Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Bird By Any Other Name

This is the story of how Annie got her name. To really do the tale justice, it's going to take some time. So please invest a few minutes to enjoy.

It all started when the Okaloosa Chamber Singers (of which I am a member) decided to perform Brahms' Liebeslieder Waltzer, or "Love Song Waltzes" (link to YouTube videos of these pieces with the English translation in subtitles). There is a lot of nature imagery in the text, particularly about birds. And each week as I went to rehearsal, I would sing and think, "This baby needs a bird name." And then I'd go home and the feeling would wear off and I would simply chalk it up to irrational pregnancy craziness. But the next week, I'd be in rehearsal again and think to myself, "No, she really does need a bird name."

So Kevin and I started looking up bird names. We had to veto several from the start: Robin was out because of the prolific medical thriller author, Robin Cook; Wren was a name my brother and sister-in-law had considered but not chosen for their second child, and their third is on the way; Lark sounds goofy next to Cook; no Gail/Gale because she was due 2 days before The Hunger Games movie would be released; Ava is lovely but in the top 10 and the name of the daughter of a beloved friend. Looking at the rest of our list, we still didn't have any we really loved. It was time to take it to the experts.

Luckily, I know some experts. I contacted some of my former colleagues (and current friends) at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and explained the situation. Krista Fahy, Terri SheridanRebecca Fagan Coulter, and Elaine Gibson responded with almost alarming speed and unbridled enthusiasm. I will include the complete list of names they offered, but first let's have some fun with names they did not pick:

Anything with "double-breasted," "booby" or "tit" in the name
Loons of all varieties

After narrowing it down this far, the total list had some 75 or so entries. We studied them, pondered them, and then tentatively decided that Ani would be nice, as long as we changed it to Annie (too much Ani DiFranco angst association). However, since my middle name is Anne, and we both of buckets of relatives with the name Anne, we decided Anne would be her "real" name, and we would call her Annie.

The final test came in the delivery room. Kevin's family is full of red heads, and I wanted to make sure that our Annie wouldn't be one of them. I could just see her getting teased for be a little orphan through her entire childhood. Luckily, she does not have red hair. So Annie she is.

By the way, Annie was born 15 days before our performances (the conductor was a little nervous that I wouldn't make it), and loves the Liebeslieder. Every time I sing her #9, she calms right down. (Don't worry, I only sing the nice part.) She is also partial to #15, my personal favorite.

Here are all the bird entries, with duplicated removed and most of the original annotations from my expert crew (to whom my daughter and I are deeply indebted):

Merlin (perhaps better for a boy?)
And some descriptives that go along with bird names:
Blue Kona
And that’s just North America…

Carolina (Chickadee and Wren—this one has a bubbly song of “teakettle teakettle teakettle tea”)
Raven would be bold and wonderful

Lark Aderyn (welsh for bird)
Deryn (derivative of above)
Aleta (Spanish for winged)
Leta (derivative of above)
Mavis (old English name for song bird)
Merle (French for blackbird; Merla could work for a girl)
Tori (Japanese for bird)
Alala (Hawaiian crow)
Nydia (from nest)
Fowler (Ha!)
True bird name derivatives:
Linnet (European bird)
Ani (groove-billed or otherwise)
Booby (kidding..)
Cacique (in the Icterid group. Also a Mexican cheese. Maybe not…)
Corella (Australian cockatoo)
Grace is lovely (for Grace’s Warbler)
Sabine is a gorgeous little gull.

And then there is the Say’s Phoebe, scientific name Sayornis saya. Saya could make a nice name for a girl…
Colibri is the French for hummingbird.
I forgot about Paloma, which I think is lovely.


Katie said...

I did invest my few minutes, and I did truly enjoy! What a treasure of a story, and a gift for her to know such inspiration, music, thought and cooperative effort when into her title. You choose perfectly!

My friend, by the way, named her daughter Heron. I don't know why you would care, except that I got excited when I saw it on the list.

Vivian said...

I love the name game and I think kids like to hear the story of how their name was picked. Great choice.

Birrrdegg said...

Naming children after birds is a wonderful thing! But I am biased... a bit. Love the story!

Jess said...

I love it! Cuckoo Cook has a nice ring to it though, but I can see why you went in a different direction. I had no idea that Ava was a bird name, we went with the Spanish Eve origin for our Eva. Cool beans.

Amy said...

I loved that story. It was so Krissie! I loved it!!!