night raven

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A name given in some early translations of the Bible for one of the birds of abomination (Leviticus 11: 16). It was applied in country speech either to the nightjar, the night heron, or the bittern. The deep booming call of the male bittern was regarded as a fearful omen; Oliver Goldsmith remembered from his boyhood ‘with what terror the bird's note affected the whole village; they considered it to be the presage of some sad event … if any person in the neighbourhood died, they supposed it could not be otherwise, for the Night Raven had foretold it’ (An History of the Earth and Animated Nature (1774).

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