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On the following pages I offer what I have collected of 
the lore of the hoopoe. So far as possible, I shall arrange ray 
material geographically and chronologically. I shall present it 
in the following order: 1. The hoopoe, the crested "bird; 2. the 
hoopoe, the "doctor" (folk-aedicine, magical and similar prac- 
tices and beliefs); 3. the hoopoe, an exponent of filial piety; 
h. the hoopoe, the cuckoo's sexton (der Kuckuckskuster ): 5. the 
hoopoe, the bird that fouls its nest. 

The larger part of the material is presented in order to 
support the claim that the hoopoe in European folklore in general 
and in German folklore in particular belongs where it is placed 
in the Pentateuch: among the birds of abomination.''- Its role in 
the popular poem of the Vogelhochzeit might give rise to the ob- 
jection that the characteristic rhyme Wledehopf - Topf is primar- 
ily responsible for the association of the bird with sexual and 
obscene matters. To be sure, the possibilities of finding a con- 
venient and striking rhyme as well as similar considerations have 
undoubtedly influenced and facilitated the rise and continuance 
of the tradition defining the hoopoe as a "nasty" bird, but, as 
we shall see, these possibilities have not created ab ovo the 
fxindamental conception of the hoopoe as a "nasty" bird. 

I owe thanks to my teacher. Professor Archer Taylor of 
the University of Chicago. He has given freely books, time, in- 
formation, counsel, and that stimulus which one receives from 
contact with a gentleman and scholar. "Deo, parentibus, et 
magistris non potest satis gratiae rependi." 

_ Ley. 11: 19; Deut. iK: IS. Early English translations, 
including the King James' Version, render J^ r) » n«,-i|(dakhiphath) 
with "lapwing"; see International Standard Bible En cyclopedia, 
s.v. "Hoopoe^; J. H.^^ildi, "Etymologi sches, " Zeitschrift der 
deutschen morgenlandis che n aesellschaft . L (1896), 293? 



Chapter Page 









Wiedehopf, Wiedehopf! 
Wei Cher Schmuck sm deinem Kopf. 
Keiner, der die Federn straubt, 
let so schon wie du gehaubt.^ 

The hoopoe ( upupa epops L. ) is an old-word bird. It 
hails from Africa. It seems to be well known on the continent of 
Europe. In England, on the other hand, it is something of a rare 
bird. Modern scientific descriptions of the hoopoe invariably 
mention its erectile crest as an outstanding characteristic. 
Likewise do the scientific and pseudo-scientific zoological and 
ornithological accounts of the ancient and medieval writers tell 
of the crown or crest of this bird. More frequently, however, 
the feathered tuft of the hoopoe is merely alluded to. Since the 
fact that the hoopoe is a crested bird is not of primary impor- 
tance for my purpose I shall confine myself to (l) em enumeration 
of authors and passages, mainly ancient and medieval, telling of 
the hoopoe as a crested bird, and (2) an enumeration of the etio- 
logical accounts, explaining the provenience of the crest. -^ 

(1) The Hoopoe, a C rest ed Bird 
The earliest record of the hoopoe is pictorial. In a 
painting of the Xllth dynasty (ca. 1900 B.C.), the hoopoe recog- 
nizable by its crest is perching with other birds on the Kont- 
bush (Acacia nilotica Del.). This painting is on the walls of 

A. E. Brehra, Das Leben der Vogel . p. 105. 

Royal Natural History . IV (London, 1S95); Brehra ' s Tier- 
leben , ed. Pechuel and Loesche, Vogel . II (Leipzig-Vienna, IS9I) , 
29 f f . ; Wood, Nat. Hist . . II, 200; H. Suolahti, Die deutschen Vo - 
f{elnamen. Eine wortgeschichtliche Untersuchung (Strassburg, 1909), 
pp. 11-15; W. R. Dawson, "The Lore of the Hoopoe," Ibis . 12th ser. 
I (1925), 31-39. 

■^See M. Griinbaum, "Beitrage zur vergleichenden Mythologie 
der Hagada," Z. d. dt. morgenl. Ges . . XXXI TlS77). 206 ff.; Bondi, 
op . cit ., L (1S96), 292 f.; IV (1S50), 59; IX (1855), 596; XXV 

TTgyryr 2i^5. 


the tcmb of Knumhope at Beni Hassan, Egypt. 

In Crete, Sir Arthur Evans discovered a painted frieze 

with pictures of birds and among them the hoopoe. 

Ovid (d. ca, 17 A.D.), Uetam. VI. 67I : Tereus was changed 
"in volucrera, cui stant in vertice cristae." Cf. "facies armata 
videtur" (Metara. V. 672).^ 

Pliny (d. 79 A.D,), Historia Naturalis . Book X, chap. 30 
(- X, 8 66): "upupa. .. .crista visenda plictabili (plicatili), 
contreQiens earn subrigensque per longitudinem capitis"; cf. ibid . . 
XI, § 122: "stymphalidi cirro" — did Pliny picture the Styinphalian 
birds as hoopoes? Cf. Rabelais, Qargant ua und Pantagruel, II, 1 
(ed. G. Regis, Leipzig, 1639), P. ^79. 

Pausanias (d. ISO A.D. ), Graeciae D escr iptio (ed. Hitzig- 
Blueraer), X, k, S: 9^tos 3^vc^ (= t'fo^ ) ^^V^T^^S . ^^^ ^^'^"^ 
Uzli^ irr't^ oVV"^/ ''"' ^f '^^f'^^^ ^^ "^^ "*5^ ^'S'^'f''^ (crest) 

Hesychius (5th cent. A.D. ? ), Lexicon ; (U. « K 4 ^c «^ i' «S 
(having a long crest) troyT' S(M Ctf tjtti/ irl zf^ Kif'^^js H^'^tt'T^ 
Xofoif t<eil H9CVV**co\iy (armed with a plumed helmet) «vro»' XiJ6i>Q'c . 

Isidore (d. 636 A.D.), Etymologiarum Li b. XII; Book VII, 
66: "....cristis extantibus galeata."^ This passage is quoted 
in Hrabanus liauras (d. S56 A.D.), op. II, D e Universe Lib. VIII 
(= lligne, Patrol ogia L atina . CXI, col. 252) and in Nicolai Ferga- 
meni Dialogus Creat u raru m, reprinted in J. G. Th. Grasse, Die 
beide n altesten late ini8chen_Fabel.^uc.her .des Kit tela lters ( "Bibl . 
d. lit. Ver. Stuttg.," GXLVIII [Tubingen, ISSO] ) , dial. 59, PP. 
201-203; dial. 59 adds: "...placide cristata pennisque variata." 
Isidore's source seems to be Hieronyraus, in Zach . . XXV, 1521 

p. 31. ^See Dawson, pp. 39, 593 f. 

•^See E. Oder, "Der Wiedehopf in der griechischen Sage," 
Rheinisc hes Museum . N.F. XLIII (iSSS) , 5^1-56; D'Arcy W. Thompson, 
A Glossary o f Greek Birds (Oxford, 1695), pp. 55 ff. and the allu- 
sions in Brant's Narrenschiff (ed. K. Goedeke), p. 27, line 4-1; 
Jorg 7/ickram, Ovids Metamo rphose n. 6, 22 (ed. Boite, "Bibliothek 
des litterarischen Vereins Stuttgart," CCXXXVII [Tubingen, 1905I , 
p. 297, lines 1476 ff.,). Compare also Aristophanes, Aves, 16: 
tro^r o^^i-S iK to)*' o^Ciwi/; Aelian, de natu ra ajiimalium . XVI, 6; 
C. fe. Kohler, Das Tierleben (Leipzig, 16^177 P. 166." 

^In Thompson, Glossary, p. 112. 

Uigne, Patrolo g ia Latin a. LXXXII, col. 466. 


(=Damigeron, de lapid l bus , in Pitra, A nale ct a sacra II, Sk-k f . 
n. 65 ; cf. Herm. Koir. 20,12).-'- 

Odo de Ciringtonia (fl. ca. llSO A.D.), Fabxilae , LI (lX): 
"varietate colorum distincta et eximie cristata," in L. Herviexix, 
Les Fabulistes Latins (Paris, 1&&H-) , II, 639 (Odonis de Ceritonia 
Fabvdae, ex Bibliothecae Regiae Mon^ce nsis MSo Codice Latino 8356 ) . 

Heinrich von dem Turlln (ca. 1215 A.D.), Diu Cr5ne , ed. 
G. H. F. Scholl ("Bibl. d. lit. Ver. Stuttg.," XXVII Tubingen, 
1252 ), p. 7s, lines 6302 ff . , contains an allusion to crest of 
hoopoe (ze kopfe) . 

Ezzo'ddin Mocadessi (Mohammedajn preacher, born in Jerusa- 
lem, d. 1220) mentions (original in Arabic) hoopoe's crown, 
quoted by 0. Dahnhardt, Nat ur safe-en (Leipzig-Berlin, 1907) , I, 325. 

A crown or crest is also mentioned in Kisa'l's descrip- 
tion of the hoopoe: yellow bill, green feet, beautiful pluraatge, 
rich colors, on its head a crest (Arabic; in G. Salzberger, Die 
Salomo-Sage in der semitischen Literatur. Ein Beitrap: zur 
vergleichenden Sagenkunde (1907), 75). For other Arabic and Per- 
sian references see M. GrCinbaura, Neue Beitrage zur s e mitische n 
Sagenkvmde (Leiden, 1S93),232, 

Seelraann's list 01 bitd assemblies (Vogelsprachen) , 
no. 2 (ca. 15OO) from L;\inich Library: De wedehoppe (says): "Ick 
byn een vogel schone, Ick drage vp mijnen hovede ene kronen." 

Thomas Murner, Die Schelmen Zunfft (1512), no. 32: Der 
unniiz Vogel. The illustration shows a crested bird. Although 
not named, there is abundant evidence that the "good-for-nothing" 
(iinnuz) bird is the hoopoe. Of. J. Scheible, Das Kloster I (this 
is the 1567 edition), 866 f. 

Rabelais, Gargaiitua and Pant apru el (ca. 1532): "verkaselt 
wie ein Widhopf" = "cowled like a hoopoe." Cf. Gargantua und 
Pantagrue l (ed. G. Regis, Leipzig, 1S32), I, 66; II, 1, 97) I. 
817; II > 1. ^0^' looks like a hoopoe because the crest of the 
hoopoe resembles papal tiara. Compare the expression from Laubach 

Der Phys i ologos. Eine re ligions - 

schaftliche Unt er suchung=Ph : 

^uppTemerrb^Band XXII TLeipzig, 1931), P- W, note 11^. 

geschichtlich — naturwissenschaftliche Untersuchung=Ph ilolo gus , 

^In Jahrbuch d . Ver. f. ni e derdeut sche _S}3racjif o r s chung , 
XIV (1888), rr3; this will be referred to henceforth as''3eel3iann's 

(Hunsriick): "sie sidht aus wle ein widop (Wiedehopf ) , " said of a 
girl whose hair does not lie smoothly but stands up from the 
head. Cf. Zeit schrift f ur deutsche Mundarten (1911), P- 235- 

Bartholomeus, de Propr ietatib us Reru jn (London, 1535), 
Book XII, chap. 37: "...the lapwing (=hoopoe) . • .is copped" 
(=crested on the head"), in Dawson, p. 3^- 

Seelmann's List no. 1 (15^1, Stockholm MS): De wedehoppe 
(says): "Ick bin [eii^ voghel ghar schone Und draghe uppe mynem 
havede eyne krone" (in Jahrbuch . p. 135)- 

Burkhard Waldis, Esopus (ca. I55O; 3d ed. , 1557), Die 
LXXVI. Fabel: Von der Wiedhopf fen : "Der Adler, . . setzt die Widhopff 
oben an, Darumb das sie trug eine Kron, Het Federn vieler Farben 
gstalt." Cf. Esopus (ed. H. Kurz, Leipzig, 1S62), I, 266 f.; II, 
no. 76; note in II, IO6 (quotes as source for this fable: Abste- 
mius, 45, ap. Nev. 553, De upupa indigne honorata ) . 

Hans Wilhelm Kirchhof , Wendunmuth (15^3), IV, 6O: "Hoch- 
zeitlich beylager. . . . , darzu auch der widhopff geladen, umb seines 
prachtigen gewandes und koniglichen kronen willen andem vogeln 
weit furgezogen." Cf. Wendunmuth , ed. H. Osterley ("Bibl. d. lit. 
Ver. Stuttg.," XCVIII [1S69] ) , 2S3 f-, VI, 60. 

Meisterlieder der Kolmarer Handschrift (15th cent.?), ed. 
Karl Bartsch ("Bibl. d. lit. Ver. Stuttg.," LXVIII [Stuttgart, 
IS62]), p. 20: "Ein schrift eins vogels list bekennet,/der zuo 
latin ist uppupSL genennet.../ Sin vedern sint mancverwic schOne,/ 
tif zlnem houpt ein angenemen crOne..." 

Johainnes Ravisius Textor, Theatrum Poeticum etc. (Basel, 
1600), p. 9S7: "Epops avicula est . . .cristata"; p. 999: "upupa 
avis cristata. . .cristara habet plicatilem." 

Wolf hart Spangenberg, Gansz-Konig (1607; ed. Ernst Martin 
in Auscewahlte Dichtungen von Wolf hart Spangenberg = Elsassische 
Litteraturdenkmaler aus de m XIV- XVI I. JaJirhundert , ed. by Ernst 
Martin euad Erich Schmidt, Vol. IV [Straszburg, 1S37] ) , lines 326- 
330 : the birds are electing a king, "Die Landleut aber zu der 
fahrt/ Wehlen zura Konig den Widhopff: Weil er auch tregt auff 
seinem kopff/ Ein Cron/ die jhra sein Haupt bedeckt/ Damit er 
auch raajnchen erschreckt .* See also R. Wossidlo, Mecklenburgische 
Volksuberlief er\Angen , II, 1 (Wismar, 1^99), note to no. 9^7 on 

pp. 391 f. 

Das geist li che Vogel-Gesang (17th cent., Seelmann's List 
no. 17): "Der Widhopf . . .Sein Cron er allzeit rait sich fuhrt." 


This is, substantially, the same as the Wiedehopf -strophe in Pes 
Knaben ^ffunderhorn (ed. Birlinger-Crecelius, II, ^5); cf. also 
Wackernagel, Voces variae animantixmi , p. 130, no. 35- 

Vogel-Schul (1700, Breslau = Seelraann's List, no. IS): 
"Mit schonen Federn ist die Widhopff zwar gezihrt." 

Oedipodicinia seu Sphingis aenigmata . • .per P. Franciscxim a 
S. Barbara e Scholis Piis (Oppau, 1732): "Rex fueram, sic crista 
probat..." This is no. 959 of this riddle-collection. The answer 
is upupa . 

Groethe, Westostlicher Divan. Buch der Liebe . "Gruss" : 
"Hudhud (- hoopoe) lief einher, Die Krone entfaltend." Cf. von 
Loeper's note, Goethes Werke , Vierter Teil, III, Buch der Liebe, 
pp. 51 f. 

L. Anzengruber, Die Kreuzelechreiber III, 3- "da werden 
s' dir ein Schopf machen vrie a Wiedhopf." 

(2) How Di d the Hoopoe Obtain Its Cr_est?_^ 
In oriental lore the hoopoe has obtained its crest gener- 
ally from no less a person than King Solomon, The bird is given 
its feathery crown in return (a) for having sheltered the great 
Hebrew King from the sun; (b) for services rendered Solomon in 
connection with his affair with the Queen of Sheba; and (c), in 
at least one instance, for having exhibited a peculiar kind of 
wisdom, one that could be appreciated best of all men by the son 
of David, of whom it is written (l Kings 11: I-3) that he loved 
many strajige women, together with the daughter of Pharao, women 
of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites, so 
that he had seven hxindred wives, princesses, and three hundred 
concubines — the hoopoe's wisdom consisting in its refusal to pay 
homage to women. In occidental lore it is (d) by stealing or by 
borrowing that the hoopoe obtains its crest. 

The hoopoe occurs as a crested bird in J. V. Grohmann, 
Sagen aus Bohmen , I. Teil , Sagen-Buch von Bohmen und Mahren 
( Prague , 1363), p. 2U-^; "Aberglauben und Gebrauche aus Bohmen," 
no. 471; 0. Dahnhardt, Natursagen III, 1, pp. 139, UOb (Rumanian; 
the same in Mariaiiu, Ornithologia II, l6g f. = Revue des trad , 
pop., IX {l&9k) , 627; M. Gaster, Rumanian Bird and B'east Stories 
TCondon, 1915). no. LXXVI , pp. 229 f.; Dahnhardt I, 32b f. = E. 
Rolland, Faune populaire de la France , II (Paris, 1^77), 103 (mod- 
ern oriental); M. Gaster, p. 230 (modern Palestine); R. Wossidlo, 
M ecklenburgische Volksiiberlief erungen , II, 1 (Wismar, lS99), 133 
r." , no. 937 a, e, f; note on pp. 391 f . 

Stith Thompson, Motif -Index of Folk-Literature ("Indiana 
University Studies," nos. Sb~3J), no. A 2321.2. 

(a) The hoopoe shelters Solomon . — The king of the hoopoes 
asks of Solomon a reward for having shielded the king from the 
rays of the sun. Solomon grants the request by bestowing golden 
crowns upon all hoopoes. This arouses the jealousy of the other 
birds, causing them to persecute the hoopoes. They complain to 
Solo.mon, and he, in turn, changes the golden crowns into feather 

In eastern lore the hoopoe stands in a particularly close 
relation to Solomon. It. has guided Solomon through the desert, 
has been an intimate companion of the king, and for this reason 
may be assumed to know about royalty. And it is on this last ac- 
count that the other birds turn to the hoopoe for advice when they 
gather to elect a king. But the hoopoe is by no means the only 
bird associated with Solomon. Birds in general, eagles, and es- 
pecially crested birds are mentioned frequently in connection with 
hira who "spake also of fowl" (l Kings h: 33). Birds in general 
are mentioned as shading or cetnopying the fsimed throne of Solomon-^ 

and as forming the canopy over the carpet which was used by 

Solomon when tra-velling thro\:igh the air. According to Otto 

Keller, the origin of the tradition of a bird canopy over Solomon 

is to be found in the fact that there were four gilded wry-necks 

(Wendehalse) in the great hall where Babylonian kings pronounced 

Holland, F aune pop . II, IO3 (with additional references); 
Dahnhardt , I, 325 ^^- (with a reference to Indian Antiquary'- 2,229- 
This legend has been brou^-ht to Spain by the Moors) ; III, 1, p. 
IS; Wood, Nat . Hist. , II, 200; Seymour, Tales of King, Solomon 
(London, 192M-} ,~pp. 9S-99. On Indian versions of the hoopoe' shel- 
tering Solomon cf. Thompson, Glo ss ary , p. ^G (with add. refs.). 

Faridu'd-din Attar, Uantiket-Tair ("Yogelgesprache" ) , ca. 
1200 A.D., see New Int ernational Encyclo pedia . VIII, 372. 

■^Griinbaiim, "Beitrage z. vergl. Mythologie aus der Hagada," 
Z.d.dt.m orgenl.C-es. , XXXI (IS77), 30^1. He quotes (p. 303) from 
William Ouseley, Oriental C ollec tions, I, 235, ^ description of 
the throne of Solomon, taken from a Persian MS; this description 
is similar to the one given of Solomon's throne in the second 
Targum on Esther (ad Esther, 1:2); all three descriptions mention 
the bird canopy. See also Seymour, pp. 37 and SO; G. Salzberger, 
Die Salomo^a£g_ in der semitischen Literat ur. Ei n B e it rag zur 
vergl'e ichend en Sasenku nde (Berlin-Nikolassee, 19077TpP- ^5 f • 

S. Singer, "Salomosagen in Deutschland, " Z.f .dt . Alt ertuia , 
XXXV (= N.F. XXIII, 1^91), 1^5, quoting from Gustav Weil. Bibli - 
sche Le genden der LIus. el.n!:a.nne r, Frankfurt a.M. , 13^1-5; The Koran, 
trans. G. Sale, pp." 513 f . ; E. W. Lane, The Th ousand and One 
Niphts. . . (New York), II, pp. 5S3 f., note II5. 'Of. Thompson, 
Mot if -Index, no. D 1 520. 19 and Dl 520.20. 

judgment. One or several eaigles are said to have been summoned 


ire said to have been summoned 


by Solomon to shieM the corpse of his father David from the sun. 

(b) The hoopoe obtai ns its crest for servi ces rendere d 
Kinp Solomon on connection with his affair wit h th e .^ueen^ of 
Sheb a. — According to Arab historians, Solomon, while on a pilgrim- 
age, in the vicinity of Mecca, discovers the lapwing ("hoopoe") 
gone from its customary place in the bird-canopy.-^ He becomes 
angry because he needs water for an ablution which now he must 

forego, at least for the time being, because only the hoopoe ca.n 

find water for him. We are told that the truant bird has found 

a fellow hoopoe which had just then returned from a strange coun- 
try. The two decide to fly to this country. When they return, 
they report to Solomon that they have visited a new country, Saba, 
which is ruled by a queen who ov/ns a magnificent throne. The 
queen and her subjects are idolaters. To test the veracity of 
the hoopoe, which might have faked a report in order to appease 
the anger of the king, Solomon sends it to the queen of Sheba 
(Saba) with a letter the answer to which is to be brought to him by 
the winged messenger who thereby becomes a postilion d ' amour . -^ 

■"•Otto Keller, Die antike Tierwelt II, 5^^-. Cf. the ac- 
count in Peeudocallisthenes, III, 2S, of the eagle (alive or arti- 
ficial?) hovering over the bar in the palace of Xerxes (S. Singer, 
p. IS5) ; W. Wackernagel, Kleine re Schriften . Ill (Leipzig, 1874-), 


Midrash Ruth, 1:17, quoted by Grunbaum, p. 213; S. 
Singer, p. 186; Salzberger, p. 69. 

On crested birds (hoopoe, cock, pewit) in the company of 
Solomon cf. Weil, Biblische Legenden , p. 228 (hoopoe and cock) 
and E. Ingersoll , Birds in Legend. Fable, and Folklore (1923), 
p. 260. 

On birds forming a canopy over persons other than Solomon, 
especially in medieval European literature, cf . Miinchener Os wald, 
ed. G. Baesecke (1907), pp. 233, ^3 (ref. to lines 7S9-79S), 433 
(to p. 233); Wiener Oswald, ed. Baesecke (1912), pp. Ixxxvi f. 
and l4 (lines 3^6 ff.T; S. Singer, pp. 134- f.; F. Vogt , Geschichte 
d er mittelhoc h deutsch en L it eratur , l3 (Berlin and Leipzig, 1922T, 
pp. 175 f. 

^Salzberger, pp. 25 ff . 

On the hoopoe as water-finder cf. below, chap, ii: The 
Hoopoe, the "Doctor." 

-'On birds as messengers cf. L. Uhland, Schrif ten, III, 
109 ff . , 171 ; E. Cosquin, Pontes po p ulaire s de Lorr aine, I (Paris, 
12S7). 43; Z.f .dt.A .. XXXV (= N.F. XXIII, lisT) , iSj ; A.f.dt.A . . 
XVII (1391), 123; Miinc hener Oswald, ed. Baesecke, pp. 292 ff., 
3Sl f.; W. Wackernagel, Kleinere S'chr iften . Ill (Leir)2ig, 1S74) , 

As a reward for having brought the king and the queen together a 
"crown" is given the hoopoe by the king. 

(c) Th e ho opoe obtains its c rest fr om Solomon for re fus- 
ing to pay hom age t o women . — This tradition may well date back to 
pre-Uohanmedan times. For the hoopoe was known to Greeks (and 
Romans) as a misogynist. Aelian (fl, ca. I50 A.D.) — his informa- 
tion is usually derived from older sources, hence may be consider- 
ably older than 150 A.D. —calls the hoopoes " o^vi'iS^w*' oJryv/ff-wrotH 
("the most unfriendly of birds"), and ascribes to them " fxZco^ 
VCU ^tvtv^ rev c<ww^al^5i/ii ("hatred of womankind") .^ 

(d) The provenience of the hoopoe's crest by means of 

stealing . — In occidental lore, it is by stealing (borrowing and 

stealing) that the hoopoe obtains its crest. 

According to a Uecklenburgian version, the crest was 

originally the property of the turtle who, at one time, was a 

king with crown and armor. The crown was stolen from the turtle 

pp. 192 f., 225, note l; F. Panzer, Hilde-Qudrxin (Halle, 1901), 
PP- 377 ff-> 3SI; H. Haupt , "F. A. Reuss ' SajTimlung zur frankischen 
Volkskunde," Z.d.Ver. f . Volksk . . V (1S95) , klk f.; von Glasenapp- 
Rosen et al. , Indische Literaturen , p. 164-; Griinbaum, Neue Bei - 
t rage , p. 232; Bolte-Polivka, IV, 375 (contains refs.); Thompson, 
M otif-Index , I, no. B 291.1; 291.1.1; 291.1.2 (animal as messen- 
ger: ibid . , no. B 291; 291.0.1. Crow as messenger of sadness in 
"Le Testament d'un Araoureux qui mourut par amours, Ensemble son 
Epitaphe" (printed ca. 152O), in Montaiglon, IV, 193 (quoted by 
E. C. Perrov;, "The Last Will and Testament as a Form of Litera- 
ture," Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Art, 
and Letters, XVII 1914- , 722); raven as messenger cf misfortune 
in Riickert's Werke , ed. by Elsa Hertzer ("Goldene Klassikerbiblio- 
thek"), V, Si, n. 13. 

G. Sale, Sura XXVII, with note by F. M. 
Cooper; Bolte-Polivka, IV, 37^- f.; Second Targum on Esther (1:3), 
quoted with additional references by Dahnhardt , I, 322 ff.; Griin- 
baum, Neue Beit rage , pp. 211 ff . , 232; Seymour, pp. 137-16O (some- 
times other birds are mentioned: wild cock, wood-grouse O'Auer- 
hethn'O . But the hoopoe is really the bird in question, cf . Griin- 
baum, Z.d.dt .morgenl. Ges . , XXXI (lS773 , 207 ff.); Weil, p. 24-7; 
E. Rolland, II, lOFT Dawson, p. 33; S. Singer, Z.f .dt.A . . XXXV 
(= N.F. XXIII, IS91), 177; Mocadessi, quoted by Dahnhardt, I, 325 
[contains add. refs.3 : "von seinen Ehrenkleidern wurde mir eine 
Krone gewahrt, die ich bia dahin entbehrt." 
Hanauer, Folklore of the Holy Land, pp. 2^h f f . , quoted 
in M. Gaster, Rumanian Bird and Be ast Stories (London, 1915), p. 

■^Aeliani, de nat ura animalium libri XVII . ed. F. Jacobs 
(Jena, 1S32) , chap, iii, 26 (= p. 63). 
Thompson, Motif-Index . I, nos. A 224-1 and 224-2. 


and is now worn by the hoopoe. In order to let everybody know that 
there is a crown upon its head, it cries continually "up, up, up." 

In Bohemia and Rumania, it is the cuckoo who originally 
owns the crest. The hoopoe borrows it from the cuckoo because, 
having been invited to a bird wedding (Rumania: the larkfe wedding), 
it wishes to appear at its best. Upon finding that the crest en- 
hances its prestige, the hoopoe decides to keep it. Subsequently, 
in the Rumanian version, the cuckoo atteinpts to repossess itself 
of the crest. A bird assembly is called, the lark presiding, to 
hear the case. In the end, the hoopoe is permitted to retain the 
crest. Since then there is no friendship between the cuckoo and 
the lark. In the Bohemian version there is no attempt on the 
part of the cuckoo to regain the crest through legal steps. It 
is content to shout "Kluku, Kluku" (= knave) at the hoopoe, the 
beat us possidens answering "Jdu, jdu, jdu" (= I am coming). 

Various Etymp_ logies 
The Arabic name of the hoopoe is "hudhud." This is evi- 
dently like the English "hoopoe" and perhaps like the German 
"Wiedehopf" (cf. Suolahti), an attempt to imitate and to interpret 
the call of this bird, hence an onomatopoeic name (cf . the begin- 
ning of Chapter V, pp. ^0 f.). The Greek c'to ^ and the Latin 
"upupa," as well as the name of the hoopoe in some other languages, 
may ultimately go back to its Egypt iam-Koptic form.-^ It is, how- 
ever, as the crested bird that the hoopoe plays its role in Moham- 
medsui- Arabic lore. As the crested bird it is known to the French 
and the Sicilians: "huppe" and "cristella." There seems to be 
doubt whether, in French, the "huppe" (= hoopoe) derives its name 
from the word "huppe" (= crest) or whether "huppe" (= crest) de- 
rives its meaxLing from "huppe" (= hoopoe)."^ The German "Wiedehopf" 

R. Wossidlo, Mecklenburgische Volksuberlief erungen , II, 
1 (Wismar, 1S99), 3^3, no. 2&3 . 


J. V. Grohmann, Sag e n aus Bohmen . p. 2k-^ (quoted from 
Krolmus, I, 501); Wossidlo, see note 1 above; Revue des trad. pop . , 
IX (189^), 626 f.; Dahnhardt, III, 1, pp. 139,'To57 Mariajiu, Orni - 
thologia . II, l63; U. Gaster, pp. 229 f., no. Ixxvi . On the 
widespread tradition which links the hoopoe with the cuckoo, cf . 
below: The Hoopoe, the Cuckoo's sexton (Kuckuckskiister) . 

^Cf. J. H. Bondi, "Etyraologisches, " Z.d.dt .morgenl .Ges . , 
L (IS96), 292. 

^Cf . "alouette huppe" (= "Haubenlerche, " "crested lark," 
"adauda cristate"), so, with a question mark in F. Diez, Etymo - 

has been explained as containing in its second part a variant of 
"Haube" (= cap, hood)."^ In Arabic, the crest is sometimes likened 
to a burnoose. For this reason pious Moslems say that the hoopoe 
stands, a burnoose dravm over its head, bent forv/ard as if ready- 
to kneel down for prayer. It is a strange coincidence that J. 
W. Wolf, Beit rage zur Mythologi e, II, ^31, lists as a cry of the 
German ""iViedehopf " : "Bock de Rockl" (= "Biick den Riicken," "bow 
down before God").-^ 

logisches 7/6'rterbuch der romanischen Sprachen , s . v . " upupa" j for 
French "huppe" (= crest), derived from the word "huppe" (= hoopoe), 
cf. Bondi , p. 293; Holland, Faun e populaire de la Jrance, II 
(Paris, 1S77), 100 f . ; W. Gottschalk, Die sprichwortlichen Redens - 
arten der f ranz osi schen Sprache , I (Heidelberg, 193*^) > SS. Com- 
pare with French "huppe" and its twofold meaning ("crest" and 
"hoopoe") the Wendish "upac," which means "hoopoe" and "Brauthaube" 
(ceremonial cap worn by the bride); cf . VI. von Schulenburg, Wen - 
d ische Vol ks sagen und Gebrauche aus dem Spreewald (Leipzig, ISSO ) , 
262, and the French expressiolis "^rabattre la huppe a qqn. = "je- 
mand kappen, demiitigen" (humiliate;; "les plus huppes y sont pris" 
- "Die Klvigsten laufen dabei an, fallen hinein" (the most clever 
are taken in); "huppe" = "gut gekleidet, vomehm, wohlhebend" 
(well-dressed, high-class, wealthy). See also Du Cange, Glossarium 
mad, e t inf. lat . , III {iSk^) , 732, s.v. "hupupatus." 

^Cf. Grxinbam, Z.d.dt .m orgen l.Ges . . XXXI (IS77), 207. 

Cf. Griinbaum, ibid . , 31^5 also Grunbaum, Neue Beitrage 
zur semitischen Sagenkunde (Leiden, IS93), p. 233. 

■^A similar cry (at least for the day) is attributed to 
the "Wachtel" (partridge): " Buck denn Riigg , biick denn Riigg'." Cf. 
J. F. Danneil , fforterbuch der altmarkisch-p lat tdeutschen Mundart 
(Salzwedel, IS59), 2^2. For additional discussion of etymologies 
of upupa, epops, Wiedehopf, hoopoe, huppe, cf. Thompson, Glossary , 
pp. 5'^57 (onomatopoeic, probably based on Egyptian solar name; 
cry imitated in Aristophanes, Aves 277); E. W. Martin, The Birds 
of t h e Latin Poets (Stanford, 191^+) , p. 95 (cites the familiar 
pun: upupa = hoopoe, upupa = pick, mattock, Plautus, Captivi , v. 
1004, Act V, sc. iv, 1, 7 : "Item cui haec advenienti upupa, qui 
rae delectem data est."); H. Kirke Swann, A Di ctionary of Engli_sh 
gj\^ Zg-l-^-Na^es 0- Bri' jBirds (London, 1913^', p. 125 Tearly*"oc- 
currences and spellings of the name of the hoopoe). E. Rollend, 
Faune.^pulai re , II, 99 ff.; Hatzf eld-Danaesteter-Thoraas, Diction- 
naire general de la la ngue^ f rancaise, II (Paris, 1920), s.v. huppe 
and houppe. Compare: houppe , Riquet a la Houppe, cf . Bescherelle, 
Di cti onnaire national, II, s.v. houppe, and C. W. von Sydow, Ein 
Marc hen von. Perrault (= Riquet a la houppe) und dessen Urform 
("Volkskundliche Untersuchungen. . .Eduard Hof fmann-Krayer" darge- 
bracht," BS-sel-Strassburg, 1916 Schweizerisches Archiv fur Volks- 
kunde, XX ) , U^l ff . ; K. G. Andresen',' t?ber deutsche Volksetymo- 
logie5 (Heilbronn, I2g9), p. 2^9; Suolahti, p. 13; w. Opijerraann, 
ARL AST'- LAcen_ unserej Kut te_rsprache_._ Eine_ Einf uiirung , Le ipzig , 
1922, reviewed by R Riegler in L'itera'turb latt f. germ. u. rom 
Phil 01. , XLVII (1926), cols. 2-3": ^ -.^.'-i^B- 



(Folk-Medicine, Magical ajid Similar Practices and Beliefs) 

The name "doctor" was given the hoopoe by the Arabs be- 
cause, in their belief, this bird possesses marvelous medicinal 
qualities. As a therapeutical fowl the hoopoe occurs in Egyptian 
(Demotic), Coptic, Graeco -Egyptian medical prescriptions, in 
Pliny ( HlBt. Nat . . 30, 7: good for stitch in side), in the "Syriac 
Book of Medicine," in the writings of the Arabic physician and 
botanist Ibn al-Beithftr (d. 1246 A.D.). As late as I752, the 
date of the appearance of the second edition of the Pharmacopoeia 
Universalis or the New Uni versed English Dispensatory , by R. 
James (London) , the medicinal virtues of the hoopoe axe accepted 
in Western Europe, and even today the nomads of the Sahara believe 
in the bird's sanatory powers. 

Closely related to the belief in the specific medicinal 
qualities of the hoopoe is the conviction found in antiquity and 
still current, that the whole-' or certain parts of the hoopoe pos- 
sess magical powers. These parts are the heart, the blood, the 
eye, the head, the tongue, the wings, and the feathers. Magical 
powers are also claimed for the eggs of the hoopoe and for the 
fabled stone, lapis q uirinus . found in the hoopoe's nest. 

Of the heart of the hoopoe it is said that it is used by 
magicians and by people who perform evil deeds secretly. On the 
other hand, the hoopoe is recominended as a protection against 

E. Ingersoll, Birds in Legend. Fable and Folklore (1923), 
p. 153, quoting Cyrus Adler, at one time Assistant Secretary of 
the Smithsonian Institution; Charles Swainson, Provincial Names 
and Folklore of the British Birds (London, 1885), p. 106. 

^P. 360. See Dawson, pp. 32-36, 38; Ingersoll, p. 26O. 

■^E.g. , pulverized ashes of the hoopoe, mixed with the 
food of a bird, prevent this bird from flying away. Cf. M. R. 
Buck, Medicinischer Volksglauben u.('. ) Volksaberglauben aus 
Schwaben (Ravensburg, 1865), p. 52. 

^Konrad von Megenberg, Buch der Natur . ed. Pfeiffer, 
p. 22s, 2k (heart and blood) . 



witchcraft.-^ Hans Vintler in Pluemen der t\:igent informs us that 
the hoopoe's heart, placed upon a sleeper at night, will cause 
him to reveal hidden things.^ According to a MS from Stendal, 
the hoopoe's or the treefrog's heart, if carried on one's person, 
will cause everybody to love one.-^ The sajne MS advises drying 
and piolverizing the heart of the hoopoe and placing it ;ander one's 
head at night, in order to dream about the location of hidden 
treasure. Johannes Ravisius Textor mentions the heart of the 
hoopoe as good for stitches in the side.-' 

In Haggadic writings, the blood of the hoopoe is mentioned 
as a curative. Medieval bestiaries warn against anointing one- 
self with the hoopoe's blood, when falling asleep, because then 
one will dream of being suffocated by demons.^ This belief was 

■^ Adolf Wuttke and E. H. Meyer, Der deutsche Volksaberglaube 
der Gegenwart (J+th ed. , Leipzig, 1925), p. 123- 

^Ed. by Ignaz von Zingerle, Innsbruck, l&jk- (= "Xltere 
Tirolische Dichter," I), p. 263, jSKl-H-^ . Cf. Ingersoll, p. 1^5. 

■^Kxjhn- Schwartz, Norddeutsche Sagen, Marchen und Gebrauche 
(Leipzig, iS^i-S), p. 4^1. no. M-^7; cf. Rabelais, Gargantua vmd Pan - 
ta fruel (ed. G. Regis, Leipzig, 1832), I, p. 443, and II, 1, p. 
4-1 S, where hoopoe and treefrog occur together as in Kuhn-Schwartz, 
cf. Buech, Deutscher Volksaberglaube . p. 209. 

^Kuhn-Schwartz, p. k6l. 

^ Theatrum Poet i cum , p. 999: "cor eius (^upupae^ laudatur 
in lateris doloribus." In this he seems to go back to Pliny. 

^Grunbaum, Z.d.dt .morgenl.Ges . . XXXI {l&JJ) , 211 f. 

^Dawson, p. 37; Philippe de Thaon, Bestiaire . in Ch.-V. 
Langlois, La vie en France au moyen Sge du XII^ au milieu du XlVe 
siecle. La connaissajice de la nature et du monde~d'apres des 
§crits francais a 1 'usage des laios (Paris, 1927). p. 25: "La 
huppe....q[ui s'oindroit de son sang avant de dormir rfeverait que 
le Diable vient 1 'etrangler. " Cf. F. Lauchert, Geschichte des 
Phv siologus (Strassburg, 1899), P- 135- MSS Sloane 35^, Harl. 
4751, and 12 F, XIII (in the British Museum); MS 3516 = Picardy 
Bestiary, Arsenal Library, Paris. These MSS are cited in G. C. 
Druce, "The mediaeval bestiaries, and their influence on ecclesi- 
astical decorative art," The Journal of the British Archaeological 
Association . N.S. XXV (1919), 41-S2; this partiCTxLar reference is 
on p. 4-3 , note 1. Concerning the blood of the female hoopoe we 
learn from Albertus Magnus, de virtutibus herbarum , that it, mixed 
with the centauria (a plant) and added to the oil of a burning 
lamp, brings about strange hallucinations with the bystanders, 
etc.; cf. L. A. J. W. Sloet, De dieren in het germaansche volks - 
p ;eloof en volksgebruik ( ' s-Gravenhage , ISS7), pp. 238 f . 

already recorded in. the early years of the seventh century of our 
era by Isidore of Seville: "Upupa. .. .Cuius sanguine quisquis se 
inunxerit , dorrait\im pergens daemones sufficantes se videbit." 
Approximately seven centuries later the same superstition is 
listed in Codices membreLnacei Augienses LXXXVIII-XC (Karlsruhe) : 
"tempora hominis inuncta sanguine upupe quando dormiendum est 
facerunt terribilia sorapnia uideri . " It is, however, not only 
"terrible dreams" that this blood produces. Hoopoe blood can 
bring about pleasant dreams if only one ties a piece of cloth, 
impregnated with the hoopoe's blood, upon one's wrist. -^ The wear- 
ing of a wig made of the hair of a hanged man, and moistened with 
the blood of the hoopoe, renders one invisible. That the hoo- 
poe's blood, properly applied, can inspire love of a man in a 
woman, is convincingly set forth in a fifteenth century advertise- 
ment: "Item wer sinen buch salbet mit widhoppen bluot , und 
welche frau er niemet, die wirt im holt."-^ 

The eyes of the hoopoe are a counter-charm against slLI 
kinds of witchery, if they are used with feathers that accumulate 
in the gizzards of owls, together with a small splinter of wood. 
In order to be effective these three ingredients must be blended 
in the last night of the year . 

•^Isidore (d. 636 A.D.), Etymologiarum Lib. XII ; vii, 66, 
quoted in Nicolai Pergameni Dialogus Creaturarum , ed. J. G. Th. 
Grasse, Die beiden altesten lateinischen Fabelbucher des Mittel- 
alters ("Bibl. d. lit. Ver. Stut tg . , " CXLVI 1 1 p. SSO] ) , pp . 201-203, 
Cf . "Acerb a III, 16: "Del sangue de la upupa chi s' ogne,/ Da 
spiriti, dormendo, vederassi/ Essere preso, che non par che 
sogne," quoted in Brunette Latini, I Libri Naturali del Tesoro , 
ed. G. Battelli (1917), 126. 

^ Zeitschr. f. dt. Wortforschung , V (1903-0^4-), 19- 

^Johann Nepomxak, Hitter von Alpenburg, Mythen und Sagen 
Tirols (Zurich, 1^57), p. 386; z. d. Ver. f. Yolk skundTe . VIII (1898), 

^E. Holland, II, IO3. 

^Cod. phys. 4 , no. 29, Stuttgart, quoted by Pfeiffer in 
Anz. fiir Kunde d. dt. Vorzeit . N.F. I (lS53-5^) , 191- 

^Z.d. Ver.f .Vkunde , VIII (IS98) , 168; mentioned as having 
been carried about in a little sack by old hunters as a talisman 
against the devil, evil spirits, "Truden," witches, and sorcerers, 
and as a powerful defense against all manner of black art by 
Johann Nepomuk, Hitter von Alpenburg, pp. 386 f . 

The eyes of the hoopoe can furthermore maike one who car- 
ries them on his person, universally beloved, acceptable and 
clever. They inspire gratitude. They change enemies into 
friends. If carried in a bag they help one to buy profitably.'^ 
They assist one in becoming acquitted in court, if worn on one's 

chest in the presence of the judge. At least they put him in a 

favorable state of mind. 

No merchant can ever deceive you if you carry along in a 
sack the head of a hoopoe.-' The tongue of the hoopoe helps in 
curing forgetfulness. 

Accuracy of aim in shooting is guaranteed through the 
possession of a charm, composed of the hearts of three young 
swallows and the right wing of a hoopoe.' 

A. Birlinger, Aus Schwaben , I (16/^), p. kl6; Johann 
Hepomuk, pD. 3S6 f.; Kuhn-Schwartz, p. 46l ; P. Hirzel, Schweizeri - 
sches Archiv. f. Volkskunde . II (lg9S) , 26S; Z.d. Ver.f .Vkunde . 
VI 1 1 (1S9S), 169. 

p _ 

"Si oculi upupe gestentur ab aliquo reddu hominem gratio- 
sum, hoc dicit Albertus. Si gestentur coram pectore faoiunt 
hominem amicura omnibus inimicis suis." From Codices membranacei 
Augienses LXXXVIII-XC (Karlsruhe, 13th-lifth cent . J , in Z.f .dt . 
Wortforschung , V (1903-0^) > 19; P. Hirzel, as in note 1 above. 

•^See Hirzel, as in note 1 above. 

Kuhn-Schwartz ( "gerechtf ertigt" ) ; Johann Nepomuk 
(gunstig"); L. A. J. W. Sloet, p. 238. 

^ Codices membranacei A-Jgienses LXXXVIII-XC , in Z . f . dt . 
Wortfo rschu ng, V (l903-0^)> 19: "si capud eius (i.e. "upupae") in 
^rsa tecTom habueris niimqueim ab aliquo mercatore decipieris." 
The same superstition is cited in Kuhn-Schwartz ("in bursa" = 
"in einem Sacklein"); it is cited also, without mentioning mer- 
chants, by Hovorka-Kronf eld, Vergleichende Volksmedizin , I (Stutt- 
gart, 1903), p. ^51, II. P- 231; refs. found in F. Byloff, Volks - 
kundliches aus S tretf prozessen der osterr. Alpenlander (" Quel 1 en 
zur deutschen Volkskvmde, " III [1929]), p. 51, n. 3, and in F. 
Byloff, Hexenglaube un d Hex enve rf olgung in den osterr. Alpen - 
landern ("Q^iellen z. dt. Volkskunde," VI U934-] , p. 129: a 
"Yr'iedehopfkopflein" (small head of hoopoe or head of small hoopoe) 
is involved (last quarter of 17th cent.); cf. Johann Nepomuk, who 
does not mention merchants, but specifies the whole head of the 
hoopoe; L. A. J. W. Sloet, p. 238. 

"The lapwing's (= hoopoe's) tongue, if hung over a man 
who suffers from forgetfulness, helps him," Hortus sanitatis 
(lii-90 A.D.), III, lis (ref. found in Dawson , p , 37 ) . The hoopoe's 
tongue is mentioned in general as a charm in Rabelais, Gargantua 
und Pantagruel , ed. cit., I, p. 443 and II, 1, p. 4lg. 

ind Volksglauben 

^M. Kronfeld, P er. Krieg im..Ab e rglauben, 
(Munich, 1915), 112 (»~Jonn, v/Sgtbgliffl gn, p. ^21 


The feathers of the hoopoe are one of eight charms that 

protect against vermin or increase the sale of bread. When 

placed upon the head they relieve headache. 

The eggs of the hoopoe are said to be of interest 
to witches, who use them "for sorcery."^ 

A stone found in the hoopoe's nest, when placed under the 
head or upon the chest, causes one to reveal secrets while asleep, 
and increases phantasies. The name of this stone is quirinCus) . 
quiritia , cinreis , withopf enstain . It is used by the witches. 

■^F. Byloff , Volkskundliches . p. 5I (citing from the ar- 
chives of the Austrian city of Freistadt, A.D. 1728). See also 
the following footnote. 

•^"Wydhopffen. Seine faderen auff das haupt gelegt/ stillend 
das hauptwee. Ob denen faderen gerouckt/ treybt die wurm ausz," 
in C. Gesner, Tierbuch (1551-), trans. C. Forer, I (ziirich, I563), 
fol. CCLX, cited in J. Jiihling, Die Tiere in der deutschen Yolks - 
medizin alter und neuer Zeit (Mittweida, 1900?), p. 2%: A'^^m 
Lonicerus, fol. HOb, quoted by K. Schiller, Zum Thier- \and Kraut er - 
buch des mecklenburgischen Volkes , II ( S chwerin, IS6I), 13 . 

•^Johann Fischart, Geschichtsklitterung , in J. Scheible, 
Das Kloster , VIII (iS^-J) , Wf. 

li P 

0. Schade, Altdeutsches Worterbuch . II (1682), pp. 1^9, 
l¥\C (with add. refs.); L. A. J. W. Sloet, p. 236: "vermengt hij 
wat afschrapsel er van met het sap van het Kattenkruit— nepeta 
Cataria L. — en bestrijkt hij daar een dier mede, dan zal het 
drachtig worden en een zwart pong werpen." On stones with magical 
powers having a more or less intimate connection with birds, of. 
Ingersoll, pp. 95-97 (alectorius: cock; raven; zahir mora: adju- 
tant stork; swallow; aetites: eagle); F. Liebrecht, Zur Volks - 
kunde (I679), p. 3^+7 (Markolf = Heher); Clemens Brentano. Gesam - 
me ite Schriften , ed. Chr. Brentano, IV (Frankfurt a.M., IS52) , 
437 (raven); in his Das Marchen von Gock el und Hinkel , Brentano 
makes use of the belief in the "Hahnenstein" ; Megenberg, Buchder 
Natur, ed. Pfeiffer, pp. 166 f. (eagle), p. 190 (griffin); Z.d. 
Ver.f .Vkunde . VIII (1696), 169 ff. (Blendstein: Zeisig = STilcin; 
Schwalbenstein: swallow, raven, capon). Goldstaub-Wendriner , 
Ein Tosco-Venezianischer Bestiarius (Halle, 1692), Dp.^ll3, note; 
132, note; 373, note 5; Max Wellmann, p. 5 {Xiv>o£ aicc'r^ys: eagle) 
with refs. in note 21; 66 ff. ; 92 (adder, swallow, lizard, hawk, 
hyena); 103 f.; J. S. V. Popowitsch, Versuch einer Vereinigun^ 
der Mundarten von Teutschlan d zu eine m vollstandigen Teutsch en 
Worterbuche TVienna. 1760)7 25O TAdler stein, s.v. Klapperstein) ; 
Grimrnelshausen, Simplicius Simplicissimus , in "Deutsche National- 
Litteratur," XXXIII, 134 (Adlerstein) ; Schwenckf eld, Theriotropheum 
(Adlerstein, Hahnenstein, Schwalbenstein, also toadstone and 
stone found in the head of the carp), cited in Mitt, d. schles . 
Qes. f. Vkunde . XXIX (1926), 293 f-; see also X. Heft XIX (1908), 
63 f. (Finkenstein) , 92 (Schwalbenstein); K. F. Renner , Hermynk 
de Han (Bremen, I731-32) , ed. Nicolaus Meyer (Bremen, 161M-) , p. 
314- (Hahnenstein) ; J. Jiihling, pp. 233, 235 f-. 297 (Schwalbenstein; 


Passing on to superstitions that have to do with the cry 

or the song of the hoopoe, we find that it predicts fair weather, 

if it ("Huppuppup") is heard frequently in spring. On the other 

hemd, its hoarse cry is believed to foretell rain. The same cry 

("Hop Hop") prophesies war.-^ It mourns the dead. Again, "if 

the lapwing (hoopoe) do sing before the vines bud, it foreshadows 

great plenty of wine."-' Again, if upon hearing the hoopoe's call 

for the first time, presumably in the spring of the year, one 

Juhling's earliest ref . , on p. 297, is to the Dresden MS C 328, 
l6th [?] cent.); S. Seligmann, Die magischen Heil- und Schutzmittel 
aus der unbelebten Natur mit besonderer Berucksichtigung der 
Mittel~geKen den b o sen Blick. Eine Geschichte des Amulettwesens 
(Stuttgart, 1927) , PP. 20S ff.; esp. pp. 21^-17 (Aetites = Adler- 
stein); 219 (Fledermausstein, Geierstein, Haher- = Gratschstein) ; 
219-20 (Alectorius = Hahnenstein) ; 220-21 (Huhnerstein) ; 223 
(Rabenstein) ; 22S-29 (Schwalbenstein) ; 229 (Trappenstein, Zeisig- 
stein); L. A. J. W. Sloet, pp. Igg f . (Adlerstein, Klapperstein) ; 
206 f. (Schwalbenstein); 25I (Hahnenstein, Schlangenstein, padden- 
steen) ; Joachim Camerarius, Symbolorum et Emblematum ex volatili - 
bus et insectis desumtorum centuria tertia collecta (Nuremberg, 
1596), no. VII (the illustration shows an egale in the nest , hold- 
ing a stone in its claws; the text explains: "...hunc (lapidera) 
Aetiten esse putant"; the text contains many refs. to older and 
to more recent writers who mention the aetites). 

^K. Schiller, p. 13. 

^Gubernatis, II, 230, in Swainson, pp. IO7 f. 

■^C. Ph. Funke, Naturgeschichte u. Technologie fur Lehrer 
(ed. C. R. W. Wiedemann, Braunschweig, 1812), pp. 380 f.; cf.^ 
Swainson, where he gives the Swedish name of the hoopoe: "Har 
Fogel" {" array bird), its cry indicating that wsir and scarcity of 
food are impending. Compare, however, M. Heyne in Dt . Worterbuch . 

IV, 761. 

"Der withopfe hftt die natOre, daz er ubir diu grebir 
vligit und die tOten claget," W. Wackernagel , Altdeutsche Predigten 
und Gebete , 56, 135. Gf. Hrabanus Uautus, op. II, de Uni verso 
Lib. VIII ° Migne, Patrologla Latina , CXI, col. 2^k~ "upupa 
lugubre animal, amansque luctum est." 

^Lupton, A Th ousand Notable Things (London, 1627; let ed. , 
1595) > Book IX, chap. 21, quoted in Dawson, p. 37; cf . Swainson, 
pp. 107 f., quoting Gubernatis II, 23O. This belief, apparently, 
is the same as the one recorded by Horapollo in the 4th or 5th 
cent. A.D.: a good vintage is foretold if the cry of the hoopoe 
is heajrd often before the time of the vines ("si ante tempus 
vitium saepe cecinerit"). Horapollinis Niloi Hleroglyphica , ed. 
Conradus Leeraans (Amsterdam, 1235), Book II, chaps. 92 f. The 
same author reports ( ibid . ) : "upupa significat hominem cui uva 
nocuit." Cf. Thompson. Glossary , p. 56, where the same ability 
to "foreshadow great plenty of wine" is claimed for the cuckoo 
filiny, Hist. Nat . , XVIII, 2H-3; Horace, Sat., I, 7,30). See also 
Uax Wellmann, p. 72. 


rolls around on the groxond, one will not suffer from lumbago.-^ 

There remain to be catalogued the following practices and 
beliefs concerning the hoopoe: the hoopoe is a waterfinder, an 
"opener," and it has the faculty of speech. This bit of hoopoe- 
lore, chiefly magical in character, is found especially in 
oriental-Semitic tradition. It serves to strengthen the hoopoe's 
claim to the title of "doctor." 

The hoopoe is a waterfinder. It can see through the earth 
and can point out hidden springs, a virtue which endeared it to 

Solomon and, naturally, one that is appreciated by such as dwell 

in the desert. 

There are several birds who enjoy the reputation of being 
"openers," i.e. of having the power to "open" a passage, to cut 
or break through obstacles. This power is, usually, inherent in 
some magical object (stone, herb, root, worm, etc.) which the 
bird owns or which is accessible to it. Such "opener" birds are 
the raven, the eagle, the mountain cock (Auerhahn) , the wood- 
pecker, the bee-eater, the magpie, and the ostrich. Easily the 
most important one is the hoopoe. The hoopoe possesses the famous 
Shamir, one of the ten marvels that were created on the twilight 
of the earth's first sabbath-day. This shamir, an exceedingly 
small worm, in size not larger than a grain of barley, was used 
by Moses to engrave the names of the twelve tribes of Israel on 
the breastplate of the High Priest. Later it was employed by 
Solomon, who had obtained it throiigh cvinning, to assist in the 
erection of the temple. The great king went to the stone-qviarries, 
drew the outlines of every stone that would be needed in the build- 
ing of the sanctuary, and placed the worm on these outlines. As 
the shamir-worm crawled along, the stones split asunder without 
noise, "so that there was neither hammer nor ax nor any tool of 
iron heard in the house while it was building" (I Kings 6: 7).^ 

Wilibald von Schulenburg, p. 262. 

Koran, Sura XXVII (trans. G. Sale), pp. 301, 51}; G. 
Salzberger, Die Salomosage in der semitischen Literatur. Ein Bei - 
trag zur vergleichenden Sagenkunde (1907). PP. 76 f., g6; M. 
Grtinbaum. Neue Beitrage zur semitischen Sa f:enkunde (1S93), pp. 
216, 230 f.; G. Weil. Biblische Legend en. p. 22S, "in Dahnhardt, 
I (1907), pp. 322 ff.; Swainson, pp. IO7 f.; Ingersoll, p. 260. 

^ Z.d.dt.morgenl.Ges . . XXXI (1^77), 212 f.: wood-pecker 
possesses rock-cleaving herb; raven and eagle have the shamir. 
Salzberger, p. 75: eagle has shamir. Z.f .dt.A . . XXXV (N.F., 


In the extra-Solomonic "opener" legend the use to which 
the hoopoe's "opener" is put is of a much less exalted nature. 
Ordinarily, the hoopoe employs the shamir, frequently a plant, in 
order to burst through obstacles separating it from its young. 
If man, usually through stealth, obtains possession of the magic 
object he abuses it by gaining through its "opening" power trea- 
sure that does not belong to h im."*- It is interesting to find 

XXIII, 1S91), l/g: mountain cock. Goldstaub-Wendriner, Ein 
.To sco-Vene zi ani_sc he r Be et iar ius (Halle, 1892), pp. 372 ff^Majt 

Ges "^?;i??;.^^ H'Vi- ^n ^- ^- '}°^^' P- 192; Clemens Br4n?So. 
Ges^Schriften, ed. Chr. Brentano (Frankfurt, 1^52), VI, K3k n 
39: wood-pecker has the springwort ("Springwurzel ," "shamir").* 
?Tr,nSi.^ov If|?4.,-g^e.^jcl^8s. Al tertums in k ulturgesch. BeziPhu^ 
(Innsbruck, "1^^, pp. 2jrf7ridem, Die antik e _Ti;:;wPi t fi.^ .y^ 
}^}lb H' 52; Preller, Romische Mvtholo p;iP, p ^i^P- ^^ltf^t°' 
(with references to frequent confusion of wood-packer ^d h?opo"- 
of. Plmy, Hisl. Nat., x, 20; XXV, 5. The woodpecker (pi cue)! in 
turn, is confused with the bee-eater ((^t^or, merops apiaster • 
80 in Mfge^^ffS, quoted bv Baring-Gould, bullous M?ths of thP ' 
?hP bi%y«e t°'''^°^' ^^^t^' P- ^^7; Mege nberg gives the name of 
5 t7«J:>™o.!^^^v?^''''^°^ ""^ ^^ ^^^^^ term Bomheokel » Baumhacker .« 
W. Yackernagel, Kleinere Schriften, III {i&jk),in^ VZtoofiri, 
p. 190. wood-pecker, woodcock, ostrich have the magic "openincr"- 
herb or worm J. Scheible, Das Kloster . XII (Stutifart, lgS9?f 
vLJ.1 S°°V^?®''' magpie, and hoopoe, with ref . to Albertus 
Magnus. Reinfrid von Braunschweig, ed. K. Bartsch ("Bibl d lit 
Ver Stuttg.," CIX [1871]), 20ggl?20970: ostrich his "openiAgi 
nerb. Birlmger, Aus Schwaben . i isH). 397 f : miraculoiifi 
root in swallow's nest, may belong heie!' On bi^ds as^o^ene^e" 
™i; ?f^r°^i-' PP- ^^^ ^^- ^ ^^^ e^^ir (shamuT, Schainir Scha- 
Siln rn'^'^^'''^'^''®' sP^inSwort, Springwurzel, "lightning bird " 
"opening" stones, worms, herbe) cf. refs. cited and Jewifh eJc^- 
clopedia. s.v. "Shamir": Z f dt A ytyv i a-z • ^ J^'^ •^'='"^-^sn Ji.ncY _- 
prfrpdl, 201^206, 20g,%Ttf^;inSy'pp ^lofH^FIi^- to 
l^tfkiT-vf«^^%^U,°?'-.'^55); Thompson! GloLaryp!56r* 
Bolte-PolivFa, IV, 123 ref. to Pliny, Hist. Nat !. ^ YVT. ig- mairio 
nerb opens closed doors); Meier, Schwib ische S^ Jr. ' oJtl ^^° 

The finding 5f Shamir); Gninbau^! Neue^g^ i^^'^J'pg^^Pj ^J'esel 
il^^|gyf^£^^^^rt. l^^fc); Thompson,' MStif^lndex, n, 233-'35r^^. 

A,>. ^v, Aelian, De natura animalium,^ III, 26 (ed. F. Jacobs, p 
63): the hoopoe uses the, herb (?)iroc< several times to gain a?-' 
cess to its brood. The ro< is used as an "opener" to appSSriate 
treasures that belong , to somebody else .({vOBro ol^ urw SS^^XF 

BuclLAeiLiatur-- sel p?evious fooLott-the migi c 'Slant SsI?to 
gain access to the nest "is called herba merpii^.o J woSlpeck^^ 
plant, and IS called in magical booki-^oTiT^^ Sawson p 592 
The name acTctivrotr also occurs e.g. in-H^^pollo, II chips' 92-' 
93. ro<i. means grass, herb; d.(?c*v .0,. is ad^^^^^m' cB^h^ Ver^ 


what seems to be the earliest allusion to the hoopoe's possession 

of the Shamir in Aristophanes."* And it is just barely possible 

that there exists a connection between the nesting habits of the 

hoopoe, as described by Aristotle and Aelian, and the habr s of 

the wood-cock (who has evidently taken the place of the hoopoe as 

the owner* of the Shamir),-^ as told to Solomon by Ashmedai: 

....the woodcock, having taken an oath to return the worm, 
bears it to the rocky summits of mountains where neither 
trees nor grass caji grow. He lays the worm upon the rocks 
and crags and thus splits them; afterward he collects the 
seeds of trees and plants and drops them on the prepared 
ground so that the barren mountain tops become covered with i. 
verdure. Therefore the v.'oodcock is called "Mountainbreaker. " 

It is, at least, not inconceivable that the woodcock-hoopoe which 
spends a large amount of time ajnong the rocky summits of mountains 
where neither trees nor grass can grow should rear its young in 
the same neighborhood. If the passage in Aristophanes really con- 
tains an allusion to the hoopoe as owner of the sharair, and if 
the passages in Aristotle and Aelian really link up with the rock- 
cleaving properties of the hoopoe"' s shamir, then one may well 
claim a much more venerable age for the hoopoe-shamir legend than 

an aquatic plant. On (^iod^zot^ see Max Wellmann, p. 73 (with addi- 
tional refs.). Could "chora" be the centaurea , especially the 
centaurea cyanus ("Kornblume," cornflower!'? Cf . L. A. J. W, Sloet, 
p. 23^ The adiantum is used by the hoopoe not only for its 
"opening" powers. According to Horapollo, loc. cit . , this plant 
restores to the hoopoe that has eaten the fruit of the vine its 
former well-being. And according to Aelian, the adiant u m, quo d 
callitrichum (having beautiful hair) quo que vocant , is placed 
into the nest by the hoopoe in order to ward off fascination. 
The refs. to Horapollo and Aelian are given in Joachim Camerarius, 
no. LXXII. 

•'• Aves . S'^'.c^'vocyt zhif vririir ; cf. 0. Keller, Die antijce 
Tierwelt, II (1913), 5^9, n. 30.' ~ "' " 

Aristotle, H. A. . IX, ^3 (ed. Aubert-Wimmer, I, 2i^-0; II. 
3^0); Aelian,. De natura ^animal ium . Ill, 26 (ed. F. Jacobs, p. 63); 
VTOTtX.iidct' cks MLcS^ iv VdL^ loij^oc^ niCc rocs TiCfocs ToZ^ irfnloZ^ 

(to fasten, construct their nests in deserted places and in tower- 
ing rocks). This bit of information is still remembered in the 
times of Justinian: Agathias Scholasticus^ o;E. Mvrina, called 
"Asianus" (530?-5gO?), mentions the rtf«4 Voiy oftflcj, the rocky abode 
of the hoopoe in one of his poems; see Antn o logia Graeca , ed. 
Hieronymus de Bosch, III (Utrecht, 1792) , B'ook VII, 65, p. 2l6. 

^Cf. Griinbaum, Z.d.dt .morgenl .Ges . . XXXI (1^77), 206. 

Seymour, p. II7; cf. Griinbaum, Z.d.dt .morgenl .Ges . , p. 
212: ("felsenspaltendes Kraut"). 


seerns to be indicated by the fact that it plays a prominent role 
in haggSLdic writings. 

The hoopoe has the faculty of speech. It is one of the 
"little birds that told me," In this respect it does not differ 
from other birds who can talk and are chosen to deliver messages 
because of their ability to convey intelligence "by word of 
mouth." In oriental lore, however, the hoopoe does occupy a 
special niche in the gallery of speaJcing birds, primarily because 
of its intimate association with Solomon. The great king of whom 
it is said that he knew the languages of birds and of animals 

Second Targum on Esther, cf, Seymour, p. 35*. Seilzberger, 
pp. 73 ff.; Z.d.dt.morgenl.Ges . , XXXI (IS77), 353; Ingersoll, pp. 
25s f.; Bolte-Polivka, IV, 322 (Solomon can understand not only 
why, but also what a bird is twittering). This knowledge of the 
language of the fowls of the air is considered one of the many 
indications of the wisdom and the power of the great king in 
Hebrew (cf. above), in Mohaunmedan (e.g.. Koran, Sura XXVII, 16: 
we have been taught the speech of birds) suid in Ethiopian lore 
(Ssdzberger, p. 74-, n. 5). This tradition, crediting Solomon 
with the ability to understand birds and to converse with them 
(Riickert's well-known "vogelsprachek\ind wie Salorao," Aus der 
Jugendzeit , lines I5 f . , coraes to mind here) seems to rest on the 
oft -quo ted passage I Kings 5: 13 {k: 33 in the English version): 
"and he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon 
even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall; he spake 
also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes." 
Most likely the Hebrew preposition: -<?^= "of," "concernir^, " 
"about," was confused with the other Hebrew preposition: -*i^= 
"to," making the text read: "...he spake also to beasts, and to 
fowl." Cf. SaJ-zberger, pp. 12 (where he claims that this misin- 
terpretation was an Intentional one) and 73; Griinbaum, Neue 
Beit rage , p. 211, n. 1 (quoting Rabbi Tanchum Jeruschalmi as re- 
jecting the haggadic interpretation of -Z)i as meaning "to"); 
Nollen, German Poems . ISOO-IS5O, p. 3^4-3, nT to II7. According to 
Gesenius-Buhl, Hebraisches und Aramaisches Handworterbuc h iiber 
das aj-te Tes tament (15th ed. , 191O), s.v. -^^., the use of - 2>{ 
for ^^ may be due, in part, to inaccurate copying. On the "wis- 
dom" of Solomon see Max Wellmann, pp. 53 ff. 

That the wise king's knowledge of the language of animals 
is able, even in these latter days, to fire a poet's imagination, 
is shown to be true by the following poem of recent date: 

The Boastf\il Butterfly 

(A Legend of Jerusalem) 

by Arthur Guiterman 

King Solomon put crown and scepter by 

To seek the palace garden oool and shady, 

And there he overheard a butterfly 

Magniloquent ly boasting to his lady. 

The little creature bragged, "If I should care 
To staunp my foot with purpose and decision, 

was extremely fond df the utterances of the former because of 
their soft notes, and of the birds with whom he had companionship 
he esteemed most highly and addressed most frequently the trumpeter 
cock and the hoopoe, who is able to detect water in the most arid 

It is apparent from the material collected in this sec- 
tion that the hoopoe, the associate of the wise king Solomon, 
amply deserves its honorary' degree of "Doctor," at least in the 
opinion of the Hebrew-LIohamraedan Orient. In occidental lore, it 
is true, the hoopoe is the object of a good many folk-medicinal 
and magical beliefs and practices, as shown above. It seems, how- 
ever, that the main imprint made by the hoopoe on the medieval 
and early modern mind of occidental Europe is not due to anything 
enumerated in this section. Indeed, as I hope to show later, es- 
pecially in medieval and early modern times, the hoopoe, a "doc- 
tor" of saintly odor to the Hebrew-iiohammedan legend, is best 
known to Europe as a malodorous bird— the one which fouls its own 

These golden domes would melt in empty air, 
This lovely garden vanish like a vision!" 

"Ho, Butterfly, come hitherl" cried the king. 

The insect tre.Tibled on the royal digit. 
"How dared you tell yo\ir lady such a thing," 

The monarch growled, "you lying little midget?" 

The tiny culprit hung his humbled head, 

But answered, blushing like a ripe persimmon, 

"Now, King, you know, as eminently wed. 

We have to swagger to impress these women." 

"Go, little friend," the laughing king replied. 

" 'Tis true, we husbands cajinot be quite candid." 
The butterfly rejoined his watchful bride; 

"What did he say to you?" the bride demanded. 

"I'll tell you, dearest," said the little scamp, 
'Although 'twas confidential and I shouldn't: 

He begged me, as a favor, not to stamp. 

And so of course I promised that I wouldn't." 

Found in This Week of June 19, 1937. 

^Seymour, pp. 95 ff. (= chap, v) . 


For centuries the hoopoe has been the symbol of amor 
parentum in its twofold meaning: it has signified parental devo- 
tion to the offspring and filial piety toward the parents. The 
one or the other phase of this belief in the fa/nily spirit of the 
hoopoe, but especially the latter — love for the aged parents — was 
prevalent in the valley of the Nile and in the plains of Hindustan; 
it is part of the lore of Greece and Rome; it occurs in Hebrew- 
Mohammedan tales of Solomon; it nas found expression in the liter- 
ature and in the ecclesiastical art of Byzantium and of Western 
Europe in the Middle Ages. In fact, it was only when the copying 
ajid the illuminating of the Bestiaries had come to an end, and 
when Renaissance and Reformation had done away with many an old 
tradition of church decoration, that the preacher no longer in- 
voked the hoopoe to bring home to his parishioners the lesson con- 
tained in the passag'es: "To requite their parents, for that is 
good and acceptable before God" (l Tim. 5: 1^); "Hearken unto thy 
father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is 
old" (Prov. 23: 22); "Honour thy father and thy mother (Ex. 20: 
12); "He that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely 
put to death. He that curseth his father, or his mother, shall 
surely be put to death" (Ex. 21: 15, I7); and that first "glance" 
in the vision of Isaiah: "I have nourished and brought up chil- 
dren, and they have rebelled against me" (Is. 1: 2). Before the 

■'•See, e.g., Gottweih MS (llth cent.) of the Phys io lo^us : 
"de upupa. Scriptum quippe est in lege, honora patrem tuum et 
matrem et reliqua. Phisiolog-us dicit. est avis que dicitur vpupa. 
cuius filii cum viderint quod parent es eorum senuerint et pre 
caligine cerners non potuerint diligent oculos parentum, ac fovent 
eos sub alis suis, usque dum renovantur in statum priorem. et qua 
mente sunt qui parentibus propriis honorem debitum non persolvant." 
The Gottweih LIS is edited by G. Heider in A rchiv f iir Kun d e oster - 
rei_chischer Geschichts-Que llen V (1^^.50); the hoopoe-passage is on 
pp. bT3 '^~ "^^ • ^- '"ilhelm, Denkmaler deutscher Prosa des 11 . vmd 
1 2 . Ja hrhunde rt s_(^tt_ei lung Bj_kommenta_r") = launch en e r Texte VIII 
'( IJuni ch", ' i 31^1 , p. "^2," section 25. ~TTie" statement in^. Ehrismann, 
Geschichte der deutschen Literatur bis zum Ausga ng: des Mittelal- 


end of the Middle Ages, the stork had replaced the hoopoe as sym- 
bol of family love. 

Parental devotion of the hoopoe to its young is at least 

alluded to in hoopoe-shamir stories of the parent bird breaking 

through obstacles in order to gain access to the nest. It must 

have been accepted as a fact quite universally in the Graeco- 

RomaxL world, else the presumably proverbial expression tToV'o^ 

^too^rj (love of the hoopoe who v/illingly sacrifices its life for 

its brood) co\ild not have arisen.^ In Hebrew-Mohammedan tradition 

it is customary to extoll the hoopoe's (hudhud's) love of its 

young. Of medieval occidental occurrences of this belief, how- 
ever, I know of only one, that in the Picardy Bestiary ( Arsenal 
3516 . Paris). There the hoopoe is said to be attached to the 
eggs, sitting on them assiduously; it is devoted to its offspring 

ters, II, 1 (Munich, 1922), p. 23O, that in the Jiingere Physiolo - 
gus (ca. 1125) the hoopoe signifies such as do not honor their 
parents is wrong. As a matter of fact, the hoopoe is cited as an 
example of filial piety; see "Der jungere Physiologris" in Denk - 
maler deut scher Prosa des 11. \and 12. Jahrhunderts , ed. F. Wilhelm 
T lunchener Text e Till TSunTcn'T^l'^Tr, p. 2/. section 25; also 
Th. 3. von Kara j an, Deutsche Sprachdenkmal e des zwolft en Jah rhun- 
derts (Vienna, 1S^6), pp. 103 f . ; this is the section on the 
hoopoe in the rhymed Physiologus of the Milstat MS. See also Le 
Bestiaire . Das Tier buch des normannis chen D ichters Guillaume le 
01 ere, ed. R. Reinsch ( " Altf ranzoi^ Textbibliothek , " XIV, Leipzig, 
1892") , p. 259, vss. S65-27O: 

Oar Deu comanda en la lei. 
Que nos devom tenir en fei, 
Qu'om pere e mere honorast 
E qu'om les servist e gajdast 
E praraist que de raort morreit 
(^ui pere ou mere maldireit. 

These verses are taken from the conclusion of the section on the 
hoopoe (la hupe). See also below the quotation from H\jgo de St. 

Goldstaub-Wendriner, Ein tosco-venezianisch er Bestiarius 
(Halle, IS92), p. 377. Joachim Oamerarius, no. XL: "de Ciconiae 
in parentes gratitudine. " Oamerarius treats also of the hoopoe, 
but he does not mention it as an exponent of filial piety. 

^Of. above, p. IS, n. 1. 

^Aelian, De na t ura a ni malium , XVI, 5; cf. Kohler, Das 
Tierleben. . . , p. ISB. ' 

Salzberger, p. 77, n. 12. 


and cares for the young until they are able to shift for them- 
selves. This same belief may have inspired the decoration found 
on a bench-front at Great Gransden (Huntshire, England): a bird, 
probably a hoopoe, and a nest with two eggs. 

Far more extensive is the evidence of the hoopoe's filial 
devotion to its parents. 

Aelian (ca. 15O A.D.) reports that the Egyptians used to 


honor the hoopoe because of its piety toward its parents. An 
elaboration of this account is contained in Horapollo's work on 
hieroglyphics, where the hoopoe is declared to be the only one of 
the ajiimals that are devoid of understanding, to show kindness to 

^G. C. Druce, "The mediaeval bestiaries, and their influ- 
ence on ecclesiastical decorative art," The J o urnal of the British 
Archaeological A ssociation , N.S. XXV (1919), '^2. 

^ Aeli^an, De natura, animaliun^, X, 1^: ."^ovjrrrtoc. . . .tJ'o)re(5 
Ct^wrtv, inc .... yf05 C0W5 ^uvwiutj^fljr^ tvejpt-'s.i' cf. F. Lau- 
chert, Qeschichte des Physiologus (Strassburg, 1529), p. 13; 
Houghton, Natural History of the Ancipnts . p. 207; Gubematis II, 
230 ; Thompson, Glossary , p. 56, s.v.irof, and p. 102, b.v .MViitO(^\ 
Ingersoll, p. 153; Swainson, pp. 107 f.; Aelian, XVI, 5, tells of 
an Indian legend according to which a young prince wa^ so devoted 
t9 h;is,latte parents th^t he buried them in his head (t^«)^4t' 
itucou5 tv* t^wrO, ^c'yti r-yv Hic^Xy dtAti^ui/ ), xhe sun god rewards 
this expression of filial piety by changing the prince into a 
hoopoe, a bird that is both beautiful and longlived. Aelian men- 
tions in this connection that Aristophanes. ( Aves . vss. 4-72 ff.L 
refers to this story (burial in the head) a propos of the Hocr^Ji^ 
(crested lark, "Haubenlerche") ; cf. F. Lauchert, p. 13; Grunbaum, 
Z . d. d t . morgenl . Ges . , pp. 207 f. (as a reward for filial piety the 
' X<^f «S = tuft of hair on crown of head was changed into hoopoe). 
Not "as a symbol of filial piety, but as a symbol of piety in gen- 
eral ("tamquam syrabolum pietatis") the hoopoe occurs on coins 
struck in honor of the youth Antinous by his imperial "friend" 
Hadriaji, if I read correctly Forcellini, Vol. VI, s.v. "upupa." 
Filial devotion was not only claimed for the hoopoe by the an- 
cients, by some patristic writers, and in the physiologus-bestiary 
tradition. The stork, the crow, the merops (bee-eater), and the 
pelican share honors with the hoopoe. Stork: older Greelf writ- 
ers; cf. E. W. Martin, The Birds of the Latin Poets (Stanford, 
191^), pp. 52 f.; Max Wellraann, pp. 9S-100; Aelian, III, 22, and 
X, 16; Prig, c. Gels .. IV, 9S (of. Wellmann, p. g) ; also no. IS 
of the Romanian Physiologus (MS dated I717; the translation, how- 
ever, is older; cf. Lauchert, Nachtrag, p. 30S). Bee-eater: 
Aristotle, H. A . , IX, 13 (does not wait \intil parents have become 
enfeebled by old age), also Aelian and Pliny, Hi st . Nat . . X, 20; 
cf . Dawson, pp. 590 f. The same story as is told of the hoopoe 
is told of the bird''lampo* in Bestiario moral izzato (2nd half of 
13th cent.); cf. Goldstaub-Wendriner, p. 19O, n. On the pelican's 
love for its young, cf. Wellmann, pp. 48 ff . For birds as examples 
or symbols of misericordia , pietas , eximia pi etas. cf . Goldstaub- 
TZendriner, pp. 375-37^- 

its parents. For this reason the Egyptians use the KOV Koir<P<A 
(i.e. hoopoe) as symbol for gratitude in their picture writing 
and place it on the scepters of gods. Some of the details in 
Horapollo's accoxint, notably the plucking of the feathers of the 
parent-birds, seem to be derived from the Physiologus , chap. viii. 
Practically the seune particulars occur in the medieval bestiaries. 
They, of course, derive from the same sovirce. 

In Hebrew-Moslem tradition the filial devotion of the 
hoopoe is mentioned at least once: Solomon at one time was so 
incensed against the hoopoe that he was ready to kill it . He was 

prevented from doing it because he remembered the hoopoe's kind 

actions toward its parents. 

In the Occident, on the other hand, and in the Byzantine 

East the legend of the hoopoe's pious treatment of its aged 

parents is well established, as has been mentioned before. It 

evidently has its source in the Physiologus . chapter viii. The 

tradition is continued through the stream of the bestiaries and a 

number of encyclopaedic works, and it seems to end, as far as 

western Europe is concerned, with the Physiologus of Leonardo da 

Vinci and the Theriotrophexim Silesiae of the Silesian physician 

Schwenckfeld,-^ Moreover, this legend is not of the kind which is 

Horapollinis Niloi Hieroglyphica (ed. Conradus^ Leemans, 
Amsterdam, 1835). Book I, chap. Iv (p. 54),: "£.tf^«<p<.rtt(Hj/ >Wftffn5 

rot-7f«<c, zMxC^ 4vzvy 'ci^'iTiP^ rgafi(<, cf yh*/j>u: riif^s ov riigv 

Except that it' ha"B no interest in hieroglyphics aji'd does not men- 
tion the scepters of gods, the corresponding section of several 
medieval bestiaries coiild be cited as a more or less accurate 
translation of this passage. One is given in full below; of. 
Lauchert, p. 13; Dictionnaire National (Bescherelle) , II, s.v. 
"huppe" (mentions "le sceptre d'Horus"). On Horapollo's Hiero - 
glyphica and their relation with the Physiologus . cf . Wellmann, 
pp. 60 ff . On Horapollo, I, 55, cf. Wellmann, p. 65. On HQ^f- 
Koif^«<5 see Wellmann, p. 65, note 1S2; Thompson, Glossary , p. 
102; E. Oder, pp. 55I f . , note 3; Dawson, p. 33. 
Salzberger, p. 77, with note 12. 

•^Cf . passim Lauchert, Goldstaub-Wendriner, and Wellman. 
Schwenckfeld, Theriotropheum Silesiae (Liegnitz, I603), 369 a: 
the hoopoe is said to be ("fertur") a model of filial devotion; 
cf . 37^ "b, where the vulture (Geier) is mentioned as another 
model of filial devotion. These passages are cited in Mitteilungen 
der Bchles. Gesellschaft fur Vkvinde. XXIX (l92g) , 2S9 f- 


found in learned books only, handed down by one antiquariem to 
the next one. The filial piety of the hoopoe has been the inspi- 
ration of a number of artists and craftsmen whose work svirvives 
to this day in illuminations of manuscripts and in ecclesiastical 
decorations of churches in England ajid on the continent. And the 
medieveil preacher, as has been noted before, has often used the 
story of the hoopoe when exhorting his flock that they shoiild 
honor father and mother. 

The following examples serve to illustrate the medieval 
legend of the hoopoe and its filial piety. 

First, one example from the Byzantine East: US of the 
Smyrna Library, ca. 1100 A.D. In addition to plucking the feathers 
and licking the eyes of the old birds, the young warm them under 
their wings and sit over them until they have grown yo\ang once 
more. The miniature accompanying this passage shows hoopoes with 
blue bodies and gold wings. 

Le Bestiaire de Philippe de Thaiin (fl. IIOO-I135) , edited 
by E. Walberg (1900), pp. 93-95, vss. 2575 ^^ • ' 

Huppe oisel apelum, 

Teste at cume poiin. 

E est de tel nature, 

Si cum dit escripture, 

Quant il veit vieil sun pere 

E enveillir sa mere, 

Qu'il ne poent voler 

Ne veeir ne aler, 

Suz ses__eles les prent 

Sis cuve ensement 

Cum sis pere faiseit 

Quant il en of esteit; 

E par sun cuvement 

Si [lur] vient veement, 

Qu'il [poent] bien voler, 

La u [volent], aler. 2 

Hugo de Saint Victore (d. 114-1 A.D.), Liber d e bestiis , 
I, chap, lii : "de upupa Physiologus dicit quod cum senuerit et 
volare non possit, filii eius ad earn veniunt et pennas vetustis- 
simas e corpore ipsius evellunt, eamque fovere non cessant, et 
donee iterum pennae crescant, cibis sustenant, ut Scriptura dicit, 
donee sicut ante assuraptis viribus evolare possit. Exemplo igitur 

■'■J. Strzygowski, Per Bilderkreis des griechischen Physio - 
logus _des_K£smBj_J[_ndikopleustes und Okta te uch nach Handschriften 
derBibliot hek zu "Smyrna r"Byzantini3che3 Archiv," II, Leipzig, 


Cf. Ch.-V. Langlois, La vie en France . . . . p. 25. 


8U0 upupae perversos homines arguunt, qui patres suos, c\im senue- 
rint, a domibus propriis expellunt, qui eos, cum deficiant, bms- 
tentare renuunt, qui taraen ipsos, c\iin adhuc parvuli essent, 
educaverunt. Videat igitur homo rationalis creatura, quid patri 
vel matri debeat, cum irrationalis creatura, quod praediximus, in 
necessitate cum senuerint, parentibue reddat . " 

Le B es tiaire. Das Tierbuch des normannisch enjichterB 
Guillaume le Clerc (fl. 1210 A.D.), ed. R. Reinsch ("Altfranzosi- 
sche Textbibliothek," XIV [Leipzig, 1892]), PP. SS f . , 257-59, 
V88. g21-S70. 

Frater Bartholomaeus Anglicua, de proprietatibus rer\im 
(ca. 1250 A.D.), an encyclopedia, oonsisting of nineteen or twenty 
books, often copied and printed (13th to l6th cent.), translated 
into French in 1372; in Book XII of the printed version of I505, 
the "upupa" is no. 37 (likewise in the printed version of London, 
1535, where the hoopoe corresponds to "lapwing").^ 

Brxinetto Latini (ca. 1220-1295), I libri natural i del 
"Tesoro" (ca. I262-1266), ed. G. Battelli (Florence, 1917), pp, 
12^ f.: "Delia upupa. Upupa h uno uccello con una. cresta in 
capo, e vivono di cose putride e laide, e pero e il lore fiato 
puzzolente molto. E quando le loro madri invecchiano tanto che 
non possono bene volare, li loro figliuoli le prendono e mettonle 
nel nido, e spennanle tutte, ed ungono loro occhi, e tengonle 
coperte con le loro ale, e tanto le portano becoare, Infino 
ch'elle possono bene volare, si come e mestiero."-^ 

MS 233, Bern: "The Naturalist has said: There is a bird 
which is called hoopoe. TIThen the young of these birds see their 
parents grown old and unable to fly or see through blindness, 
then these their children pluck off the very old feathers from 
their parents euid lick their eyes and cherish their parents under 
their wings until their feathers grow again and their eyes become 
bright; so that they are made quite young again in body as before, 
and can see and fly suid show their gratitude to their children, 
because they have fulfilled their duty towards their parents with 

Migne, P atrologia Latina . CLXXVII , 5O-5I; quoted in part 
in Brunette Latini, I libri naturali del "Tesoro" (ed. G. Battelli, 
Florence, 1917), P- 125- ' 

Of. Le Bestiaire . ed. Reinsch, p. 184; Dawson, p. 38. 

^Cf. Goldstaub-Wendriner, pp. 159 ff . 


such love But their children say to them: Behold, sweet- 
est of parents, as you have brought us up from infancy, and have 
made us the object of all your labors, so in your old age we are 
paying you the same services and ministrations." Then follows 
the moral: "If birds, which have no reasoning power, treat one 
another in turn like this, how can men, seeing that they are pos- 
sessed of reason, refuse to render like for like to their own 

The young hoopoes restore sight to the parent birds, ax5- 
cording to Konrad von Megenberg (l^th centur/). 

Fior de (di) virtu (15th cent.), chap, xii: the yo\ing 
pluck feathers around the eyes of parents (maximamente tutte 
quelle che son dintomo alii ochi); "polo" = upupa is symbol of 
misericordia . 

Leonardo da Vinci's Bestiary, no. ?: "upica" - "upupa"; 
the young build a nest for the parents, feed them, pluck old 
featners, and restore eyesight to their parents by means of a 


The Serbian Physiologus (l6th cent.): old hoopoes are 

fed in their nests by the young. 

Following the traditional traits found in the Bestiaries 
(especially plucking of the feathers and licking of the eyes), 
the filial piety of the hoopoe is depicted in a miniature in MS 
61 (St. John's, Oxford), also on a misericord at Carlisle Cathe- 
dral, possibly also on a misericord carving in St. George's 
Chapel, In these instances the hoopoes are without crests. The 
crest, when present, is commonly of the ball-headed pin type. 
Occasionally it appears as a saw-like ridge upon the head and the 
back of the bird, as in Harl . 3 244 and in S loane 27S .^ In the 

-•■Cf. Druce, p. Si. 


Konrad von Megenberg, Buch der Natur . ed. Pfeiffer, 
■^Cf. Groldstaub-Wendriner, p. 25O: upupa is symbol of 

fratitude in Cecco d'Ascoli's and in Leonardo's Bestiaries; p. 
52, note; p. 253. note 2; Le Bestiaire , ed Reinsch, p. 193 > with 
reference to a similar story, told about bird Funtin, in aji Arabic 
cosmography by Kazwlni; Brunette Latini, p. 215 , note. 

Cf. Le Bestiaire , ed. Reinsch, p. 176. 

^Gf. Druce, pp. Si f . and Plate XVI. 


Srayrna MS, mentioned above, a second miniature, accompanying the 
chapter concerning the hoopoe, illustrates the lof^ttJti'^, i.e. the 
allegorical interpretation of the passage. The miniature suggestt 
persecution of the parents and the curse that has been placed 
upon such a sin in Exodus 21: 15 and 17, a passage which is 
quoted here, and which, with its parallels, occurs frequently in 
connection with the legend of the filial piety of the hoopoe."^ 

Cf. Strzygowski, o^. cit . , and Plate III. 


Popular tradition occasionally associates the hoopoe with 
other birds. Among them are (a) the bittern (Rohrdommel, botaurus 
stellaris), (b) the woodpigeon (Wildtaube, Holztaube, palumbus 
torquatus or coluraba oenas), (c) the thrush (Drossel, turdus),-^ 
(d) the snipe or woodcock (Schnepfe, scolopax gallinula?), (e) 
the wood-pecker or popinjay (Specht, picus; or Griinspecht, picus 
viridis), (f) the nightingale (Nachtigall, luscinia philomela) , 
(g) the nutcracker or nutbreeiker ? (Nusskrahe, nucifraga caryoca- 
tactes), and, most important among the birds that are assumed to 
consort with the hoopoe, (h) the cuckoo. The belief in the hoopoe- 
cuckoo partnership is so strong in certain sections of Europe 
that it has given rise to a new name for the hoopoe, that of 
"Kuckuckskuster" (cuckoo's sexton), "Kuckuckslak;ai" (cuckoo's 
lackey), or "Kuckucksknecht" (cuckoo's hired msm). 

(a) The hoopoe and the bittern were at one time herdsmen. 
They were changed into these birds as a punishment for cruelty. 
East Prussia, Pomerania, and Mecklenburg seem to constitute the 
small area where this tradition is known. 

The remainder of the hoopoe associations, except the one 
with the cuckoo, are apparently even more restricted in terri- 
tory: (b) the hoopoe stnd the woodpigeon are companions in Bran- 
denburg and, east of it, in Cujavia (Poland); (c) the hoopoe and 
the thrush in the Altmark (a part of Brandenburg); (d) the hoopoe 
and the snipe (woodcock) in Denmark. 

(e) The hoopoe-woodpecker friendship is recorded for 
Upper Brittany, France. The two birds decide to quit their na- 
tive lajid. In flying over the ocean, the woodpecker, when half- 

^Grimra, Kinder- und Hausmarc hen, no. 173; Bolte-Polivka, 
III, 225 f.; Dahnhardt, 111,1^394- ff.; Wossidlo, II, 3^2; nos. 266- 
291 on pp. ^3-^7 ', Thompson, Motif -Index , I, no. A 2261.1; see 
also A 2^^26.2. 14-. 

^ Ibld . ^ Ibid . ^Ibid . 


way across, becomes drowsy and is in danger of falling into the 
sea, but the hoopoe rouses it by calling out "hump, hump." The 
woodpecker shows its gratitude for having been saved from a 
watery grave by boring a hole in a tree, to serve as nest for the 
hoopoe. This was the first time the woodpecker exercised its 
boring powers. 

■"■p. Sebillot, Traditions de la Haute-Bretagne . II, 1&3'> 
Swainson, p. lOS; cf . Dahnhardt , III, 1, p. 266. This tale con- 
tains a number of traits which occur in a variety of combinations 
in popular tradition concerning animals, especially birds: 

A. Decision to quit one's native land because of disgrace 
i ncurred by some act committed by. or some Quality inheren t in 
thP_fimi_grant . The heron (Reiher. ardea) decides to leave its 
home country because it has become known that it is constantly 
befouling its nest. When its attention is called to the fact 
that it is carrying along its anus, the source of its ill fame, 
the heron stays at home. Cf. Voigt, Egberts von Luttich Fe cunda 
Ratis (1^S9), p. 100, n. to vs, 4-84-: "ardea noraen avis, nomen de 
ventr e cacatrix" (Schittreiher) ; the note contains additional 
references; p. 193, vss. 1522-25: "de ardea, quae ubique idem 
est, i.e. cacatrix." The date of Fecunda Ratis is ca. 1020 A.D. 
Johannis de Schepeya, Fab. LII : "ardea et aquila: . . .timeo ne 
portes tecum tutim posterius. consuetude enim ardeae est ut iniiciat 
omnem locum in quo sederit." Quoted from Hervieiix, Les fa bulist es 
Latins (Paris. l&Sk-) , II, 775- Alanus de (ab) Insulis (d. 1202;, 
Parabol I, 94- f.: "Non ibis rostrum, non ardea deserit anvun, 
non leviter uicium, dum facit illud homo" ( Z.f .dt.A . . XXIIT [1S79J. 
2S6). Joseph Klapper, Die Sprichworter der F reidank predi gten 
Proyerbi a Fridanci ("Wort und Brauch," XVI, Breslau, 1927), 20, 
no 33: ""ardea fert secvim, quocunque volaverit, aniMi" (from 
Breslau MS, I. ft. 50 . beginning of 15th cent.). Adalbert von Keller, 
Erza hlungen aus altdeutschen Handschriften ("Bibl. d. lit. Ver. 
Stuttgart , "~XXXV [1555 ] ) , pp . 55^ f . : 'Hron dem reyger" (Karls- 
ruhe MS). Mittelde u tsche Fabeln . ed. K. Eichhorn (Program 
Meiningen, 1897 ), II (Text), pp. 5^-59, containing no. LXXXIX 
(lines 3777-3854) of the "Esopus theutunicalis et Avianus," (MS 
1279, Leipzig): "Der reier bescheisz die andern vagele." The 
other birds engage the heron to drive the hawk out of its narrow 
hiding place. The hawk "brachte den reier in einen sweisz,/ das 
he wiet unde verne hinder sich scheisz./ Sine gesellen worden 
alle beschissen. . ." The heron decides to leave, comes to the sea- 
shore, is met by the crow which, upon learning the reason for emi- 
grating, tells the heron: "...wolt ir uch schiszens maszen,/ so 
must ir den ars hinder uch laszen./ Ziet ober briigke iinde ober 
steeg,/ so furt ir denselbigen ars met uch weg..." The MS dates 
from the middle of the 15th cent., Eastern Middle Germany. 

The stork (Storch, ciconia) wants to leave because, in a 
quEirrel, it has deprived another stork (its wife) of an eye. It 
is informed by a bird (stork, raven) that it is taking along its 
bill, the cause of the injury. The stork stays at home. Only 
with the stork and the ibis (cf . Alanus de Insulis) the offending 
member is the bill, otherwise always the anus. Cf . Hervieux, II, 
606: Odonis de Ceritona (ca. 1200), Fabulae XY (XXXIII): "de 
ciconia litigants cum coniuge sua," where, at the conclusion of 
his "mistice" he quotes the well known line from Horace ( epiat . 
I, 11, 27): "coelun, non anim\an mutant, qui trans mare cur- 


(f ) The hoopoe is aBsociated with the nightingale by the 
medieval teacher Odo de Ceritona In one of his fables. He wishes 

runt." E. Voigt, "Odo de Ciringtonia und seine Quellen," Z . f . d t . 
A5., XXIII (N.F. XI, IS79), 286: 11 (L.XII, 136 f.): "ciconia^ 
semel rixata est cumuxore." Voigt quotes medieval parallels a 
propos of hawk aind woodpecker. Johannes de Bromyard.' Summa prae- 
dicantium (Basel, 1^79). P- xiii, xxxviii exemplum: the conver- 
sation takes place between "ciconia" and "alia avis." J. Pauli, 
Schimpf und Ernst . ed. H. Osterley ("Bibl. d. lit. Ver. Stutt- 
gart," LXXXV [lSb6]), p. 30I , no. 523 (von gewonheit ) , = ed. 
Bolte I (1924-), 30I; II, 376. 

The magpie (Elster, pica) wants to leave because of its 
Cauda ("tail"/, ^f . Alexandri Nequam Novus Ae sopus . XXXVIII ; "de 
pica et Cauda sua: cum patria turpem credens se linquere morem. . . 
vibravit caudsun more priore suaxn" ; quoted from Hervleux, II, 
SOS f. 

As early as the 13th century the heron fable (bewraying 
one's environs) is told of the sea gull , as no. 4-5 of the Hebrew 
fairy tale collection Mischle Sch^allm by Berachja Hannakdan, cf . 
Bolte-Polivka, IV, 337 (with add. refs.). 

The same fable (fouling one's nest, decision to leave the 
country, etc.) is told of the hoopoe. The adviser in this ver- 
sion is the cuckoo ("gauch"), the uncle of the hoopoe. Cf. K. 
Goedeke, Deutsche Dichtung im Mittelalter (Dresden, IS7I), p. 
SkZe.'. "Cif einem ztlne stuont ein gouch..." ascribed to the 
Strieker, ca. 123O. Franz Pfeiffer, Z.f .dt.A . . VII {lBk-3) , 36O- 
363 (Vienna MS, no. 2705; 13th-li4-th cent., and Wiirzburg MS, no. 
34-1, l^th cent.) . 

B. Hoopoe rouses by calling "up-up ." In East Prussia, 
the hoopoe raises old horses up in the spring of the year: of. 
Lemke, Volkst . in Ostpreussen , 2, 19, no. 35 > in Dahnhardt , III, 
1, p. 39^^^ In Mecklenburg, the hoopoe together with the wood- 
pigeon and the cuckoo, keep a cow. When it falls into a swarap, 
the hoopoe calls "up, up, oil up," cf. Wossidlo, 2, no. 290. A 
similar tale is recorded for Brandenburg: the hoopoe calls "olle 
uppupup," cf. Engelien and Lahn, Der Volksmund in der Mark Bran - 
denburg . I, 111 f., in Dahnhardt, ibid .; Friedr. Drosihn. Kinder - 
reime und Verwandtes , no. 1^6, explains the hoopoe's call as 
^'oss (= ox) , up, up" (Poraerania) . 

Among- the Armani or Arajnani (= "Romans," die Aromunen), 
i.e. the Rumanians inhabiting the Mt . Pindus districts, neighbors 
of the Macedoniajns, this story is told: their ancestor or one of 
their chiefs, while fleeing from the enemy, is forced to abandon 
his horse which is stuck in a bog. The only other living being 
at hand is the cuckoo. Its cry "coo, coo" fails to rouse the 
horse. But the hoopoe's "up, up" causes the horse to extricate 
itself. Thus it is saved from a miserable death. The chief con- 
tinues his flight. In recognition of the hoopoe's service he 
changes the bird's name to that of the cuckoo, so that the hoopoe 
has to this day among the Armani the cuckoo's name. Cf. Mariajiu, 
Ornithologia , II. I65; Dahnhardt. 0£. cit . ; Gaster, Rumanian Bird 
and Beast Stories (London, 1915), pp."~2^S f. (Gaster tells the 
story of an "Armenian" chief. This is evidently a lapsus). It 
is, of course, meet that these inland tales should confine them- 
selves to swamps and the like, whereas the Brittsmy version in- 
troduces a sea voyage. 

C. Helpful birds . Cf. Thompson, Motif-Index, I, 


to point a moral, anci for this reason joins the hoopoe, the repre- 
sentative of the base and foul, with the nightingale, the repre- 
sentative of all that is sweet and charming. This pairing does 
not, as far as I know, rest on popular tradition, but is wholly 

(g) In Bohemia, the hoopoe marries the'Nusskrahe* at an 
elaborate wedding. 

Excepting the hoopoe-woodpecker comradeship (Upper Brit- 
tany, France) and excepting the hoopoe-'Nusskrahe* matrimonial al- 
liance (Bohemia), all popular hoopoe associations, then, that 
have been listed so far, are current sdong the south and west 
coasts of the Baltic, from East Prussia to Denmark, and as far 
south as Brandenburg and Cujavia. 

(h) It is different with the hoopoe-cuckoo partnership. 
The geographical distribution of the belief in some sort of union 
of these two birds is much wider than the belief in the other 
hoopoe alliances. Hoopoe-cuckoo tales and beliefs are found in 
Pomerania, Mecklenburg, Brandenburg emd Altmark, Schleswig-Holsteir. 
with Lixbeck, the Hamburg and Bremen vicinity with Stade, (North) 
Thuringia, Upper Germany, and Austria in general, Bavaria, the 
Tyrol, Bohemia, Moravia, Transsylvania, and Rumania.^ In other 

no. B k^O. 

D. Animal gratefxil for rescue from drowning . Cf. Thomp- 
son , I, no. B 3^2, with reference to Folklore Fellows Communica - 
tions , 56 (- W. Wienert, Typen der griechisch-romischen FabeT TT 
Thompson, no. B 527. 

•^Hervievix, II, 639: Odonis de Ceritona Fabulae, ex 
Bi bliothecae Regiae Monacensis Mso Codioe Latino 83*56. no. LI 
TlxT! "de upupa et philomena." Another "learned" hoopoe associa- 
tion is probably Abstemius, Fab , i^•5 (hoopoe appears at eagle's 
wedding) = B. Waldis, II, 76 = Kirchhof , Wendunmuth . 7, 60. 

Joseph Wenzig, Westslawischer Marchenschat z (Leipzig, 
IS57), pp. 2^1 f. ^Wenzig, Bibliothek slavischer Poesien in 
Deutscher tJbertragiing, [Prague, IS75}, pp. ^1-7 f\ Cf. Alfred 
Waldau, Bohmische Granaten (1658), p. 132, no. I63 . 

•^ General references ; Bolte-Pollvka, III, pp. 2^5 f., no. 
173. K. Heckscher, Die Volkskunde des germa ni schen Kulturkreises . 
An Hand der Schriften Ernst Moritz Arndts und gleichzeitlicher 
wie neuerer Parallelbelege dargestellt (Hamburg. l9gRK pp. 219. 
443, n. 54. Suoleihti. Die deutschen Vogelnamen. Sine w ortge - 
Bchic htliche Unt ersuchung (Strassburg, 1909) , pp. 14 f. Wossidlo, 
Mecklgnbufgi sche Volk suberl i ef erungen . II, 1 (Wismar, 1899), 
pp. 362 f , 

Pomerania ; Blatter fiir pommersche Volksktuide . VIII (190O), 

words. a hoopoe-cuokoo affinity in one form or another is known 
in two large European areas: (l) the North Central part, with 


^llTl ^^^^' ^I> 335, 3b4 (Wiedehopf = Kukiiks Koster = OiirVVpt-I • 

i S?^H"!^^~"^^f "^"^ Bches,jyorterbuch ni ( J931 ) c^is ?6w' 
KS«t«S°^i " K^^skoiFeTTd^rT^SlJIk sien KSstir, ? und sieA 

f orschmP^' ,, ^°^f sf^onden ^blat^d. Ver. f. niedprdf. Qp...i.- 

guoks Lackey)' Of. above o IP „ i «:' Jc ' '■^° '*°^ °'^^- 
the Strloker; an AistrlM? ^' ^^^ "• ^ *■ '!>« Poe" ascribed to 

Bavaria: Konrad von llegenbeiK. 
cent.), ed. PfelKer. p. 228; sS^nlJ? 
dajit or lackey to ciwkoo). 

dee deutiil^\b;g?I„g^V^'^4.^ cuci°o*f^li?af^*?^^=^^^^^ 

l'^^]- ''Boi^:'^KeiSey r':'p Mj^^loJtS??!' \'^"*"'- 
geeky lldTlaiT, 711, cited In'oIinJI^it 111 iVrnffL^ 
and cuckoo ulsh to buy a horse) <irl^>.^l^„ il ' "^^ 'i? (hoopoe 

w?i:.r^^rs!^ii:i^"iLhV' ----- --^^^^^^ 

Buoch der Hatur (l^l-th 
p. 109 I hoopoe = at ten- 


Germany, Bohemia, Moravia, Austria proper, and the Tyrol, and 
(2) TrajiBsylvajiia and Rumania, including the Rumanians of the 
Ut. Pindus district. 

The connecting link between (l) and (2) may be the Low 
German "Saxons" who were settled in Siebenbxirgen (Transylvania) 
in the middle of the twelfth century by King Gejza II. These 
people may have transplanted a popular belief of their old North 
German home into their new countrj'. This would "explain" the ex- 
istence of the hoopoe-cuckoo tradition beyond Hungary, outside of 
that more or less solid Central European block. Again, the migra- 
tion route of the hoopoe may be the or one deciding or contribut- 
ing factor in the establishment or continuance of this hoopoe 
tale in and near the Carpathian Mountains and the Transylvanian 
Alps. This is merely another guess. I am inclined to believe 
that the true explanation for the lacuna—Hungary —is ray lack of 
information about the bird lore of the Magyars. 

So much for the geographical distribution of the hoopoe- 
cuckoo tales. Chronologically the hoopoe-cuckoo affinity dates 
back to Greek antiquity. According to the Tereus legend', this 
wicked king was changed into a hoopoe or into a hawk. The hawk, 
in turn, is intimately associated with the cuckoo, one being con- 
verted into the other. This belief was current in antiquity and 
is not yet extinct. The e x istence of the hoopoe-cuckoo tradition 

cuckoo calls "Kuk! Kukl" and hoopoe calls "Hup' Hupi"'' 

^^^S^nia: Gaster, pp. 229 f . , no. LXXVI (hoopoe borrows 
cuckoo's tuft;. Revue des trad, popu l , . jx 627 Mariann ? % 

b agrLoLV?h'-v^^-.' T^' ^2;^2:i 59. 169 (Lckorifthe'huf- 
+?S ;• K^°® ^^71^.^ ^"^ Rumanian versions of the fairytale of 
the fisherman and his wife; cf. Dahnhardt, III, i, pp 2|05 f ) 
See also note 1 B (p. 32). ^ '' 

Eugen Oder, "Der Wiedehopf in der griechischen Sas-e " 
Rhei n. Museum . N.F. XLIII (iSSS), 51^1-56 I WacklrnSel ri 
Schrmen. Ill 23S with note 2.' ?hom?son, Glotsi^?i;''5^gg 
t;o b?rd«r ?op 7^*^°^^^°^^' connected witF-f^sii^laSSe ?f the 
two birds), 102 (hoopoe and cuckoo on scepters), 82 (hawk = ictonoc 
mnr%S?a:^r"^^^' V°°P^^^ ' contains^ef s! 'to Ar^tJotle". ^'^5' 
lllZ^ ll^lt^' f -.^^^r® Dawson, pp. 591 f. for confusion ex- 
ilckS Sir S'^Rk? ^^^*^^" ^^*^^^" bee-eater, hoopoe, wood- 
S,!S«^*o.?^ ' ^\^ h assumes a popular confusion of hoopoe and 
??f^oi ?/^^ff ^ J^^^ confusion to be the reason for nLiing 
the celestial city which Aristophanes has built by the tTo ^("hoo- 
poe" jVij^aoKoK K y.^(thecuckoS land in the cloSL) ' '^lX;son?° 
P- 113; Z.f .dt. Mythologie und SittPninimSo, m (igcc), 276 f. 
i^ \ Brunier Denied (5thldT7i:?iF2TW=lerlin, 19l2 pp. S9 f. 
D^nS;;? ^JSperber). FFC, VIII, I7, no. 95 (Finnish .' Grimi, 
Deutsche Mytholog;ie . II, 565. 


during the Middle Ages ia vouchsafed by the Strieker and Konrad 
von Llegenberg references, given above. For modern times, there 
is a cloud of witnesses, including the dialect glossaries and 
dictionaries (see above, p. 33. n. 3)- 

Geographically as well as chronologically, then, the be- 
lief in a hoopoe-cuckoo partnership is more extensive than the 
belief in the other hoopoe alliances. 

This relationship of hoopoe and cuckoo assumes a variety 

of phases and degrees of intimacy. Noteworthy is uncle-nephew 

and husband-wife relation. Once they appear as teacher and 

pupil, in the Heye citation under Tyrol (see above). Occasionally 

the two birds are associated as herders, or because they wish to 

buy a horse. 

Again they appear together in stories explaining the pro- 
venience of the hoopoe's crest. It is obtained, as has been 
pointed out before in Chapter I, by borrowing (stealing) it from 
the cuckoo, usually in connection with a wedding (Rumania and 
Bohemia). In a number of stories it is evident that the similar- 
ity of the calls of the two birds has helped to bring them to- 
gether, so much so, that in the Macedorumanian story of the Mt. 
Pindus district, referred to above, the hoopoe's name is changed 
into that of the cuckoo. 

Similarity of the two bird calls, often creating the im- 
pression that the hoopoe was deliberately trying to imitate the 

For cuckoo = uncle ajid hoopoe ■» nephew, cf . above, p. 32, 
end of note 1 A (Strieker). For cuckoo = husband and hoopoe = 
wife, cf. Gaster, pp. l62 f., no. XLIII; pp. 16^^-67 (versions of 
Grimm, Kinder- und Ha us marchen , no. 19: Fischer un sine Fru) . 
Marianu, lT,"'l59, S, TES . Revue des tr a d. pop\j1 .. VIII, 4-1. 
Dahnhardt, III. 1, ^05 f . The hoopoe iVa "she" in "Vogel-Schul" 
(Breslau, 17OO) = no. IS of Seelmann's List, see Jahrb . d. Ver. f. 
niederdt. Sprachf orsch. . XIV (liSSS), II6; also "die hoppe" in 
Haager (Hulthem'sl MS, l4-th cent., - no. 5 of Seelmann's List = 
Germa nia, VI (IS61), 232 (Van den voghelen, published by H. F. 
Massmann); also in B. Waldis, Esopue . II, no. 76: von der widhop- 
fen, ed. Tittmann, I, pp. 26l f. = ed. Kurz, I, pp. 266 f. 

Engelien and Lahn. The two birds and the wood pigeon 
own a cow; cf. Wossidlo, 2, no. ^290 = Dahnhardt, 111,1, 397 (Bran- 
denburg and Mecklenburg). Cesky lid . VIII, 7II = Dahnhardt, III, 
1, p. 512: the hoopoe goes to town in order to purchase a horse 
for himself and his partner, the cuckoo. Having spent the pur- 
chase money for drink, the hoopoe, when back in the forest, avoids 
the cuckoo. Since that time the cuckoo is calling "kup kuu" = 
"buy the horse," and the hoopoe answers from a distance, "du-du- 
du" = "I am going, going, going" (Bohemia). 

cuckoo'8 song, coupled with the observation that the hoopoe usu- 
ally appears on the scene a fortnight before the cuckoo, a sort 
of John the Baptist heralding the advent of his master, consti- 
tutes one of the principal reasons for thinking of the two birds 
as belonging together and for dubbing the hoopoe "Kuckuckskvister" 
or "-koster" ("cuckoo's sexton"), especially in Northern Germany, 
or "Kuckuckslakai" or "-knecht." An additional reason may be 

■'"Suolahti, 14- f , Grimm, Deuts che s Worterbuch . V, 2525. 
Schiller, Zum Tierbuche , II, 12 f . (quoting Colerus Calendar, p. 
gp : "Die Mecklenburger saigen, der Wiedehopffe sei des Guckgucks 
Kiister. Denn wenn sich der rait seinem Narrischen gelachter oder 
geschrey auff den Bewmen horen lest, so lest sich auch bald her- 
nach der ajider narr, der Gukg\ik hdren." Wossidlo, II, %-^7. 
U. Jahn, Volkssa^en aus Pomi nern = E. M. Arndt , March en und Jug end- 
erinner\in gen, I , ^25 (cf. Dahnhardt, III, 1, 399; Heckscher, pp. 
200, 219) : "Die Leute nennen ihn (i.e. hoopoe) deswegen haufig 
den Kuckukskxister, weil sein Laut aus der Feme wirklich oft so 
klingt, als wolle einer dera Kuckuck seinen Gesang nachsingen, wie 
der Kiister dem Pastor. Aber der Kuckuck ist ein lustiger Schelm 
und kann sein Lied in Freuden singen, der V/iedehopf aber ist ein 
trauriger Schelm, und darum muss er seufzen und klagen und sein 
'Hupupp, Hupupp' geht ihm gar schwer aus der KehleT" Additional 
refs. for Wiedehopf = Kuckuck skiister in Heckscher, p. khji , n. ^k, 
esp. J. K. Dahnert, Pl_att deutsches TJorter buch nach der alt en und 
neuen pomme rschen und riigischen Mundart (St ral sund , I7SI), 261, 
and Gilow, De Diere (Anklam, 1I7D , p. 317. Of. 0. Mensing, 
Schleswig-Holstein. Worterbuc h. Ill (1931), cols. 361 f.; Korres - 
pondenzblatt d. Ver. f. niederdt. Sprachfo rschunp. XVI (H^SlT, 
Sj; XVII TIB93). ^; Z.d.Ver.f.V k unde . X (l90gT. 211; Gedichte von 
G. A. Burger , ed. A. Sauer ("Deutsche National -Lit eratur," 
LXXVIII, 2), p. 160; Matthias Claudius, Rhein weinlied . For 
"Kuckuckslakai" of.' Schiller . For " Kuckuck sknecht" cf. Wuttke- 
Meyer, p. 123. " Kuckuck sknecht, " however, does not always signify 
"hoopoe," cf. Lewalter-Schlager, Deutsch es Kin derlied und K inder- 
spiel (1911), no. 103 with note on p. 299. "Koster" as in 
" Kuckuck sko St er" occurs also in connection with the nightingale, 
cf. Korrespondenzblatt etc., XVII (1593), K: "den Nachtigall sin 
Koster nennt man einen Vogel, ich glaube 'Lisch allerlei, ' der 
der Nachtigall nachtont, sie nachahmen zu wollen scheint. 'Lisch- 
Allerlei ' wird die unachte Nachtigall, der Nachtigall Kiister, 
wegen seines buntscheckigen Gesanges genannt ."--From the point of 
view of "h\iman interest," Konrad von ilegenberg's note on the hoo- 
poe and the cuckoo is perhaps the most appealing. This lith cent. 
Bavarian priest records after the fashion of his day "Urvater 
Hausrat," as he found it in his source, the de naturis rerum by 
the learned Dominican Thomas of Cantimpre. But the mention of 
the hoopoe evidently stirred childhood memories of vroods in the 
springtime in the soul of the grown-up cleric, emd these he incor- 
porates into his chapter on the widhopf : "(der widhopf) hftt neur 
ain gesank und ain stimm, wan er singet neur hoz hoz hoz, sam der 
gauch singt guck guck. ich hSji auch dick gemerkt ze Megenperch, 
do ich ain kindel was, daz die zwSn vogel zuo enander sftzen und 
sungen mit aim wehsel, der gauch vor, der widhopf nach, und wftnd 
ich, der widhopf waer des gauches roz und daz si staetes pei 
ainander waeren," ed. Pfeiffer, p. 228 ("des gauches roz": the 


found in the fact that the two birds for a long time have inter- 
ested the folk (ai-.d the "doctors") as being odd in their nesting 
habits and in the raising of their young. 

The association of hoopoe and cuckoo being firmly fixed 
in the minds of people, it is not surprising to see the two birds 
mentioned together, i.e. the one following the other, when birds 
are enumerated, as e.g. in numbers 1 and 2 of SeelmaJin's list of 
Vogel spr achen . 

The role of the cuckoo's sexton or lackey is not always 
played by the hoopoe. Thus, the part of the cuckoo's companion 
in some sections of Germany is given to the "Kiebitz" (pewit, 
plover, vanellus cristatus), a crested bird like the hoopoe. And 
in some sections of Englajad the companion of the cuckoo is the 
meadow pipit, called Cuckoo's Sandie or titling (Durham). Most 
interesting in thip connection is the fact that in England, in 
Sweden, and in Finland, the wryneck ("Wendehals, " "Drehhals," 
jynx torquilla) has taken over the function of the cuckoo's sex- 
ton. This peculiar bird is known in England as cuckoo's mate, 
cuckoo's footman, or fool, or messenger, or marrow (■ companion, 
friend), or leader, and as hobby bird (hobby = cuckoo). In 
Devonshire the wryneck is called "dinnick" or cuckoo's mate. Its 
Welsh name is gwas-y-gog, i.e. cuckoo's knave. -^ In Sweden the 

Stuttgart MS has "ruff," of. Germania , XXIV (N.R. XII, 1^79), ^15- 
In Luxemburg the hoopoe is celled, for this reason, "Riffer" 
(= "Rufer," exclaimer, caller, of. Suolahti, p. 15). 

No. 1 (l6th cent. Low German): the cuckoo is the 6i|-th, 
the hoopoe the 65th bird. No. 2 (printed £a. I5OO) : the hoopoe 
is the 3^"th> "the cuckoo the 39th bird. Of. Schuster, where the 
cuckoo emd the hoopoe are nos. 100 and 101, respectively, on p. 
JkS (of. above note on Transylvania). Compare also Z. f. osterr. 
Vkun de , I (l395) . 2^2, v/here the cuckoo asks the question and the 
hoopoe answers it (of. above, note on Moravia). In the last two 
instances the similarity in the calls of the birds fxirnishes an 
even stronger reason for keeping them united. 

Handworterbuch d. dt . Aberglaubens , I (1927), col. 337 > 
s.v. "Alte Jungfer," with ref. to Deutsch e s V/orterbuch . V, 657. 
Suolahti, p. 2b7: Federbusch auf dem Kopf des Kiebitz. Swainson, 
p. KS. — An old English name for "Kiebitz" is lapwing. It will be 
remembered that older versions of the English Bible, including 
the Authorized Version, translate "lapwing" where the Revised 
Version has the (correct) translation "hoopoe." The lapwing, too, 
is a crested bird; of. Suolahti. 

•^Swainson, pp. 103 , IO9. H. Kirke Swann, A Dictionary of 
English a nd Folk-Names of British Birds (London, 1913)) P- 69. 

wryneck's name is ggktyta (gok « cuckoo), and the Finns call it 
kaen piika (= cuckoo's maid, cuculi Eincilla). 

The question naturally arises: why is the hoopoe the 
cuckoo's sexton in an area that is, roughly speaking, the middle 
strip of Europe, extending from the coasts of the North and the 
Baltic Seas in a south-easterly direction to Rumania, emd why is 
some other bird, the wryneck, the cuckoo's footman in England, in 
Sweden, and in Finland, or, again roughly speaking, in that arch 
which lies north of the hoopoe territory? The explanation seems 
to lie in the fact that the (African) hoopoe but rarely crosses 
over into Scandinavia and England — although occasionally it is 

foxind as far north as Spitzbergen. In Engla.nd, at any rate, it 

is a rare bird. ITnether the substitution in Finland of the wry- 
neck for the hoopoe be due to the scarcity of the latter in this 
region or whether this be due to the cultural influence of Swedish 
settlers in Finlemd, I am not able to determine. Nor am I able 
to say whether the mating and nesting areas of the hoopoe and the 
wryneck have or have not any bearing on the cuckoo's sexton being 
the one bird or the other. It is significant, however, I think, 
that the cuckoo's sexton, even if this role is played by some 
bird other than the hoopoe, is, with the one exception of the 
meadow pipit, a crested bird (Kiebitz) or a bird who is able to 
simiilate a crest when occasion arises (wryneck). Again it is 
significant that the wryneck has recourse to the same grotesque 
mimic play when trying to scare away an enemy as does the hoopoe, 
and that it is just as infamous because of its malodorous nest as 
is the hoopoe."^ 

Deuts che Uythologie^, ed. E. H. Meyer, III (iS/S), 

196. According to Phil. A. Nemnich, Allgem eines Po lyglot ten' 
Lexi con de_r ?Ta.t_urges_chichte (Hainburg and Hailed 1793-95) , ¥•?• 
" iynx ,"^ Tne "wryneck precedes the cuckoo by two weeks, just as the 
hoopoe. According to Grimm, the Finnish "kaen piika" may also 
refer to the "curruca" ("Grasmucke" ) . In England, "cuckoo's maid" 
is the name of the red-backed shrike (Wiesenknarrer, Wachtelkonig, 
Wachtelmutter, ortygoraetra; cf. H. K. Swann). 

^Brehm-Haacke, II, 31 : "(Der Wiedehopf ist) in England 
ein seltener Gast , verirrt sich aber zuweilen bis nach Nordskajidi- 
navien und Spitzbergen." Suolahti, p. 13: "Wiedehopf in England 
ausserst selten." 

^Brehm-Loesche, Die Vogel . I (1291), 63^-36. Cf. also 
the next chapter. 


The lexicographer Hesychius mentions several names by 
which the upup a epops L . was known to the Greeks: fooi x'tetKoxkJos, 
the longskulled one; Koov"v^<*co'to^ the helmeted one; e-ciftvs , the 
destroyer or robber; <iXi KtPrrcoi^, the cock; ^t/idC-o^, one who 
laughs or one who causes laughter (because of his antics?). Be- 
side these five there is, of course, the standard name iToyr, and 
because of this total of six names, Hesychius refers to the hoo- 
poe a.s ToXviJVtrfAo^, the bird with many names. Were he writing 
today, I ara sure, Hesychius would change his epithet to TlicQ-ito- 
Wf*-o^, the bird with many, many names. 

Some of the "many names" have been listed. There were 
mentioned in various connections Egyptio-Coptic, Hebrew, Greek, 
Latin, Sicilian, Arabic, Italian, French, Swedish, English, and 
German names. Of these and other hoopoe-names some, perhaps the 
majority, are onomatopoeic, based on the hoopoe's (mating) call: 
e.g. the Egyptian, as transmitted in Greek, KOirKoiro?«<$, KoifHoo-c^o^ 
or irovTdg ; Latin: upupa; Armenian: popop; Arabic: hudhud; 
Persian: plipCi; Lettish: puppukis; Church Slavonic: vudodu; 
Dutch: hop, hoep; the large number of German dialect names, as 
Hupphupp, Huppuppergeselle, Wuppwupp, Hod-Hod, Huppe, Hupper, 
Wudi , V/uddwudd, Ossopupk, OssepQper, Hupk, Lupk, Bock de Rock, 
'etc.; perhaps the Polish dudek and the Wendish (h)upak (hupac, 
of. hupac = schreien wie der Wiedehopf ; in the dialect of 
Dubraucke, near Spreraberg, Silesia, the name of the hoopoe = 
hupaz, "von seinem Rufe hup, hup."ir Even the German "Wiedehopf" 
seems to have been originally an imitative word; the Greek name 

^ XoX.>rcJv»tr^oi» 6\ h^xULto (o o\> , quoted by Thompson, 
p. 112. 3 

^M. Terentius Varro (d. 27 B.C.), de lingua latina . V, 

section 75: "de his (avibus) pleraque ab suis vocibus ut haec 

upupa etc." I owe this reference to the kindness of Mr. William 
Hajnmer . 

^ Mitt. d. schles. Ges. f . Vkund e. X (l90g) , Heft XX . 51 . 


\ioloc^ ( 

of the hoopoe, Ivof , and the call of this bird, as interpreted by 
the Greeks, iroroT , evidently belong together; the latter has 
been immortalized by Aristophanes in his Aves (227), where he 
stretches it into the hendecasyllabic iroTororoToToVoroToireX^ 
Other hoopoe names describe it as a crested bird: Kooo- 
the helmeted one); the Silician: cristella; the Low Ger- 
man (in the neighborhood of Gottingen) : V^ipkam; possibly also 
the French huppe.~ 

The reasons for the name "Doctor," given the hoopoe by 
the Arabs, have been enumerated, as well as the reasons for the 
appellation "Kuckuckskiister," found in many parts of Europe. Some 
of its German names characterize the hoopoe as a frequenter of 
_ pastures: Gansehirt, Fuiirmann . perhaps also Oss epQper . while the 
stajadard German "'-Viedehopf " (der Wiedehopf , -hopp, -hoppe, -huppe, 
but also die Wiedehopfe)^ derives its meaning for most people 
from the bird's manner of locomotion, Wied ehopf being the same as 
Wiesen- or Waldhupfer (in) = meadow- or woods-hopper. Since, 
however, as mentioned before, the ivord Wiedehopf in all probabil- 
ity is of onomatopoeic origin, it seems to follow that the meaning 
"woods-hopper" is read inxo it thro-agh popular etymology. On the 
other hand, if this explanation be nothing but an attempt to 
"make sense" out of^an^otherwj^jaeaningless name, then it must 

^^^ ^. ^^- above, the beginning of Chapter I; see also ChaiDter 
III; Tnorapson, Glossary, pp. 5I1 f . ; Suolahti, pp. 12-15, with 
ref. to Naumajn-Hennicke, Naturgeschichte der VcWTjjji^ttoi .,,..^.0^ 
IIkHy ^liilif--A^-SCAles. Ges. f. Vkunde. XljmTrE^t~xrxT9^l 
Heft -XX 51 Korr:e|£ond_enzb^att d_^ 

zll l&lo):7^c> 'u^°v Schulenburg, Wendische_Volkiii^Hnrrerp- 
?J!;i^f ^ii-?^ ^^^'.?4 Friscnbier, Preussische s WorterbQch . II 
l.itllAl\ t^^ 'u^- .^^2\^ ■ ^- I^^eil, Wo^te'rbuch der altmarkisch- 
plat_tdeutschen Mundart (Salzwedel, 1 35977^? T"S7~r25r~'257~^a[5{a 
von Dombrowski m^emeineaicykl.O£adie deg^^esa.r;imten 'Forst- u nd 

Jagdwissenschaften , VHI^vTcnna and Til^zTg , "igglH — p 7^9 

Sometimes the call of the hoopoe is interpreted as "up-ap, " ' "oil 
up" or "olle uppupup," of. above, Chapter IV, p. 32, n IB At 
the Lower Weser (Amt Thedinghausen) , the hoopoe is called damelSr; 
cf .|^re^Bondeji|b;L.att etc., XXXVI (1917-IS), 55 f- I know of no 
n??iSf n°nr>»°'' ^^^ !^^| " ^°^ ^"^ ^ ^^^^ ^^ explain the Tyrolese 
(lg57r'56 ^^^ Frommann, Die_deut schen Mundarte n. IV 


Cf. the beginning of Chapter I; Suolahti, p. ik. 

n ^ .n ^'J' i^ Lohenstein, Blumen . 130, cited in Mitt .d.schles . 
^.^-/.-^T'^^ ' ^l ^^^°^^' lOOj-HdiF-Hup" in a Vogelhochzeit of the 
middle of the iSth cent.; cf. above, note 1, p. 3^. 


be admitted that tiie interpretation "woods-hopper" was firmly es- 
tablished in Old High Gerrasun times already, i.e. in those times 
when the name -"wituhoff a"- first appears in documents. 

Another group of hoopoe names, perhaps the largest group 
outside of the onomatopoeic group, and one that is to engage our 
attention now, is that group which characterizes the hoopoe as a 
"Schmutzvogel , " a filthy, sterquilinous fowl. 

In France it is called "coq puant" (Anjou) , "coq merdeux" 
(stinlcard). The Dutch, especially in Groningen and Gelderland, 
dub this bird: Drekhaan, Stronthasji, Stronthoepe, Slykhaan, and 
Schiithoep, Schijthop (dirt or dung cock, gallus lutosus). In 
the Scandinavian countries, the hoopoe is known as "haerfugl," 
"haerpop" (Danish; cf. skidtefugl COanish dialectj), and harfagel 
(Swedish). These names are derived from the German "Heervogel" 
which, according to Heyne in Deutsches Worterbuch , IV, 761, means 
"Kotvogel" (dirt or dung bird). 

In the German-speaking territory of Europe, the hoopoe 
passes under the names of "Dreckvogel" (Baden?, Bavaria), "Drock- 
stochar" (Tyrol, Sarntal), "FCil-piper" (Altmark), "Kothahn," 
"Kothuehnel" (listed at the beginning of the sixteenth century; 
Strassburg, Palatinate, Switzerland, Alsatia), "Kotkramer" (JDxeck- 
kramer")> "Histhahn" (Mark Brandenburg), "Mistvogel" (Bav8.ria) , 
"Puphahn" (Alsatia; perhaps onomatopoeic), "Puuposs," "Puup- 
weehopp," "Puvagel" (these three North German?), "Schi(e)sshof- 
ferich" (Hessia), "Schissdreckvogel" (Alsatia), "Stenkhupp" (North 
Ger.many?), "Stinker" (Bavaria), "Stinkhahn" (Alsatia), "VMtthahn" 
(North Germany?). 

All these names — provincial and dialectal, to be sure — 
connect the hoopoe with dirt, dung, excrements, and stench, and 
make it out to be an unclean bird. 5 Yet even when the hoopoe is 

■^Suolahtl, pp. 13 and 15. 

E. P.olland, Faun e popixLaire de la Fraxice. II (l{;579), 
102. W. Gottschalk, Die sprichwortllchen Redens arten der franzo- 
si_schen_ _ Spr ache , I (Heidelberg, 1930"), SS.' 

^Z.d.dt.morgenl.Ges. , XXXI, 206; Holland, II, 102 f. 
L. A. J. W. Slbet, De Di eren, p. 238. 

Suolahti, p. ih-; Br^ndum-Nielsen, De Ga rni e D ansk e 
Dyrerim (Copenhagen, 190S) , pp. IO7 f. 

5suolahti, p. 1^4-; Wossidlo, 11,1, p. 362; E. E. Martin 
and H. Lienhart, Worterbuc h der elsassischen .Munda. rten , I (Strass- 

called by its "stemdard" name, it is often described as an xinclean, 
xmsavory bird. Sometimes the reference to the hoopoe contains 
only a brief statement, an epithet, to the effect that it is a 
filthy bird; sometimes a more or less detailed etiological account 
is given, explaining the genesis of its coprolitic habits em* 
scatophagous manners; again, a knowledge of the cause of its of- 
fensive odor is presupposed and hence there are only allusions to 
an etiological account . 

Pop\ilar belief in the hoopoe's habits and traits of un- 
cleanliness is practically coexistent with the geographical occur- 
rence of the bird. On the other hand, it must be admitted that 
in some sections of Europe, especially in the South, the hoopoe 
is not known as a filthy bird but is killed, eaten, and considered 
a delicacy. This is evidently due to ignorance of its nesting 
and feeding habits, as the hoopoe only touches this territory on 
its migratory flight across the Mediterranean. Hence, the views 
of these South-Europeans are plainly an exception. As a rule, 
the hoopoe is among the fowls of the air what the skxink is among 
the beasts of the field. 

This bad reputation of the hoopoe is recorded as early as 
the Pentateuch. It is a part of the ornithological lore of to- 
day. It is true, of course, that, speaking of the Old World in 
general and of Germany in peurticxilar, the rise of industrializa- 
tion and the growing importance of urban centers has caused the 
hoopoe to share the fate of Joseph (Exodus 1: 8) — for most people 
it has ceased to be a living reality and has become, at best, a 
name only. And yet I hope to be able to show that the hoopoe, 
though it be dead to most of us, lives on anonymously in the oft- 
quoted proverb: It is an evil bird that fouls its own nest. 

On the following pages I have bro\aght together a motley 
array of testimony to the effect that the hoopoe is a filthy bird. 
I cite first the extra-German, then the German passages, arranging 
them, wherever possible and convenient, chronologically. A cer- 
tain amount of overlapping is unavoidable. 

The oldest reference to the filthiness of the hoopoe 
seems to be in the list of birds of abomination, toxmd in 

burg, 1899), 101, 140 f.; Frommann, Di e deutschen Mundarten . IV, 
56; Heckscher, p. 4^3, note 5^; Daimeil. p. 2bl. Z.f .dt .Mundarten 
(1910), 36I; Bayerische Hefte fur Volkskunde . II (1915). Heft 2/3. 
p. 145. 

Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy iK. Here, in verses 19 euad 12 re- 
spectively, the r) D * p 11 (dukhiphath; "hoopoe") is mentioned as 
one of a number of birds whose flesh must not be eaten. The 
Hebrews were evidently familiar with the unsavory propensities of 
the hoopoe. The fact that the hoopoe was considered sacred by 
the idolatrous Egyptians may have been an additional reason for 
tabooing it. The biblical injunction ooncerning the hoopoe was 
naturally heeded by the Israelites during their sojourn in Pales- 
tine and also afterwards in the diaspora, as evidenced by stories 

and allusions, especially in the haggadic writings. 

It is not surprising that the Arabs share this view. The 
seemingly contradictory notion that the "hudhud" (hoopoe) is sur- 
rounded by an odor of sanctity, does not prevent the Arabian 
nomad from voicing his dislike of the noisome smell of this bird.-^ 

The oldest allusion in Greek literature to the putrid 
emanations of the hoopoe seems to be the passage in Aristophanes' 
Birds (vs. 64-1), where the ?ro^ invites Peisthetairos and Euelpides 
urgently to enter its nest: 

T<?« cof A' ^t 

step into my nest 

and into my pieces of straw 

and the twigs that are here. 

Goethe's adaptation of this play, his delightful little 

literary satire Die Vogel. Nach dem Aristophanes (lySO)— a sort 

of pre-Tieckian Gestiefelter Kater — preserves this very point, 

viz. the allusion to the fetor of the hoopoe. For besides the 

bird-call "Houpl HoupJ" (this in spite of the substitution of the 

"Schuhu" - owl for the "Wiedehopf" as leading bird character), 

there occurs this line: "0 ja, er gleicht dem Wiedehopf; denn er 

macht sein Nest aus Quark," and that truly Rabelaisian expression: 

"Ich bin....der grosse Hosenkackerling, Epops maxiraus polycacaro- 

See chap, iii on filial piety, pp. 24- f . above, 

^Grxinbaum; Z.d.dt.rrorgenl.Ges . , XXXI (1^77), 206 (where 
the story concerning Rabbi Simon and theno*r)^"1, "dieser un- 
reine \inreinliche Vogel" is quoted from Cassel 's "Schamir^ , 313; 
Thompson, Glossary , p. 57. 

■^Griinbavun, pp. 313 f. 


Aristotle lists what is evidently the then current scien- 
tific explanation of the hoopoe's bad smell: d'tTo^cy*' iHocttii' 
(ULA/lt^M FflttrMt iK tys ipi^^wirci'^S Ko'r^oV . This tradition, 
viz. that the hoopoe constructs its nest preferably from hviman 
excrements, is repeated and amplified by Aelian: VTiP zoir^yj 

to (Sou Lo t «4wroL< ITOili A*- «'«•', in order to make it impossible for 

humans to approach their young ones the hoopoes besmear their 

nests with a layer of hvunan dung instead of using mud; thus, by 

foul odor and by mephitic stench, they keep away and prevent from 

approaching the animal that is hostile to them. 

Among the Romans, Pliny calls the hoopoe "obscoena avis."-^ 
Due to its well-known stercoraceous inclinations, it was elevated, 
some hold, to a sort of patron saint of manuring. This view, 
entertained by Jordem-Preller in Romische Mythologie , I, p. 375 > 
does not, as far as I am aware of it, rest on any direct evidence. 
It seems to be based on the story of Pilumnus and Picuranus or 
Sterculinius (Sterquilin [i] us, Sterculus, Stercutus, Stercutius), 
who are said to have been gods and of whom Picumnus is credited 
with the invention of fertilizing fields by means of manure. The 
hoopoe's foul smell seems to have suggested a connection with 
this noble pair of brothers.^ 

In post-classical times, the hoopoe continues to be known 
as an vmclean bird. This is obviously due to one, or to a combi- 
nation of two or all three of the following reasons: (l) influ- 

^Thorapson, p. 55; Seethe, "Die Vogel," in Werke , ed. Fr. 
Strehlke, VIII, 380, 386. 

^Aristotle, rtfl {tjiwt' ^^o^j:«<5 , ix, 15 6l6b fed. J. G. 
Schneider, Leipzig, ISII, I, 1+33); Aelian, Jri^t f^iw*' IdLonjroc, , m, 
26 (ed. F. Jacobs, Jena, IS32, p. 63); Thompson', Glossary , p. 55; 
see below, the modern French account which attributes the hoopoe's 
habit of building its nest of excrements to the desire to protect 
its young from the rapacity of treasure-hunting humans. 

^ Hist. Nat .. X, 144, 1 (ed. J. Sillig, I, 218). 

Servius Honoratus (1+th cent. A.D.), in his commentary on 
Vergil, Aen . , 9,1+: "fratres fuerunt dii; horiim Pitumnus usum 
stercorandorum invenit agror\im." E. Oder, "Der Wiedehopf in der 
griech. Sage," Rhein. Museum , N.F. XLIII (iSSS) , 556 (quotes 
Jordan-Preller) ; Thompson, Glossary , p. 56; of. Liebrecht, Zur 
Volkskunde . pp. 303 f. (Pious and Pilumnus). 


ence of the injunctions in the Pentateuch, (2) survival of the 
classical tradition, (3) personaa knowledge of the nesting and 
feeding habits of the hoopoe which, as dictionaries and encyclo- 
pedias and ornithological treatises testify, axe indeed filthy 
and noisome. The modern consensus concerning the nesting habits 
seems to be that the mother-bird, while sitting on the eggs, uses 
the nest as a latrine and that, after the young birds are hatched, 
their excrements are added to those of the mother and that, con- 
sequently, flies are attracted eind an aura of putrefaction clings 
to the nest and its inhabitants. In other words, it is not hviman 
filth, but their own diong which causes the stench universally as- 
sociated with the hoopoe. As smother explanation of or as a con- 
tributing factor for the pungent and vile odor of the hoopoe and 
its nest one finds mentioned the secretions of the tail glands of 
the bird. 

The learned author of the Vulgate, St. Jerome, no doubt 
considered the hoopoe a filthy bird because of his familiarity 

with the Mosaic writings and because of his acquaintance with 

Classical literature. For similar reasons, and because in his 

time there must have existed already a "Christian" tradition, 
drawing by means of the "symbolical" and "allegorical" method 
certain morals from the filthy traits of the hoopoe, just as there 
was one exploiting its "filial piety," Rabanus Maurus (d. 856) 
says of the hoopoe: 

Upupara Graeci appellant eo quod stercora humana considerat 
et fetenti pascatur fimo, avis spurcissima. . .semper in sepul- 
cris et humane stercore commorans, haec avis sceleratos pec- 
catores significat, scilicet quia sordibus (filth) peccatorum 
adsidue delectantur (v.l: Haec avis sceleratos et peccatores 
homines significat, qui sordibus peccatorum imrnorari assidue 
delectantur) .3 

■^See, e.g. Brehms Tierleben^ , ed. Pechuel-Loesche, Vogel , 
II (Leipzig-Vienna, 1891), 31 > 33- Pauly-Wissowa, Realencyk l. , 
VI (1909), col. 24-7. Raoul von Dombrowski, Allsemeine Encyklopa - 
die der ge_sa.mfnt en Forst- und Jagdwis s e nschaften , VI 1 1 (Vienna- 
Leipzig, l^PO , 390. Wilhelm Medicus", Die Naturgeschichte nach 
Wort und Spruc h des Volke s (Nordlingen, 1267), p. 203- Aristotle, 
'hoL f9«»' te^Pitis , ed. 7. G. Schneider, II, 109; ed. Aubert- 
Wimmer, I, 91. Aelian, de natura animal ium , ed. F. Jacobs, II, 
117; Swainson, p. IO6. 

Cf. Griinbaum. 

3op. II. De universe lib. VIII . in: Migne, Patrologia 
Latina. CXI, col. 252. 

The famous medieval collection of fables that goes under 
the name of Odonis de Ceritonia Fabxilae (ca. 1200 A.D.) contains 
a good exajaple of this sort of moralizing interpretation: 

De uppupa et philomena. — Contra injuriosos et de religio- 
sis qui eos f ugiunt . Uppupa, varietate colorum distincta et 
eximie cristata, dixit Philomenae: Tota nocte cantas, super 
ramos duros saltas, veni et quiescas in nido raeo . Quae ac- 
quievit et in nidum Uppupae descendit. Sed stercora fetentia 
invenit, quod ibi morari non potuit , et avolavit, dicens : 
Magis volo super duros ramos saltare quam in tali fetore 

Uppupa, quae in stercoribus nidificat, significat mulierem 
fornicariam, domicellvim l\axuTio8\im, qui quando habet lectos 
o mat OS fit suavos [siclj , tamen sub stereo re culpae fetidis- 
simos. . . 

^L. Hervie\ix, Les fabulistes latins . II (Paris, lSSi<-) , 
639, LI (LX); see also above, p. 31, n. 1. The Wolfenbuttel 
parchment US, Gudi-anus 200 . written at Bologna in 132b, contains 
as no. 23 the same fable. Here it is called "contra luxuriosos." 
The moral is slightly longer than the one quoted above: "Vpupa, 
que in stercoribus nidificat ornata diuersis coloribus, signat 
mulierem fornicariam, diuitem, luxuriosum qui quandoque habent 
lectos ornatos et suaues, sed cum stercore culpe f etidissimos. . . 
hi (religiosi) magls diligunt super tales ramos exultare, quam in 
fetore luxuriose coraputrescere. " See H. Osterley, D ie Narrationes 
des Odo de Ciringtonia ("Jahrbuch f. roman. u. engl. Lit.," XII, 
Leipzig, IS7IJ, p. 141. A similar interpretation is preserved in 
the Bestiario moralizzato (2nd^half of 13th cent.), no. k-S: 

La lupica, stereo e nata e in esso vive e rauore,/ de 
quello cibo piglia nutrimento,/ tale e la natura de lo pecca- 
tore./ Adorna si de drappi de colore / dentro e fetidissimo 
e puzzolento. 

See Goldstaub-Wendriner, pp. 190, n. 37S, where the Bre - 
viloquium animi cuiuslibet Religiosi reformat ivum of Joh. Insti- 
tor's is quoted; the filthy habit of the hoopoe is used to point 
a moral against those monks "qui inhoneste cogitando et iramunde 
ac superbe agendo totam suajn conversationem, tanquam cum stercore, 
deturpant . " 

This kind of moralizing is also responsible for the medie- 
val Tierspriiche . sayings composed by clerics and put into the 
mouths of animals, originally perhaps written beneath or beside 
pictures of animals representing virtues and vices. W. Seelmann 
and, especially, W. Stammler have called attention to some Middle 
Low German Tierspriiche from the fifteenth century, in Jahrb . d . 
Ver. f. niederdt. Spra c hforschung . XLV (1919), 31-35- One of 
them, following the representation of "Intemperantia" and "Tem- 
perancia," is spoken by the wedehoppe , who signifies "Insensibi- 

Wedder redelicheit unde des mynschen art 
Vormyd ik des lives lust unde wolvart. 
A similar moralizing interpretation of the hoopoe as fil- 
thy, then as a bad bird, may be responsible for its use in pas- 
ages like the following: 

1. Ueister Boppe Tea. I275-I2S7) 

Hoert ir'z, her esel, her d\inkelguot, her erennidink, 
her galgenswenkel , wend ir wars, her nieraansvriunt , 

A short time before, St. Hildegard (d. II79 or llSO) is a 
witness to the medieval belief in the dirtiness of the hoopoe: vedehoppo : . . . immundam naturara habet , et ideo semper in 
sordibus ac circa sordes versatur, et in eis proficit, et 
ideo quaerit sordes, quae fortissimae sunt, et in eis mansio- 
nem suain parat.^ 

Eventually the hoopoe achieves the distinctioQ of being 
accorded mention by the eminent writer Albertus Mstgnus (d. 12S0). 
Listing it as a dirty bird he, so to speak, adds the lustre of 
his najne to the traditions and observations concerning this bird: 
the hoopoe has not only, but is now become known throughout Chris- 
tendom as a dung bird. Aristotle and Albertus Magnus, one the 
most highly esteemed naturalist of the pre-Christian era, and the 
other one of the most revered polyhistors of the Catholic Middle 
Ages, both have spoken. 

Q^^un nos upupam vocamus, ex industria natural i materiam 
nido suo congruara colligit, stercus hominis, quia virtutem 
quamdam habet theriacae, contra venenum, etgest medicina sibi 
contra venenum, sicut et leopardo et leoni. 

her glidink, 
ir sit wol des wit(e)hopfen genoz, 
In gebristet an rehter kunst , an eren und anmuote. 

(MSH, II, ^&ka.) 
2. Hugo von Trimberg, Per Renner (ca. 13OO) 
Swer trinket biz im die widehopfen 
In dem hirne beginnent klopfen. 

(in facsimile-reprint of the 1^33 edition of the 
Hi St or. Verein Bamberg [Berlin, 1904], lines 9*4-7^ f • = 
ed. G. Ehrismann, "Bibl. d. lit. Ver. Stuttgart," 
CCXLVIII, pp. il-5, lines 9515 f-; of. Max Steidel, Die 
Zecher- und Schl e mmerlieder im deutschen Volksliede bis 
zum dreissig.jsthrigen K riege Diss. , Heidelberg, 191^" , 
On the other hand, Trimberg, in warning against alcoholic 
excesses, may mention the "knocking" of the hoopoe merely because 
of the fact that the hoopoe frequently nests in tree-holes; of. 
H. Sachs: "Der Bauernknecht fiel zweimal in den Brunnen" ( Spruch- 
gedicht . January 6, 1560): 

Also ich opfel as, 

Thet also mit mein stiffeln klopffen, 
Wie in ain paumen die widhopffen. 
See J. Sahr's note to this passage in"Sammlung Goschen," 
no. 2k- (1920), p. 130. 

Physica Lib. VI. de avibus . chap, xlvii, in Migne, Patr. 
Lat . , CXCVII, 1305. 

Albertus Magnus, de anim. Lib. VIII . tr. 2, chap. 4, p. 
255, quoted in J. G. F. Franzius' edition of Pliny's Hist. Nat . 
(Leipzig, I7SI), p. 92. 


I cite two more passages to illustrate the medieval Latin 
tradition. The Codices membranacei Aufiienses LXXXVIII-XL (Karls- 
rvihe, 13th-li^-th cent., originally from near Lake ConstaJice) con- 
tain this statement: 

Upupa avis est que wlgariter dicitur withophe. hec auis 
de stercore hominis construit nidum, et ideo cum iuuenis est 

The Breslau-Luben MS of the Proverbia Fridanci Sermons 

(1^9) lists the proverb "Est avis ingrata, que defedat sua 

strata" and adds "Talis est upupa, per quam signif icantur forni- 

carii et adulteri." 

And finally two passages from the end of the sixteenth 
century from the pen of Johannes Ravisius Textor: "Epops avicula 
est sordida" and "Upupa. . .semper commoratur in fimo."-^ 

These Latin citations show, I trust, that the hoopoe as 
filthy bird tradition was firmly established in medieval Europe 
and that in the hands of the clerks the hoopoe had become at 
least one of the types of the ungodly who delight in dwelling in 
the mire of their evil deeds. 

The following passages, taken from vernaciilar sources, 

furnish additional proof for this assumption. They are gathered 

from medieval and modern authors and collections. 

FRANCE. Guillaume le Clerk (ijth cent.): 

La hupe est un oisel vilein: 

Son ni n'est pas corteis (courteous, hofisch) ne sein, 

Ainz est fet de tai e d'ordure.5 

Les Ditz des Bestes et des Oyseaux (I5th-l6th cent.): 

La huppe 

Manger si Cje] ne veiolx qu 'ordure, 

Car en puenaisie me tiens; 

Se je suis de belle figure; c 

Beaulte sans bonte ne vault riens. 

■^ Z. f. dt. Wortforsch\ang . V (l903-Oi|-) , 19. 

^J. KLapper, Die Sprichworter der Freidankpredigten ("Wort 
und Brauch," XVI, Breslau, 1927), p. 79, no. 425. 

^ Theatrum Poeticum (Basel, l600) , pp. 987, 999- 

G. 0. Druce, The Mediaeval Bestiaries , p. Si. 

- ^e Bestiaire. Das Tierbuch des normannischen Diohters 
Guillaume le Clerk , ed. R. Reinsch ("Altfranz. Textbibl.," XIV, 
Leipzig, 1S92), vss. 521-23- 

^A. de Montaiglon, Recueil . . . (Paris, IS55), I, p. 263. 
See also: 


An ascetic writer of the sixteenth century: 

Le Diable fait comne la Houppe bastissant son nid en tout 
ordure et infection.! 

Two "old" French lines: 

Dedans un crevix (cavity) avec fange (mire) et ordure 
La huppe fais ses oeufs et sa maison.2 

Two etiological accounts offer explanations for the hoo- 
poe's alleged custom of building its nest with excrements: 

Formerly the hoopoe used to build a very beautiful nest. 
The walls were inlaid with silver coins (?). But men were 
rapacious, hunted up the nests and destroyed them, in order 
to win the money. In order to ward off the robbers who al- 
lowed it no moment of peace, the hoopoe from now on used dung 
instead. And ever since it is building its nest without be- 
ing disturbed. 3 

Noah was telling the birds how to build their nests. The 
hoopoe, being a shy bird, was standing over to one side. So 
it happened that Noah overlooked it. Thereupon the hoopoe 
took courage and asked which materials it should employ. 
"Use gold," said Noaii. The hoopoe did not understand him and 
repeated the question. Noah said: "Use silver 1" Again the 
hoopoe did not understand and repeated the question, j, There- 
upon Noah became impatient and answered: "Use dirtl" 

Miscellaneous: Human excrements or such of animals (cows, 

pigs, dogs) — "mon nid est fait de marde de chen et de loup" (Pi- 

neau, p. 5lS) — are specified as building materials. The song of 

the hoopoe is interpreted to mean: "mon nid pute" (stinks; Haute 

Bretagne); "Puput, puput, puput / Jhe seu bele, mais mon nid put!" 

(Charante, Western Frajice; Saintonge, now Charente Inferieure); 

the male hoopoe cries "boute, boutel" and the female suiswers "fi 

La Huppe 

Menges ne veulz rien que ordure 

Car en pxignaisie met i ens 

Se ie suys de belle figure 

Beaute sand bonte ne vault ries. 
Early l6th cent., Chalons sur Uame, from "Les Dictz des Oyseaux 
et des Bestes," Le Bibliophile Beige . I (Brussels, 1S66), g. 

Les six livres de similitudes tirees de toutes sortes 
d'animaux (Paris. 1577). P. 39. cited by Paul Sebillot , Le Folk - 
Lore de France . Ill (Paris, 1906), I71. 


Penny Cyclopaedia . XXVI, 35, in Charles Swainson, Provin - 
cial Names and Folklore of British Birds (London, ISS5) , pp. 106 

^Dahnhardt, I, 327- 

Sebillot, III, 171 (Tranche Comtl) - Holland, Fa\xne popu- 
laire, II, 103 • Pineau, Folklo r e du Poitou . p. 5l2. Dahnhardt , 
I, 323. Of. below under Rumania. 


qui put.'" Expressions like the following assume that the hoopoe 

is a filthy bird: "Sale comme une hoppe"; "sale conme une 

oupotte"; "puer comme \ine huppe." "Popue" is a dialectal word 

(in Troyes) for a slattern and a slut. It has even been siiggested 

that "salope" (sloppy, untidy, slut) is originally "sale huppe" 

(filthy hoopoe). 

ITALY. Cf . above: Bestieuio moralizzato (2nd half of 13th cent.). 

RUMANIA. Marianu lists two etiological accounts, similar to the 

second one given under FRANCE. 

One answers the question: Why does the hoopoe feed on 

droppings? with: because of its greed. 

God ordained the hoopoe to eat millet seed (Maisbrot). 
The bird was not satisfied with it. God changed its food to 
barley grains or to wheat ("since they did not have rye bread 
at that time"). The hoopoe voiced its dissatisfaction once 
more, and this time God became angry; If you are dissatisfied 
with even the best food in the world, very well, from now on 
feed on droppings (dirt). And so it happened. 

The other one tells of the hoopoe's dissatisfaction with 

its nest. It was made of beautiful flowers, or in sweet-smelling 

bushes and flowering trees. God punishes the bird by ordering it 

to use anything but what is clean and sweet-smelling, i.e. dirt 

and excrements. 

In the Rumanian version of Grimm, Kinder- und Hausmarchen , 
no. 19 (the fisherman and his wife), the tree or God changes the 
ungrateful husband into the cuckoo and the ungratefxil wife into 
the hoopoe. And the hoopoe now feeds on the meanest and most 
contemptible things and builds its nest of the same material. 
And this answers the question: why is the hoopoe such a dirty 

The Aramani-etory, related above in Chapter IV (pp. 32 
ff.) explains the love of these people for the dirty hoopoe.^ 

^Sebillot, III, 171 (with additional references). Rolland, 

II, 102 f. Wossidlo, II, 1, pp. 133 f. W. Gottschalk, Die 
eprichwor tlichen Redensarten d er f ranzos ischen Sprache, iTHeidel- 
berg, 1930Tr^. 

Marianu, Ornitholog ies II . 157 . M. Gaster, Rumanian Bird 
and Beast S tories (London. 19I5) . no. XLI, p. 16O; cf. Dahnhardt, 

III, 1, p. lyFTT, 328. 

^Marianu, II, pp. I59, l69,g (= Revue des trad, pop . .VIII. 
kl). Gaster, no. XLI II, pp. 1 62-67. Cf. Bolte-Polivka, I, 145. 

^Gaster, pp. ZBS f. 

BUKOWINA and TRANSYLVANIA. "Der Wiedehopf stinkt , doch denkt er, 
dass sein Nest stinke." 

CARNIOLA (KRAIN). "Smrdi ko (v)dab" (smrdokavra) , meaning "Er 

stinkt wie ein Wiedeiiopf." 


Den Zuclit3\mgfern tringt zu trinken 
Wiedehopf , das grosse Licht, 
Doch weil'B pflegt vun ihn zu stinken 
Woll 'n sie mit ihra tanzen nicht.3 

ENGLAND. "The lapwing ("hoopoe") eateth man's dirt; for it is a 

bird most filthy and unclean and dwelleth always in graves or 

in dirt."^ 

The fact that the hoopoe does not occur more frequently 
as a "filthy bird" in England is no doubt explained by its paucity, 
as was pointed out in Chapter IV (see above, p. 39 > ^' 2). 

This cdrapletes the non-German passages testifying to the 
filthiness of the hoopoe. The German passages that follow in- 
clude some that are not German, as far as language employed is 
concerned. All were written, however, by Germans in the German- 
speaking territory of Europe and, taken all in all, they should 
paint a rather accurate picture of what the Germans thought and 
think of their hoopoe. 

Heinrich von dem Turlln, Diu CrOne (ca. 1215-20): 

der galander (Kalanderlerche, alauda calandra) 

Der h&t ein tugent ander 
Denne der witehopfe 
Ze zagel und ze kopfe. 

The expression "ze zagel" is, most probably, aji allusion 

to that habit of the hoopoe which is described in a less refined 

manner in the following passage.^ 

•^Heinrich von TO.islocki, March en und Sagen der Bukowinaer 
und Siebenburger Armenier (Hamburg, 1S91), p. lyb, under "Sprich- 
worter. " 

^Johannes Kostial, " Zur Krainer Volkskunde," Z.f .osterr. 
Vkunde , XII (1906), 219- 

^Haupt-Schraaler, Volkslieder der Wenden in der Ober-'und 
Nied erlausi tz (Grimma, l&W) , pt. I, pp. 256-59, no. CCLXXIII, 
Wanza 10 = 0. Schone, "Die Vogelhochzeit in der Oberlausitz," 
Oberlausitzer Heimatszeitung , 2, 15 f* 

Bajtholomaeus de proprietatibus rerum (London, 1535) » 
Bk. XII, chap. 37: "stercora hvunana comedit et frequento fimo 
nut riatur. .. semper in sepulchris commorans vel in fimo." 

^DiuCrOne, ed. G. H. F. Scholl ("Bibl. d. lit. Ver. 
Stuttg.," XXVII CStuttgart, IS52] ) , f&, lines SjOk-ejOJ. 


Der Strieker (ca. IP30): "Withopfe" says to his uncle, 

the "gouch" (cuckoo): 

ein laster ist mir angeborn, 
ez el mir leit ode zom, 
daz ich mln eigen nest betuo 
beidiu spfi-t unde f ruo . . . A 

Albertus Magnus, the feunous German scholastic theologian 

(d. 12SO) : see above, p. KS. 

Codices membranacei Au^ienses LXXXVIII XC ; see above, 

p. ^s. 

Konrad von liegenberg (l4-th cent.), influenced by Albert 

the Great : 

... der widhopf ... wan ez iet ain unrain vogel , er.nistet 
in unrainigkait und verunraint auch sein aigen nest. 

Vogelsprache (l^th cent.): 

Die hoppe zeyt; 

Here mich d\inket dat beste , 

Onreyn te zin bewiset min neste.-^ 

widhopf: herr, tu nach meinem rot, 
lemg slaff in deinem kot.^ 

Der d&re rftt (beginning of 15th cent . ) : 

wedehoppe: SSt , hgre, in mln nest: ^ 
unrfenichet is aller best.-' 

Muskatbliit (first half of 15th cent.), vss. 76,60 ff.: 

Duostu selbe in din eigen nest 
Du glichest wol dem wedehoppen, 
Wa du dan sitzest ader stest, 
Darin so muostu knoppen." 

^K. Goedeke, Deutsche Dichtving im Mittelalter , p. 6i^-2a. 
Of. above, chap, iv, end of note 1 A, p. 32. 

2Ed. Pfeiffer, p. 22S. 

3Haager (Hulthem) MS = no. 5 of Seelmann's List. 

^Karl Bartsch, Die Erlosung mlt einer AuswaM geistlicher 
Dichtungen ("Bibl. der geseumnten dt . National -Lit eratur von der 
altesten bis auf die neuere Zeit," XXXYII, Quedlinburg and Leip- 
zig, Iggg), p. xliv. 

5paul Jacob Br\ins (ed.), Romantische und andere Gedichte 
in Altplattdeutscher Sprache aus einer Hs. der Akad. Bibl. zu 
Helmstadt " (Berlin and Stettin, 1798). pp. 13S-40. with addition 
on pp. 376-78. This is the same as "Wolfenbuttel-Helmstadter 
Sammlung," published in K. Goedeke, Deutsche Dicht . im Mittel - 
alter ^, Book XII (ed. by H. Oesterley), pp. Iv and 25. Of. also 
Per Dfere R&t . ed. L. E. Ettmuller ("Bibl.' der ges. dt. Nat. -Lit," 
XXXIII), p. 66. This is no. 6 of Seelmann's List. 

°Quoted from E. v. Groote edition, Cologne, IS52, in 
Borchardt-Wustmann-Schoppe, Die sprichwortlichen Redensarten im 
deut s chen Volksmunde nach Sinn und Urspr\ang erlautert (bth ed. , 
Leipzig, 1925), p. >44. 


Breslau-Luben MS of Proverbia Fridauiki (1^59): see above, 

p. ^9. 

Vogelsprache (15^11 cent.): 

Der Widehopf 

Herre, du maht prufen an mime nest, 

unreine sin dunket raich daz best 

und dar zuo uppige zuo sin, 

daz ruret zuo gewin, 

als es mix ouch, wol an stpt, 

min hus buwe ich mit kot.l 

Der Widhopf 

Sih, herre, an mein nest I 
unflat diinkt mich das best, 
also halt, herre, das haus dein, 
als ich tuo das nest mein, 
so kumpt niemant gem zuo dir, 
als die andern vogel zuo mir.2 

Vogelsprache (ca. 15OO): 

Der wedehoppe 

Ick byn een vogel schone, 

Ick drage vp raijnem houede ene kronen; 

Mer see an raijn nest, 

Unreynicheit duncket mi 3 best; 

Men kan mij nicht verwijten, ^ 

Men dat ick in mijn egen nest schijte.-' 

I am appending here three undated hoopoe-passages. One 

is a Latin proverb, quoted by J. Eiselein in Die Spriohworter und 

Sinnreden des deutschen Volkes in alter vnd neuer Zeit , Freiburg, 

IglK): "Turpis avis foedum proprixom facit upupa nidum" (621). 

The other is taken from J. G. Fichard, Frankfurtisches Archiv f\ir 

altere deutsche Litteratur und Geschichte . Ill (1^15), 321. The 

hoopoe does not seem to be mentioned by name, but there can be no 

doubt that the passage quoted belongs to a Vogelsprache ; 

•^Stuttgart paper MS, cod, phys . , fol. no. 30, 203a-d, pub- 
lished by Pfeiffer in "Das Marchen vom Zaunkonig," Germania , VI 
(1861), 86. Of. ibid., &0 and 90: no text is quoted for the 
widhopffe (wydhopf), but Pfeiffer 's note, p. 90, is interesting: 
"diese Version ist dadurch von besonderem Interesse, weil sie, 
bezeichnend genug, in Kaiser Maximilians Stube oder Schlafkammer 
zu Innsbruck geraalt oder geschrieben war. Nicht unmoglich ware 
es, dass die Verse von des Kaisers eigner Hand herruhren." This 
is no. 12 in Seelmann's List. 

^Munich MS, Ood. germ. 71^ . published by Pfeiffer, p. IO3. 
This is no. 13 in SeelmEinn's List. 

^Munich, printed s.l. s.a. (ca. I50O), This is no. 2 in 
Seelmann's List. Published by Seelmann, pp. 138 ff., especially 
p. li<-3. 


Du solt unkiische leben 

UnkuBche sin das komet dir eben 

Es ist alle dy freide min 

Dar off flisze die sinne din 

Das sy keiner lost gedencken 

Und solt es dich wol an eren krenken. 

Bis unrein tzu aller frist 

Du als ich und schisz in din eigen nest 

Dribe schande vmd boszheit vill 

Off setze ist nu der herren spill 

Fulheit undogent dir wol an statt 

Dem volge nach das ist min rat. 

The third one is from Meisterlieder der Kolmarer Hand- 
schrift , edited by Karl Bartsch ("Bibl. d. lit. Ver. Stuttg.," 
LXVIII), p. 20: 

uppupa. ..als vms Solinus schrlbet wie 

daz er sin schoene geschendet, 

wan er tiz liutes mist sin nest im macht. 

The sixteenth century, torn by religious strife, replete 
with acrimonious invective, and teaming with lusty vituperation, 
made abundant use of coarse, earthy, redolent expressions and 
comparisons. This explains, at least in part, the frequent occur- 
rence of the hoopoe in the writings of this period, 

Thomas Murner, Die Schelmen Zunfft (1512), no. 32: 

Der unniiz Vogel 

(The woodcut shows a crested bird 

befouling its nest) 

Der vogel hat ein bose art , 
der sein eigen nest nit spart. 
Sender er selber scheisst dar ein, 
den gschmack doch selber nimmet ein 

Der Vogel kan nit sein der best, 
der scheisset in sein eigen nest. 

Das mag ein oder vogel sein, 

der in sein nest selb scheisset, ein, 

so er doch selber sitzet drein. 

VoRelsprache (151S) : 

No. 7. Des wiethopffen rat 

Piss vnrayn herre zw aller frist, 
Thu alz ich scheyss in mein genist, 
Treyb schant vnd posshait vil , 
Daz ist yeczund der herren spil, 

■^-Quoted from J. Scheible, Das Kloster , I, S66 f. This is 
a reprint of the I567 edition. The bird is not named. However, 
the crested bird of the illustration is the avis cristata, the 
hoopoe. Murner refers to this passage by "Vnnutz vogel in his 
re capit Illation of the Schelmen Zunft , ibid., p. &9o. 


Vnd welich das nun wol kan, , 

Den helt man fur ainen weysen man. 

Setastiaji Franck, Sprlchworter , Frankfurt a.M., 15^1: 

"in sein eigen nest hofieren wie ein widhopf ." 

Low German Vogelsprache (l5ifl): 

65. De wedehoppe 

Ick bin [ein] voghel ghar schone 
Und drsghe uppe mynera havede eyne krone , 
Me kan my anders nycht vorwyten, ■, 
Men dat ick myn eghene nest besplyte. 

Burchard Waldis, Esopus (154-g): "Der widhopf must das 
scheiszhaus fegen." "Von der Wiedhopff en: 

...die stinckend Wydehopff 

Liszt nimmer guts in jren kropff : 

Wie ein Saw wulet stets im kath.5 

Strassburger Voge lgedioht (155^): 

Den man sunst nennet ein Widhopff/ 
Der ist ein schelm vnd gar ein tropff . 
Sein eygen nast musz bschissen sein/ 
Er trCig den kot eh selber drein." 

Jakob Trey, Gartengesellschaft (1556) : "stanck wie ein 
widhopff. "7 

Schxmann's Nachtbuchlein (1559)2 "er thet gleich wie ein 
widhopff, der scheyszt im selber in sein nest und ligt oder setzt 
Bich selbs darein." 

Hans Wilhelra Kirchhof, Wendunmuth (1563): "der widhopff 
... welches nest oder wohnung daheim nichts denn dreck, und darvon 

^Vienna MS, 151S. This is no. 11 of Seelmann's List, p. 

^11, 56b, in Deutsche s Worterbuch , col. 623, s.v. nest; 
quoted as Franck II, 50b by Wander, Deutsc hes Sprichwo rter- 
Lexikon, III (Leipzig, IS73), s.v. Nest",~T9. Wander adds refer- 

^Stockholm MS. This is no. 1 in Seelmann's List, p. 135' 

UDas smder Buch, no. 27, line k-2, ed. J. Tittmann, I, 
192; ed. H. Kurz, I, 197- 

^Das ander Buch, no. 76, lines 11-13, ed. Tittmann, I, 
261; ed. H. Kurz, I, 266 f. 

Ein k\artzweilig gedicht/ von namen/ art vnd natur aller 
vogel (Strassburg, 155M, lines 555 ff., in Suolahti, p. U^2. 

"^Ed. J. Bolte, p. 92, line 31. 

^Ed. J. Bolte, p. 229, lines 9 ff . 



Mancher ist aussen reich und gleist, 
Und wi8 ein krot im ham sich epreist, 
Doch ins nest wie ein widhopff schmeist. 
Two passages from Luther and two from Hans Sachs may be 
inserted here : 

Luther: 'Detractor itaque circurafert, molit et habitat in 
stercoribus sicut upupa semper olfatiens, ut si quis videret 
aliquem se stercore foedantem, diceret: Sehet , wie hatt sich 
der beschiszen. Cui optime respondetur: Das frisz. Quia 
[verel comedit talia.''^ 

•Bei den rechten Christen nichts Verachters ist, denn der 
Papst mit alle seinen Miinchen und Pfaffen. Er stinket wie 
ein Wiedehopfnest bei ihnen und wird auch je langer je-rmehr 
stinken auch bei denen, die ihn itzt noch hoch achten."^ 
Hans Sachs: Als sich der spieler ruren thet, 
Hett er ihm selber in sein bet 
Einen wid hopffen auszgeheckt, u 
Ihm selbs ein ay dorein geleckt. 
Gartner, Proverbialia Dicteria (1566-159^): "Turpis avis 
spurcum proprium facit upupa lectxim."^ 

Johannes NasCus) (d. I590) : "Thetelt in sein aigens nest, 
wie ein Withopf ."° 

Georg Rollenhagen, Froschmeuseler (ca. l600) : 

. . . .ein wiedehopf ; 
sein art nicht lest, 
tut in sein nest .7 

Eucharius Eyering (d. 1597): 

Sein vater sey ein widhopff gevest,- 
denn er scheiss in seyn eigen nest. 

^Ed. H. Osterley ("Bibl. d. lit. Ver. Stuttgart," XCVIII 
[1869]), pp. 2S3 f. (VII, 60). 

^Weimar edition, IV, 681, 27. E. Thiele, Luthers Sprich - 
wortersammlung (Weimar, 190O), p. 166. 

3weimar ed. , XXXVI, Si, 139. Thiele, p. 318. 

^"Bibl. d. lit. Ver. Stuttgart," IX, 301 , 17 ff. Quoted 
by C. H. Handschin, "Das Sprichwort bei Hans Sachs: I. Teil, 
Verz. der Sprichworter," Bulletin of the Univ. of Wisconsin , III 
(190^^07), liJ-6. See also Bade-lied by Hans Sachs in Schnorr von 
Carolsfeld, Zur Geschichte"~des deutschen Meister^esangs (Berlin, 
I872), p. 56: "stincket wie ein widhopffe." The last reference 
I owe to the kindness of Mr. Fritz Frauchiger. 

^P. 113. In Suringar, Bebel . . . . p, 207. 
^i4-59a. In Wander, III, s.v. Nest, 69. 
7Ed. K. Goedeke, I, 205, lines 218 f. 

^ Proverbiorum copia , 16OI ff . , I, 5^-2 (in Wossidlo, II, 
1, pp. 391 f.). 

Wolfhart Speingenberg , Gansz-Konig (16O7): 

Was? (sagt sie) solt der Widehopff 
Ein Konig seyn? der lose Tropff/ 
Ein stinckender loser Vnflat/, 
Der kein Tugent bewiesen hat. 

Lehmann (ca. I65O) : "War in sein eygen Nest hoffiert, 

der liegt im Dreck v/ie der Wiedhopff." 

Das geistliche Vogel-Gesang (ca. I650): 

Der Widhopf ist gar wo hi geziert 
Und hat doch ganz kein Stinm; 
Sein Cron er allzeit mit sich f lihrt , 
Ist doch nichts hinder ihm. 
Wie mancher brangt in Kleider, 
Als wann er war ein Graf: 
Sein Vatter ist ein Schneider, 
Sein Bruder hiit die Schaf . 

This strophe does not mention specifically that the hoopoe 

is a filthy bird. However, it does so by implication. See below. ^ 

Vogel-Schul (1700): 

Mit schonen Federn ist die Widhopf f z\ve.T gezihrt: 

Aber ein' iiblen Stand in ihrem Nast sie f iihrt : 

Auss hoch-stinckendem Koth ist, und wird sie gebriitt, 

Bringet auss ihrem Nest auch nichts als Unflath mitt I 

An der Widhopffen kan sich iederraan ersehen, 

Und was die Hoffart sey, geniiglichen verstehen: u 

A riddle (1732) : 

Rex fueram, sic crista probat ; sed sprdida vita 
Iminundara e tajito culmine fecit avem.5 

Vogelhochzeit (middle of iSth cent.): 

Die hup liess einen p..., g 

dass die braut die nase stup. 

In Au sgewahlte Dichtunffen von Wolf hart Spangenberg , ed. 
Ernst MartinTstrassburg, iSSy), p. 20, lines 358 ff . 

^Florilegium Politicujn , I-III, l630-l6i^-2, k vols. (Frank- 
furt, 1662) , 702T 56. In Wander, III, s.v. Nest. 

■^This is no. I7 of Seelmann's List, pp. IO3 ff., with ad- 
ditional references. 

Breslau (University Library) MS. This is no. 12 of Seel- 
majm's List, p. II6. 

^This is riddle no. 959 of Qedipodiania seu Sphingis 
aenigmata . . . per P. Franciscum a S. Barbara e Scholis Piis 
( Oppau , 1732). The answer is "upupa." 

Norrenberg, Beitrage zur Localgeschichte des Niederrheins . 
IV, 102, note. 


von Crailsheimsche Liederhandschrift (before I750) : 
Lass die Creditores immer klopfen.' 
ich verriegle meine Stube wohl, 
der Gestank von solchen Wiedehopfen 
stankert mir die gauze Nase voll, 
lasterm sie gleich durch das ganze Hausz, , 
ey der Bursche maclit sich gar nichte draus. 

Goethe's reference to the hoopoe and its nest, made of 
"Quark" (l/SO) : see above, p. i^4. 

E. M. Arndt, Marchen und Jijfienderinner\ingen (iSlS), con- 
tains the story of the hoopoe who, having become -extremely wealthy 
as a ladies' tailor — see no. I7 of Seelmann's List — succumbs to 
greed and steals, in order to enrich himself even more, and is 
p\inished by Gtod by being changed into the hoopoe. Insteeui of be- 
ing BurroTonded by precious stuffs and rustling silks, the hoopoe 
is now condemned to frequent barns where it picks up with the 
same insatiety the vilest things and carries them into its nest. 

Arnim, Die Kronenwachter : "Ihr Wiedehopfen, die ihr euer 
eigen Nest besudelt . . . "-^ 

R. Wossidlo, Meckl enburgi sche Volk suberl i ef erungen : 

Ich bin der stolze Wiedehopf , 

und trag die krone a.vl meinem kopf , 

doch sagen die leute, ich stink. 

Heff 'n tdppel up'n kopp, heff 'n toppel up'n kopp, 
un likers seggen de lud', ik stink; 
dat maakt, ik bug' mien huus von minschenschiet , 
doriim seggen de liid' ik stink. 

■^Strophe 2 of a 9-strophe poem = no. 275 of the "von 
Crailsheimsche Liederhandschrift , " in Arthur Kopp, Deutsches 
Yolks- und Studentenlied in vorklassischer Zeit (Berlin, IS99), 
pp. 221 f . Compare with the strophe above: 

Lasset die verdammten Manichaer klopfen, 

Ich verriegle meine Stubentur, 

Denn der Gestank von solchen Wiedehopfen 

Kommt meiner Nase ganz schrecklich fur. 

Vor den Ferien zahl ' ich niemandem aus 

Nach den Ferien wird erst recht nichts draus. 
and Der Gestank von solchen Wiedehopfen (= Manichaern) 

kommt mir ganz abscheulich fiir... 
both in Kopp, pp. 222 and 224- respectively. See also Kopp, 
p. 272. 

I, ^25 (the first voliime appeared in iSlS). Cited in 
Dahnhardt, III, 1, pp. 39S f • 

^Werke, ed. Monty Jacobs, Die Kronenwachter . II, 279 (pub- 
lished in 1854-). 


Ik biin de toppelwad'hopp, 
ik heff de kroon up minen kopp, 
de liid dee seggen, ik stink; 

ik schiet ehr wat , ik schiet ehr wat, ik schiet ehr 
nagenmal wat. 

Dee ma^kt dat as de wad'iiopp, dee kackt sik in-'t eegen 

Miscellaneous: "Wie ein Wiedehopf stinken"; "H6 stinkt ase'n 

Lupk" (hoopoe); "Der Wiedehopf ist durch seinen Geruch beruch- 

tigt";*^ "He schitt in sien egen Nest as de Kukukskoster" (hoopoe), 

"De Lupk iss'n ISgen Voggel , hS beschitt sin eigen Nest." 

• And, finally, I refer once more to the German names of 
the hoopoe, "Dreckvogel ," etc., listed above in this chapter. 
One might add "Ossopupk," "Ossepuper," "Ochsenpuper," a (Prussian) 
name which perhaps makes the hoopoe out to be a companion of oxen 
on the pasture, a "herdsman" (of. no. 17 of Seelraann's List and 
the herdsman references in Dahnhardt, III, 1, pp. 39^ ff.). 
Whether or not the second part of this name signifies excrements 
or ha^ to do with the ability of the hoopoe to arouse tired or 
fallen animals from the ground (see above, Chapter IV), or whether 
"Ossopupk" and "Ossepuper" are onomatopoeic names, I am unable to 

Scientific observation, then, and pseudo-scientific lore, 
the latter based chiefly on biblical and classical tradition, 
maJces the hoopoe out to be a filthy bird. The passages quoted so 
far may be roughly divided into two groups: first, such as char- 
acterize the hoopoe as a filthy bird because it eats filth or 
chooses filthy dwelling and feeding places; and, second, such 
passages as describe it as a filthy bird because it befouls its 
nest. It is this latter trait of the hoopoe, that of befoxiling 
its own nest, which — at least so I like to think — lives on in the 
well-known proverb found practically everywhere in Europe: "It 

^11,1, pp. 133 f., nos. 937 a, e, f.; 391 f. 

^H. Frischbier, "Vergleiche mit Tieren," Korrespondenz- 
blatt d. Ver . f . niederdt . Sprachf orschung . Ill (lg7ST75^. Mitt.d. 
sc HTesT^es.f .Vkunde , X (I9OS). Heft XIX, 9^- Danneil, p.~^5f; 

^North Thuringia. Z.d.Ver.f .Vkun de, X (190O), 210. 

^0. Mensing, Schleswig-Holsteinisches Worterbuch . Ill 
(1931), col. 362. Danneil, p. 267. 

-'Suolahti, p. 15. 


JE aji ill bird that fouls its own nest." And it is this proverb 

which engages our attention from now on. 

It must be admitted at the outset that the hoopoe's name 

occurs but rarely in connection with the proverb. Usually the 

proverb mentions no bird by name. Only in the following instances 

have I found the hoopoe mentioned specifically as the bird that 

fouls its nest : 

Est avis ingrata, que defedat sua strata. Talis est 
upupa, per quara signif icantur fomicarii et adulteri. 
(Breslau-Luben MS, 1^33 A.D.; see above, pp. kS, ^.) 

Der Vogel kan nit sein der best, 

der scheiRset in sein eigen nest. 
(Thomas Murner, Die Schelmen Zunfft I512 ; see above, p. 55. 
The hoopoe is not named, but there is an illustration.) 

in sein eigen nest hofieren wie ein widhopf . 
(Sebastian Franck, 15^1", see above, p. 56.) 

Turpi 8 avis spurcum propriun facit upupa lect\iin. 
(Gartner, Pro verbi alia Dicteria , publ. 1566-1592; see above, 
p. 57.) 

Turpis avis foedum proprium facit upupa nidum. 
(quoted by Eiselein; see above, p. 54-.) 

There are a few more examples that might be quoted, but 
they do not represent the proverb proper with the name of the 
hoopoe; they might be classified as paraphrases of or eillusions 
to or extensions of the proverb. Even among the five examples 
given above, only the three Latin ones properly belong. 

The ordinary Westeuropean and Northeuropean versions of 
our proverb do not specify any particular bird as guilty of be- 
fouling its nest. The following examples should prove this. I 
am citing them from such well-known collections as K, F. W. Wander, 
Deut sches Spri chwo rter-Lexikpn ; Ida von Diiringsfeld and Otto von 
Reinsberg-Duringsf eld, Spr ichworter der Germa ni schen und Roraani - 
BChe n Sprachen ; Jo s eph Hal 1 e r , Altsp anische Sprichwor ter und 
spri chwortliche Re densarten^ aus den Zeiten vor Cervantes . I do 
not give parallels, nor is an attempt made at completeness. One 
example for each of the most important languages or peoples in- 
volved is sufficient for our present purpose: 

Latin: Non est ilia valens quae nidiim stercorat ales. 

Portuguese: Aquella ave he ma, que em seu ninho suja. 
(It is a bad bird that soils its own nest.) 

Spanish: Aquella aue es mala: que su nido estraga (o: caga) . 
(It is an ill bird that injures ("cacat") its own nest.) 

Italian: Cattivo uccello che sporca il sue nido. 
(Bad bird that dirties its own nest.) 


French: Get oieeau est mechant, qui chie en eon nid. 

Dutch: Het is een vuile vogel , die zijn eigen nest ontreinigt. 

English: It is an ill bird that fouls its own nest. 

German: Es ist ein boser Vogel , der in sein eigen Nest hofiert. 

Danish: Det er en slem Fugl, som besmitter sin egen Rede. 

Swedish: Elak f ogel , som solar sitt egit naste. 

Norwegian: D'er ein klen Fugl, som skjemmer sitt eiget Reid. 

It must also be admitted that the hoopoe is not the only 
bird that is said to befoul its nest. Tradition and lore accuse 
other birds of the misdemeanor. To this class belong monedula 
(jackdaw, Do hie), busardus , noctua (owl, Nachteule, Kauzchen), 
bubo ("anglice an howle," eagle-owl, Uhu, Schuhu), scabro (scrabo, 
scarabo, strabo), onocrotalus (pelican, Kropfgans) , le huan (Uhu?), 
owl, perhaps also the starling, turdus (thrush, Drossel), and the 
heron (Reiher). The last three are certainly aves cacantes , but 
whether they befoul their nests is not clear. I am certain that, 
as far as the turdus is concerned, the reference that connects it 
with our proverb is based on a mi sunder stajiding. My reason for 
this opinion as well as the sources for the list of nest-befoulers 
I shall give below. For the time being, it is enough to remember 
that these birds are either named in connection with our proverb 
( bubo and onocrotalus ) or are the nest-befoulers in fables on 
which raoralizations are based (especially bubo, busar dus, noctua , 
scabro ) , or are mentioned or alluded to as sterquilinous birds. 
It is probable, then, that there was a time when the hoopoe was 
not the one and only bird whom people had in mind when they quoted 
our proverb. Any one of the aves cac at rices might have been the 
bird to whom they were alluding. Note should, however, be taken 
of the fact that the only two besides the hoopoe, bubo and onocro - 
talus , are ever connected explicitly with the proverb. In my 
opinion, these two and the other birds listed above eventually 
dropped from the ken of the people who were using our proverb, 
emd they understood the bird in question to be the hoopoe, even 
though they did not mention it specifically. They did not have 
to mention the hoopoe by najne, because the hoopoe, as the names 
and passages cited in the first part of this chapter indicate, 
had become in the mind of the folk the one representative filthy 
bird that befouls its nest. 


The next step in the development of our proverb is that 
not even the hoopoe is thought of any longer when the proverb is 
quoted, except perhaps in certain rural districts. As has been 
pointed out before, knowledge of or rather familiarity with birds 
in general and with the hoopoe in particular is dying out, even 
in countries where the hoopoe was fairly well known up to the be- 
ginning of the nineteenth century. Because the hoopoe was never 
really at home in England — see the beginning of Chapter I— we are 
not surprised at the non-appearance of its name in the English 
form of the proverb. But even in Germany the hoopoe is mentioned 
less and less frequently. It is my impression that it occurs 
only in such nineteenth and twentieth century writers as are 
"close to the soil." 

This lack of feuniliarity with the hoopoe is, in part, re- 
sponsible for the fact that the expression "befoul one's nest" is 
nowadays used almost exclusively in a figurative sense. To be 
sure, this figurative interpretation of the proverb is not new. 
It is as old as the proverb itself, no matter whether the hoopoe 
or any other nest-befouling bird was the object of the proverb's 
censure. But there is this difference: formerly there was, I 
should say even in England, knowledge or at least remembrance of 
a bird that was wont to bewray its nest, and this known or remem- 
bered fact, which clearly had to do with the animal kingdom, was 
made the occasion for an interpretation which had to do with re- 
ligion, the home, one's country, etc. Later, however, there was 
remembered only the interpretation. What at first had been merely 
the application of something, had then become, if I may exagger- 
ate slightly, the thing itself. And thus, in Germany, it has 
happened that the proverb is no longer quoted as a matter of 
course in one or the other of its complete forms: "Es ist ein 
boser Vogel, der in sein eigen Nest hofiert," rather it has be- 
come the custom to allude to it by "Vogel, die ihr eignes Nest 
beschmutzen, " a sophisticated phrase, as shown by its use of the 
plural "Vogel" instead of the single-minded singular "Vogel," by 
the substitution of the more refined "beschmutzen" for stronger 
terras of a more primitive age, and by the omission of the predi- 

E.g. Arnim, Die Kronenwachter ; see above, p. 59". Anzen- 
gruber, Die Kreu z elschreib er; see above, r). 5; G. Hauptmann, Anna . 
ein lan dllches Liebesgedicht , l4. Gesang, see G esammelte Werke 
in acht Banden , VIII, 367. 


cate. Incidentally, this development away from the concrete 
beginning of our proverb is responsible for this chapter, for it 
tries to answer the question: who or what is the bird that be- 
fouls its nest? 

According to the various contexts in which the proverb 
appears, it condemns the following sins or shortcomings: to de- 
file one's bed, i.e. be false to one's wife or husband; to defame 
one's fajnily; to lack breeding; to offend against the code of 
one's profession; to be disloyal to one's feudal lord; to be un- 
gratef\il; to forsake one's fatherland; to steal from the place 
where one happens to stay. The passages, substantiating this 
list, will be given below. 

These interpretations could come about rather easily be- 
cause our proverb provided a place for the convergence of several 
figurative usages: "nest" has a number of rather obvious figura- 
tive meanings, such as "bed,"* "home," "faunily," "benefactor," 
etc.; "bird," aside from assuming the meaning "man," "person," 
signifies, particularly in German ("Vogel"), memb rura virile , just 
as "vdgeln" means coire, futue re; closely connected with "vogeln" 
( futuere ) and "to befoul somebody else's matrimonial bed" is the 
common expression "to lay eggs in a strange nest," a phrase which 
is based on a number of fables which illustrate either an especi- 
caiy annoying case of nest-befouling or an extremely telling case 
of moral turpitude. The last expression, "to lay eggs in a 
strange nest," involves not so much the hoopoe or any other filthy- 
bird mentioned above, but rather the cuckoo wno, in turn, as we 
know, is intimately associated with the cuckoo's sexton, the 
Kuckuck skiist er , i.e. the hoopoe. 

The remaining- pages of this chapter bring: A, the passages 
that deal with the other birds that befoul their nests; B, the 
material that substantiates the various interpretations of our 


A. The Other B ir ds That Befoul Their Nests 

Turpe est, quod proprium violas, onocrotale, nidxam. 

In my opinion, this passage proves only that Araarcius was 
acquainted with an expression or expressions, possibly in metrical 
form, that had to do with a bird's befouling its own nest. As a 
matter of fact, a hexameter — the earliest passage now known, men- 
tioning such a bird — was then in existence for about a quarter of 
a century. It is Egbert von Liittich's "nidos comraaculans imaundus 
habebitur ales" (see below). It does not follow that the onocr o- 
talus (pelican, Kropfgans) is a filthy nest-befo\iling bird in the 
sense in which the hoopoe is such a bird. As far as I know, this 
would be the only passage so describing this bird. And as far as 
I am able to interpret the context, the explanation " nest-befoul er" 
in the sense in which the term is used of the hoopoe would not 
fit. This is the context, beginning with verse 759* 

Sed dicit nova lex: in dextram mandibulam te 
Si quis cedat, ei paciens prebeto aliam tu. * 
Composite mala vestra satis defenditis actal 
Turpe est quod proprium violas, onocrotale, nidum. 
Ad defendendura sapientes estis iniquum, 
Ad rectum stulti... 

The new law is the law promulgated by Christ (John 13:3^)« 

It is the commandment to love one another, to turn the other 

cheek (Matthew 5: 39). not to insist greedily on one's right. 

Now the onocrotalus - is a greedy bird ("inexplebile animal, mira 

ut sit capacitas"). As a greedy bird, then, it might fit into 
the context: a Christian, acting as greedily as the ono cr otalus . 
misbehaves. Another explanation is possible. The onocrotalus 
(pelicaji) is a symbol of Christ. A Christian, a child of Christ, 
would be a pelican. The Christian, by acting in an un-Christlike 
manner, might be said to be befouling his nest. At any rate, 
Manitius' reference to Martial XI, 22, 10 (the reference should 
be to XI, 21, 10) in my opinion has nothing to offer. The onocro - 
talus occurs; that is about all: 

Sermonum Libri IV , ed. 
U. Manitius (Leipzig, ISS6) . This line is taken from Book III, 
762, p. 71. The Sermones were written after 1046 A.D. The pas- 
sage is quoted in Seller, "Deutsche Sprichworter in mittelalter- 
licher lateinischer Fassung," Z. f . dt . Ph . . XLV (1913). 279; see 
Traube in A. f . dt. A .. XV (1^597, 195- 

^Pliny, Hist . Nat . . X, 131 . 


(l) Lydia tajti laxa est... 

(9) quam 

(10) Tvirpe Ravennatis guttur onocrotali. 

(11) Hanc in piscina dicor futuisse marina. , 

(12) Nescio; piscinam me putuisse (futuisse?) puto. 

Egbert von Liittich mentions the concubine (paelex) in the 
line following the one quoted above; she is the one who "befouls." 
This may have had something to do with Manitius' referring to the 
Martial passage. 

If one or the other or my explanations of the o nocrotalus 
in Amarcius is acceptable, then it is clear, too, that such an 
involved, learned allusion would have very little chance to become 
popular. As a matter of fact, Amarcius alone mentions the onocro- 
talus in connection with the nest-befouling bird. 

It is true, of course, that the onocrotalus is one of the 

birds of abomination, enumerated in Lev. 11: 13 ff. and Deut , lU-: 

12 ff . But as such it need not be a nest-befouling bird; it need 

merely be em unclean bird, and Amarcius might have chosen any un- 

clean bird, provided its Latin name fitted the meter. 

In this connection, I sho\ild like to call attention to a 

cave which must be heeded in investigations that have to do with 

ornithological folklore: identification of birds by means of 

their names only is uncertain in many cases. It is frequently 

uncertain when the investigation is restricted to one leinguaLge. 

It becomes even less certain when the investigation draws from 

more than one language. The case of the onocrotalus is a case in 

point. I have translated onocrotalus with "pelican," "Kropfgans." 

These treinslations are by no means certain. Various writers in 

antiquity, during the Middle Ages, and up into fairly recent 

times, have at various occasions rendered the Hebrew name of our 

bird variously: pellicanus , onocrotalus , monedula , bubo, noctua , 

nycticorax , hero dio — to give only the Latin translations. These 

■"■Ed. L. Friedlander, II (Leipzig, 1&&6) , IJS . Alexander 
Berg's translation of this passage reads: 

Lydia ist so weit, wie 

Und wie der Xropfgans Schlund am ravennatischen Stremd. 
Diese soil ich uraarmt an dem Fischteich haben. 

Ich weiss nicht ; 
Aber ein Fischteich ward, glaub' ich, umarmet von rair. 

According to Joachim Camerarius, no. XXXVIII, Horapollo 
claims that the pelican builds its nest of cow-dung ("nidura in 
terra constructum ex bubulo stercore"). The onocrotalus and the 
pelicEin may be one and the same bird. 

"Latin" names, in turn, have been explained variously, thus adding 
a second element of confusion to an issue which is confused enou^ 
from the start. To illustrate: "noctua" is glossed "iCT quae 
nocte uolat. id" coruus marinus nocturnus. ICf nahtram. % uuila. 
ut alii uolunt . alii lusciniam uoluerunt esse.... id est nahtagala. 
. . .nocticorax ipsa est et noctua qui noctem amat." Reuchlin 
knew of this confusion. In Rudimenta linguae Hebraicae he wrote 
of the Hebrew neirae of the onocrotalue : "avis imraundae proprium 

nomen. quam alii onocrotalum, alii pellicanxim, alii monedulam, 

alii aliter nominant." It would, therefore, be wrong blithely 

to identify the onocrotalus with the pelican and then to transfer 
the lore of the pelican to the onocrotalus . The only safe assump- 
tion, then, is that Amarcius knew the onocrotalus as an avis 
immxi nda. He could have inserted the name of any unclean bird, 
e.g. that of the nycticorax (night-heron, Nachtrabe), of whom the 
"Physiologus dicit: diligit obscena looa noctycorax ut hyena.... 
nocticorax immunda avis."-^ 


Restituit pretium nutrita monedula merdaa. 

The monedula (jackdaw, Dohle, OHO "tah") is here said to 

befoul the nest. The point, however, is that this bird befouls 

the nest of its foster-parents. This follows from the use of the 

expression nutrita (having been nurtured), from the context which 

mentions the monedula and cuculus together, and from parallel 


Of. Steimeyer-Sievers, Die althochdeutschen Qlossen . I 
(1^79), 3^2. 


Cf. the remarks to Psalm 102: 7 and the very instructive 
footnote in Theodor Pahl, Quellenstudien gu Luthers Psalmenuber - 
setzvmg (Weimar, 1931), p. 76. 

^Physiologus MS of the 11th cent, at Oottweih, ed. by 0. 
Heider in Archiv f . Kunde osterr. Geechichts-guellen . V (1850), 

^sengrimuB . ed. E. Voigt (Halle, 138^1-), Book IV, line 
527. Quoted in F. Seiler, Deutsche Sprichworterkunde (Munich, 
1922), p. 91. IsengrimuB was composed II51-II52 by Magister 
Nivardus (?). The line occurs in this context: 

(525) Neo petit hie standi veniam, nee stare quod ipsua 
Hie patior, grates, quae mihi debet, agit, 
Restituit pretium nutrita monedula mordam, 
Oracculus et ouculo, quern fovet, hoste perit. 



De busardo et falcone: Busardus in nido falconis projecit 
ovum suum, et inde creatus est pullus. Alii pulli nobiles 
firauin fecerunt extra, nidioa. piillus vero busardi semper raacu- 
lavit nidum suum. . . . 


De accipitre et noctua 

II lur respunt, "Vus dites veir. 
Legiere chose est a saveir: 
de I'oef les poi jeo bien geter 
a par chalur e par cover, 
mais nient fors de lur natur.p 
Maldite seit tels nurreturel" 


Bubo (anglice 'an howle') rogavit accipitrem ut pullvim 
siium nutriret et in bonis raoribus educaret , quod sibi conce- 
dens jussit illura adducere et nido suo inter pullos suos 
ponere, Cui dixit accipiter quod in omnibus pullis suis con- 
formaret et illorum educacionem adisceret diligenter. Qui 
respondit se paratum in omnibus suis parere mandatis. Tandem 
accipiter, pro cibo querendo patriara intravit, et rediens 
nocte nidum suum turpiter invenit [fedatura]. Querenti sibi 
quis sic nidum maculavit, responsura est quod pullus bubonis 
ilium fedavit. "A!" dixit accipiter "hyt ys a fowle brydde 
that fylyjth hys owne neBts,,.3 

^One of the fables of Odo de Ciringtonia (ca. llSO A.D.) 
in H. Oesterley, "Die Narrationes dee Odo de Ciringtonia," Jahr - 
buch f. roman. u. engl . Literatur , IX il&GB) , 15O, no. XXXVIII. 
A variant of this version is published by Thomas Wright in A Se - 
lectio n_o f_ Lati n St o r i e 3 fro m Manuscripts of the Thirteenth an d 
Fourteenth Centuries ( "Percy Society," VIII , London, 18^4-2), p. 
52 (fabula de pullo busardi. busardus in nido ancipitris. . . ; . 
Compare with this British Museum MS Lat . Harl . 219 . containing 
Odo's fables, published in Leopold Hervieux, Les fabulistes latins 
depuis le siecle d' Augu st e .jusqu'a la fin du m oy en § ^e, II (Paris, 
lSSi|;, 601, no. VIITXXVI) : "de busardo et ancipitre," The same 
fable is told by John of Sheppey: "Busardus et Accipiter." See 
Johannis de Sohepeya Fabulae in Hervieux, II, JjH- f. See monedula . 

Karl Warnke (ed.), Die Fab eln d er Mari e de F rance 
("Bibliotheca Normannica," ed. H. Suchier, VI [Halle, 1^9^]), pp. 
26U-66, no. LXXIX, lines 27-32 (T;7elfth century?). Compare with 
this the Latin version in Hervieux, II, 575: Ex Mariae Gallicae 
Romulo Fabulae Exortae, no. CSSII. De accipitre et noctuo ^noc- 
tua] . Accipiter et noctua in una arbore nidif icabant , et talis 
fuit inter eos concordia, ut , mutua familiaritate, alter in 
alterius nido ova sua poneret. Unde contigit inter pullos Acci- 
pitria pxillum Noctuae prodire et ab Accipitre foveri et pasci. 
Factum est autera, ut immundus ille pullus nidum foedaret Accipi- 
tris... See K. Huganir, The Owl and the Nightingale. Sources. 
Date. Author (Philadelphia, 1931), p. 50. 

■^ Les pontes moralises de Nicole Bozon, Frere Mineur , pub- 
liees pour la premiere fois d'apres les manuscrits de Londres et 
de Cheltenham par Lucy Toulmin Smith et Paul Meyer ("Societe des 


Since bubo is "anglice 'an howle'," and since Bozon's 

bubo-fable expressly mentions the proverb of the nest-befouling 

bird, there follows here the fajnous passage from the Owl and 

Nightingale where the nightingale tells a similar story about the 

owl and where, too, ovir proverb is cited: 

(9S) Jjarbi men segget a vorbisne: 
Dahet habbe ^at ilke best 
]pat fule^ his owe nest. 
i>at o^er jer a faukun bredde, 
his nest nojt wel he ne bihedde; 
i)arto ^u stele in o dai 
leidest J)aron ^i fole ey. 
^o hit bicom ^at he ha^te 
of his eyre briddes wra-zte, 
he bro^te his briddes mete, 
bihold his nest, ise3 hi ete; 
he ise3 bi one halve 
his nest ifuled uthalve. 
J)e faucun was wro^ wit his bridde 
lude xal sterne chidde: 
Segget me, wo havet ^is ido, 
ou nas never icunde J>arto; 
hit was idon ou a lo^e custe, 
segge me 3 if ^e hit wistel 
^o qua^ pat on quad ^at o^er: 
I wis hit was ure 03 e broker, 
^e 3ond |)at haved pat grete heved; 
wai ^at he nis ^arof bireved.'l 

Anciens Textes Fran9ais," Paris, ISS9), pp. 205 f. This fable is 
also cited in Forster, Festschrift zum XII. Deutschen Philologen - 
tage 1906 , pp. 5S-6O. The Latin above is a translation ( MS Harl . 
Iggg ) of~the French fable of Bozon's, p. 23: "Le huan pria le 
ostur de norir son fiz; 1 'autre lui graunta e lui dist.^." See 
elLbo note on pp. 232 f . The date of the Pon tes moralises is 
shortly before 132O A.D. 

Compare with this fable the version in Hervieux, II, KSS: 
FabvLlae dictae Romulus Laariae Gallicae XII : De accipitre et bu- 
bone. Accipiter in nemore quodam tantam cum bubone contraxerat 
ajnicitiam, ut ova bubonis cum suis in proprio nido foveret. Cum 
autem eduxisset pullos e testis, et pro cibo eis acquirendo in 
nemus volasset , pulli Bubonis foedaverunt turpiter nidum eius. 

The bubo is mentioned as a stercoraceous bird in the 
eighty-second dialogue of Nicolaus Pergamenus ' Dialogus Creatura - 
rum: bubo. . .defoedat eajn (ecclesiam? this is where it nests) 
stercoribus. See J. G. Th. Grasse, Die beiden altesten lateini - 
schen Fabelbucher des Mittelalters ("Bibl. d. lit. Ver. Stutt- 
gart," CXLVIII [ISSO]), p. 227. The Dial ogusCreat ur arum belongs 
most likely not into the l^lth, but into the 13th cenTury; see 
Huganir, pp. 22, 32. 

■^Lines 9S-120. The date of the Owl and Nightingale is 
11S2-1220 (?). See W. Gadow, Das mittelenglische Streitge dicht 
Eule und Nachtigall (Berlin, 1909) ("Palaestra," LXV) , pp. 102 f., 
2IX Huganir, pp. 22 f., ^-S f. 



De natura strabonis, quae semper delectatur in eteroore. 
Strabo semel volavit per araigdalinas arbores florentes, per 
rosas et lilia et per alios flores. Tandem projicit in ster- 
quilinium, ubi erajit stercora bourn et equorum, et inveniens 
ibi uxorem suam, dixit: Circuivi terraun et transvolavi earn. 
Vidi flores amigdalarura, rosarura et liliorum; sed numqviam 
repperi loc\am tarn amoenum, et delectabilem sicut istum, demon- 
strato eterquilinio illo. 

Disagreeable odor and dirty habits are imputed to star 
note 1 A 

lings. The heron (Reiher) is an avis cacatrix; see above, p. 31 

In Clarke's Paroemiologia the thrush is the bird that de- 
files its nest.^ This is evident from the juxtaposition of the 
English proverb suid the Latin citation: 

It is a bad bird that defileth his own nest. 
Turdus ipse sibi malum caxiat. 
Clarke fo\ind the Latin sentence, I take it, in Erasmus' 
Adagia (p. 37, ed. of I51S) . Erasmus was probably also the source 
for the thrush-riddle in Oedipodiania seu Sphingis aenigmata . . . 
per P. Franciscum k S, Barbara e Scholis Piis (Oppau, 1732), 
riddle no. 9^3: 

Fronde mefi, fructicans celsa de stercore viscvun 
Me pascit , procerum mox ego pasco gulam. 

Sum volucres inter, mensis gratissimus, alvum 
Exonerans, mortem corpore gigno mihi. 

Clarke and Father Fremcie erred, however, when they iden- 
tified the thrush with the bird that befouls its nest. The 
thrush does indeed cacare, but not in the sense in which the 
other nest-befoulers do. The thrush defecates unto itself some- 
thing bad, viz. death. The ancients, so e.g. Pliny emd Athenaeus 
tell us, were namely of the opinion that the seed of the mistle 
("viscum") from which bird lime ("viscum") is prepared, in order 
to prosper, must go through the body of a bird: "siquidem viscum 

•^Hervieux, II, 616, a fable ascribed to Odo de Ceritonia 
(no. XXXI). Cf. "de scarabone et uxore sua," no. IV in Die Narra- 
tiones dee Odo de Ciringtonia . p. 130, and "Scabro et eius uxor," 
a fable ascribed to John of Sheppey in Hervieux, II, 776 f., no. LV. 

^See R. B. Smith, Bird Life and Bird Lore (New York, 
1905), p. iHO. 

^John Clarke, Paroemiologia Anglo-Latina. . . or Proverbe 
English and Latin (1639), p. 200. 

non provenit, nisi mat\ixatum in ventre, ac redditum per avium 
alvtun, maxime palumbivam, ac turdorum" (Erasmus, ibid.). In this 
wise the bird foolishly assists the fowler to bring about its 
capture and death, just as the cow provides out of her hide that 
which is used to whip her: fcK tov j^oos 17 (Vt/e-rc^ (out of the 
cow comes the whip) . 

The turdus-sentence derives ultimately from Plautus: 
"ipsa sibi avis mortem creat," or "cacat" (according to Burmann's 
conjecture), and from Servius ad Aen. VI, 205 (here the story of 
birdlime is told) via Isidore of Seville, Etymol. liber XII . 
chap, vii, 7I: "Turdela, quasi major turdus, cuius stercore vis- 
cum generari putatur. Unde et proverbium apud antiques erat , 
Malum sibi avem cacare." The thrush, it is clear, does not be- 
long to the sterquilinous birds that have been exhibited here. 

Most of the nest-befouling birds in this section, one re- 
calls, are guilty of dirtying a nest not their own, one that was 
not built by their parents, but a nest belonging to their foster- 
parents. It is my impression that this doubly foul deed sets 
them apart in the mind of the folk from the ordinary nest-befoul er, 
such as the hoopoe, Triio has the decency to restrict his immundicity 
to his own roost. Hence tne proverb that condemns simple nest- 
befoxiling, in its final formulation and transmission, attaches 
itself rather naturally to the hoopoe, whereas such birds as ex- 
hibit a penchant for polluting the nests of their benefactors 
heap insult on injury and are, therefore, easily conceived of as 
capable of perpetrating other heinous deeds. The fact that they 
were, at first, in most cases at least, invited guests of their 
guardians, readily gives way, I think, to the fancy that they 

^Similarly the eagle brings about its death by providing 
the feathers which are affixed to the arrows which, in turn, 
pierce it. Cf. Joachim Camerarius, no. XIII, with illustration, 
text ("aquilam, quae sagittis de suismet pennis concinnatis con- 
figitur...") and references to older writers. 

^Cf. Wilhelm von Wyss, Die Spruchworter bei den romischen 
Komikern (Zurich, 1SS9), p. 91- A. Otto, D ie Sprich worter und 
sprichwortlichen Redensarten der Rdmer (Leipzig, 1890), PP- 52, 
y^^ Wilhelm Binder, Medulla Proverbior\am latinorum (Stuttgart, 
1^56), p. 151, no. 1770. —Erasmus, by the way, has all the perti- 
nent information on this proverbial expression. It is true, he 
does not cite Isidore. But he does refer to Plautus and Servius 
and he suggests the reading cacat for creat in the Plautus- 
fragment — long before Burmann! The reference to Clarke I owe to 
the kindness of Prof. Rich. Jente. 


were not even invited guests. They become self-invited guests, 
gaining entrsmce by deception. Thus it happens, although exact 
proof of this assumption can not be adduced, that proverbs and 
fables, dealing with these ungrateful nest-soilers, develop along 
lines different from those of the hoopoe-proverb. These birds 
drop out of the hoopoe-proverb tradition and occur in connection 
with the lore about tne fowl that deposits its eggs stealthily in 
other birds' nests. And here, it seems, the process whereby the 
hoopoe eventually displaces the other filthy birds in the proverb 
anent the nest-befouler , is repeated: from the ranks of the un- 
thankful birds that lay eggs in strange nests, there emerges 
triumphantly, if somev/hat infamously, as cock of the loft the 

B. M aterial That _ Subs t apt i ates the Various 
Inter pretatio ns of tKe Proverb 

Most interpretations of the proverb "It is an ill bird 
that fouls its own nest" have been in vogue for well-nigh one 
thousand years. The difference between persons quoting and apply- 
ing the proverb several centuries ago and persons quoting and 
applying the proverb today or merely alluding to it when they in- 
tend to "moralize" lies, as has been mentioned, in the fact that 
formerly a knowledge of ornithological data or lore was present, 
whereas among more recent generations such information, as a rule, 
has long since vajiished. 

So far I have only listed the interpretations. I shall 
now quote passages which substantiate these various claims. The 
passages fall into three groups. In one group are citations of 
the proverb, to which short explanations are added. Such passages 
are found mainly in collections of proverbs. They tell in so 
many words how the collector interprets the proverb or how he 
understejids it to be interpreted by others. The second group con- 
sists of passages in which the proverb is cited or plainly implied 
in connection with the recital of a fable or a similar narrative. 
In these passages the proverb or the allusion to it form the 
"moral" of the tale and as such derive their interpretation from 
the context. The third group does not deal directly with the 
proverb. It deals witn sucn medieval accounts of filthy birds as 
contain interpretations, sometimes labelled "mystice," which 
preachers might use in their sermons to point a moral. This 

third group is subsidiary: filth, v/hether in the nest or not, 
denotes a number of moral shortcomings and tnese shortcomings are 
or may be the same one meets vrlta the real neet-befoulers. 

There is no attempt at completeness in the eniimeration of 
these passages. A classification other than the one on page bk- 
is possible. A certain amount of overlapping is unavoidable. 
The passages illustrating tne interpretations follow the arrange- 
ment on page 6^. 

To defile o ne's bed, i.e. to be false to one 's wife or 

husband . — 

Nidos coramaculans immundus habebitur ales: 
Pelex nee factis claret nee nomine digna. 

These are verses l^+S ajid 1^1-9 of the Fec und a Rat i s by 

Egbert of Liittich. The Fecunda Rati s. a collection of fables, 

proverbs, maxims, and similar material, intended to be used as a 

textbook in the grammar schools of that time, was finished ca. 

1023. As far as is known, this is the first occurrence of our 

proverb. It is also the oldest example of an interpretation: 

the paelex , concubine, is the means by which a husband soils his 

nest . 

"Est avis ingrata que defedat sua strata." Talis est 

upupa, per quam signif icantur fornicarii et adulteri. 

^ Egberts von Liittich Fecund a Ratis, zum ersten Mai heraus - 
gegeben, auf ihre Quellen zuruckg efuhrt \jnd erklart von Ernst 
Voigt (Halle, 1329), p. 36. See also F. Seller, Deuts ch e Spric h- 
worterkunde (Munich, 1922), pp. 91, 71-73; 79, and id. , "Deutsche 
Sprichworter in mittelalterlicher lateinischer Fassung," Z . f . dt . 
Ph., XXXXV (1913), 279: "Der zweite vers, 'die kebse handelt 
nicht edel und ist nicht des naraens (ihres liebhabers) wert, ' gibt 
die nutzanwendxing zu dem im ersten enthaltenen spruch. Man soil 
nicht durch ein kebsweib sein haus verunreinigen. " Since it was 
Egbert's intention to collect proverbs, etc., that were current 
among the folk and that had never before been written down "in 
communi sermone, nusquajm scripta" (so in his dedication to bishop 
Adalbold of Utrecht) it is possible that our proverb did exist in 
the vernacialar of the Dutch Lowlands at Egbert's time. On the 
other hand, Egbert did make use of the classical heritage and of 
ecclesiastical literature in the compilation of his anthology. 
And since the "ales commaculeins nidum" was known to tne ancients 
and since Egbert does not distinguish in the arrangement of his 
"rustici sermonis opusculura" between indigenous and no n- indigenous 
proverbs, one is unable to tell whether the proverb concerning 
the nest-befouling bird is one deriving from classical antiquity 
or one that sprang from tne soil of Egbert's native country or 
some other West-European land some time during the Middle Ages. 

^Breslau-Luben MS (1^59). See J. Klapper, Die Sprich - 
worter der Freidankpredigten (Breslau, 1927), p. 79, note H-2^. 


To defame members of one's family . — "Ericus se ad astandxim 
fratri natura pertraiii dixit, probrosum referens alitera qui pro- 
prium pollviat nidvua. " Saxo Grammaticus (_ca. llMO-lSOS) relates 
this incident in the fifth book of his Gesta Danorum ."^ 

Richard Tavemer, Proverbes or Adages of Erasmus (London, 

1539 and 1552) , in referring "It is an evyl byrde that defyleth 

her owne neste" to Erasmus, evidently has in mind Erasmus' "Qui 

domui compluitur . " 

Jorg Wickram, Rollwagenbuchlein (ca. 1555), chapter xxv: 

a husband finds out that his wife is pregnant by some man with whom 

she kept compsuiy before her marriage; the husband does not talk 

about this to others. 

Also blibe er unnd sy, auch ir vatter and muoter by eeren, 
unnd ward ir schand nit auszgeschruwen und den leiiten die 
meuler nit gefult. Es war schier guot , das mancher also 
thett; man findt aber ettlich narren, wann sy ire weiber ge- 
nuog schenden und in ir eigen nest scheissen, nemmen sy die 
denn wider zuo inen \md sitzen dann beyde ins bad.^ 

Henry Smith, Serm. I, 26 (1591): "It becometh not any 

woman to set light by her husband, nor to publish his infirmities: 

for they say, That is an evil bird that defileth her own nest." 

According to Abraham Tendlau, the German-Jewish equivalent 

for 'Vogel, der sein Nest beschrautzt' is 'sein eigenes Ponim ver- 

■"•Ed. P. E. Miiller, I (Copenhagen, 1S39), 195- See MSD^ 
(Berlin, 1892), II, 1^4-7 • The first nine books of the Danish His - 

tory of Saxo Graamaticus . translated by Oliver Elton (London, 
1894), Introduction, p. Ixxxv. Axel Koc^ and Carl af Pet ere ens. 
Ostnordiska och Latinska Medeltidsordsprak. Peder LlLles OrdspraJc 
och en motsvarande Svensk Samling , II, Koramentar av Axel Kock 
(Copenhagen, 1S91-1892), p. 119- Paul Herrmann, Die Heldensagen 
des Saxo Grammaticus. Erlauterungen zu den ersten neun Buchern 
der Danischen Geschichte des S. G .\ II (Leipzig. 1922), 39^. 

^See V. Stuckey Lean's Collectanea . IV (1904-), 9: Tav. , 
f . 59, 1552. The reference to Erasmus I owe to Professor Richard 
Jente (Erasmus ^338, p. 659 of the I518 edition of the Adagia ). 
Of. W. H. D. Suringar, Erasmus over Nederlandsche Spreekwoorden 
en Spreekwordelijke Uitdri:ikkingen van zijnen Tijd (Utrecht, 1873). 
p. 345, no 8. CLXXXVII, 3 and 4: "Qui domi compluitur, huius ne 
deum quidem miseret." 

^Ed. J. Bolte, III, 32 f. ("Bibl. d. lit. Ver. Stuttgart," 
CCXXIX Tubingen, 1903 ). 

Quoted in Sidney Smith and G. C. Heseltine, The Oxford 
Dictionary of English Proverbs (Oxford, 1935, 1936), p. 229. 

EChanden' ("ein Glied seiner eigenen Familie herabsetzen") .^ 

0. Mensing explains "he schitt in sien egen Nest as de 
Kuckuckskoster" by "er macht seine eigene Familie schlecht!"^ 

And finally, the Times (London), \inder date of September 
7, 1926, qxiotes our proverb in this context: "Nothing .... 

can excuse the bad taste upon his defenceless family 

It's an ill bird that fouls its own nest."^ 

To lack breeding .— Sir Peter Idle instructs his son as 


It is an unclene birde defoxileth his neste; 
Therfore, as a gentilman lerne curtesie and vertu; 
All honour' and worshipp therof shall sue. 5 

The following passages from Lodge's Rosalynde (ist ed. , 

1590) and from Shakespeare's As You Like It (end of l6th cent.) 

seem to belong here: 

Lodge: "I pray (quoth Aliena) if your robes were off, 
what mettal are you made of that you are so satyrical against 
women? is it not a foule bird that defiles his own nest?" 

Shakespeare: (Celia:) "You haue simply misus'd our sexe 
in your lone prate: we must haue your doublet and hose 
pluckt ouer your head, and shew the world what the bird hath 
done to her owne neast."5 

To be disloyal to one's feudal lord; to offend against 

the code of one's profession . — "A baron who does not stand by his 

feudal lord is like a bird that fouls its nest." This is the 

opinion of Conon de Bethune (end of 12th cent.?). 

Li keus s'en est ja vengi6s, 

Des haus barons ki or li sont failli. 

Cor les voussist erapirier 

Ki sent plus vil ke onkes mais ne vi . 

Abraham Tendlau, Sprichworter und Redensarten deutsoh - 
judischer Vorzeit (Frankfurt, n.d. L1360?]), pp. 228 f., no. 721. 

^0. Mensing, Schleswig-Holsteinisches Worterbuch . Ill 
(1931), col. 362. 

^Quoted in Smith-Heseltine. 

Extract from Sir Peter Idle's Directions to His Son 
(15th cent.) ("Early Engl. Text Soc," Extra Series, no. VIII 
C1S69]), pp. 109 f., lines iK)-i+2. 

^Shakespeare, Aa You Like It . IV, 1, lines 192-195. 
Fumess, New Variorum Edition . There also, p. 333, the quotation 
from Lodge. 


Dehait li ber ki est de tel sanlanche 

Com li oisiaus ki conchie (concacarel) sen nil 

Monks emd knights should behave according to the standards 
of their professions: "Es ist ein boser Vogel , der in sein Nest 
hofiert, und doch tragen's die Monche nicht aus derti Kloster."^ 

To be ungrateful . — In A, Cohen, Ancient Jewish Proverbs 
("Wisdom of the East," New York, 1911), p. S/, no. 1^5, there is 
quoted, against ingratitude, and especially as a proverb with 
which "It is a dirty bird, etc." may be compared, this saying: 
"Cast IK) mud into the well from which thou hast drunk." There 
are some references to rabbinical literature. This Hebrew- Jewish 
proverb has been quoted before, e.g. in Henry G. Bohn, A Handbook 
of Proverbs (London, 1^57) ,p. 276: tl * J 70 H * SI 0^ 1 ^7*tl 
j^ ^ |On*Il ^l^n ^^ meaning "Never cast dirt into that foun- 
tain of which thou hast sometime drunk," and in A. Tendlau, p. 
326, no. SkS: "Mer muss kaan' Staan in den Brxinne ' werfe', aus 
dem mer getrunke' hot," and the explanation is: "man muss nicht 
Gutes mit Bdsem vergelten; besonders: seinen Wohltater nicht 
verunglimpfen. " According to Tendlau, this proverb occurs fre- 
quently in rabbinical writings (he cities references) and derives 
ultimately from Deut. 23: 7: "Thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian; 
because thou wast a stranger in his land." 

To forsake one's fatherland : Fabri de Werdea, Proverbia 

metrica . n. l6b, vs. 393* 

Nemo suae patriae confingat scemdala, nidum 
Defoedans proprium, pessima fertur avis... 

Nymand schendt seyn vaterlandt 

Das er nicht werde genant. 

Eyn vogel der do vnreyn ist , 

Vnd schmeyst ym selber in seyn genist.-^ 

Henri cus Bebelius, Proverbia Germajiica collecta atque in 

Latinu.'n Traducta (1508), no. 44: "Pessima est avis, quae proprium 

Chansons de Conon de Bethune Trouveur Artesien de la fin 
du XII^ siecle . ed. Axel Wallenskold (Helsingfors. 1891). pp. 2*50 
f., no. 5, str. 5. Of. Werner Hensel, "Die Vogel in der proven- 
zalischen und nordfranzosischen Lyrik des Mittelalters," Romani - 
sche Forschungen , XXVI (1909), 587. 

^ Klo St er Spiegel in Sprichwortern (Bern, 184-1), X, 21, 
quoted in Suringar, Bebel . p. 208. and in Wander, Deutsches 
Sprichworter -Lex ikon , IV, a. v. Vogel, no. 211 (Wander quotes 
Klosterspiegel . 191, 21). 

^The date of this anthology is ca. l495. This passage is 
quoted in Suringar, Heinrich Bebel s Proverbia Germanica (Leiden, 
1279), p. 207, p. xxviii. n. 4; id.. Erasmus , pp. xxx f. 

nidura defoedat ; hoc est: Malus est, qui vel uxorem vel propriam 
patriara et feuniliaai, vel suos parentes aut sorores infaraat." 

TJie following sentence from Defoe's True-born Englishman 
(1701), Explanatory Preface: "I am tax'd with bewraying ray own 
Nest, and abusing our nation, by discovering the mesuiness of our 
original" seems to illustrate forsaking one's fatherland. It is 
quoted in Smith-He seltine. The proverb is used in a similar 
manner in Walter Scott's Rob Roy (ca. ISI7-IS), chapter xxvi: 
". . . . Where's tne use o' vilifying ane's country and bringing 

a discredit on ane's kin, before southrons and strangers? It is 

an ill bird that files its ain nestl" 

The unhappy fellow-villeigers allude to the proverb when 
they berate Abdias in Stifter's novel of the same name: "Du hast 
dein eigen Nest beschmutzt, du hast dein eigen Nest verraten und 
den Geiern gezeigt" (Chapter II, Deborah). In their opinion, 
Abdias hsui betrayed them into the hands of the Bedouins. Finally, 
"ein schlechter vogel, der sein eignes nest beschmutzt" is ex- 
plained in Grirara ( Deut sches '.Yorterbuch , s.v. "Vogel") as "z.b. 
von einem, der iiber seine heimax , seine landsleute, vor fremden 
schlecht spricht." 

To steal from the place where one happens to stay . — In a 
way, the following passage belongs under "to be ungratefiil. " It 
is cited here under a special heading because the application of 
the proverb seems to be one of special people to a special occa- 
sion: "Ein dunmer Vogel, der ihm's Nest verscheisst. " So say 
gypsies and hoboes when they wish to explain why they refrain 
from stealing or pilfering during their stay at an inn.-^ 

■"■The passage is cited in Suringar, Heinrich Bebels Pro- 
ve rbi a Germanica . p. 21. 

This passage appears in W. 7J . Skeat, Early English Prov - 
erbs , p. 13, no. 2S ajid in G. L. Apperson, English Proverbs and 
Proverbial Phrases (London, 1929), p. 323. 

^Wander, IV, s.v. "Vogel," no. 554-. Of. Wilhelra Medicus, 
Die Naturgeschichte nach Wort und Spruch des Volkes (Ndrdlingen, 
IS67) , p. 203: "Dies (das Nest sauber halten) haben die Diebe 
den Vogeln abgelemt. Als in einem Hause Ganse gestohlen wurden 
und main einen Insassen deshalb im Verdacht hatte, sagte er zu dem 
Eigentumer: Ich schwore, dass ich sie nicht gestohlen habe, kann 
sie aber Ihnen wieder verschaffen; habe ich doch den einfaltigen 
Kerlen eingescharft , sie sollten 'das Nest sauber halten. '" 


The references, given on the preceding pages, intend to 
substantiate the various interpretations of the proverb "It is an 
ill bird that fouls its own nest." They belong to the first two 
groups, that were described on pages J2 f.: they all have to do 
with the proverb proper which is explained in so many words as 
having this or that meaning, or the proverb is quoted or alluded 
to in a situation which interprets the proverb by implication. 
I shall now briefly call attention to some medieval hoopoe-accounts 
which were quoted to prove that the hoopoe was known as an unsavory 
bird. A number of these accounts contain interpretations. They 
furnish the preacher illustrative material for his sermons. The 
method is the well-known mystical or allegorical method of medie- 
val theology. It is permissible to cite these interpretations of 
hoopoe accounts in this connection because we have shown that it 
is above all the hoopoe which is the bird that fouls its nest. 
Here are a few pertinent examples: 

Rabanus Maurus (see above, p. ^-6): "haec avis (= upupa) 
sceleratos peccatores significat," 

Odo de Ceritonia (see above, p. ^7): "Uppupa. . .significat 
mulierem fornicariara, doraicellxim lioxuriosura. . .mulierem fornicariam, 
divitera, luxxoriosum. . . " 

Joh. Institor (see above, p. kj , n. 1): the filth of the 
hoopoe is the filth of such monks "qui inhoneste cogitando et im- 
raunde. . .totam suam conversationem. , . deturpant . " 

Prov er bia Fridanci Sermons (see above, p. 4-9): "upupa, 
per quam signif icantur fornicarii et adulter!." 

From the passages cited in this section, one might arrive 
at the opinion that practically any interpretation of our proverb 
is possible, provided that the interpretation denounce some sort 
of moral filth. Such am opinion is correct, if the entire terri- 
tory where the proverb is known is taken into consideration. If 
the German-speaking part of Europe is singled out, then the opin- 
ion is still correct, except that actually one interpretation 
seems to be more prevalent than all the others put together. 
This one interpretation is the sexual one. And this is not sur- 
prising in the least. In Germany, the hoopoe has been, and still 
is to a certain extent, a participant in the Vogelhocheeit . As 
such it is not merely a filthy bird. It is an obscene, a phallic 
bird. The role which the hoopoe plays in the German Vogelhochzeit 
is definitely not the role which it plays in the Bohemian bird- 


wedding. There the hoopoe is one of the birds that marry. In 
the one Bohemian Vogelhochzeit known to me the hoopoe is the 
bridegroom. The Bohemian bird-wedding is not salacious, sugges- 

There are two translations of this Bohemian wedding of 
the birds. One is found in Alfred Waldau, Bohmische Granaten. 
Czechische Volkslieder (Prague, 1858), p. 132, no. CLXIII. ~TEe 
other is found in Joseph Wenzig, Westslawischer Marchenschatz 
(Leipzig, IS57). PP- 24-1 f. The latter reads: 
Des Wiedehopfs Hochzeit 

Ich weiss von einem Vogel, 

Wiedhopf wird er genannt; 

Wollt ' knupf en mit der schonen 

Nusskrah' der Ehe Band. 

Da warden zur Hochzeit Gaste 
Geladen in reichster Zahl, 
Sowohl die grossen Vogel, 
als die kleinen allzumal. 

Die fro he muntre Lerche, 
Die lud der Gaste Schar; 
Brautfiihrer bei der Hochzeit 
Der Goldkopf Ammerling war. 

Die Wachtel war Kranzeljungfer, 

Und wand den griinen Kranz; 

So zog dann zur Vermahlung 

Die Braut in vollem Glanz. 

Die Saatkrah' spraoh den Segen, 

Der Habicht Zeuge war; 

Dass sie Feindschaft im Herzen triigen, 

Das leugnet ' er geoiz vind gar. 

Der Rabe war Koch, und schmorte 
Und buk xind sott und briet, 
Dass er voll Russes wurde. 
Dies bezeuget sein Habit. 
Und als die Tafel zu Ende, 
Musizierte die Nachtigall. 
Und alle Gaste tanzten 
Unter lautem Jubelschall . 

Tanzten, bis Braut chen meinte, 
Dass es sanf t ruhen mocht ' , 
Worauf die gesprachige Elster 
Die Betten maxjhte zurecht. 

So geschah's und geschieht noch Immer, 
Das ist nicht etwa erdacht: 
Kommt Wiedhopf zu der Nusskrah', 
Wird alsbald Hochzeit gemacht. 

This translation is printed again in J. Wenzig, Bibl. 
SlaviBcher Poesien in dt. tTbertragvmg (Prague, 1875), pp. 47 f. 


tive. On the other hand, the German Vogelhochzeit is suggestive. 
One of the most obscene birds in it is the hoopoe. The very name 
suggests hopf en , hiipf en , a ufhupfen ( salire , coire or penem eri - 
gere). Since Vogel has taken on the meaning membrum virile and 
vogeln the meaning f utuere , the name of ajiy bird may take on 
these meanings. But the hoopoe, it seems, enjoys a sort of monop- 
oly. It is the filthy bird. It befouls its nest both as avis 
cacatrix and as avis phallica . It lives on longer as avis phallica 
than as avis cacatrix . Eventually, of course, the hoopoe dies 
too, but the avis phallica exists to this day as the bird that 
fouls its nest. One of the hoopoe names is "puphahn." E. Martin 
and Hans Lienhart list it in Worterbuch der elsassischen Mundar - 
ten . I (Strassburg, 1^99), 3^ f- There it is explained as an 
onomatopoeic name. This is possible. It is also possible that 
"pup" means stercus ; then "puphahn" would correspond to "Stink- 
hahn," "Kothahn." It is also possible that "pup" is associated 
with matters sexual. Again it does not make any difference what 
"pup" meems or how it is interpreted — as long as "puphahn" is the 
name of the hoopoe, "puphahn" may take on the meajiing membrum 
virile . This it did in the writings of the earthy Martin Mont anus 
of the sixteenth century. We read e.g. in Montanus ' Wegkurzer, 
Chapter IV: "...Dessen er iiber in zurnet, hat den pupenhan auff 
den kopff geschlagen,"^ and in his Gartengesellschaf t . Chapter 
XXXVI: "...Ich habe mein bupenhan gantz und gar abgehauwen" (pp. 
2B3 f., lines 29 and l); Chapter LVIII (LX): " dera den 
buppenhan heraus zohe etc. unnd den auff den tisch legt" (p. JIJ, 
lines 7 f.); Chapter CVI (CIX): "Ein pfaff verleurt sein buppen- 
han" (p. kOS, line 32); "Der pfaff sein pupenhan, der eben zur 
selben zeit wol geriist stund, zura fenster hienein bott, den ime 
der knecht von stundan mit einem messer herabsohnitt . " 

•'■M. Montanus, Schwankbucher (1557-1566), ed. J. Bolte 
("Bibl. d. lit. Ver. Stuttgart," CCXVII [Tubingen, IS99I), p. IS, 
lines 22 f . 


I iiave never met a hoopoe in the flesh. I have seen 
illustrations of it and I have admired it in museums, stuffed and 
mounted. Hy acquaintance with the hoopoe is academic. Neverthe- 
less, I believe I know the bird and in spite of some of its evil 
habits, I profess to a love of this bird of abomination. After 
all, I should be befouling ray own nest, if I did not honor and 
love the subject of this study. 

It has not been my purpose to present on these pages all 
the hoopoe-lore I have collected. It has, rather, been ray inten- 
tion to marshal as much evidence as was feasible and necessary in 
order to establish certain beliefs of European folk concerning 
the hoopoe as popular beliefs, i.e. as beliefs that were held 
more or less in common either over a certain period of time or 
within the limits of a certain territory. I have been more inter- 
ested in bringing at least a semblance of order into the many 
bits of hoopoe-tradition than in discovering and adding one more 
recondite fact to the record. At the same time I have striven to 
show, wherever possible, the provenience and the continuance of 
hoopoe-lore. But above all, I have endeavored to prove that the 
hoopoe is the bird that befouls its nest and thus to add a mite 
of information to the study of the European proverb. I grant 
that my material has not always been sweet and clean. Yet I am 
not afraid of the warning of the medieval scribe: 

"Aves qui nutrit, pro munere stercus habebit."^ 

,-,,,> Ljibben, Versus memorlales (Gymnasialprogramm. Oldenburg 
I5bb;, p. 4. The verses in this collection are gathered from 
several manuscripts, dating from 1419 to l^JS. The line above 
may be from Vocabulariu s Engelhus . fol. Pap. (l445); one copy at 
Wolfenbuttel, one at Gottingen; see p. 42