Fictional names

When California condors appear in works of fiction, individual birds are sometimes given their own names. In this post, I note some of these fictional names by quoting the names’ creators.

The 1st name comes from a novel that conveys the natural history of the California condor by describing the lives of fictional condors. This is from Source of the Thunder: the Biography of a California Condor by Roger A. Caras (1970):

The warden set the bird on his own feet, facing him down the hill. The keeper slipped the sack off his head and both men stood back. The condor that they had nicknamed Gym after his scientific name, Gymnogyps californianus, stood blinking in the bright morning sun that streamed in from the east. He turned, saw his captors, and eyed curiously the movie cameras perching on their triangular legs. He took a step or two, felt a ground draft, and began waddling forward at increasing speed.

The next 2 names come from novels for younger readers. Here’s Will Hobbs in The Maze (1999):

“You oughta call him Maverick instead of M4”.

“We don’t give’ em those kinds of names”.

Rick was surprised at the bite in the man’s reaction. He’s said it only in jest. “How come?” he ventured.

“What going on in that bird’s brain isn’t vaguely human. That’s one of my pet peeves – people assigning human personality characteristics to wild animals”.

And here’s Wendelin Van Draanen in Sammy Keyes and the Wild Things (2007):

“His name’s JC-10”, Gabby snipped.

“JC-10 is not a name”, I snipped back. “It’s an alpha-numeric designation.”

Billy had produced a knife from his pocket and was starting to slit the snake. “So let’s name the beast!”

I hesitated. “Which beast? The snake or the bird?”

“JC-10 is not a beast!” Gabby said.

Billy looked over his shoulder at the condor. “Oh, yes, he is. And I think his real name’s Bubba.”

“Bubba?” we all cried. “No way!”

“How about Flyboy?” Casey said.

I said, “Or Birdzilla?”

“Meathead!” Bill cried. “Meathead is a perfect name because –”

“Shut up!” Gabby snapped. “Don’t even go there!” Then very quietly she said, “I think we should name him Marvin”.

“Marvin?” We all kind of looked at her, then looked around at each other like, Why not?

The last 2 names here come from the adventure novel Endangered by Barnaby Conrad and Niels Mortensen (1978). First:

The occupants of this cave consisted of Nicodemus, his mother and his father. Nick, the pigeon-sized offspring with a huge head and almost naked body, was so ugly that he was wonderous. His large beak, myopic eyes and white fringe encircling a bald pate were an almost exact caricature of old Nicodemus “Nosey” Johnson, David’s biology professor at Yale.


As the bird hopped awkwardly toward the rabbit, David gasped, “My God, you’ve got a condor – a pet condor!” Starky nodded. “That’s what they call him. I call him Blinky. Call him Blinky”, he cackled, “‘cause he never blinks.”

For 2 more fictional names, see the post Boys’ Life: 1942-1999.

The cover of Conrad and Mortensen’s novel is shown in the post More color illustrations from books: 1912-2010. There is more about the novels by Hobbs and Van Draanen in Novels for older children and Embellishments. Caras’s book is noted in several previous posts, including Essential books and Illustrations by Charles Fracé.