard practice in birding as well as science – Golden Parakeet would be the name on most checklists of birds.         

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