Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear?

By Lev Parikian

A lapsed and hopeless birdwatcher’s attempt to see 200 birds in a year

Tuesday, 28 March 2017


I learned a new word the other day. It's 'gökotta' (approximately pronounced, so I gather, 'djuh-koo-ta' – sit on the T for half a second). It's a Swedish word meaning 'the act of getting up early specifically to go outside and listen to birdsong', and I love it unconditionally.

Those Swedes. Take that, hygge.

Scandinavian languages seem to be chock full of single words for which English requires several. It turns out there's another word in Swedish, mångata, which means 'the roadlike reflection of the moon on water'. I learn this from my abundantly talented musician/writer friend Kerry, with whom I am now engaged in an unofficial 'see who can shoehorn the most obscure scandiwegian words into their forthcoming book' contest.

You have been warned.

Now I'm going to spend the rest of the day writing and musicking. Tomorrow, this being an excellent time of year for it, with birds shouting their availability from every treetop, I gökotta.

I'm hoping to hear one of these.

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