sprew, noun

spreeu, spreeuwShow more Also spreeu, spreeuw, spreu, spreuw, sprieu, sprue.
Dutch, AfrikaansShow more Englished form of Dutch spreeuw thrush. (The modern Afrikaans form is spreeu.)
Although there is a great deal of uncertainty among English-speakers as to the spelling of this word, ‘sprew’ is the form which occurs most frequently.
1. Any of several starlings of the Sturnidae, especially a. Spreo bicolor; b. Sturnus vulgaris; and c. any of the glossy starlings of the genus Lamprotornis.
In G.L. Maclean’s Roberts' Birds of Sn Afr. (1993), the name ‘pied starling’ is used for Spreo bicolor, and ‘European starling’ for Sturnus vulgaris.
1795 C.R. Hopson tr. of C.P. Thunberg’s Trav. II. 48A kind of Corvus, (or crow) called Spreuw, was found both here and in several other places in great plenty.
1801 J. Barrow Trav. I. 29Turtle doves, a thrush called the Sprew, and the Fiscal bird, the Lanius collaris, frequent the gardens near the town.
a1823 J. Ewart Jrnl (1970) 81There are..here great numbers of ring doves, sprews, and other larger birds, which do great damage among the fruit trees.
1827 T. Philipps Scenes & Occurrences 68I particularly remarked two sprews of a dark though glossy green, that, when they met the sun’s rays were of exquisite beauty.
1838 T. Shone Diary. 20 Oct.This day I began by cutting up the weeds..and shooting of a Sprew and another bird.
1838 T. Shone Diary. 31 Nov.This evening the children brought home four young spreus.
1899 B. Mitford Weird of Deadly Hollow 161A cloud of spreuws fluttered on sheeny wing, making flash after flash of blue light, their long-drawn piping whistle echoing melodiously from the overhanging crags.
1906 W.S. Johnson Orangia 17Some of the spreeuws, or starlings, destroy much fruit.
1923 Haagner & Ivy Sketches of S. Afr. Bird-Life 82First in order of classification comes the Spreeuw, or Pied Starling (Spreo bicolor), which is very common throughout South Africa.
1924 D. Fairbridge Gardens of S. Afr. 99The handsome red spreeu has a bad character as a fruit-eater, but the brown and white variety lives on insects — chiefly ticks.
1929 F.C. Slater Sel. Poems (1947) 117Bald-headed vultures and the burnished sprew. [Note] Sprew = Green sprew or spreeuw (starling family), a bird of brilliant plumage.
1939 S. Cloete Watch for Dawn 106A spreeu dug its beak into some half-dried dung for the fly-worms that were in it.
c1963 B.C. Tait Durban Story 69This beautiful and natural park where blue-black sprews flash above incredibly green lawns.
1982 J. Krige in Staffrider Vol.5 No.2, 20A sprieu chattered away.
1983 Evening Post 26 Mar. 7A garden full of exotic (foreign) plants may be colourful and attractive but its bird life will be mainly sprews (European starlings) and European sparrows.
1986 J. Conyngham Arrowing of Cane 85A swarm of spreeus wings noisily overhead.
1987 M. Poland Train to Doringbult 172At ten to two the children flew out of the house like sprews migrating.
2. With distinguishing epithet:
green sprew, Lamprotornis nitens of the Sturnidae;
red-winged sprew, Onychognathus morio of the Sturnidae;
witgat sprew /ˈvətxat-/ [Afrikaans, wit white + gat hole, vent], Spreo bicolor of the Sturnidae;
yellow sprew (?obsolete), in the Eastern Cape, Oriolus larvatus of the Oriolidae (more commonly called black-headed oriole).
[1822 W.J. Burchell Trav. I. 318The beautiful Groene spreeuw (Green Thrush).]
1853 F.P. Fleming Kaffraria 72The Green, or Purple, Sprew is..a most beautiful and common resident in the Mimosa bush.
1856 R.E.E. Wilmot Diary (1984) 133I must now mention one of the conspicuous birds of the Eastern Province viz. the green sprue...The first sight of a flock of these superb creatures with their glowing iridescent green and purple plumage and bright yellow eyes, is a thing to remember.
1923 Haagner & Ivy Sketches of S. Afr. Bird-Life 153A common member of this family is the Red-shouldered Glossy Starling (Lamprocolius phoenicopterus), commonly known as the Green Spreeuw in the Eastern portion of the Cape Province...The true Green Spreeuw is confined to Cape Province, it being replaced in the Transvaal and Natal by a smaller sub-species (L. p. bispecularis).
1925 F.C. Slater Centenary Bk of S. Afr. Verse 236Many species [of sprew] occur in South Africa; the Green Spreeuw, a beautiful bird of brilliant plumage, is common in bush districts.
1965 J. Bennett Hawk Alone 67He kept the Winchester..for knocking off the red-winged spreeuws which fouled the rainwater tanks.
1821 C.I. Latrobe Jrnl of Visit (Glossary) 398Wittegat Spreuw, Turdus morio of Linnæus.
1913 C. Pettman Africanderisms 563Witgat spreeuw,..Spreo bicolor.
1961 Redwing (St Andrew’s College, Grahamstown) 20In the Autumn of 1956 our garden was cluttered up with ‘Witgatspreeus’.
1971 Beeton & Dorner in Eng. Usage in Sn Afr. Vol.2 No.2, 10Pied starling..alt: witgatspreeu.
1853 F.P. Fleming Kaffraria 72Another Kaffrarian bird is the Oriole bird (Oriolus Galbula), generally known locally as the Golden, or Yellow, Sprew.
1909 A. Haagner in Afr. Monthly Vol.6 No.33, 269We may hear the beautiful flute-like notes of the Black-headed Oriole (Oriolus larvatus), locally known as the Yellow Spreeuw, and catch a glimpse of its robust figure in yellow and green coat, and black head.
1913 C. Pettman Africanderisms 568Yellow spreeuw, In some parts of the Eastern Province Oriolus larvatus is known by this name. (Albany.)
1923 Haagner & Ivy Sketches of S. Afr. Bird-Life 156The last member of the family is the Black-headed Oriole..fairly common in the Albany and Bathurst Divisions of the Cape Province, where it is often known as the Yellow Spreeuw.
Spreo bicolor;
Sturnus vulgaris; and
any of the glossy starlings of the genus Lamprotornis.

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