from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A bird, Coereba flaveola, possibly close to some American sparrows and finches.
The word bananaquit struck me; I couldn't find it in Merriam-Webster's Collegiate or the American Heritage Dictionary, but it was in the New Oxford American Dictionary:bananaquit /bəˈnanəˌkwit/ a small songbird with a curved bill, typically with a white stripe over the eye, a sooty gray back, and yellow underparts.
The latter entry says "in combination used in names of various small songbirds found in the Caribbean area, e.g. bananaquit, grassquit" and adds that the word is "probably imitative."
The AOU retains the Bannaquit as the only member of the Coerebidae, but the most recent evidence associates it with a group of tanager- or finch-like birds that build domed nests, including grassquits probably the closest to the bananaquit, the Orangequit of Jamaica, West Indian "bullfinches" and the Galapagos finches.
Allen Orr New Yorker piece on evolution and genetics when I hit the sentence "Similarly, a gene that affects pigmentation in birds like the chicken and the bananaquit also affects pigmentation in mammals like the jaguar and you."
Hawkins K, Bermingham E, Ricklefs RE, Mundy NI (2001) The molecular basis of an avian plumage polymorphism in the wild: a melanocortin-1-receptor point mutation is perfectly associated with the melanic plumage morph of the bananaquit, Coereba flaveola.
I later learned it was the official bird of the islands, called the "bananaquit."
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