a summer of symbolism continues…
- A little bird told me.
- I wanna fly like an eagle.
- The falcon cannot hear the falconer.
- He’s a chicken.
- He dresses like peacock.
- They’re acting like vultures!
- Twitter & tweets!!
Our language is rife with bird proverbs and metaphors.
Without further ado, here’s a continuation of Birds of a Feather: O thru W
Ostrich: To Babylonians this bird was considered evil incarnate. Zoroastrians deemed it divine. Its feather symbolized truth to Ancients Egyptians.
Owl: This night-flying bird of prey is associated with wisdom, witchcraft, and death.
Parrot: Polly wanna symbol? This tropical bird represents mimicry and love. Natives believes the bird carries prayers and delivers omens.
Peacock: The plumage of the male bird inspired an eyeful of symbolism. The strutting bird suggests beauty, love, vanity, and royalty.
Pelican: Myths contend that its young suckle blood from mama pelican’s breast–making the bird a symbol of charity and love.
Raven: Quoth the raven, “Nevermore.” Symbolic of dark and evil omens, the bird ( 2 of them, actually) hung out with Odin, the hunky Nordic god of war. Native Americans see this bird as a trickster.
Robin: Like most birds with red plumage, the robin is a symbol of the blood that flowed from Christ’s thorny crown.
Rooster: It’s too obvious, the fighting cock is symbolic of masculinity, dominance, and courage. Its image is ubiquitous on Shinto prayer drums. The rooster was a sacred bird to both Greeks and Romans.
Quail: A bird of many symbols, a caged quail symbolizes a trapped soul. It is the bird of eroticism, and the courageous fighting bird of the Romans.
Sparrow: The bird of St. Francis, the sparrow represents one’s lowly station in life.
Stork: This is the sacred bird of the Greek goddess of childbirth, Hera. It’s no surprise then where the old “stork brought the baby” story got its start.
Swallow: It is the bird of death and resurrection, the bird that heralds springtime, the bird of departure and return (It’s a migratory thing).
Swan: Yes, the ancient relief is disturbing, but we all know the Greek myth. Zeus morphs into a swan and ravages the lovely Leda. Have no idea then why the swan symbolizes beauty and purity. The one-mate-for-life swan also symbolizes fidelity.
Vulture: A bird that feasts on carrion should symbolize death–and it does. But the scavenger also represents purification. Those in Tibet viewed the birds as transporters of the dead’s souls.
Wren: This wee tiny bird is symbolic of spirit, and known ironically as The King of Birds.
Note: I teach literary analysis ( must pay the bills) and remind my students to look closely at the symbolism in a novel. Why did the author include that fruit? Or name the character Neil? Why is the protagonist sitting under a pear tree? Why is her dress blue? Before jumping to any symbolic conclusions however, we look at the symbol in context of setting, history, and culture.
For more information on literary analysis click On Writing/For Teachers/ to see Elements of a novel. The Art of Fiction, and How to Read Like a Literature Professor.
Or click Blog Archive/Sassy Scholar
Related Links: Bugs; Fruit of the Gods; Tree of Life; Sacred Spices; Foods of Life; Birds of a Feather #1;Gems & Jewels #1; Gems & Jewels #2