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Friday, October 23, 2015


When I read poetry and Spanish and have to look up words in the dictionary, about 95% of this vocabulary is botanical or ornithological. A lot of times these terms are not in most dictionaries. At other times, the English equivalent is also unknown to me. So it would have made sense to have studied plants and birds to be a specialist in what I study. Why is knowledge of history and politics seen as essential but not knowledge of the natural world? Of course I know gorriones, gavilanes, gaviotas, golondrinas, palomas, halcones, perdices, petirrojos, águilas, avestruces, pavos, pavos reales, cuervos, mirlos, patos, gallos and gallinas, faisanes, lechuzas, buitres, and a few others, but I have birdwatcher friends who know hundreds of species.

1 comment:

Andrew Shields said...

What struck me when I had a spell of serious birdwatching in the late 90s (then I had kids ...) was that I did know the names of birds, but only as bird names, and not the particular birds that each name referred to. I knew "osprey" was a bird of prey, but nothing about what it looked like or where it lived (though I associated ospreys with the sea, which does turn out to be correct -- but I was not at all sure about that association).