Heron
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Source: British Library Digital Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts Copyright Copyright 2004 British Library / Used by permission Manuscript description British Library, Harley MS 4751, Folio 41r


 

Heron

Latin name: Herodius

Other names: Ardea, Erodius

A bird wise above all others

 

 
General Attributes

The heron is a bird that is wiser than all others, because it does not have many resting places, but lives near to where its food is. It nests in high trees, but gets its food from the water. It never eats carrion. It is afraid of rain storms and flies high above the clouds to avoid them; thus when a heron takes flight, it means that a storm is coming. A heron uses its beak to defend the young in its nest from other birds.


Allegory/Moral

The heron signifies those who fear the disorder of the world, and to avoid its storms fly high above it in spirit.


Sources (chronological order)

Lucan [1st century CE] (Pharsalia, book 5, verse 622-635): "...a southern gale, the rest proclaimed / A northern tempest ... the heron used / To wade among the shallows, borne aloft / And soaring on his wings...".

Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 12, 7:21): The heron (ardea) is named as if it were ardua, in flight for others. It is afraid of lightning and so flies above the clouds to avoid the gusts; when it flies high it signifies a storm.


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