Thursday, June 28, 2012

This Jizz Fest Is Full of Jizz Bandits




Mew Gulls have a good, distinct jizz; smaller and more delicate than Ring-billed Gulls, but lacking the unique flight style of the somewhat similar but even smaller Black-legged Kittiwake. Photographed at Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA.

Jizz. It's a word you know, but there are two very different definitions.

In birder lexicon, jizz can be defined as "the overall impression of a bird's appearance and/or behavior". It is most often used when you get poor looks at an interesting bird, or if you're seeing a species or plumage you're not very familiar with. I'll put up some photos with examples. Birders are so fascinated by jizz (hehe) that there is even a whole paper on it, which is a good read if you are a nerd. It's very funny to hear birders describe what jizz is to less experienced people, because I'm never quite sure if anyone (the jizz-teacher or the jizz-student) is aware of the other, much more prevalent definition, which is:

Semen. Ejaculate. Sperm. You know what I mean. I think I first learned about this kind of jizz when I was in 6th grade, and it is still certainly in use. Pretty much everyone I know understands and accepts this definition...I don't think I've ever heard a nonbirder ask something like "what does being hosed down with jizz mean?".


Rufous-winged Sparrow? No, no, no, the jizz is all wrong! (Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Old Mission Dam, San Diego, CA.).

Call me immature (you would be right to do so), but I cannot help but smirk whenever someone goes on some very serious rant about bird jizz. I'm sorry, it's hilarious. The people who do this fall into one of two categories:

A) They are so old they don't know the common (dare I say, "nominate"), well-established slang definition. Odd, but there's definitely nothing wrong with this.

B) They are pretending they don't know the alternative meaning of this word, which is just awkward.

It is far worse to fall into the second category. Who are you kidding?


Birder 1: "I think I've got a merganser out here....I think it's a Common."
Birder 2: "I don't know, I'm getting Red-breasted jizz off it....shaggy crest, dark breast...totes Red-breasted. You are an idiot, Birder 1."

I just can't take the word seriously, and its less offensive counterparts "giss" or "gist" are just obviously derivative of what people really want to be saying. My solution?

I just don't use the word very much, obviously...well, at least when I am birding. I crack up just thinking about it. So instead of saying "that flyby warbler from earlier had Connecticut jizz", I would say "that warbler that flew by earlier could have been a Connecticut". See how easy that is?


Phalaropes have a special brand of jizz...small but not tiny, straight bill, overall medium length, somewhat short-legged and stocky.

I am by NO MEANS suggesting that birders stop using the word. I love both toilet slang and nerd slang equally. I just wanted to be sure to set the record straight. So next time you hear someone say "Damn, I'm totally getting redshank jizz right now", it's ok to chuckle.

16 comments:

  1. It's true, I totally giggle at the mention of jizz. But I thought it stood for general impression of size and shape or something like that making GISS the real word... Eh? Or did they come up with that silly acronym to justify using the word jizz?

    Thanks for the vireo help. This numero siete thing is making more sense now. It's all about HJ's.

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    1. Its all in the paper...semantics at this point, just a bunch of theories. GISS was originally invented to describe airplanes, apparently...but I think "jizz" is still the more commonly used in birder jargon.

      Yes Flycatcher Jen, bask in the warm glow of the friendship of Number 7, your life (list) will only get better.

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  2. Glad you cleared that all up. Maybe it's because I've never done much birding with other birders, but I haven't had anyone come at me with jizz yet. It may be my puerile tendencies, but I was chuckling through this whole post, so I doubt I'd be able to hold up at all while looking through me nocs' and having someone mumbling about jizz nearby.

    It seems like an exceptionally tricky word when one might be describing some mating birds:
    "Are those two Cowbirds going at it?"
    "No, stupid, the jizz is all wrong."

    Now that's skill!

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  3. I feel utterly naive. Never heard of jizz outside of the birding context and even then I don't use the term. Oh, well. Something more for me to chuckle about when I hear others use it.

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    1. Haha, glad I can be of service Robert. Its pretty much the funniest word that the birding community can attempt to adopt.

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  4. I had never heard of the birding term and assumed this post was going to be about birds doing it. I have always gone with the pretentious sounding "gestalt". I am very much looking forward to some birder breaking my jizz cherry and trying like all hell not to bust out laughing.

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    1. Gestalt is fine, it conveys the exact same thing without any ugly mutations of the adjective. Your jizz cherry will pop, its just a matter of time...

      WHO SAID THAT???

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  5. I will not use that nasty word
    Just won't apply it to a bird
    I will not use it here or there
    I will not use it anywhere

    I won't direct it toward a tree
    I won't direct it toward the sea
    Forget about a parakeet
    Let alone a wood-pewee

    I do not like it, Seagull Steve
    Please keep your jizz away from me


    Great post, though. I'm glad someone's speaking truth to power about this important issue. Actually, I don't even know that I've heard anybody use it in the field, but just knowing how it's pronounced makes me cringe (and giggle) whenever I read it.

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    1. Nicholas this is great. You should write a Dr. Seusssssss-style book to help correct children with bad language/vocabulary.

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    2. This song should have made it into The Big Year somehow.

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  6. Wow, thanks for this vocab lesson...Like Laurence, I don't do a lot of birding with others, but next time I see a large group of serious birders, I will surely approach them and try out this new word;)

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    1. Oh yeah, those of us who have been birding for many years (how embarrassing) are no strangers to the jizzfest!

      Despite my reluctance to use this word (the birder definition, at least), I still prefer it to its counterpart "giss"...its just an ugly sounding word, plain and simple.

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  8. Oh yeah, birding slang, definately based on General Impression Size and Shape. London Blitz sufferers had to recognise enemy versus friendly planes and wether to run for the bomb shelter or not. I think they even had flash cards. British birders slurred it into jizz, as gestalt, like Jaeger is just too German (see above).

    Type A male dominated once again!!

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    1. Rob you are the only person I know who knows that theory...its a good one though. Props on the CCSP by the way, thats a great July bird.

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