Fun Old Birds With Paula Cole Did you know "wink-a-puss" is an old name for an owl? Singer-songwriter Paula Cole and Jonathan Coulton team-up to guess what birds were formerly known by much more ridiculous names.

Fun Old Birds With Paula Cole

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The final round is coming up. But, first, it's time for us to play another game with our special guest. Please welcome back Paula Cole.


EISENBERG: Paula, you told us that you're interested in bird calls. Is this true?

PAULA COLE: I do. I love to feed the birds and go out there and whistle at them. And my dad and I would hike a lot and listen to birds. Yeah.

EISENBERG: Would you consider yourself a birder?

COLE: A little bit.

EISENBERG: Little bit, OK.

COLE: Yeah.

EISENBERG: Minor birder.

COLE: Minor ornithologist.

EISENBERG: Minor ornithologist - do you do any bird calls?

COLE: Well, not very well. I mean, I could probably, like, (imitating mourning dove). Do you know what that one is?

JONATHAN COULTON, BYLINE: That was pretty good.


COLE: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: Mourning dove.

COLE: Yes.



COLE: Yeah.

COULTON: What is going on?


EISENBERG: That was a very good impression. That was good. You had two hands involved. There was a cupping thing around your mouth. You're like, not very good - hang on; perfect.


EISENBERG: So as our producer did some bird research, she noticed that many birds had been known by some very silly names. For example, in old English, an owl was called a wink-a-puss.


COLE: Wow.

EISENBERG: Hard to believe they decided to change that; so much more descriptive. So in this game, you and Jonathan are on a team, and we're going to see if you can figure out some of these other strange avian names in a game we call Fun Old Birds...

COULTON: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: ...Which I believe is a all-female comedy show that I'll be doing next week.


EISENBERG: All right. Going back to the 16th century, what type of bird was called an arse foot?

COLE: Well...

COULTON: Well...

COLE: ...Your arse, you know...

COULTON: ...Your arse - yeah.

COLE: Like, in old Ireland, you know.

COULTON: Yeah, your arse.

COLE: (Laughter).

COULTON: And obviously, most birds feet are pretty close to their arses as it is. But I'm assuming this is a bird that has its feet particularly close to its arse.




COLE: It waddles because it's so close to...

COULTON: Some sort of a waddling...

COLE: ...Its arse (laughter).

COULTON: ...(Laughter) waddling bird with arse-foot closeness problems.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

COULTON: A penguin.

COLE: Penguin.

EISENBERG: Yeah, you're right.


EISENBERG: An arse foot can actually refer to any water bird but especially a duck, loon or penguin.


EISENBERG: And it's exactly because the way the feet are positioned very much under their butts.


COLE: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: Yeah. All right. In ancient Greece, what bird was called a sparrow camel?

COULTON: OK. Sparrow is a kind of bird.


COLE: (Laughter).

COULTON: So we know that much. Camel - so camels...

COLE: Oh, so maybe like a large bird that looked like a sparrow.

COULTON: Right, or a - there's a whole thing about - they used to think that camels kept water in their humps.


COULTON: Are there any birds with humps? Probably not.

EISENBERG: But think about what else you know about camels.

COLE: Like an emu or a...

COULTON: What else do I know about...

COLE: The water.

COULTON: ...Camels?

COLE: Their hump.

EISENBERG: They're mean. How about that? How about they're mean.

COULTON: They're mean, and they spit. They have flat feet so they can walk in the sand.

COLE: Like Big Bird.

COULTON: Like Big Bird. Is it Big Bird?

COLE: Mean Big Bird (laughter).

COULTON: Is it a mean Big Bird?

EISENBERG: You're right. In ancient Greece, the origin of Sesame Street...


COULTON: Maybe it's a desert bird.

EISENBERG: I think you were...

COLE: Emu.

EISENBERG: ...Really good...

COLE: Ostrich.

EISENBERG: Ooh, ostrich. Yes. That's...


EISENBERG: ...Exactly right.


COULTON: Yes. Yes. Well done.

EISENBERG: Yes. Big bird - and specifically because of their long necks. And, you know, just as a sideline - I don't know if you've been around any ostriches.

COULTON: Pretty mean.

EISENBERG: Yeah. I dated a guy who had an ostrich farm. And - yeah, part of the reason we broke up.


EISENBERG: Ostriches are super mean. They look at you weird. They'll charge you.

COULTON: (Laughter) I mean, same. I'm the same.

COLE: You're the same.


EISENBERG: OK. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service publication "Obsolete English Names Of Birds And Their Modern Equivalents," honker is an obsolete name for what bird?

COULTON: There's the obvious answer that there's a bird that honks.

EISENBERG: Yeah. I would go with the most obvious.

COLE: Oh, goose.

COULTON: A goose, right? Is it a goose?

EISENBERG: Not only a goose but the $1000-jacket goose.

COULTON: There's a bird called the $1000-jacket goose?



EISENBERG: Canadian goose - yes, the Canada goose.


COULTON: Oh, I see.


COULTON: That's a Canada joke. It's a Canada clothing joke.

EISENBERG: Actually, it turns out it's an American joke; that you guys buy them for that much money.


COULTON: It's a thousand Canadian dollars, though, so it's...


COULTON: ...Actually not very much at all.

EISENBERG: It's bird feed. It's bird feed.

COULTON: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: All right. This is your last clue. According to the book "Knowledge For The People" published in the 1800s, what bird was known as the egg sucker?

COULTON: Is there a bird...

COLE: Maybe like a big bill or big...

COULTON: Some sort of pokey (ph) - he's obviously got some sort of pokey bill.

COLE: Poker.

COULTON: Poker (laughter).

EISENBERG: Yeah, right?

COULTON: Is it the poker bird? No, that's a - just a...

COLE: The poker bird.

EISENBERG: So a big...

COULTON: What's this - a pelican?

COLE: Pelican? Like Toucan Mighty Sam kind of thing?

COULTON: Oh, a toucan.

EISENBERG: Toucan, yes.

COULTON: It's a toucan.

EISENBERG: Yes, toucan is correct.





EISENBERG: Because the author inaccurately reported that the toucan's main diet was the eggs of other birds - the egg suckers.

COULTON: Fake news (laughter).

EISENBERG: But that's fake news.

COLE: Egg sucker.


EISENBERG: Yes, we all know it. A toucan's diet really consists of fruit, bugs and breakfast cereal.


EISENBERG: All right, Paula and Jonathan, you both did great. What a good team.

COLE: Yay.


EISENBERG: Paula's latest album is called "Revolution" and is available now. Paula Cole, everybody.


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