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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in birds

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Minoan Auguries: For the Birds?

Birds abound in Minoan art: swallows (shown above in a detail from the Spring fresco from Akrotiri), doves, partridges, hoopoes, and other birds whose exact species we can't identify. I've looked before at the variety of our feathered friends who appear in the frescoes, statuary, and other Minoan art.

In Modern Minoan Paganism, we associate swallows with Therasia, doves with Rhea, and larks with Korydallos. But how did the Minoans view birds, through the lens of their culture and beliefs?

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The Minoan Menagerie Part 2: Animals of the Sky

Last time, we looked at some of the land animals the Minoans depicted in their art: cattle, monkeys, lions, and so on. Today, we're going to explore the Minoans' images of animals of the sky, the domain of our Sun goddess Therasia - so, essentially, birds, though I think bees also count.

Sometimes it's easy to tell which type of bird is being shown. For instance, that's a swallow flying by some lilies in the image at the top, which is a segment of the Spring fresco from Akrotiri. Here's the whole thing, with quite a few swallows:

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
The Language of Birds

These quarantine times give us medievalists plenty of parallels to draw: times of plague and difficulties of travel -- but the effects are the same on us. Normally I would be with my family in Scotland by this time. There I would be hearing the screams of the gulls, the occasional melodic outburst of a blackbird and the friendly croaks of my beloved magpies.

Now I lie awake in the (earlier every day) dawn light listening to a very different set of birds: sparrows galore, North American robins -- enormous athletic birds so different from the jolly European kind -- finches, wrens, catbirds, four kinds of woodpeckers including the giant pileated woodpecker whose laugh echoes often. The crows come by to eat the corn. The bluejays tend to come in a pack and chatter loudly to one another. In the morning and at dusk you can hear the turkeys gobble.

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White Storks in European Traditions and Stories

"I know the pond in which all the little children lie, waiting till the storks come to take them to their parents."

-Hans Christian Andersen, "The Storks"

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    The local library used to have a book called Australia Dreaming. If I remember correctly it mentioned that the spirits of the unb
  • The Cunning Wife
    The Cunning Wife says #
    That's fascinating!

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Celebrating the Summer Migrants

According to the internet, ‘one swallow does not a summer make’ is a quote that can be attributed to Aristotle. The connection between summer and swallows is clearly a longstanding one. British swallows winter in South Africa. Or, arguably, South African swallows come to the UK to breed. There are many other birds whose migration to the UK at this time of year is part of the coming of summer.

Swifts, swallows and house martins aren’t always easy to tell apart in flight, and at twilight when they hunt for insects, telling them apart from bats can also be tricky. It’s the way the hunter is obliged to follow their prey through the air that means insect eating birds and bats are similar. There’s a rather (accidentally) amusing poem by D.H. Lawrence in which the poet is rather upset that his birds turn out to be bats. You can read that here - https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44574/bat

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
KIWI: Sacredness of Being Contrary

Unable to fly, the kiwi probes about the forest floor looking for tasty bugs. The sensitive hairs around her bill help Her to sense the underground movements of worms. Also, at the end of her curved beak are nostrils for smelling. (This is unusual in birds).

This plump little bird has many features similar to mammals. Like the badgers, She lives in a series of underground burrows that She has dug. In addition, her bristly feathers resemble soft mammal fur. Furthermore unlike other birds, the kiwi has two working ovaries.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Birds and the Elements

Hummingbird (Ruby-Throated): Fire
The Aztecs of Mexico regarded the ruby-throated hummingbird as a warrior. Despite the ruby-throated hummingbird’s delicate appearance, she is a bold, quarrelsome bird who will readily attack any intruder that strays into her territory. With the frenzied beating of her wings, the ruby-throated hummingbird will defend herself with her long beak.

Quail (Old World): Fire
Thought of as stout little birds, Old Word quails are remarkable for their hardiness. When Old Word quails are cold, they form star-shaped bevies (flocks) to receive warmth from each other. For the Chinese, Old Word quails were the Fire Phoenix of Spring and Summer. Among the Hindus, these birds represented the returning Sun.
(Note: Old World quails belong to the pheasant family, while New World quails are in their own Family. They are only distantly related, and are not the same species.)

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