Friday, September 29, 2006

Walt does birds

"the wildpigeon and highhold and orchard-oriole and coot and surf-duck and redshouldered-hawk and fish-hawk and white-ibis and indian-hen and cat-owl and water-pheasant and qua-bird and pied-sheldrake and blackbird and mockingbird and buzzard and condor and night-heron and eagle"

- from Walt Whitman's 1855 Preface to Leaves of Grass (read the whole thing here

Recourse to the OED reveals that the "qua-bird" and the "night-heron" are one and the same, which is very slightly disappointing. The very pretty "orchard-oriole" in this photo is clearly taking the mickey out of the bird that stars in the Twin Peaks titles. Googling "highhold" yields a dense crop of what seem to be links to a role-playing game that features Highhold Castle as a location; buried amongst them is a link sending us to back to Whitman. The OED knows of no "highhold", but it seems pretty safe to assume that it's the same as a "highholder", which is an American woodpecker also called a flicker and that looks a bit like a pigeon. The "surf-duck" probably doesn't look like this. Its name is so funky that googling it doesn't get you very close to an actual duck. However, running "surf [space] duck" makes instantly plain that what we're dealing with is no less a waterbird than the mighty scoter. I was once in a rockband called Scoter with this man.

1 comment:

dubes said...

kaa-boom. hey up me darling. fond memories of slagging off your lovely guitar, frantically restringing, whilst hearing the acclaimed 'bird song of the bristish isles' leak through from the control room.