The truth about the Corvid-19 and what you need to know – part 2.

We continue our coverage of the real truth about the Corvid 19 with a move to the Eurasian continent.

You’ll be chuffed to know that another iconic corvid is the subject of today’s article, and which one it is, as well as the way of pronunciation, is hinted at in this very sentence.

In English the -ugh- cluster has a large number of pronunciations, from “ug” in the case of the exclamation “Ugh!”, to “af” in the case of “laughter”, “laughing”, or “uf” in “enough”, or “tough” or “of” in “cough”, just “ow” in “bough” or “o” in the topical “furlough” or “dough”, so it is well worth commenting on the actual pronunciation of this Corvid’s name.

Let it be enough to say that chough is spoken as “chuff” and tough on all the other alternatives.

And we are going to look at the more common of the two choughs, rather than the Alpine one, which you are less likely to see in the wild, but more likely to see in an aviary.


Attribution: (CC 3.0)

We are presenting the info for each Corvid in a similar tabular form and there will be a publication available at the end of the series where you will be able to get hold of the combined table.

Common Name Chough
Other names Red-billed chough, Cornish chough
German Alpenkraeher (note Alpine chough is “Alpendohle” in German)
French Crave à bec rouge
Russian Клушица, Клуша
Polish Wrończyk
Scientific Name Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
Number of species in the genus 2
Number of subspecies in this species 8
Literal meaning of Scientific name Flame-raven
Described by Linnaeus, 1758
First attested in literature Homer, Arthurian legend, many others
Wingspan (cm) 90
Length bill to tail (cm) 40
Distribution Especially cliffs and rocky areas from Ireland to China, absent in much of the range.
Remarks Feeds in flocks on grassland taking invertebrate prey. Therefore a useful bird for agriculture but was often regarded as a nuisance for thieving like magpies and also for setting light to houses (which obviously they could not do, but such was the superstition, not helped by the scientific name). Also not helped by modern farming methods, has become vulnerable in Europe, but gradually returning to South West England. The range of vocalisations is limited.
Migrations Not migratory
Sexual dimorphism Male slightly larger
Close relatives Alpine chough, P. graculus, a similar bird with a range restricted to high altitude areas, overlaps with the range of the red-billed chough but is much smaller and in different places without a continued representation. A fossil ancestor P. primigenius has been discovered in France.
Not close relatives thought to be close White winged chough of Australia (not a Corvid but a Corcoracid)
Cultural significance High in Europe and Central Asia since classical times, mentioned in the Odessey as a dweller in Calypso’s island. Also linked to St Thomas a Beckett. Due to the association with King Arthur, whose soul is supposed to have turned into one of them, is a common feature of Cornish folklore and heraldry.


The truth about the Corvid-19 and what you need to know – part 1.

A lot of nonsense is being spoken these days on the news about the Corvid-19

One could honestly describe it as a flurry of fake news.

In order to ensure my subscribers have a full and accurate Pica of what is really going on, and to ensure these fake journalists eat crow, I have decided to make a series of articles right here, on the Corvid 19, or 19 corvids you need to know the science about. You will learn how to recognise the symptoms – the images, the names in various languages, the cultural significance of each.

There are more than 120 species and possibly more than 400 subspecies of Corvids, which in themselves are among the most intelligent birds, with a brain to body mass ratio similar to humans and whales, and have adapted to nearly every climate and area of the world. This is, therefore, just a representative selection that should give you a feel for the family Corvidae. We will also mention related species to each chosen Corvid, and not more than one per genus will be chosen, as there are anyway 24 different genera so I have to leave out some from the line-up of 19. If Coronavirus comes back with a new strain in five years’ time, it will be an easier matter.

Anyway, for today’s Corvid, let’s kick off with a little fellow very well-known and popular with our American readership. courteously released this photo to the Public Domain


Here’s the info, which for each of the Corvids in this series will be presented in a similar tabular form.

Common Name Blue jay
Other names Jaybird, Bluebird
German Blauhaeher
French Geai bleu
Russian Голубая сойка
Polish Modrosójka błękitna
Scientific Name Cyanocitta cristata
Number of species in the genus 2
Number of subspecies in this species 4
Literal meaning of Scientific name Dark blue jay, crested.
Described by Linnaeus, 1758
First attested in literature 1731 by Mark Catesby
Wingspan (cm) 43
Length bill to tail (cm) 30
Distribution North America, especially eastern side
Remarks Aggressive to other birds, omnivorous, including catching insects on the wing. Like squirrels, can hide nuts for later use. Wide range of vocalisations including the mimicking of human speech.
Migrations Limited, in some populations
Sexual dimorphism Males and females similar in size and plumage
Close relatives Steller’s jay, of the Rocky Mountains
Not close relatives thought to be close Crested jay (not a Corvid but a Laniid)
Cultural significance High, in America. References in African American traditions and also because of its iconic appearance frequently adopted as a mascot. In Vera Lynne’s song @there’s ll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover” the bird most likely to be envisaged by American listeners would be this bird, but neither this nor any other obvious candidate for the name “bluebird” actually lives in the UK.


Original YT playout date: 25 December 2008
Duration: 2:46

A little ad libbing. I sometimes just make up songs as I go along. My daughter has started doing the same, and she also does this impromptu dance routine. It may seem haphazard and comedic, but at least it’s a way of getting the old creative juices flowing.

You can probably tell how badly out of practice I am, and how modest the instrument is, but what the heq.
Continue reading “Adliberratum”

The New Tommy Boyd Show 22nd September 2008

Original YT playout date: 24 December 2008
Duration: 3:56:49

There are but two of these, the first in the new series of Tommy Boyd starting on 22nd September. After that, the cams went off. This is the penultimate radio show I have to play out from . In the new year, if the cams come back and they want me to do more, there may be more, but I don’t know anything for sure about that yet. As it is, enjoy this fantastic show and then the last show from the 23rd September, which I plan to upload between Christmas and New Year.

This particular show caused no end of controversy, as Tommy revealed it was indeed his own decision to allow the skype chats associated with the show to be “privatised”.

In the first half hour Seismorg bravely takes on Tommy about this decision, and gets told that he doesn’t have a right to his opinion. That’s what Seismorg thought Tommy said, although regular listeners will know that Tommy has an a priori view that people do not, per se, have a right to hold opinions unless they have put the work in to research them. but Seismorg took it personally, and after this was never to be heard on PlayRadio again. I hope that listening back people will see that no disrespect to him was intended, and somehow persuade him of this, as his input in shows is sorely missed.

Continue reading “The New Tommy Boyd Show 22nd September 2008”

Road Trip to Dadaj

Original YT playout date: 23 December 2008
Duration: 58:27

We drive in the company of Lord Moggy, Alan Heath and Marysia to a summer camp in Dadaj, seeing the roads of northern Poland on the way. When Alan is around, the conversation always flows, so enjoy!
Continue reading “Road Trip to Dadaj”