NSWO - What is in a Name?

Two main things to discuss on this page- 1) what does the name of the blog mean and 2) where did the name Northern Saw-whet Owl come from.

examining the numbers on the "bling" (aluminum bird bands)
First the blog name: birdbling. Actually it should be two words but I like the combination. Here's the story behind it. I was acting as a scientist in residence at an environmental learning center in Washington. A group of intercity kids were my audience and I was teaching them about how we use bird banding as a science tool. One little boy was watching me put a band on a songbird and blurted out, "dude, that's filthy! Your putting bling on that bird!"  The teacher winked at me and said, "filthy means really cool and bling refers to the band, like shiny new jewelry."  It made me chuckle and I have used it on many occasions when teaching kids about why we band birds.  And you can see from the myriad band types, why a child would call a band bling! Go here to learn more about the variety of bands used to study birds

NSWO What's in a Name?

What does Saw-whet actually mean?  First, let me introduce you to the banders code. Bird banders (like me) use 4-letter codes for every bird species. For the Northern Saw-Whet Owl, the code comes from the first letter in each word = NSWO.  I will use this code regularly throughout the blog.

Second, I think it is important that readers understand what is in a name.  Saw-whet is sort of an odd word.  I've read 2 possible descriptions of where that name came from.  1) The french word for owl is "Chouette" and it is possible that "Saw-whet" came from Chouette.  2) One of the vocalizations of the Saw-whet sounded to someone like a saw being sharpened- or "whetted."  It is unclear to me which vocalization that might be, but it could relate to the primary call of the NSWO.  They both sound likely to me.  Finally Northern relates to the geographic location of the NSWO found in North America  including one more isolated population in Mexico.

What about the scientific name- Aegolius acadicus?  According to my "words for birds" book (Edward S.Gruson 1972), Aegolius is a Greek word used by Aristotle, meaning a kind of owl.  Acadicus is Latin for "of Acadia" (Nova Scotia and New Brunswick), one of the areas where the species is found.