Latin name: Hercinia
Other names: Ercinea, Harz bird
A bird with brightly glowing feathers
The hercinia is a bird that is born in the Hercynian forest in Germany, from which it takes its name. It serves as a beacon for travellers because its feathers glow so brightly in the dark that they light up the path.
|Sources (chronological order)|
Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 10, 67): There are reports of a strange bird found in the Hercynian Forest of Germany whose feathers glow at night like fire.
Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 12, 7:31): The hercynian birds are named after Hercynium, a forest in Germany where they live. Their wings glow so brightly that even on a dark night they light the way ahead.
Some illustrations of the hercinia have the bird covered in gold or silver leaf, to indicate its bright glow.