For the Birds Radio Program: Twin Beaks

Original Air Date: Nov. 19, 2008

Laura’s started a new blog, Twin Beaks ( to inject some humor into a time when good humor is hard to come by.

Duration: 4′11″


With all the world’s economic woes right now, it seems like what we need is a big dose of humor. On the national BirdChat listserv this week, people were debating various issues revolving around bird nomenclature that started when one guy asked whether the correct spelling for wigeon contained the letter “d” or not—it doesn’t, according to the American Ornithologists’ Union. But after settling that issue, one birder had to interject a new word coinage—he’s decided a baby wigeon is called a widget. Someone else said a baby coot must be a cootie. And that led to another noting that a baby egret is a “regret”—though I think that’s only true when an egg is laid before the pair is quite ready to raise it. Last weekend I decided to start up a blog titled Twin Beaks that is ostensibly written by birds for birds. My education Screech-Owl Archimedes is the main poster—he has decided that his career in education is in a rut and has decided to pursue one of the jobs opening up in the new administration. He’s been trying to get his ducks in a row to start the application process, but it’s been trickier than he expected–apparently the transition team wants to know all about his past associations, and Archimedes has been known to have dealings with some pretty militant hawks when he was at the wildlife rehab center as a young owl. Worse yet, there are whole colonies of mice that consider him a vicious serial killer–if they get anyone’s ear in the new Administration, well, there goes that career.

Vera, Chuck, and Dave are three Tufted Titmice that will be keeping up with issues of birds in popular culture—they’re particularly interested in the Beatles, especially Paul McCartney. Anyway, this week Vera went to see the chick flick “The Secret Life of Bees” and is very concerned about the loon vocalizations in the sound track—she notes that no self-respecting loon would be caught dead in South Carolina, where the movie is set, during the breeding season, and wonders why she didn’t hear any Tufted Titmouse songs and calls? Titmice are of course all over the place in South Carolina.

An anonymous Black-crowned Night-Heron posed the question, why do birds stand on one leg, and answered, because if they pulled that one up they’d fall down.

Finally there’s the story of two Turkey Vultures who were very tired of the rigors of migration and finally saved up enough frequent flier miles to take a jet. Before the trip, one of their friends reminded them that now they have to pay for those stupid little “bistro” meals on planes, and they thought no way—so on the way to the airport, they each picked up a squashed rabbit in the road, tucked it under a wing, and sauntered in to get their boarding passes.

Turkey Vultures aren’t very experienced computer users, and they just couldn’t figure out the touch screen machines, but a nice agent called them up. He gave them both window seats and then asked if he could check their luggage. They looked at their dead rabbits and said, “No thank you. This is carrion.” It’s going to take a lot higher level of humor to bring us out of the depths of worry that are pervasive right now. If you have any good bird jokes to share, send them to And next time you’re on the internet, check out