Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Do birds nest in your family tree?


A lot of genealogists are also birders. I was at a family history meeting a couple of days ago when birding came up and half the people started talking about birds as, if not more, enthusiastically than they did family history.

As I have some vision limitations my enjoyment of birds is limited, but I do have some in my family tree. Chickens, a dove, Peacocks and Woodcocks are all found nesting there.

Based on counts in the British 19th Century Surname Atlas (1881 census) here is the rank order and number of occurrences, not including Bird which is found 22,877 times. 


(1) Peacock 10,678;
(2) Finch 9,960;
(3) Swift 9,214;
(4) Drake 8,720;
(5) Woodcock 8,553;
(6) Partridge 7,820;
(7) Weaver 7,788;
(8) Swan 7,773;
(9) Crane 6,321;
(10) Dove 3,424;

and some others:

Bunting 3,345; Wren 3,240; Swallow 3,023; Heron 2,873; Jay 2,619; Kite 1,702; Eagle 1,656; Duck 1,608; Lark 651; Goose 643; Stork 492; Chicken 420, Parrot 353; Gull 315; Thrush 215; Buzzard 204; Hawk 159; Falcon 139; Coot 133; Bustard 124, Cardinal 69; Cuckoo 67; Snipe 66; Plover 65; Pheonix 65; Creeper 64; Blackbird 62; Loon 56;  Harrier 51; Pyefinch 49; Grouse 27; Tern 21; Pelican 16; Titmouse 10; Turkey 10; Owl 9;  Bittern 9; Vireo 5; Grebe 4; Kingfisher 2; Puffin 2; Shrike 1.

There were no Vultures.

To find a bird name you go a long way down on the list of the most common US surnames. Number 961 is Finch.  Earlier on the US list, at 383, is Swanson. Surely the son of a swan is also a swan.

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