I was reading an H. 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.” 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. It is common in the West Indies and Central and South America… See QUIT2.
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.”
So I looked it up in the Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage and found the pronuncation given as [ˈbʌna.nʌkwɪt] and the definition “a bird about 3 ins long, dark grey in color, with a yellow breast, a white streak over the eye, and known for its love of ripe bananas and grains of sugar, and in some places also for its warbling or making a ‘cheep-cheep’ sound”—gotta give them props for explaining the “banana” part. Other local names: beany bird (Jamaica), honey-creeper (St Vincent, US Virgin Is), see-see bird (Grenada), sikyé-bird (Trinidad), sugar-bird (Barbados, USVI), and yellow-breast (Antigua, Barbados, USVI). You can see some pictures here.