A Layman's Guide to Birds
- Common birds
There are four kinds of common bird: sparrows, pigeons, ducks, and crows.
Sparrows are found everywhere. They are small and brown, and are
always seen either on the wing or perched on telephone wires. Their
call is "chirrup". They are never observed to eat anything.
Pigeons are found in cities, walking on the ground or on
buildings, usually in groups. They are large and grey, and make no call.
Their diet consists exclusively of breadcrumbs.
Ducks are the only common kind of water bird. They are large and
may have a variety of colorations, always a combination of black, brown,
and white, with one common exception: if it has a green head it's a
mallard duck. Ducks swim on ponds and walk on the ground nearby.
Sometimes they beat their wings, but they are never observed to fly.
Their call is "quack".
Crows (also called rooks) are found in the country. They
are larger than sparrows, and black. Their call is "caw".
There are two kinds of uncommon bird. The heron is large and grey, and
stands on long legs in shallow ponds. The pheasant (also called
the partridge or grouse) is large and brown, and is occasionally
observed in the country flying a few feet off the ground from one
part of a field to another.
Chickens and turkeys only live in long sheds on intensive
farms. Outside that environment, they are rare.
All other birds are so extraordinarily rare that they can only be
observed by a specially equipped camera team led by David Attenborough
on a months-long expedition to a tropical rain forest, or by watching
the resulting wildlife programme on television.
Addendum: Japanese birds
Japanese herons are white.
You also find cranes in Japan.
© Richard Kennaway, 1998.