Some bird nicknames are widespread -- most birders have probably heard the Yellow-rumped warbler called a Butterbutt. (Check the bottom pic here to see why.)
But I think it's fairly common for birding friends to invent their own nicknames too. Most of ours are silly mispronunciations... King Burger (Kingbird), Rose-Chested Goosebeak (Rose-breasted Grosbeak), Buffalohead (Bufflehead), Gerbie (Grebe).
Often the bird's sound, or its description, substitutes for its name: "Hey, I heard a witchety witchety!" (Common Yellowthroat). "Which Nuthatch was it, a yank-yank or a squeaky toy?" (White-breasted or Brown-headed).
Sometimes it's just the intonation. A Frigatebird is still a Frigatebird, but must be mentioned as though it's being yelled at top voice, in memory of a particular enthusiast who did that every time one was sighted.
When you're unsure of exactly which hawk it is way up there, it's probably the (non-existant but handsome sounding) "Broad-shouldered Hawk", originally an accidental mish-mash of the Broad-winged and Red-shouldered Hawks.
Once my sister's husband, a new birder at the time, was trying to call our attention to a bird he couldn't quite remember the name of. And that's how Shriek was born (for Loggerhead Shrike).
All of that to say...
The other day I heard a bird noise I wasn't familiar with. I grabbed the binoculars, and...
Eek! It's a Shriek!
A horrible picture in the bright sun, but a Shriek!
We used to see Shrikes all the time but this is the first one I've seen in years. They seem to be in drastic decline throughout their range. I hope this one will stick around and be a regular visitor to the yard. He's welcome to all the bugs, mice, and voles he can carry.
Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus).
My old birding teacher described them as looking like "Mockingbirds gone bad"!
My sister emailed to remind me that I had forgotten about the Shawshank Hawk! (a.k.a. the Sharp-shinned hawk, for the less cinematically inclined.)