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288183.  Sat Mar 01, 2008 12:31 pm Reply with quote

eggshaped informs us (post 127625) that:
Macaroni penguins get their name from the yellow plumage on their heads. Macaroni was a nickname for any flash, overdressed young man who wore feathers in his cap (a style copied from Italy).

... which explains why Yankee Doodle put a feather in his cap and called it macaroni.
Used after c.1764 to mean "fop, dandy" (the "Yankee Doodle" reference) because it was an exotic dish at a time when certain young men who had traveled the continent were affecting Fr. and It. fashions and accents. There is said to have been a Macaroni Club in Britain, which was the immediate source of the term.


288185.  Sat Mar 01, 2008 12:34 pm Reply with quote

1611, form of verse consisting of vernacular words in a Latin context with Latin endings; applied loosely to verse in which two or more languages are jumbled together; from Mod.L. macaronicus (coined 1517 by Teofilo Folengo), from It. dial. maccarone (see macaroni), in allusion to the mixture of words in the verse: "quoddam pulmentum farina, caseo, botiro compaginatum, grossum, rude, et rusticanum" [Folengo].

289077.  Mon Mar 03, 2008 6:25 am Reply with quote

The big problem with bird collecting, of course, is - how do you kill small birds, and still have enough left to be worth mounting? A tit isn't a dodo; you can’t walk up to it and strangle it. And if you shoot it, you’re going to blow it to smithereens.

So, bird collectors of the 19th and early 20th century invented a thing called “sparrow dust” ... you remove the lead shot from your cartridges, and replace it with sand or dust. A blast of that would kill the little bird, but leave it in a good enough state for stuffing.

S: The Northumbrian magazine (date uncertain; sometime in 2007).

289270.  Mon Mar 03, 2008 11:54 am Reply with quote

Some Folk names for Long-Tailed Tits ...

Long-tailed Pie; French Pie; Milithrum; Hedge Mumruffin; Ragamuffin; Juffit; Fuffit; Long-tailed Chittering; Jack-in-a-bottle; Bottle Tom; Bottle Tit; Bag; Poke; Poke Bag; Pudding Poke; Puddney Poke; Feather Poke; Oven Bird.

s: Bird Table magazine, Winter 07

298138.  Tue Mar 18, 2008 1:09 pm Reply with quote

This thread brings to mind Billy Cotton's Band Show on the radio in about 1959, and the man himself singing the so-called Cockney anthem Forty Fahsend Fevvers on a Frush.

Product details here.

However, it seems that music-hall songs can exaggerate. Thrushes actually have between 1500 and 3500 feathers.

299981.  Fri Mar 21, 2008 3:08 pm Reply with quote

This might be a nice sign-off. Sam Goldwyn on Shakespeare:
Fantastic. And all written with a feather.

Or something on those lines.

(potential topic link between feathers and ff, via medieval quill pens).

300884.  Sun Mar 23, 2008 1:37 pm Reply with quote

Prompted by a discussion on the outer forums, I looked up peacock feathers. These are considered unlucky in European cultures because of the eye-like markings on the tail, and the association with the 'evil eye' in the Mediterranean. However, in Greece, a pair of peacocks drew Hera's chariot and peacocks were kept at her temples, and in Rome they were Juno's birds and found on coins as a symbol of female royalty.

In the iconography of European alchemy, the peacock represents the soul. In Christianity, it stands for immortality and the incorruptibility of the soul. It is also a solar symbol because of the likeness of the sun's rays and the circular fan of the displayed tail.

In Asian cultures peacocks are considered auspicious and protective.

In both the Hindu and the Buddhist traditions, the peacock's influence is mainly in the realm of worldly appearance, so the Mother-of-Buddhas, Mahamayuri-vidyarajni has a peacock as her vehicle, which seems to me to bear a striking resemblance to their use for Hera and Juno.

A standard made of peacock feathers used to indicate the presence of a 19th-century rajah, whose power is worldly.

In the old Chinese bureaucratic system, members of the third highest level displayed a peacock as the insignia of rank. These badges were in the form of large embroidered squares applied to the front of an official's formal gown.

Peacocks are considered sacred in India, especially in the north where its feathers may be burnt to ward off disease, and even to cure snakebite.

In Hindu legend, at the time of Creation of the universe, when the primordial poison was churned out of the Sea of Milk and transmuted into the amrita of immortality, a peacock absorbed the negative effects. Thus the bird is thought of as a protector, though its flesh is consequently considered to be poisonous (actually, it isn't, and was often served at mediaeval banquets - it apparently bears a resemblance to pheasant).

The legend of the origin of the peacock's beautiful and distinctive colouring is that one day Indra, the King of Gods was battling Ravana, the Demon King. The peacock, which in those was plain brown, used its tail to make a screen to hide Indra, who rewarded it for its compassion by giving it its jewel-like plumage.

In The Kama Sutra that, if a man wishes to appear attractive to others, he can wear a peacock's bone covered in gold tied to his right hand.

Since anger is depicted as a serpent, and the peacock was thought to be immune to poison, the peacock also symbolizes victory over poisonous tendencies in humans. The translated title of a Tibetan classic text by Dharmarakshita for training the mind is Peacock in the Poison Grove .


302037.  Tue Mar 25, 2008 5:52 am Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
It is also a solar symbol because of the likeness of the sun's rays and the circular fan of the displayed tail.

Grrr! Everyone knows that the impressive feathers on a peacock are its train, not its tail. It's tail feathers are short, brown, and uninteresting.

302148.  Tue Mar 25, 2008 8:49 am Reply with quote

Oh bah and pish tush! Anybody could make that mistake. And I did.

<hangs head in shame>

312036.  Mon Apr 07, 2008 1:27 pm Reply with quote

Q. Why did Captain Cook have no qualms shooting an Albatross for the pot?
A. Captain Cook’s expeditions took place a good twenty five years before Coleridge published The Ancient Mariner – the origin of the myth that shooting an Albatross brought bad luck.

In 1772 Cook wrote:”Shot some Albatrosses and other birds on which we feasted…… and found them exceeding good.”

Interestingly Wordsworth claims credit for seeding the Albatross idea in Coleridge’s mind on a walk together in 1797. He discussed an account he had read of the voyages of Capt. George Shelvocke (an English privateer c. 1719-22) in which his second mate Simon Hatley had shot a disconsolate black Albatross whilst they were rounding Cape Horn. The ship had then suffered six weeks of storms before they were able to make land in Chile. Up until Coleridge’s poem sailors thought nothing of killing an Albatross to eat. There is some evidence that they were considered to be the souls of drowned seamen, but Hatley killed his Albatross because he thought the live bird was an ill omen!

Link to folklore

312037.  Mon Apr 07, 2008 1:27 pm Reply with quote

There are two ‘black’ Albatrosses – the Sooty and the Black-browed. The former is smaller and the more likely candidate for Hatley’s bird. A specimen of the latter strayed off course in the nineteenth century and ended up in the Faroe Islands. It was visited by Walter Rothschild (of Tring) and ended up stuffed in a museum in Copenhagen. In 1967 another Black-browed Albatross was spotted in the Firth of Forth and in the 1970s ended up on Hermaness (where I saw it!). It nested there forlorn amongst the gannets, producing sterile eggs for many a year. I’m glad to say that it has recently been spotted (2005 & subs.) on the small islet of Sula Sgeir (Gannet Skerry), north of Lewis. This as far as I know is the only place to see a wild Albatross in the North Atlantic!

312039.  Mon Apr 07, 2008 1:28 pm Reply with quote

The most fortuitous occurrence with an Albatross I have come across is a report on the vessel Gladstone in 1881. A man fell overboard and managed to grab a passing Albatross to use as a lifebouy. He was subsequently rescued! Shackleton was also please to find them when he arrived on South Georgia – his first good meal in a while!

312040.  Mon Apr 07, 2008 1:29 pm Reply with quote

The Raven is the first bird mentioned by name in the Bible – Noah releases a Raven to see if it could seek out land. It didn’t return so he resorted to the doves. Releasing Ravens at sea is not a bad idea. Floki Vilgerdarson set sail from Norway in about 860 AD with three Ravens on board. A day after leaving the Faroes he released one and watched it climb high, before it turned back to the islands. The following day he released his second bird. It spiralled up before returning to land on the mast. On the third day his last bird set off northwest. Floki followed and found the coast of Iceland. He was not quite the first there, but is credited with naming it Iceland. He is now remembered as Raven-Floki. Ravens are large, non-migratory, land birds. When released at sea they would climb to say 5000 ft and spot land 90 miles away, whilst still being visible from the boat.

312041.  Mon Apr 07, 2008 1:29 pm Reply with quote

Ravens feature big in Norse mythology as Odin had two – named Thought (Huginn) and Memory (Muninn). They brought him news every day (possibly origin of ‘A little bird told me’ although ravens are not little!). ‘Second sight’ is known as Raven knowledge in Scotland. The Raven featured on the banner of several Viking warlords. The collective for these birds is a terror of Ravens.

312042.  Mon Apr 07, 2008 1:30 pm Reply with quote

Of the seven Ravens in the Tower of London, one is called Odin and two more Hugine and Mugine. I think you are aware that ‘England will not fall to any foreign power whilst there are Ravens at the Tower’ is a myth, probably C19th in origin. Dr. Geoff Parnell thinks that they were a punning gift from the Earl of Dunraven. He was an amateur archaeologist and antiquarian, fascinated with Celtic Raven myths. Amongst these is the tale of Bran the Blessed (no relation to Brian I believe). Bran went (in fact waded) over to Ireland to retrieve his sister who was caught in an abusive marriage. He rescued her but was mortally wounded by a poison spear. He asked his companions to cut off his head, take it to White Hill in London and bury it with his face towards France. With this done, according to the Mabinogion (four books of Celtish folklore) “No affliction would come to this island from across the sea, as long as the head was in that concealment.”

Apparently Bran means ‘Raven’ in Cornish, old Irish and Scottish Gaelic. As to where White Hill was, the only reference I can find is to a book by Jennifer Westwood called Albion; a Guide to Legendary Britain. I don’t have the book. However The Tower of London contains the White Tower (so called because it was whitewashed by Henry III) and is on Tower Hill. You can see how The Earl may have thought!


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