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.