channel-billed cuckoo in Ainslie

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Subject: channel-billed cuckoo in Ainslie
From: "Geoffrey Dabb" <>
Date: Fri, 10 Dec 2010 07:58:14 +1100

An archaic, awkward and unattractive name, but one, like many others, that we are stuck with.  The name comes from grooves in the bill, being described in the 18th century as ‘channels’.  My Macquarie gives ‘a groove or furrow’ as meaning number 14 of 22 for ‘channel’, some distance after ‘a frequency band ...’ (number 9) or ‘a television station ..’ (number 10).   It would have been better to use ‘groove-billed’, as in ‘Groove-billed Ani’, a North American member of the cuckoo family.


Just ‘Channel-bill’ would have been better, the early name used by Latham in 1790.  Gould also used it, but he was not the first, contrary to JD Macdonald’s entry on the species.  After all we have such names as ‘Spoonbill’ and don’t have to say ‘Spoon-billed  Ibis’ or something of the sort.  It was the good old RAOU in 1926 that thought they would let everyone know that they knew it was really a cuckoo by creating ‘Channel-billed Cuckoo’, one of the least attractive names on the list.


I’ve never seen one in Canberra, but I once had one in my backyard in Port Moresby, sitting high up in the foliage of a Terminalia tree.


From: Stephanie Haygarth [
Sent: Thursday, 9 December 2010 4:54 PM
Subject: [canberrabirds] channel-billed cuckoo in Ainslie


Heard about 4 pm in Duffy St.

Stephanie Haygarth



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