Long time no write, eh?  Chalk it up to a combination of stress, too much to do, not enough to talk about that's fit for public consumption and the voice in my head being uncharacteristically quiet lately.  I'm trying to remedy all those issues, but it's a process.

Here are a few birds that huddled together under my eaves during our most recent snowstorm.

When we moved to this neighborhood, our neighbor told us these birds were called grackles (rhymes with crackles).  Both of us Westerners were familiar with the word, if not the bird, and knew it pronounced as greckles (like freckles).  Stuff like that is inherent in our neighbor's speech and despite living in metro D.C. for more than sixty years, he still mispronounces the word Wheaton which, for you non-Washingtonians out there, is a rather large city in Maryland quite near us which figures prominently in daily traffic reports so it's not like you don't hear the correct pronunciation now and again.  He steadfastly says Whiton no matter how many times the other person in the conversation corrects him.  

"Don't you mean Wheaton?"

"Oh yeah, that's it.  So I was over in Whiton the other day..."

We assumed grackle was just another loveable quality of our friend's speech that continues to endear him to us, like how he pronounces ambulance like ambahlance with especially hard emphasis on that last a, which is doubly funny because he used to drive the ambahlance for thirty years.. 

This week I was speaking with a co-worker who referred to the grackles in her yard and I said, "You must be from D.C. too because that's exactly how my neighbor says it."  

"No," she said, "That's... how you say it."

"It's not greckle?  That's how I've always heard it."

"No, dear, it's grackle."

"Well, what's a greckle then?" 

"I don't know but it's not a bird."
Confused, I consulted my favorite Ornithology expert, Dr. Google, and with a quick search found out that it's I who have been pronouncing the word wrong all these years and it is, in fact, grackle.  Boy, do I feel stupid.

Except that when I did the Google search and looked at pictures of the grackles, they in no way resembled the birds our neighbor was always pointing out and calling grackles.

As I was explaining this to my co-worker, I said, "Wait, that's not the bird we've always known as a grackle, those birds have speckled wings."

"Uh, no, those birds are starlings."

"Huh, my neighbor always calls those grackles."

Which is the worst pronunciation of starling I've ever heard in my life.