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A Full Clip of Bulletbirds

Updated on November 9, 2011
A Full Clip of Bulletbirds
A Full Clip of Bulletbirds | Source

(Sorry — if you happened to be instead searching for information about the 1961 to 1963 ‘Bullet Bird’ Ford Thunderbird models, you will have to go back and hit googlesearch or wiki-whatever once again; this article is about much the much smaller and deadlier live bulletbird species.)

It would be wise not to let the wee size and seeming docility of these cute avian critters fool you. For, believe you me, these little fowl can certainly pack a helluva punch when they want to. Oh sure, everything’s just fine as long as they are quietly pecking around among the scattered seeds and corn hulls at the base of your backyard feeder, or kangaroo-hopping about the front lawn, looking for errant worms in the dewy Saturday morning sunshine, or flitting from branchlet to branchlet of the Rose o’ Sharon by the corner of the patio.

But don’t let them get too near the firepit when it’s in use, unless you’re braced for some abrupt explosive action! And, by all means, keep them away from that redneck neighbor of yours — you know which one I mean: Mr. Fertilizer Trucker’s Cap, the guy from a few doors over who’s really really fond of barbecued chicken wings (three meals a day), the one tricked out in the Confederate flag bicep tattoo, and the barbed wire other bicep tattoo, and the ‘Home of the Whopper’ groin tattoo, and the ‘Born Dead’ forehead tattoo — unless you are looking to have your local McDonald’s or day care center or IRS office or payday loan shop all shot up some 911 morning!

On first impression, these creatures certainly seem quite tiny and harmless, if not downright precious. After all, the typical adult bulletbird torso measures no more than about 9 millimeters at its widest — thinner than even the smallest of hummingbirds. One must note, however, that such a seemingly dainty diameter translates to a muzzle caliber roughly equal to that of a deadly .357 Magnum shell. Allow a full clip of these bulletbirds to flock together, and you could soon have some nasty fireworks on your hands!

Over the years, some sticklers in the field of ornithological taxonomy have begun a campaign to rename the bulletbird. They correctly claim that ‘bulletbird’ is a misnomer, because a ‘bullet’ is merely a weapon projectile, while ‘cartridge’ is the proper term for a combination bullet-primer-powder-casing. The name ‘cartridgebird’ has been suggested, but has found little acceptance, as it is nowhere near as euphonious or catchy as ‘bulletbird’ (Some misguided birdwatcher suggested ‘cartridgecock’ as a replacement name, but others consider the name too unwieldy, and rightly predicted far too much future confusion with the ‘cock of a gun’, etc.)

In recent years, bird lovers have teamed up with anti-violence groups to try to reduce the lethality of bulletbirds. By replacing the creatures’ dietary intake of nitrates with more inert chemicals and nutrients, they hope to limit the combustibility of their gastric contents, in effect removing the bang from the bird.


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