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Pied Currawong—a delicious pastry?

October 24, 2013

Pied Currawong (Strepera graculina) - Yum!

Pied Currawong (Strepera graculina) – Yum!

Have you ever wondered where the word ‘pied’ comes from? Is Pied Currawong a recipe used by the early settlers when food was short? The index of Pizzey and Knight’s Field Guide to the Birds of Australia lists eleven birds (Butcherbird, Cormorant, Little Cormorant, Currawong, Harrier, Heron, Honeyeater, Imperial-Pigeon, Monarch, Sitella and Stilt) with the pied descriptor. A veritable smorgasbord of tasty treats.

The term was originally coined by that famous cataloguer of Australian birds, John Gould. The English word ‘pie’ comes from the French word of the same spelling, which is the old name for the European Magpie (Pica pica). The European Magpie is a member of the crow family and is unrelated to the Australian Magpie. The French word is derived from the Latin word pica, which is the Latin name for the bird. So ‘pied’ literally means ‘like a European Magpie’—in other words, black and white.

The meaning of pied has changed with time. Modern dictionaries define pied as meaning ‘of two or more colours’. But in Gould’s 1848 book the term strictly meant black and white.

So for those thinking about supplementing your diets with some local pastries, think again.

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