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Ercinee, or hercyniae (singular hercynia) are birds said to live in the Hercynian Forest in Germany. Their plumage glows at night.

Appearance Edit

Ercinee are birds whose feathers glow like fire or sparks[1] in the dark[2]. Their feathers retain their glow even when removed from the bird[3].

In bestiaries, the bird is often accented with gold or silver leaf to demonstrate the shine of their plumage.

Behavior Edit

The birds lived in the Hercynian Forest, which was a massive stretch of woodland in southern Germany, east of the Rhine river. While much of the forest has since been destroyed, the modern day Black Forest is a remnant of the western portion[4].

Travelers through the forest at night would often look to the ercinee for guidance, because their brilliant feathers shone through the darkness[1][5]. The light from even their individual feathers was so bright that they were placed on paths, lighting the way through the woods[3].

Anthropological information Edit

At some point in time the ercinee became conflated with the Bohemian waxwing, also called the Bohemian Jay[5]. This is possibly traced to Thomas Bartholin, who described the two in proximity to one another and added that the waxwing's wing and tail tips glimmered faintly in the night.[6]

Gallery Edit

Similar creatures Edit

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Solinus, C. Julius. Collectanea rerum memorabilium, Berolinum : Weidmann (1895). Pg 96.
  2. Pliny the Elder. The Natural History, Perseus (1855). Book 10, Chapter 67.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Isidore. Etymologies, Cambridge University Press (2006). Pg 266.
  4. Becker, Jeffrey. Hercynian Forest: a Pleiades place resourcePleiades: A Gazetteer of Past Places (2013).
  5. 5.0 5.1 White, Terence Hanbury. The Book of Beasts, UW-Madison Libraries Parallel Press (1954). Pg 130-131.
  6. Bartholin, Thomas. De luce hominum et brutorum, libri III; De lunariis, Matth. Godicchenius (1669). Pg 291-292.