NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. – Do you know what Ornithology means? That is a question my fellow correspondent, Billy Austin and I decided to ask the students from Dr. Patrick Krantz environmental science class when we ventured out to the Westminster College Field Station. The students there partook in an activity that involved them making a kind of food source for birds known as suet. The process of making the food required multiple steps, all of which contributed to the ultimate goal of attracting the Downy woodpecker.
I think that most people would agree that in any class involving birds, Ornithology, the study of birds, would be pretty elementary. Or so we thought. During the class we sought to find a chosen few who were willing to step up to the challenge. After my partner and I found those few brave souls, we put them to the test of defining this term.
Students in the class were asked to define the term and we obtained mixed results. Our first interview was with Hampton Young. When asked specifically, “Do you know what Ornithology means?”, Hampton chuckled before responding with a flat-out no. In our second interview, the question was directed to a group of students. After asking the question, one of the students, Cheyenne Cleveland, laughed aloud before saying that she had no clue what it meant. Being persistent to obtain an answer, we asked her to tell us what she thought the word meant and she responded by simply saying, “Does it mean corn?” Upon telling her no, we concluded the questioning and moved on. After questioning two people already, it seemed as if all hope was lost but the third time really is the charm. For our third and final interview, we questioned Hannah Youngworth on what she thought he word meant. Her initial response was clear indication that she did not know what the word meant but when asked to take a guess at what it may be and the question was finally answered.
So what was the right answer? What exactly is ornithology? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Ornithology is the branch of zoology that deals specifically with birds. Pronounced ȯr-nə-ˈthä-lə-jē, its origins are linked all the way back to the 17th century where it was derived from the New Latin word, ornithologia, which means bird science, as also stated by on Merriam-webster.com.