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Bird Watching in Brittany

Birds once enjoyed a rather colourful position in the folklore of Brittany. They were often attributed with many marvellous qualities, from guarding the gates of Heaven to doing the bidding of witches. However, it was their capacity for predicting the future that bestowed these creatures with such noted significance in the mind of the Breton peasant who looked upon the flight and calls of birds as augurs from the natural world much as the ancient Druids might have done in antiquity.

In yesterday’s Brittany, certain birds were traditionally ascribed to the Devil but they were always inferior imitations of God’s creations. God was credited with the pigeon and the hen while the Devil countered with the magpie and the crow. It is clear from the old saying and proverbs that the Bretons once attributed birds with quite particular characteristics. The wren was said to think highly of itself, believing itself to be a much bigger bird than its diminutive size suggested. The chaffinch was viewed as a great singer that celebrated the joy of having escaped the ravages of winter but was also said to mock drunkards and be a little too proud of itself. The lark, in some areas known as “the key of the day,” was thought to soar so high that it often became dizzy and it was said the bird envied the riches it saw covering the land at harvest time. The nightjar was viewed with suspicion and it was even claimed to suckle goats.

thrush - bird - brittany - omen

The thrush was held to be friendly but rather timid, while the pigeon was the epitome of tenderness but, as with man, it was a trait subject to many lapses. The farmyard rooster was regarded as a cynical philosopher that laughed at everything, including itself, whereas the humble blackbird was said to have no other concern than thinking about its next meal. Migratory birds such as the cuckoo and woodcock were thought to exchange gossip and news of events that the other might have missed during their sojourn in warmer climes.

Birds of ill omen once soared across the skies of Brittany; the sparrowhawk was considered the bird of death and was said to fly around a house and knock on the window to announce an impending demise. To hear the call of an owl near one’s house also signalled the approach of death, while the croaking of a crow flying about you heralded the death of a family member. Likewise, a magpie landing on the roof announced that someone would die in the house, while two magpies flying away to your left heralded misfortune but three magpies jumping together on a road presaged the passing of a funeral in the near future. The magpie was once also viewed as a thief and a rogue; washerwomen claimed that the bird stole their soap, while some farmers accused it of stealing chicks and ducklings.

Sparrowhawk - Bird of Death - Brittany - omen

To hear a rooster crowing in the afternoon was thought to herald great joy or great sadness but crowing at night was a sign of impending misfortune or death. Similarly, a rooster crowing all around you was taken as a warning that your last hour was near. Hens too were once seen as augurs; if the hen sang before the rooster, bad luck would soon fall upon the household but if, after being entangled in straw, the hen had a strand remaining attached to its tail, it was taken as a sign that the household would soon be plunged into mourning.

In undertaking any important business or journey, it was essential to take account of any signs encountered along the way, as these would indicate whether your enterprise was likely to be successful or not. Misfortune was sure to strike if you chanced upon a magpie or crow but you could draw great encouragement if you happened across a pigeon or a goose in flight.

Birds of Bad Omen - Owl and Magpie - omen

Not all birds were harbingers of doom; several were welcomed near the home and regarded as good omens by the household. The most important of which was probably the little wren; an auspicious bird who featured in two old Breton legends. It was told that the wren gave the gift of fire to the world; carrying fire from Heaven to earth, it realised that its wings were starting to burn and so entrusted the flame to the robin, whose breast feathers also caught alight. The lark flew to their aid and eventually succeeding in bringing the precious gift of fire to the earth. Another legend tells that the robin followed Christ on the Road to Calvary and that having seen a thorn sink into his forehead, the bird gently removed it; the robin’s red breast forever marked by Christ’s blood. It was also said that the colour of the bird’s eggs changed from that day onwards on account of its compassion for Christ.

In spring, hearing the first cuckoo call of the year was a propitious occasion and taken as an omen of impending good fortune. However, hearing the bird sing near one’s house was taken as a very bad sign. A number of superstitions once surrounded the power inherent in hearing the first cuckoo song of the year. It was said that if you carried any coins in your pocket at that moment then you would be free of any financial worries for the year ahead. Curiously, it was also once thought that the earth that stood under one’s right foot at that moment, when scattered about the house, possessed the power to drive out fleas.

Those suffering with rheumatism were advised to roll over on the floor upon hearing the first cuckoo in order to be free of pain over the coming year. In eastern Brittany, folk claimed that those who relieved themselves while the cuckoo sang would also suffer a physical disturbance immediately thereafter. It was also believed in the same region that those who heard the cuckoo sing on an empty stomach were destined to not satisfy their appetite for the rest of the year.

cuckoo - bird - brittany - omen

Young couples would listen attentively to the cuckoo’s call as the number of songs sung by the bird indicated the number of years separating them from marriage. Older people would also listen keenly as the number of songs heard was also said to foretell how many years separated them from death.

In summer, the swallows that built their nests against the house were considered good luck charms as the birds were thought to only settle against a happy home and their presence was taken as a sign of protection against potential disaster, such as fire or a storm. However, swallow droppings that fell onto the eyes of the members of the household were said to cause permanent blindness.

Bocklin - Ruin by sea - Brittany birds - omen

With the coming of winter, the black-headed gull was regarded as a bird of good omen to the people who lived along the coast of the Bay of Morlaix as its appearance was said to herald a spell of fine weather. Around the north coast town of Paimpol, it was said that when a fisherman died at sea, gulls and curlews visited his former home to announce his death by crying and flapping their wings at the windows. However, around the west coast port of Brest, the gulls that flew around the rocks offshore were believed to be the souls of those who had drowned nearby.

The crowing of the rooster, especially a white feathered one, was a very good omen in Brittany, signalling as it did the dawn and the end of the witches’ power. However, misfortune was sure to follow if white, red and black roosters were kept together in the same henhouse. It was said that if you put a chicken feather together with feathers from red and black roosters into a bowl of milk, a little eight-legged white lizard would be formed but nobody dared to do it anymore because this lizard is insatiable and quickly grows into an uncontrollable dragon.

Eight legged dragon - basilisk - Brittany - omen

Some birds were feared here for the direct danger they reportedly posed to the living. In northern Brittany, an indistinct bird known as Ar Vaou was said to kidnap small children, while in central parts of the region, a bird known as Ar Liketaer enjoyed a similarly sinister reputation but was also said to push children, particularly girls, into rivers. In some districts, this bird was confused with the kestrel whose name in Breton sounds quite similar.

The origins of many of the curious beliefs once connected with birds here are now lost to us. For instance, it was believed that a patient would not die if they were lying on a bed in which there were partridge feathers but if a person was dying it was important to empty their mattress and pillow, lest they contain pigeon feathers, whose presence would make the death a long and agonising affair. Until the Revolution, keeping pigeons was a right reserved for the feudal lord; its meat was the preserve of the nobility and any peasants found with these birds faced heavy sanctions. Unfortunately, the hasty liberalisation of these restrictions led to an unexpected loss of expertise in the breeding of pigeons. Many fanciful explanations were put forward by those unable to understand why birds would not roost; one solution offered to bring about a change in luck was to place a dead man’s skull in the pigeon loft or dovecote.

Skull - pigeon loft - dovecote - brittany - omen

Birds, along with their eggs and ordure, were also a key ingredient in several popular folk treatments for restoring health and vitality to the sick. For instance, around the central town of Rostrenen, a chicken egg was thrown into a sacred spring in hope of being cured of a fever. Another traditional treatment for the same ailment from the same region called for a freshly killed and quartered magpie; two hot pieces of the bird were applied to the kidneys, the other two to the soles of the feet. In the west of the region, the fat of a gull killed on a Friday was rubbed onto the chest of the patient in expectation of curing a fever. For a stubborn fever, a pigeon was cut in half; the pieces being applied to the soles of the patient’s feet with the bird’s head being turned towards the heel.

The application of a freshly killed and halved pigeon was also noted in the treatment of meningitis here. In eastern Brittany, the body of a rooster, killed by having been split in half with an iron axe, was wrapped around the affected area in a cure for oedema. A cure for warts noted in the west of the region called for the sufferer to cut a pigeon’s heart in half and rub the warts with both bloody pieces before tying them together in a fig leaf; as they rotted away, so, the warts were expected to disappear. Eaten on an empty stomach, a roasted woodpecker seasoned with blessed salt was said to restore a man’s vitality .

Death - crow - Brittany - omen

Some healers recommended transferring a fever as an effective, if mean-spirited, treatment. Typically, this involved de-shelling a hard-boiled egg and pricking it in several places. After having soaked it for three hours in the patient’s urine, it was then given to a person of the same gender in the belief that the recipient of the egg would acquire the fever from the patient. In some areas, the film of an egg, placed around the little finger of a feverish patient, was also thought to absorb the fever.

One cure for jaundice called for goose droppings; dried and ground, stirred into a bowl of white wine and drank before breakfast for nine consecutive days. Chicken droppings were used as a poultice against toothache and to prevent the formation of abscesses. This remedy was also believed to combat inflammation but to treat such an affliction, an ointment made of honey and an equal amount of dirt from a swallow’s nest was applied. A poultice made of goose droppings mixed with celery, pepper and vinegar, applied to a child’s neck was regarded as a certain cure for croup.

Another curious remedy noted in the folk medicine of western Brittany involved a cure for ringworm; a ritual that began with the capture of a grey crow while it was building its nest. The bird was then tied to a length of string and lowered to the bottom of a dried-up well where it was kept captive for three days. Each morning, before sunrise, it was essential to challenge the crow with a formula that essentially demanded that it reveal the cure in exchange for its freedom. It was said that the remedy would be found at the end of the third day, having been left near the well by the captive’s kinsfolk to secure its deliverance. This plant was frogbit; a small floating plant resembling water lily and it was rubbed on the patient’s head for seven days each morning before breakfast as a cure. However, the treatment was believed only effective if delivered to the patient by birds.

Vereshchagin - Apotheosis of war - bird spells - brittany - omen

A legend tells that King Arthur and his queen were staying at one of their estates in Brittany when he was kidnapped by Morgan le Fey Arthur and taken to Île Aval (Avalon) where she offered him her love and eternal life. A powerful enchanter, Morgan’s magic kept the king imprisoned on the isle until he asked her for the favour of being able to review his kingdom; a request she granted on condition that Arthur was transformed into a crow.

There are many other Breton stories in which the human soul escapes from the body to take on the form of a bird, such as an owl or a petrel. Most popularly it was in the form of a lark that the soul was said to ascend to Heaven to receive its judgement; the soul of the just entered without difficulty, while that of the outcast fell down into Hell. Around the northern town of Tréguier, it was once believed that the lark was responsible for opening the door of Heaven to the souls of the dead; the bird was said to have made two trips each day, in the morning for those who died at night and in the evening, for those who died during the day.

Crows - Brittany - Harasimowicz - omen

According to one Breton legend, after the end of the Great Flood, the earth was found bereft of any water. God ordered all the birds to go to Paradise to take a drop of dew from the trees that grew there and to return and deposit it in a place shown to them. The birds obeyed and in a few moments the rivers began to flow again and the sea was filled. The woodpecker, which alone had refused to disturb itself, was condemned never to quench its thirst in the waters of the land and that is why it strikes its beak against the trees; hoping to find the dew drop that it once refused to seek in Paradise.

Feeding on insects that live in the bark of trees, the woodpecker is armed with a beak suitable for attacking the bark. The habits of this bird seem to have preoccupied the minds of the Bretons of yesterday: how could such a modest creature make such perfect cavities in very hard timber? Clearly, it required recourse to the marvellous and observation of the bird’s habits showed that, in the course of its labours, it often flew down into the meadows. Eager to formulate a conclusion, the Breton peasants thought that the woodpecker went to sharpen its beak on a special plant; Woodpecker Grass. This legendary plant was said to be extremely small and rare; found growing only in certain damp meadows and in the trunks of ancient trees. Legends tell that whoever finds it can use it to sharpen any metal for it defies the best grindstone; a sickle sharpened by it, cuts like a steel razor.

Green Woodpecker - legends - Brittany - omen

Other fantastic stories once attempted to explain the behaviours of certain birds. For instance, it was said that the reason why the nest of the curlew was so hard to find was because Christ had rewarded the bird for having warned the Holy Family of an approaching storm that would have wrecked the vessel they had chartered for their escape to Egypt.

Some legends tell that many familiar birds were once coloured pure white. For example, the crow was said to have once presented itself before God holding in its beak a piece of human flesh; angered, God condemned it to be the blackest of birds. Likewise, the blackbird’s beak was changed due to its greed; it having dipped its beak in a mound of gold that it had been forbidden to touch.

Who killed cock robin - birds in witchcraft - brittany

Having enjoyed such privileged positions in the local legends and folk medicine of Brittany, it is not surprising to note that birds also once featured in the witchcraft of the region. In eastern Brittany, the magpie was believed to obey witches and to serve as their messenger when they wanted to cast spells without being seen. The eye of a swallow, if placed under someone’s bed, was noted as an effective means of denying that person the ability to sleep but other spell books claimed that the same result was also assured if only the nest of the bird was used. A more sinister spell required that the blood of a hoopoe be sprinkled over a wig newly made from the hair of a hanged man; after the recitation of certain charms, the wearer of this headpiece was said to be granted with the power of invisibility.

The importance of certain birds to the popular imagination was attested here right up to the end of the 19th century. This was over eleven hundred years after the Council of Leptinnes, called by Charlemagne in 743, denounced those that drew omens from birds, those that paid attention to the song of certain birds and cautioned people against belief in the superstitions relating to small birds.

Published by Bon Repos Gites

Enjoying life in Kalon Breizh - the Heart of Brittany.

163 thoughts on “Bird Watching in Brittany

      1. 🪶The chaffinch was viewed as a great singer that celebrated the joy of having escaped the ravages of winter but was also said to mock drunkards and be a little too proud of itself. 🪶

        Such a cheeky small passerine bird. But what a survivor. Wonderful feathers too.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Many of us still do, but because we give ourselves the quiet time to think. A person with their nose always buried in entertainment is not thinking, but imbibing someone else’s thoughts.

      Liked by 3 people

  1. This is a very exciting and interesting article.
    Some things I knew, many things are totally new to me.
    The picture with the sheep, the lamb and the carrion crows has touched me very much.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. A wonderful subject and narrative Colin. I love birds and found this so intriguing, particularly the fate of the Blackbird and how it came to be a “black “ bird . These beguiling creatures are prime subject for folklore and witchcraft and are perhaps one of poetry’s most used metaphor ( it is for me). Thank you for the enchanting stories and beautiful art. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks for your kind words Holly! 🙂 I am glad that you enjoyed the read! I know what you mean about the imagery of the carrion crow! Funnily enough, I was surprised at the lack of folklore surrounding the raven here – perhaps I should keep looking! 😉


  3. So awesome and inspiring photography and true story of Bird Watching in Brittany 🌷🙏👍🏻
    Evil birds and grace birds also living this earth , our ancestors advised owls are bad omen,
    but most beautiful birds in this earth ,it’s scary sound brings unhappiness in life believes 😒
    Crows are most likely because our ancestors still living in crows, our believe🙏👍🏻😊
    Inspiring photos of the birds ,especially the lamb make sound photo is scary 😡
    Ancestors descendants crows are in good Omans , and divine birds always , believing 👏
    Grace wishes dear friend and happy weekend 🌷🙏♥️🌷

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind wishes – they are much appreciated! 🙂
      Agreed, the belief that the dead remain close to the earth in the form of birds was quite widespread and I can understand why. The ability to fly must have seemed so magical in days gone by! Well, I am still impressed by it! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. People lived in closer contact with these creatures once. Today if I look out my window, I can only see the criminality of gangs of crows, the pigeons’ intense desire to find a nest, and a parakeets’ disdain for thing man-made.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reading the title I expected quite a different topic, I subscribe to a number of birding blogs and thought this might be about modern day birdwatching sites in Brittany. Imagine my surprise!
    Still, as always a lovely read.

    “The wren was said to think highly of itself, believing itself to be a much bigger bird than its diminutive size suggested. ” If you ever watched a wren you will agree. 😉

    Funny story about a sparrowhawk… We live in a second storey appartment and one day there was a knock on my kitchen window. I turned a looked into the yellow-orange eyes of a sparrowhawk. Scared the heck out of me. The bird sat there for a few minutes and after my initial fright I was delighted to have the opportunity to observe it preening.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Apologies for the lack of birdwatching advice but I could not think of a better title! 😉 i am pleased that you enjoyed it anyway! 🙂
      Haha, yes, I know what you mean about the wren! 😉 You were very fortunate with the sparrowhawk! Sadly, I can count on one hand the number of times I have seen them and never as close as your encounter! Must have been an extraordinary experince!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No need to apologise, I have some books about birding in Brittany and found plenty of fantastic sites on our travels.
        It was just one summer a few years ago that a sparrowhawk visited the farm on a few occassions. Usually to snatch tits and blackbirds at my feeder… still, live and let live. And yes, I never expected to come so close to a sparrowhawk, it was incredible. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hmm … now do I need a lure? 😉 Only kidding! If I tried to use them as bait, they would surely get their revenge! Every hear, house martins fly into the house or else knock themselves out on the glass! No need to antagonise them further! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much! I am happy that you liked it! 🙂 Haha, yes, the swallow droppings is such a strange thing to have stayed around long enough for someone to have noted it down! What are the odds?? 😉


    2. Fascinating post. I wasn’t aware of the importance of birds in Breton folklore and magic. A bird who kidnaps children is very similar to the myth of Lilith turning into an owl and doing the same in Hebrew folklore. Swallow droppings causing blindness is what happened to Tobit Sr. in the apocryphal Book of Tobit. Although his blindness wasn’t permanent when he rubbed his eyes with the ointment made from the gall and liver of a certain fish when burnt (whose fumes and smoke were also good for driving demons away to Egypt where they could be bound and buried in the desert by the Archangel Raphael). As always interesting and informative are your posts. I now know what feathers I should put into a saucer of milk should I want to summon an 8 headed lizard (OR was that an eight legged lizard?) I guess I’ll find out.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Many thanks for saying so! I am very happy that you enjoyed it! 🙂
        Thanks also for that very interesting bit of information regarding Tobit! I was not familiar with that before and can only now assume that that is where this particular superstition originated!! I had found it particularly bizarre but a Biblical precedent would seem to make perfect sense.
        Haha, …. be careful!!! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Fascinating. I love watching birds and must agree that crows are the devils own. I hate them and their incessant cawing with a passion. The crows here are so prolific, they have even driven the magpies and jays out. As to goose poop in white wine, not drinking that. I am sure the wine would taste like S—. 😁Thanks for sharing the post. Happy Sunday. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are most welcome Allan! Thank you for reading it! 🙂 You have taken some wonderful photos of birds but I cannot recall too many crows! 😉 I do love jays though! 🙂
      Ha, no, that is definitely a vintage that we can do without!
      Stay well! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I love bird watching! So many unusual tales and I like the amazing art as well. I’m really happy my dentist didn’t read this or he might have instructed me to use bird droppings instead of salt water for my toothache. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I suppose that their ability to fly marked them out as special to other creatures and then their sheer diversity must have made the early folk wonder? I agree that it is remarkable how firmly sentrenched such magical views lasted!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Lyssy! 🙂 Ha, yes, you are right! Perhaps we should all disconnect from the smart phones for a while to absorb our surrounding! Although I do believe that there is an app that helps identify birdsong! 😉


  8. Wonderful images. I love every sort of bird and I am not surprised there have been so many superstitions about them. I think they are very special creatures. I didn’t know that about Charlemagne. I wonder why he felt so strongly all the way back then?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I am very happy that you liked this one! 🙂
      Charlemagne being the first large scale ruler since the decline of the Roman empire I think felt it his pious duty to contain the vestiges of pre-Christian beliefs that still flourished in his nominal empire! Luckily, it is his proscriptions that give us a good idea of what the non-Christians were still believing in those days. 😉


  9. The picture of the crows waiting to eat the deceased lamb…well, that’s what they do. Start feeding it and it might bring you gifts. It might also communicate to other crows that you’re a friend to crows. Or just about any bird will do that. : )

    Now that rooster dragon is a sight to see.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is quite a striking image isn’t it? I know that it is part of the natural order of things but it somehow captures the parental anguish beautifully.
      Ha, yes, that creature is such an odd looking one, drawn I believe in the 16th century.
      Keep well! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, it is a macabre picture, but sadly nature is not always as beautiful as a rainbow. Yes, it captured the ewe’s grief. I have seen drawings of something similar to the dragon rooster. I believe it’s called a cockatrice, but no, these drawings didn’t have eight legs.

        Liked by 2 people

  10. I love pigeons ❤️🐦 my grandfather raised pigeons and raced them ❤️ sooo cool

    Your sparrow hawk is how I feel about crows – I do not want crows landing in my yard – if are exactly 3… someone in your life will die 😮

    Hey so maybe those ideas aren’t totally dead (sorry for the pun) … but some superstition kinda sticks sometimes 😘✌️ 🤷‍♀️ when you see it happen more than twice … then it makes you nervous and you believe

    Funny how that is??

    Ugh I would never want to have a fever – that’s for sure!!

    I really love how when you tell about the old beliefs you also explain the details and give it depth 👏❤️

    The old beliefs you speak of are very cool because they have a touch of a magic life to them…

    Some of them are slightly dark or disturbing lol

    But all are quite magical and imaginative – and then sometimes those things carry on depending on depth of belief … I totally believe my crow thing 😮✌️

    Totally want the invisibility!!! I don’t know I would go that far though? I would probably give up that want lol ✌️

    But you also know that saying… the more things change, the more they stay the same

    Just funny how are from yesteryear – so long ago … but yet I have my crow belief ?? So 🤷‍♀️🤷‍♀️

    My heavenly thought of bird is a dove 🕊

    My favorite bird hmm 🤔 …
    I love hummingbirds – I feel like they are souls of ones you love

    Ok … so maybe I am more medieval than I thought?? 😮😮🤷‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, yes, it is quite easy to retain “old fashioned” superstitions without really realising it! 😉 As you say, all you need is something to happen once more than coincidence and then the brain vaguely recalls something heard long ago and that is enough! 😉

      I like the notion of becoming invisible at will too but not a single one of the many spells that I have come across for it involve anything as simple as just putting on a nice cloak! I shall have to keep looking! 😉

      Thank you for reading and I hope the black widoes stay away! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha yes – funny the things we retain or what our minds believe

        Hahaha yeah I have been waiting on that cloak for years lol – I am still waiting

        I hope the black widows stay away too – I wonder what kinda omen that is? 😮

        I would say they are the devils creation … they have a red hourglass ⏳ on their belly to warn you, they can be deadly, and eww just the look of them all shiny

        Yes totally hoping they stay away!!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Funnily enough, there is little mention of spiders in local lore here. To see a spider spinning was said to be a sign of good luck, as was seeing a cobweb in the barn. Even their use in folk medicine is rather pedestrian – webs to stop bleeding etc. I guess that yours being literally fatal that the lore is simple – stay clear or run!! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Interesting …

        Well to kill a spider is bad luck – but ya know – I can not adult well there ✌️ shaky at best – they can be huge!!! Omg and poisonous ☠️ so yeah I do not adult well with them ✌️

        I have heard the superstition about seeing cobweb in barn.

        I googled spider tales or lore and found this interesting :

        (If won’t let you see?? Is website about different cultures with some kind of tale or lore)

        Yeah you do not want to see a black widow and then have to be the one to be the adult 😝😝 omg

        I can handle SOME gentle kind chill spiders

        … these black widow spiders must be devils doing since they can kill you? And their hourglass is red …

        Wasn’t the color red believed to be a sign of caution or danger?

        Google says you also have Black Widows? Is that true?

        Liked by 1 person

      4. That is one challenge that we do not have here, thankfully. We get very big spiders but they are harmless. I would call them field spiders but have no idea of their proper name 😦 There are Black Widows in the far south of France I believe bit have not heard of any up here. It is probably too cold and wet for them! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I am very happy that you found it of interest and that you also liked the accompanying paintings! 🙂 Yes, a lot of attention paid to birds but surprisingly little to big birds like eagles and harriers or swans and herons.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, yes! I love that notion too! 🙂 There is a wonderful logic to it and I kinda like the idea of them discussing whose crops were planted late and the comings and goings of the human population!
      Thanks for reading Maggie! Keep well! 🙂


  11. Loved this chapter especially because I love and feed birds. When I was younger I had 2 ravens ( even with their bad reputations they are wonderful pets that can fly free) I raised both that had fallen from the nest and I fed them meat,especially hamburger with my finger acting as the beak of their mother..:) I taught them both how to fly..throwing them up in the air many (many!!) times until they finally took off.. but they stayed close..played in our yard , hid treasures in stumps of the trees and I trusted them to the point of letting them preen my eyelashes when I closed my eye(a signal I wanted preening) They stayed close by for over a year…and I lost track of them..I choose to believe they found a flock of their own, but I never really knew…A very sad moment to realize, they had probably gone forever. Now I have a feeding station right outside my window…and to exaggerate,hundreds of birds feed there every day on papayas and bananas…Such a joy and every day is fascinating.. Thank you again for all the tales and superstitions about them, and I must look for that woodpecker sharpener..we have several drilling trees in our yard.:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is a wonderful story!! Ravens are such impressive birds and also so big! To have successfully reared two was quite an achievement and to trust their ability for delicate touching just remarkable!!
      Your feeding station sounds wonderful! I bet it is a joy to sit at your window and watch them all! 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh it really is..and my whole family rejoices when the migratory birds begin to arrive in mid October..It’s like welcoming home students who went to study in the States and now return with us for the “winter” in our case, just the dry season…where they will stay until March. Ravens are very big..if you have an email I will send you a picture from long ago:)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Birds migrating must have formed such a big part of people’s superstitions years ago! Sadly, all we have left here are stories that they overlapped briefly to update on the events of the summer/winter. There must have been far more once!
        You should be able to pull my email from my Gravatar profile. If not, it’s my site name as one word at gmail com. 😉


  12. What does it mean when two vultures sit on the metal chimney cap and crush it? Bretons would think we are doomed! Very interesting to read about birds in Brittany. Our great horned owls have arrived from the North – a lovely sound to hear at night.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Vultures? I think the humble Breton would have said “That’s it, the end is nigh. We leave for the New World in the morning!” 😉
      Like you, I love to hear the owls at night. I find it quite comforting!
      I am pleased you enjoyed this one and thank you for reading it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Not only is the information always interesting and well written, but you introduce me to wonderful paintings that I’ve never seen before.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Goat suckling bird. That’s a new one! And a rather creepy image. I gotta agree with another post, they did have soaring imaginations.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. 🦉Breton peasant🦉

    Oh yes I remember you wrote about thr Breton Peasant some time back.

    I am wishing to catch up with some of your blogs and I just noticed some are not accessible anymore. I’m sad.

    Oh well I shall savour this one through the course of the day.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. 🪶The farmyard rooster was regarded as a cynical philosopher that laughed at everything,🪶

    Lol, I can well believe the tales about this cock 🤣
    Always hanging at the hens’ pen spitting bars.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. 🪶With the coming of winter, the black-headed gull was regarded as a bird of good omen to the people who lived along the coast of the Bay of Morlaix as its appearance was said to herald a spell of fine weather🪶

    I love this, sadly it is a rare vagrant to the wetlands of southern Africa, where I come from.

    🪶Ar Vaou🪶, such a pest

    🪶It was said that if you put a chicken feather together with feathers from red and black roosters into a bowl of milk, a little eight-legged white lizard would be formed but nobody dared to do it anymore because this lizard is insatiable and quickly grows into an uncontrollable dragon.🪶

    Oh goodness who lays them in milk. Terrifying. Poor Dragon.

    🪶The magpie was once also viewed as a thief and a rogue;🪶

    We have many of these birds sitting in high places these days.

    🪶To hear the call of an owl near one’s house also signalled the approach of death, 🪶

    You must have the trees to house them. I well believe

    🪶It was told that the wren gave the gift of fire to the world; carrying fire from Heaven to earth, it realised that its wings were starting to burn and so entrusted the flame to the robin, whose breast feathers also caught alight.🪶

    What an amazing little bird, such a tiny species to carry the fire.
    The wren is also associated with well-being and healing in the cosmetic product industry.

    I’m far from finish,
    Duty calls
    Have a tweet day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Some of the associations have a kind of sense to them but, as you said, it is often tied to place, such as windy seashores or trees close to houses.

      I did not know that about the wren and thank you for telling me of it!

      Hope the rest of your day goes well! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly, like with Brittany location is important so birds in this region would be given different meanings. In other areas it maybe how the wind blows or how the foxes trot, most impressionable though is the flight or call of the birds.
        The pigeon or dove have their own tales in cities and vilages all over the world. A common bird to all of us.
        You are welcome, thank you, wishing you a pleasant day too 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s so true, we are each others eyes in this world.
        Also each other’s minds.
        So we begin to see with new eyes and think with different minds
        When they pinpoint theirs.
        Love what you said there. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  18. Birds are so so creepy! Don’t let your kids watch The Birds too early! Don’t get me wrong, Mingoes, Suit Birds, Peacocks … all great. Most of the others, plain creepy! Bird watching I will never understand.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Another great post. We have a wren around here, robins, the odd jay, black collared doves, seagulls, magpies, some distant owls, sparrows, woodpeckers and a few more. That sheep
    mourning its lamb! Made me sad, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks Gwen! I am happy that you liked it! 🙂 We have jays here too and I must say that they, alongside the woodpeckers, are my favourite small birds. The peregrine falcons and harriers never stay in the garden long enough for me to admire them!
      Isn’t that such a wonderful image?? Really captures that raw emotion!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. I can see why the Druids of old observed and listened to the songs of birds: useful in watching the changing of seasons. Poor crows and magpies! Given a bad wrap for their intelligence, sense of play and communication.

    I’ve always found it odd the in the Bible, it warned against listening to the wisdom and folklore of men…. Yet Christianity had created its own folklore: birds being certain colours for divine reasons and such.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed. I can quite see how the flight and songs of birds were taken as signs to be read. Haha, yes, and some humans still fear intelligence in others! 😉
      Ah, such contradictions are everywhere, especially in folklore 😉 I often find the contradictions as interesting as the lore itself.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. I don’t know if it was an omen, but a few years ago while driving home on the highway, I saw what had to be a hundred hawks circling over the field to the side of the road. I’d never seen so many hawks/birds of prey in one place, and I haven’t since. I didn’t know what to make of it, but coincidentally (?) a major decision I’d just decided to go ahead with ended up not working out (it was probably for the best). I used to love birds, but the more I observe them, the more I realize what vicious little creatures they are. We should probably be glad cats keep their numbers down; otherwise, I can see them banding together against us at some point (kidding…mostly)! Thanks for this post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My Goodness – that was a lot of hawks in one place!! I think I have only ever seen two or three together. I wonder what was going on?? I can easily see how that might give you pause for thought and can just imagine what folks a few centuries ago would have thought!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It was quite amazing to see! I’m still not sure what was going on, but I feel bad for any prey animals in the area. I think people in the past would’ve had a field day trying to make sense of it all 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  22. I’m terrified of birds so all the omens just make sense to me… like I can be out walking then there’s a fucking legion of crows and I feel the murder coming 🤣🤣🤣🤣 every time

    They’re beautiful! Just far far away from me.

    But the magpies? Three of them jumping in the road- how many people have seen this though? 🤣🤣🤣

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can see what you mean, a murder of crws can seem quite threatening if they are in good voice! 😮
      Ha, yes, that’s the beauty of some of the old omens; they are so precise that they seem deliberately rare or plentiful! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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