One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A brown African marshbird related to the storks, which has a crest that looks like a backward projection of the head, and constructs an enormous nest.
Scopus umbretta, the only member of the family Scopidae
- ‘Villagers have been known to abandon a hut because a hamerkop flew over it and shortly died afterwards.’
- ‘According to superstitions, hammerkops are bad omens, and it is considered bad luck to harm them.’
- ‘The water birds hovering around the lake include pelicans, spoonbills, Egyptian geese and hammerkops.’
- ‘They claimed that the hammerkop would make the rain stop to prevent itself from drowning.’
- ‘Their bad rap may protect hamerkops from human hunters, who out of fear have given the birds a wide berth.’
Mid 19th century: Afrikaans, from hamer ‘hammer’ + kop ‘head’.
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