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NAVE: Cuckoo
EBD: Cuckoo
SMITH: CUCKOO
ISBE: CUCKOW; CUCKOO
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Cuckoo

Cuckoo [EBD]

(Heb. shahaph), from a root meaning "to be lean; slender." This bird is mentioned only in Lev. 11:16 and Deut. 14:15 (R.V., "seamew"). Some have interpreted the Hebrew word by "petrel" or "shearwater" (Puffinus cinereus), which is found on the coast of Syria; others think it denotes the "sea-gull" or "seamew." The common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) feeds on reptiles and large insects. It is found in Asia and Africa as well as in Europe. It only passes the winter in Palestine. The Arabs suppose it to utter the cry Yakub_, and hence they call it _tir el-Yakub; i.e., "Jacob's bird."

Cuckoo [NAVE]

CUCKOO, a bird. Forbidden as food, Lev. 11:16; Deut. 14:15.

CUCKOO [SMITH]

(Leviticus 11:16; 14:15) the name of some of the larger petrels which abound in the east of the Mediterranean.

CUCKOW; CUCKOO [ISBE]

CUCKOW; CUCKOO - kook'-oo, kuk'-oo (shachaph; laros; Latin Cuculus canorus): The Hebrew root from which the word shachaph is derived means "to be lean" and "slender," and in older versions of the Bible was translated cuckow (cuckoo). It was mentioned twice in the Bible (Lev 11:16, and practically the same in Dt 14:15 the King James Version "cuckoo"), in the list of unclean birds. The Latin term by which we designate the bird is very similar to the Arabic, and all names for it in different countries are so nearly the same that they prove themselves based on its double cry, "cuck-oo," or the single note "kowk" or "gouk." The bird is as old as history, and interesting because the European species placed its eggs in the nests of other birds, which gave rise to much fiction concerning its habits. The European bird is a brownish gray with white bars underneath, and larger than ours, which are a beautiful olive gray, with tail feathers of irregular length touched with white, knee tufts, black or yellow bill, according to species, and beautiful sleek head and shining eyes. Our birds build their own nests, attend their young with care and are much loved for their beauty. Their food is not repulsive in any species; there never was any reason why they should have been classed among the abominations, and for these reasons scientists in search of a "lean, slender" bird of offensive diet and habit have selected the "sea-mew" (which see) which is substituted for cuckoo in the Revised Version (British and American) with good natural-history reason to sustain the change.

Gene Stratton-Porter


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