Thursday, September 07, 2006

"huffy underpants"

My dad in Florida frequently likes to send me newspaper clippings about birds from his small town (Avon Park area). There's a regular segment in the paper called "Wild Bird Sketches", and it's written by a couple bird enthusiasts, the Kowalskis. Recently they had an article about the Northern Flicker, which featured this amusing description of the bird:
This woodpecker is about 12 inches in length, has a brownish-olive back, barred with black and a large white spot near the tail. The huffy underpants are thickly spotted with black and there is a black crescent on the breast. ...

Huffy underpants? Sounds like a great epithet for someone who gets riled up about things a little too easily! Come to think of it, flickers do sound a little crabby sometimes.

Obviously they meant to write "buffy underparts". I can imagine how this malapropism made its way into the article though, maybe if one of the Kowalskis was reading the description out of a book but didn't have his/her glasses on!

Anyway, I thought it was funny. An endearing mistake, to be sure.

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Nuthatch said...

First, you have to hope that people that write the column didn't make the mistake. That leaves the editor, who must not be very good if he thought changing "buffy underparts" to "huffy underpants" made more sense!

Eric said...

I posted this observation of mine to COBirds (the Colorado birder listserv) and got a couple emailed responses suggesting that perhaps the editors intervened. I guess I don't believe that to be the case, if only because the other clippings I've gotten from my dad on different birds don't seem to have had their bird descriptions mangled, even with the somewhat specialized language contained therein.

And yet, I still have a hard time thinking that the Kowalskis wouldn't have noticed this error either. Hmmm.