What kind of bird was flipped?

A two-fisted birdwatcher keeps fingers wrapped around binoculars, unavailable for rude gestures. Besides, when slogging through wild places, the need doesn’t arise.

But in the rude world of people, things do arise. Like middle fingers. During a traffic misunderstanding, a driver flipped me the bird. Got me mad, but also got me thinking.

I thought: what kind of bird?

This expression, “flipping the bird,” is common. The word “bird” must be in it for a reason.

After Googling around for a while, you discover that the gesture itself has a long history. It means fuck you, of course, and goes back to Roman times. It’s pretty universal, and has long been accompanied by the word “bird.”

Trouble is, while the gesture’s kind of obvious, there’s nothing obvious about why the word “bird” got involved. And there’s nothing credible that identifies what kind of bird’s getting flipped.

Recently, a Russian news anchorwoman flipped the bird during a live broadcast when doing a story about the USA.

This was talked about in world media. Again, the word “bird” was associated with this universal gesture. Again, if you’re a birder, you gotta wonder: “what kind?”

The Cardinal in the Angry Birds game, with his dark, V-shaped, mean-looking eyebrows makes a good candidate. And this is a digital game.

He’ll have to do, until more information can be found. It’s worth looking for more information, because we’re interested in identifying birds. And a lot of them are getting flipped. Some in our direction.

The lady shown below is not doing that to you. Don’t take offense. And she’s not that Russian newsreader, either. She’s just here to make a point.

6 Responses to “What kind of bird was flipped?”

  1. Dan says:

    When I was young I thought the gesture meant “up you ass”. I learned, though, that the fickle finger originated among English archers in the French/English war about 1815 or so.
    The French were taking many casualties because of the accuracy of the English archers so when English archers werte captured by French soldiers, they would cut off English bowman’s middle finger used to “pluck” the bow string. The English then began displaying their, in tact, middle fingers to the French and yelling “pluck you”. This is also the origin of the “F” word.
    By the way, our neighborhood Merlin showed up today cruising the bird feeders. I am going to get him on camera one of these days. They are the most beautiful hawk.

  2. Gary John Fedota says:

    Here is a plausible explanation of the “bird” in “giving the bird.” From “Slang and its analogues past and present, Volume 1” (1890) By William Ernest Henley


    On stage, to get “the big bird” is to be hissed (as a goose might). To be “goosed,” is a more contemporary–and more easily understood–colloquialism.
    The bird may be a goose.

    Fedota Design Consulting
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    Atlanta, Georgia 30306

  3. M. R. Johnson says:

    Liked your flip the bird post. U have a knack for picking disturbingly sexy pictures. Blond chick giving me the finger. I couldn’t pull my eyes away. I can’t explain…it’s like a DRUG.

  4. Kevin says:

    Check out this article… I believe the bird is the pheasant:


  5. terri says:

    excellent blog today…had to laugh, had to share!
    Also, is that really what you look like at the top of the page?

  6. Marc D. says:

    The ‘bird” referred to, of course, is the cock. Did the Two-Fisted Bird Watcher reply to the gesture with a Two-Fisted Bird Flip?