Twitchers' vocabulary

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Twitchers watching a "mega"—Britain's fifth-ever white-tailed lapwing—and probably adding a "lifer" to their "list"; see text for explanation of italicised terms

Twitchers' vocabulary is the set of jargon words used by twitchers. Twitchers are committed bird-watchers who travel long distances to see a new species just to add a species their "lifelist", "year list" or other lists. Some terms may be specific to regional birding communities, and not all are used due to dialectic and cultural differences.[1]


  • To burn up or flog:[2] To beat around in the undergrowth hoping to flush a bird. A desperate measure and not a kind way to treat an exhausted migrant.
  • Mega or megatick:[2] A very rare bird
  • Chooks: already seen or common birds (used in Australia).[1]
  • Crippler: A rare and spectacular bird that shows brilliantly, perhaps an allusion towards its preventing people from moving on.
  • To dip out (or dip): To miss seeing a bird which you were looking for.
  • Dude: "A posh bird-watcher who doesn't really know all that much about birds."[2] A novice birdwatcher; slightly pejorative term. Also used to refer to someone who primarily seeks out birds for photography rather than study.[1]
  • First:[2] A first record of a species (in a defined area, such as a county first).
  • To grip off (or grip):[2] To see a bird which another birder missed and to tell them you've seen it.
  • Jizz: the overall impression given by the general shape, movement, behaviour, etc., of a species rather than any particular feature. Experienced birders can often identify species, even with only fleeting or distant views, on jizz alone.
  • Lifer:[2] A first-ever sighting of a bird species by an observer; an addition to one's life list.
  • List:
    • Noun: a list of all species seen by a particular observer (often qualified, e.g. life list, county list, year list, etc.). Keen twitchers may keep several lists, and some listers compete to amass longer lists than their rivals.
    • Verb: to keep or compile a bird list (lister is close in meaning to twitcher).
  • Plastic: Adjective used to indicate a bird which has escaped from captivity, rather than a genuinely wild bird.
  • Sibe:[2] A bird from Siberia (usually applied to rare migrants).
  • String:
    • Noun: A dubious, "ropy" record.
    • Adjective: Stringy[2]
    • Verb: to claim such a record.[2]
  • Tick:[2] An addition to a personal list (sometimes qualified as year tick, county tick, etc.). Life tick and lifer are synonymous. A tart's tick is a relatively common species added to one's list later than might be expected.
  • Yank: A bird from North America (usually applied to rare migrants).

Some species have nicknames, for example: "RB Flicker" for red-breasted flycatcher, "Gropper" for grasshopper warbler, "PG Tips" for Pallas's grasshopper warbler. Twitchers (and birders in general) will also use a mixture of scientific and slang terms for feather tracts and so on.


  1. ^ a b c Anon. 2008. "The A to Z of birding." Australian Geographic 90: 104-105.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Oddie, Bill (1980). Bill Oddie's Little Black Bird Book. Methuen Publishing. ISBN 0-413-49480-2.