What are some nature related nicknames you’ve come up with?

I’m not sure whether those were what Barbara kingsolver meant by The Bean Trees, but maybe.


The Zenadia doves are the “Bully Birds” on our outside patio. When they come to eat some cracked corn, they tend to run around chest-butting and sometimes extracting tail feathers from other birds (in an apparent effort to defend the largess) - particularly the White-winged doves, but sometimes also the Ground doves and even the Shiny cowbirds (though these are more inclined to stand their ground).

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Screambirds are Northern Mockingbirds, because they always sing loudly when they’re nearby.

That’s what my son and I call groundhogs. We named one groundhog Goober once and now they are all Goober.

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Do tell!

Black-eyed Susans are called Brown-eyed Becky’s. Closer to Latin name Rudbeckia hirta. And my best friend is Susan( blue eyed) and I can’t stand the thought of her with black eyes.

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My nine-year-old calls Laburnum corn trees, because the flowers apparently looks like corn to him.

Somehow, I started calling tardigrades “tardy-bears”. Weird.

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A combination of their two usual names: tardigrade and water-bear.


Maybe because invasive to my area or word similarity, but I can’t help but think of Pampas Grass (Cortaderia selloana) as anything but Pompous Grass.


My partner and I deliberately mispronounce everything to the point that people listening probably wonder what is wrong with us.

All lagomorphs are “Buhnewys”, ducks are “dukes”, snakes are “snacks”. Birds are “birb” if normal-looking, and “borb” if particularly plump or fluffed up. Geese are “gossens”. Weasels are “wozzle” and we have also built an elaborate mythology around the idea of them all being experts in contract law (I’m not even sure how that came about).

Insects are “buge” (rhymes with huge), and the plural is Bugen. Slugs, likewise, are “Sluge”. Ants are “The Formic Menace” since they have invaded our house too many times.

We also like the thesaurasize names by substituting vaguely related words. Tree frog turns into shrub amphibian, cackling goose turns into giggling duck.

Toothed Jelly Fungus are called “Gopgops.”

Every time I find one I declare loudly that I have found the “root of all weevil”.


I still think that the word Thesaurus sounds like a genus of Jurassic reptiles.


A few variations of this cartoon exist:


Source: SpellingCity Tweet


Back before good marine life ID books were available, my husband and I had to make up names for things we saw scuba diving. My favorites, still in use today:

Rose-nose butterfly: Chaetodon triangulum (Triangle Butterflyfish), https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/97204-Chaetodon-triangulum

Huggy Shrimp: Ancylomenes magnificus (Magnificent Anemone Shrimp), https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/109231325

Any Tarpon is “a Charlie” after the one in Bonaire in the 1990’s that followed night divers around to eat what we pointed out with our flashlights.

On occasion, I have been known to make up Linnaean binomials as placeholders until I learn the real ones. For instance, before I learned the real name of Eleutheranthera ruderalis, I called it Amphorispermum gaspariense – because its seeds under the hand lens looked like Greek amphorae without handles, and because the first ones I encountered originated from a quarry in Gaspar Hernandez.


I remembered another one from college days. Once we learned about Family Clusiaceae, it didn’t take long for us to start referring to certain plants as “Cluelessaceae” – meaning we really have no idea what it is.

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@graysquirrel I want to go on a nature walk with y’all. Seriously.

Also, I’ve been drawing a lot of weevils lately and you’ve helped me remember what I should name their little hangout. Thank you!

If you’re ever in northern california, let me know and we can do that :D

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If I don’t know the name of a fish I see while snorkelling/diving, I’ll make up a name on the spot to help me remember what it looked like. For example, a few weeks ago I saw an adult Black Damsel in the water, and I didn’t know what it was (I was well familiar with the very different-looking juveniles, but had never seen an adult). So, I dubbed it the Bigfin Damselfish, as when viewed from above the pectoral fins are very large for the body size. This helped me remember the features when I looked it up in my ID book.

Other examples for this are Whitespotted Parrotfish (Mini-Fin Parrotfish), Dusky Barramundi (Black Sea Bass), Lyretail Damsel (Peacock Damsel), Bruisehead Emperor (Yellowtail Emperor), and Yellowbar Parrotfish (Schlegel’s Parrotfish).

One time, I saw a parrotfish I dubbed the Greencap Parrotfish, for the green patch on the top of it’s head. When I looked it up in the ID guide, I was surprised to find that the name of this species was indeed the Greencap Parrotfish!


Anything that flies away from you before you can even attempt an ID, whether bird or insect, is a UFO — unidentified flying organism.