The term was definitely used amongst the more competitive twitchers/tickers
at the RAOU Melbourne Office in Moonee Ponds during the late 1970s when I
volunteered there during the first Atlas. Subsequently, when I undertook a
WWF trip with Simon Bennett in 1980 around eastern and northern Australia
the term was used frequently especially when we were based at Mt Nebo, on
the outskirts of Brisbane, at the residence of Chris Corben, Anita Smyth and
Glen Ingram. It was often used in a one-up-man-ship sense: "Oh...Grey
Falcons...they're chooks out on the Birdsville Track...(Duh, where've you
been you loser!)."
On Behalf Of Sean Dooley
Sent: Sunday, 1 February 2009 10:13 AM
To: 'James Lambert';
Subject: [SPAM] RE: [Birding-Aus] Slang/jargon use of Chook
I first heard the word chook used in relation to common birds very early on
in my birding life, (early 1980s). I think Peter Lansley was the first
person I heard use it, and it was well entrenched in the vocab of the
Brisbane twitching scene in the mid-eighties when I visited there.
In fact, I seem to remember, Glen Ingram, who was part of that scene, wrote
a light-hearted article about twitching that I think may have actually
mentioned the word chook. This would have been in one of the natural history
glossy mags of the time (around 1983?)- Australian Natural History or
something similar. Glen has been a previous contributor to Birding-aus so if
he is still on the list he may be able to enlighten you further.
On Behalf Of James Lambert
Sent: Friday, 30 January 2009 7:47 PM
Subject: Slang/jargon use of Chook
I first came across the word "chook" used to describe "an abundant bird that
birders get sick of seeing", when reading Sean Dooley's "The Big Twitch"
(one of my favourite books).
As a lexicographer I was interested in the term. Sean Dooley's book was
published in 2005. I checked the Birding-Aus archives and the earliest
example I could find was 1998.
So I have two questions:
1. When did this term first start being used? (I'm looking for anecdotal
2. Does anyone have a source earlier than 1998 which uses the word "chook"
in this way? (I'm looking for printed evidence here)
I am not interested in the general use of the word chook = chicken, which is
standard Australian slang dating back to 1900 (or possibly 1894).
Any information would be greatly appreciated
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