Common Sandpiper
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Common sandpiper: the bird who must not be named?

Say “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” and Harry Potter fans will promptly tell you about Voldemort, the most feared name in the wizarding world. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, a “taboo” spell is placed upon the name. So if anyone uttered it, Voldemort or his followers would be able to trace that person.

While JK Rowling has said that the name is an invented one, literary analyst Philip Nel considers it to be derived from the French vol de mort which means flight of death.

Featured here: 

Common sandpiper  | Binomial name: Actitis hypoleucos

This harmless, widespread, common bird is known to forage by sight on the ground or in shallow water and feeds on insects, crustaceans and other invertebrates. When foraging, it displays a characteristic walk that involves pumping tail and thrusting head movements. 

However, if you go by the Nukumanu language of the Nukumanu Islands (Papua New Guinea), there is tale you may find interesting. In Nukumanu, this species is sometimes called matakakoni. – which means “bird that walks a little, then copulates” – a clear reference to the characteristic walk of the common sandpiper. Considering the adult connotations of the word, the name is not uttered in the presence of women and children. 

“The-Bird-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” would be such an interesting title for something as harmless as the Common sandpiper, no?

Conservation Status: Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)

Kingdom: Animalia | Class: Aves | Order: Charadriiformes | Family: Scolopacidae

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Rahul Jauhari

Rahul Jauhari

A well-known name in the advertising and marketing industry, Rahul is also the founder of Live Equal Foundation, a nonprofit force dedicated to removing inequity from the world. He is an avid birder, wildlife warrior and feels at home in the forest.

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