Caladrius

Mythical Bird of Northern Europe.

Variant name: Charadrius (possibly from the Greek charadrai, "clefts," where the bird is said to live).

Physical description: Complet ely whit e plumage. Yellow bill. Swanlike neck. Yellow legs.

Behavior: Can det ect human illness. Takes the disease on itself, flies toward the sun, vomit s, and disper ses t he illness int o t he air. It s dung is said t o cur e blindness. Habitat: River s.

Distribution: Northern Europe or West Asia. Possible explanations: Birds with prominent white plumage have been proposed, among them

(1) The Ringed plover (Charadrius hiaticula) is mostly whit e on the underside with an orange bill. It is found primarily on coast s and est uar ies.

(2) The Common crane (Grusgrus) is grayish with a long neck. It breeds in nor t hern Eur ope and Asia and wint ers in Southern Europe and Africa.

(3) A whit e par rot (Family Psit t acidae) of some kind.

(4) The Great white egret (Egretta alba) has a black bill. It winters in Southern Europe.

(5) The Lapwing (Vanella vanella) has a shor t black bill and is only whit e on t he underside, with green upper parts. It looks black and whit e in flight or fr om a dist ance.

(6) The Woodcock (Scolopas rusticola) is widespread in the British Isles and much of Europe. Its bill is grayish, and its plumage looks mor e br own t han whit e.

(7) The Whit e wagt ail (Motacill alba), suggest ed by T. H. Whit e, has a gray back, r ump, and flanks.

(8) The Northern fulmar (Fulmaris glacialis) is a light gray-and-whit e seabir d wit h a yellow bill. It spends a lot of time gliding along coast al cliffs.

(9) A seagull of some t ype, especially t he Herring gull (Larus argentatus) or Yellow-legged gull (L. cachinnans), which have yellow bills.

Sources: Pierre de Beauvais, A Medieval Book ofBeasts, trans. Guy R Mermier (Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellon, 1992), pp. 27-28; George Claridge Druce, "The Caladrius and Its Legend, Sculpt ur ed upon t he Twelft h-Cent ury Doorway of Alne Church, Yorkshire," Archaeological Journal 69 (1912): 381-416; T. H. White, ed., The Bestiary: A Book ofBeasts (New York: G. P. Putnam's, 1960), pp. 115-116.

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