corn crake

Corn Crake

Drawing of the Corncrake from Naumann, Natural History of Birds in Central Europe, Volume VII, Table 15 – published 1899

I want to see a Corncrake (Crex crex), also known as Corn Crake. I think I prefer the two word spelling, but I’m not sure yet. In this post I will test out both. We don’t have Corn Crakes here in the U.S. Last year someone claimed to have seen one in Maryland, but it was never verified. Seems unlikely…that would be extreme vagrancy. Corncrakes are in the rail family, a group of secretive mostly marsh-dwelling birds known for mystical practices like turning sideways and disappearing. One Maryland birder reported seeing a rail literally walk through a fence. Unlike other rails, though, corncrakes live on dry land. They prefer grasslands, especially hayfields. Corn Crakes, like most rails, are notoriously difficult to spot. The corn crake was also a threatened species for some time due to changes in mowing practices and loss of habitat. Numbers remain low in western Europe; however, increased monitoring determined that due to its expansive range, the species is actually not in any immediate danger of disappearing.

I’ll admit that the only reason I really want to see a Corncrake is because I love its name. And frankly speaking, I really don’t care if I get to see one or not. I’m just glad it’s out there doing its things. Corn Crake may just be my favorite name of any bird in the world that I know of. I also like Wood Stork, but I’ll save that for another day. Corncrake makes me think of autumn. Sometimes when I am sad I just think Corn Crake and I feel better. Corn Crake. Corn Crake. Corn Crake. Corn Crake. Corncrake. Sometimes it’s like that and it doesn’t take much. Other times a bit more. What can you do. Oh, whatever can you do. Not much other than think about Corncrake and hope for safe passage to the other side.

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  1. taidgh

     /  September 18, 2012

    I never knew a word such as Corn Crake could be so comforting. Corn Crake, Corn Crake. Wood Stork sounds good too. I don’t know what words make me feel better. One of my favourite words for its sound is serviettes. No it’s not a bird – just a napkin! Not really sure why I like it!

    • I think Corn Crake and Wood Stork are comforting in the same way. First, they are both composed of two one-syllable words. Second, the second words in both names are strange words, whilst the first words are common words. I happen to like both corn and wood, too, so that is an added benefit (and comfort). The combination of the familiar and the unfamiliar and the way they roll off the tongue greatly pleases me. Corn Crake is slightly more pleasing because of the alliterative effect.

      Serviette is also an awesome word. Unfortunately it’s not in common use here. Tragic. It makes me think of this guy, whose interviews have always entertained me.

  2. Corncrakes are in the air – lovely piece recently by Amy Liptrot at Caught By The River ( who surveyed the birds on the Orkney Islands and so became known by the farmers there as ‘the corncrake wife’.

    Have to say I prefer it as one word – just seems more aesthetically pleasing on the screen or page.

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