Hercinia
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Source: Kongelige Bibliotek (Bestiarius - Bestiary of Anne Walsh (Gl. kgl. S. 1633 4)) Copyright 2003 Kongelige Bibliotek / Used by permission Manuscript description Kongelige Bibliotek, Gl. kgl. S. 1633 4, Folio 39r


 

Hercinia

Latin name: Hercinia

Other names: Ercinea, Harz bird

A bird with brightly glowing feathers

 

 
General Attributes

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.


Illustration

Some illustrations of the hercinia have the bird covered in gold or silver leaf, to indicate its bright glow.


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