If there was such a thing as word police to enforce the correct use of biological terms, jails would be full of repeat offenders. None of the violations rank as felonies, but misdemeanors are rampant. Here are a few examples.
The image of thundering herds of buffalo racing across endless prairies is not one that is often associated with Louisiana, the Bayou State. Historically, though, the scene is not far-fetched. The animals we call buffalo are more correctly termed bison to separate them from true buffalo of Africa and Asia. Early French explorers in Louisiana called them boeuf sauvage - wild ox.
On Christmas Day 1900, twenty-seven conservationists in New York decided to protest a traditional holiday bird shoot in which teams competed to see who could kill the most birds and other animals in one day. Instead of shooting the birds, the protesters counted them and unknowingly established an event that has become known as the National Audubon Christmas Bird Count.
Less than three months after Union Parish was carved from Ouachita as a new political entity, William McKay died there intestate leaving a grieving widow and two-year old daughter. In 1839, Union Parish was essentially wilderness and sparsely populated, the surge of immigration by settlers from eastern states just over the horizon. McKay owned a store on the Ouachita River, either at what could later be called Alabama Landing or farther south at Ouachita City, or maybe even at the mouth of Bayou de l'Outre. In these roadless times goods moved efficiently only by water.
Soaring gracefully overhead with a wingspan exceeding five feet, wood storks are more attractive at that distance than when up close in person. With snow white plumage except for a black tail and trailing wing edges, they are the only true stork found in North America. It's their naked gray head and neck that only a mother wood stork could love. Add a large, thick, slightly curved bill and the common name "gourd head" is not totally inappropriate.