Sunday, February 18, 2007

Whippoorwills III

First, the curse of the whippoorwills on Chrsipy is that he always wants to spell them "whipperwills", heh. The name is an onomotopoeia, as the name is the call the bird makes.

They are actually described thusly: The whippoorwill is about 10 inches (25 centimeters) long. Its spotted, brown feathers make the bird hard to see in the heavily wooded areas in which it lives. During the day, the whippoorwill usually rests on the ground or perches lengthwise on a log. It flies mostly at night. The bird uses its wide mouth rimmed with long bristles to catch flying insects. The female whippoorwill lays her two eggs among the leaves on the ground. The whippoorwill and its relatives, the chuck-will's widow and the poorwill, often help farmers. These birds eat insects, including those that harm crops.
The whippoorwill belongs to the goatsucker family, Caprimulgidae. It is Caprimulgus vociferus.

There is a loose association of whipporwills and devils in a Stephen Vincent Benet poem (that apparently Charlie Daniels' appropriated for a top 40 song hit): The Mountain Whippoorwill
(Or, How Hill-Billy Jim Won the Great Fiddlers' Prize).

In Europe, the "goatsucker" is a misnomer and refers to the legend that these birds somehow drank milk from goats.

The soul snatching, while Chrispy can't confirm his speculation, is no doubt due to their night time habit of swooping and snatching insects. A "goatsucker" is an allusion to a witch or devil action at night, a common medieval fear that an animal might get an infection or somehow go dry, depriving a critical resource of revenue (cheese, milk).

All these are devilish associations which descend upon the Dunwich Horror.

OK, next up, death myths.

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