Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Caliology is for the Birds




A friend of mine is an ardent birder, and he was telling me about an old book that is in his collection. It is Birds’ Nests, by Charles Dixon, and it was published in 1902. The introduction indicates that Mr. Dixon was over the top when it came to his hobby.

“It is a somewhat remarkable fact that notwithstanding the extreme popularity of the subject of Birds’ Nests, no book has yet been published entirely devoted to these beautiful and curious objects. And yet their study – the science of Caliology – is one of the most fascinating branches of Ornithology, perhaps more intimately connected with these mental attributes of what man in his ignorance is pleased to consider the ‘lower animals,’ than any other.”

The word caliology prompted this posting. The suffix –ology means a discourse or science. The first half comes from the Greek καλιά [kalia], a wooden dwelling, hut, or nest. The only other word based on this root mentioned in the Oxford English Dictionary is caliological.

Another root meaning nest is based on the Latin nidus, a nest. It is the foundation of several words.
  • denidation:  the shedding of the superficial layer of the uterus, such as occurs during menstruation.
  • nidal:  (1) of or relating to a nest.  (2) of the lining of the uterus: exhibiting cyclical thickening in preparation for implantation of an ovum.
  • nidamental: (1) of the nature of or serving as a nest.  (2) serving as, or relating to, a receptacle for the ova of a marine invertebrate, especially a mollusc.
  • nidary: a place for building nests.
  • nidation: the cyclical proliferation of the endometrium in preparation for implantation of an ovum (or preceding menstruation).
  • nide:  a brood or nest of pheasants.
  • nidicole: an animal which lives in the nest, burrow, etc., of another species.
  • nidicolous:  of an animal: living in the nest, burrow, etc. of another species.
  • nidification:  the action of nest-building (especially by birds).
  • nidifuge:  a nidifugous bird.
  • nidifugous: of a young bird or (in later use also) other animal: well developed at birth or hatching and able to leave the nest almost immediately.
  • nidify: (1) to make a nest or nests.  (2) to colonize through the action of nesting.
  • nidulate: to build a nest.
  • nidus:  (1) a medium or place suitable for the nurture of germinal elements, eggs, embryos, etc.  (2) a collection or cluster of eggs.  (3) a source, focus, or reservoir of infection.  (4) a generative source, an origin; a place where some quality or principle is fostered. (5) a nucleus.

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

Nook edition

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