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tragopan

Jul. 17th, 2018 | 09:10 am

tragopan (TRAG-uh-pan) - n., any of five Asian pheasants (genus Tragopan), the male of which has brilliant plumage, a brightly colored wattle, and two hornlike appendages on the head.


Said horns inflate during courtship, for added display power. Also known as a horned pheasant. The name dates to around 1620, from New Latin, reuse of Latin tragopān, the name of fabulous bird from Ethiopia described as being larger than an eagle (the word bird is nowhere near that big) with curved horns like a goat on its temples, from Greek trágopān, from trágos goat + Pā́n, the god Pan -- so it's a goat-horned-Pan bird. This one is a Temminck's tragopan (Tragopan temminckii), which ranges from northeast India to central China, though it's hard to make out the horns with the pic this small:


Thanks, WikiMedia!

---L.

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francolin

Jul. 16th, 2018 | 09:22 am

Is it time for another bird week? If you have to ask, the answer is "yes"! More birds with cool or fun-to-say names:


francolin (FRANG-kuh-lin) - n., any of numerous sharp-spurred African and Eurasian partridges of the genus Francolinus.


Or so formerly, and still so listed in many dictionaries: ornithologists are apparently now redistributing them across genera Francolinus (Asian species), Peliperdix, Scleroptila, and Pternistis (African ones). The name first appears in English in 1594, adopted from French, from Italian francolino, original entirely a mystery. Here's a painted francolin (Francolinus pictus, still) from central India:

painted francolin crossing the road
Thanks, WikiMedia!

---L.

Crossposts: https://prettygoodword.dreamwidth.org/721222.html
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pimpernel

Jul. 12th, 2018 | 07:42 am

pimpernel (PIM-per-nel) - n., any of about two dozen species of flowering plants of the genus Anagallis, esp. A. arvensis, the scarlet pimpernel.


Noted for keeping their star-shaped flowers open only under direct sunlight -- both at night and under sufficiently heavy cloud cover, sometimes used as a signal for approaching rain, and then reopening in morning or clearing. Not all species are red -- indeed, pimpernels can come in just about every flower color. The name is a bit of a tangle, but is definitely from Medieval French pimprenelle, earlier piprenelle, from Medieval Latin pipinella, name of a medicinal plant, possibly from *piperinus, pepper-like, because its fruits resemble peppercorns, from piper, pepper (from Greek, from Persian, from Sanskrit). The scarlet one:

Scarlet pimpernel, original version
Thanks, WikiMedia!

---L.

Crossposts: https://prettygoodword.dreamwidth.org/721093.html
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ocellated

Jul. 11th, 2018 | 07:56 am

ocellated (OS-uh-lay-tid, oh-SEL-ay-tid) - adj., having eye-like spots.


Or more technically, having an oscellus or ocelli, but only in the sense of having the eye-like spots not the sense of having a simple eye (as some invertebrates). So defining it direct makes more sense. From Latin, diminutive of oculus, eye + adjectival suffix. By way of example, an ocellated turkey (Meleagris ocellata) showing the ocelli on his tail:

ocellated turkey ocellating brilliantly
</i> Thanks, WikiMedia! </i>

---L.

Crossposts: https://prettygoodword.dreamwidth.org/720880.html
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canicular

Jul. 10th, 2018 | 08:02 am

canicular (kuh-NIK-yuh-ler) - adj., of or pertaining to the dog days (of summer).


Also, of or pertaining to the rising of either Sirius (&alpha Canis Majoris) or, sometimes, Procyon (α Canis Minoris). Sometimes, humorously, of or pertaining to a dog, but this is rare, if literal. Adopted in the 14th century from Latin canīculāris, pertaining to the dog days, from canīcula, the Latin name for Sirius, literally little dog, a diminutuve of canis, dog -- the relationship being, that the hot, sultry dog days start around the same time that the rising of Sirius starts being visible in the evening sky.

---L.

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chachalaca

Jul. 6th, 2018 | 07:47 am

chachalaca (chah-chuh-LAH-kuh, chah-chah-LAH-kah) - n., any of several galliform New World birds (genus Ortalis) somewhat resembling slender, arboreal turkeys.


Roughly 17 species, ranging from the Rio Grande valley south. They are social birds, traveling in small flocks, and several species are pests to farmers -- and several are hunted as game. The name comes from Mexican Spanish, from Nahuatl chachalacametl, onomatopoetic of the four-note cry of the plain chachalaca (Ortalis vetula). This guy:

Plain chachalaca on a branch
Thanks, WikiMedia!


And that's the end of another week of birds. Are there more in my queue? -- you'll have to wait to find out. But next week, regardless, is the regular hodgepodge.

---L.

Crossposts: https://prettygoodword.dreamwidth.org/720161.html
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widgeon

Jul. 5th, 2018 | 07:56 am

1word1day: widgeon or wigeon

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pochard

Jul. 3rd, 2018 | 07:41 am

pochard (POH-cherd, POH-kerd) - n., a Eurasian diving duck (Aythya ferina) with males having a chestnut-red head, grey neck, and white body.


A rather stocky bird. The closest North American equivalent is the canvasback. The name has been around since around 1550 but no one has any idea where it's from.

Male pochard
Thanks, WikiMedia!

---L.

Crossposts: https://prettygoodword.dreamwidth.org/719818.html
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currawong

Jul. 2nd, 2018 | 07:59 am

Bird week returns -- flight on!


currawong (KUHR-uh-wawng, KUHR-uh-wong) - n., any Australian crowlike songbird of the genus Strepera having black, grey, and white plumage.


Also called bell magpie. There are currently three recognized species with a plethora of subspecies, so stay tuned as the ornithologists bicker. Name is imitative of the call of the pied currawong (S. graculina) via some aboriginal language, but which is uncertain -- phonetic variants are all over. One of these pied ones:

Pied currawong in a tree
Thanks, WikiMedia!

---L.

Crossposts: https://prettygoodword.dreamwidth.org/719475.html
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vermiculation

Jun. 29th, 2018 | 07:54 am

vermiculation (ver-mik-yoo-LAY-shuhn) - n., a pattern of irregular wavy lines resembling the forms or tracks of worms.


Can be applied as decoration on, for example, ceramics or describe the coloration of a bird. The word can also mean the condition of being worm eaten and a motion in the manner of worms, but those are not of interest for today's purposes. From vermiculate, which first appears in English around 1600, from Latin vermiculātus, past participle of vermiculārī, to be worm-eaten, from vermiculus, insect larva/grub, from vermis, worm.

Some architectural vermiculation:
Vermiculation in Paris
Thanks, WikiMedia!

---L.

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