Bird Names in French


Coming up to 10 years of living in France my ability to speak the native language is OK.  I can converse on plenty of subjects and understand a lot of what is being said.  My grammar may not be good but I get by, nevertheless.  However, being a non-native, my vocabulary is also lacking, especially around words that don't come up in every day situations.  I have to go round the houses to describe a word so, for example, whilst trying once to use the word moth in a sentence I said a butterfly of the night! Actually a moth in French is un papillon de nuit but in fairness that was just a bit of luck.  Another word for a moth is phalène and I would never have got that!  As well as describing words I have a cunning trick which sometimes works.  I am sure anyone who has tried to speak French, or any other language that has similar roots and shared words will understand, I "Frenchify" words.  Don't know the word, well say it with a French accent and a Gallic shrug and in some cases it will work.  Sadly though, in many cases it simply produces s a blank look and I am back to describing things.

Recently Ben was trying to find out the English word for a bird his friend was talking about and he had seen in the fields:  Un Vanneau.  Well there is no English bird with a similar name so he had to resort to describing it and we eventually worked out it was a Lapwing.  It then got me thinking and although some bird names are similar and my Frechifying trick would work, many are very different.  

Last weekend was the RSPB Big Garden Watch and 2016 I did my own Normandy version here at Eco-Gites of Lenault.  I have now translated the names of the birds I saw into French:

French Names of Birds


Pigeon - Pigeon

Heron - Héron

Grey Heron

... so far so good - I can say these two in a French accent and be understood but not for these local birds:

Crow - Corbeau

Buzzard - Buse

Yellowhammer - Bruant jaune. (Bruant is a bunting so a yellow bunting and NOT a Marteau jaune as would be the literal translation)

Sparrow - Moineau

Chaffinch - Pinson des arbres

Dunnock - Accenteur mouchet

Blackbird - Merle noir

Fieldfare - Grive litorne

Redwing - Grive mauvis (NOT Aile rouge as Google translate gave me)

Thrush - Grive (NOT candidose!)

Robin - Rouge-gorge


Missing from my 2106 survey but normally seen here:

Blue Tit - Mésange bleue

Great Tit - Mésange charbonnière

Goldfinch - Chardonneret

Wren - Troglodyte mignon

It seems the smaller the bird, the longer it's French name!  Now all I have to do is remember all these French words.  Any trick for doing that would be gratefully received.  Do you know any French names for birds?

Bird names in English and French


Lou Messugo