Birders use lots of abbreviations for bird names, especially when posting lists of birds to the Internet. It's just too much typing to spell them all out completely. Somewhere, there is a list of 'approved,' or acceptable abbreviations. Medicine has this, too. That way, even when those in the know are using slang, everyone will know what is being referred to. After all, when your state of affairs is being documented in a hospital record, you may one day want your lawyer to be able to interpret the content. And, if your nurse or physician came from some other state besides delirium, apathy or the one you live in, it's good that all your health care providers are on the same page. Your life could depend on it.Some birders use obscure abbreviations when flaunting their egos. They like to use abbreviations and slang because it sets them apart from other, less experienced birders. It's a way of establishing and maintaining a pecking order, if you will. There can be quite a bit of snobbery and competitiveness in birding. Birding brings even some of the weakest egos bubbling to the surface of the identification soup. One would think in a scientific hobby as organic as watching birds that everybody would be nice and want to bring the new kids, the "Rickies," up and along. Sadly, not so. There are plenty of birders out there who seem to live to prove someone else wrong or even out to be a liar! Many of them would not be seen on a mudflat with the likes of me. I'm a real "Rickie."
If you think you've seen something rare, you had better be prepared to back up your sighting with a few hundred photos and it wouldn't hurt to throw in some DNA evidence, either. Your integrity as a birder could depend on it. I know a birder who was basically called a liar for saying he saw a rare bird here. He's an extremely knowledgeable birder and very decent guy. I have no reason to question his integrity, either. Sadly, he no longer participates in Maine's list serve because of this event. It's pretty tawdry when a gang of tweed and bow tie wearing pedants with binoculars can't all get along. Thank you, Rodney King.
In fairness though, more often than not birders use abbreviations and slang simply because it's easier. After all, most of us are old enough - geezers in fact, that we've got some palsy setting in. Our typing just ain't what it used to be. So, a Black-capped chickadee would be a BCchick, a Common golden-eye, a ComGoldey, an American robin, an Amrob, etc. Great Blue herons are GBHs. In the case of these photos though, that could mean "Go back home, Rickie!"
I stopped by the Magnificent Acre at Winnegance. These GBHs were on the mud flats at low tide. I don't know enough to say whether they were juveniles or adults. I can say they were Great Blue herons, but that's about it. To me, they looked like squabbling brothers beginning a long migration to Florida. Several times while they were feeding, one would get too close to the other, then these semi-aerial battles broke out. The wing spans were magnificent, but there was a lot of gracelss floundering of those long legs. Sometimes they actually kicked up mud slop. I could just imagine two boys, an older and younger brother, "Go home Rickie! I'm telling mom you've been hanging out on the railroad tracks again!" The big brother and the little brother are stuck with each other, each begrudging the company of the other. But survival of the species depends on them being together. They learn effective predation defences and better fishing techinques from one another's examples. If only they would learn to play nice, like the humans who are infatuated with watching them.
"Get outta here, Rickie! I'm gonna knock your block off!"