Hyphenated married bird names

The preschoolers are learning to identify common birds. Red-headed woodpecker, ruby-throated hummingbird, red-winged blackbird. The older children are learning more exotic birds, like the scarlet macaw.

I'm thrilled that they are learning synonyms and subtleties for red. Crimson, scarlet, and ruby just make language more interesting!

To hyphenate, or not to hyphenate? That was my question. Some of our bird materials hyphenate "red-headed" and "red-winged". Others do not. My trusty Birds of North America prefers hyphenation across the board.

Visiting with one girl about the woodpecker, I remarked that it is a "very handsome" bird. "Yes," she said, "he looks ready to get married." She seemed to think the bird's markings resembled a rented wedding tuxedo! I can see her point. He just needs a bowtie. What will the bride be wearing? Are the owl and the pussycat invited?

© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder

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