Plague birds and army birds

To: birding-aus <>, "Birdchat " <>, sabirdnet <>
Subject: Plague birds and army birds
From: Willem Jan Marinus Vader <>
Date: Sat, 11 Jan 2020 10:25:15 +0000
Plague birds and army birds
                                   As every autumn, also in 2019 Tromsø had an influx of Bohemian Waxwings in autumn, when the abundant Rowans (Mountain Ash, Sorbus aucuparia) have ripe berries. This year the harvest was not especially abundant, and the waxwings were gone again before New Year. (My 2020 year list is still stalled at 7 birds.) The English name Bohemian Waxwings does not signify that these birds come from Bohemia, now part of Czechia,
 but is rather an allusion to the tendency of the birds to rove over large areas, searching for the right berries. I do not know why 'Bohemian' in many European languages has become a synonym for a  certain way of life characterized by unstability, but it is definitely widespread in Europe; cf the opera 'La Bohème' in French, and the artist group 'Christiania Bohemen' in Norwegian.
                                But in Dutch this waxwing, also there an irregular invader, is called the Pestvogel, literally the Plague Bird, and in older days the appearance of these birds was seen as a bad omen, and a warning that a plague was imminent. I know of only one other bird with a  vernacular name based on such folk beliefs, but I suspect there may be more, maybe as alternate and regional names, and I shall be very grateful for any info you might be able to give me in this matter.
                              The other case I know, concerns the Norwegian name Hærfugl, literally 'army bird', which is the official Norwegian name for the Hoopoe Upupa epops. This bird, that in almost all other languages got an onomatopeic name, is of only irregular occurrence in Norway, but because of its striking appearance and its tameness it is always noticed by everybody when it is found. And just as the Waxwing in Holland, it was seen as a bad omen, in this case a warning of armies and war to come.
                             Are there more such names?
                            Wim Vader, Tromsø, Norway
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