One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Any of a number of birds of the heron family.
Several species in the family Ardeidae, in particular the green-backed Butorides virescens
- ‘Both boys liked to watch the creek birds, the ospreys, the egrets, the green herons, and the enormous great blue herons, the shitepokes, that looked as big as the storks in fairy tales.’
- ‘The shitepoke, or shag as it is sometimes known, is the smallest heron in the western hemisphere.’
- ‘As they were going along they found the feathers of different kinds of birds, such as the crane, shitepoke, duck, etc., which they collected.’
- ‘If they had to talk so much, he suggested, they ought to do it ‘in highly secluded places where the only auditors will be hoot owls, turkey buzzards and shitepokes.’’
- ‘The pawpaw is the most neglected of American fruits; few people like it, and someway it is as despised as the mule and as unpopular as the shitepoke.’
Late 18th century: from shite (because of the bird's habit of defecating when disturbed) + the noun poke.
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