rainbird, noun

Origin:
See quotations 1928 (sense 1) and 1913 (sense 2).
1. The coucal Centropus burchellii of the Cuculidae; also called vlei loerie (see vlei sense 2).
Note:
In G.L. Maclean’s Roberts' Birds of Sn Afr. (1993), the name ‘Burchell’s coucal’ is used for this species.
1906 Rooivlerk in E. London Dispatch 4 Aug. 4Of all the notes to be heard during a day at the Nahoon, I fancy those of the rain-bird: (one of our resident cuckoos) are the most strange.
1928 E.H.L. Schwarz Kalahari & its Native Races 100There were any amount of Burchell’s Kukels...One nests every year in my garden in Grahamstown, and when it is going to rain, utters the curious trill just at sun-down. The Kaffirs call it the rain bird.
1980 J.O. Oliver Beginner’s Guide to our Birds 28Their call is rather like water running out of a bottle, ‘doo-doo-doo’, repeated many times. This call is said by some to be heard before rain and Burchell’s Coucal is often called ‘The Rainbird’.
1983 D.A.C. Maclennan Reckonings 41City of bells and birds: hornbills squeaking in the loquat tree their voices too absurd for such intrinsic dignity; a rainbird and his bottle bubbling down the scale.
1990 D.N.E. Kain in Weekend Post 19 Jan. (Leisure) 1All canoeists are familiar with the distinctive and rather mournful cry of the large brown rain bird (Burchell’s coucal).
2. rare. The bromvoël, Bucorvus leadbeateri.
1913 C. Pettman Africanderisms 391Rain-bird, In the Native Territories the Turkey buzzard — Bucorax cafer — is so named by the colonists, because in times of drought the natives try to drive these birds into the water to drown them, thinking thus to secure rain — the superstition being that while the body of the bird remains in the water the rain will continue.
The coucal Centropus burchellii of the Cuculidae; also called vlei loerievlei2.
The bromvoël, Bucorvus leadbeateri.

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19061990