Here are some Amerindian legends about birds:
The creation of birds
A long time ago, there were no birds and very few animals on Earth. To play, the children had only leaves and that, for six long moons.
At the seventh Moon, polar bear blew the cold on the trees and howler wolf stripped them of all their leaves.
The kids couldn’t play anymore. When they came out of the lodge to sweat, after the ritual fast, they no longer saw any pretty beast they could take the name of.
For this is the way to recognize our little ones, each bearing the name of the animal or the object that he sees the first when coming out of the lodge to sweat.
When White Bear and howler wolf had passed, the children remained sad for several suns. They no longer wanted to eat their sagamité (corn porridge).
One day, as she looked down at the leaves, a little girl spoke to Glouseclappe the Great spirit. She old him “O you who made the Earth, the water and the little fires shining up there, do something else if you want the children to laugh and eat their sagamité”. Glouseclappe heard her.
The month of the flowers came, after South Wind had defeated the work of Polar bear, he picked up the fallen leaves and blew on it.
Birds of all colors flew away and laid sinsing on the trees.
Birds (Abénakis Legend)
At the beginning of the world, the creator, whom the Abénakis Indians call Tabaldak, created the earth and for them the earth became the garden of Tabaldak. From that day, the old Mother Earth gives the plants that nourish and the plants that heal.
Tabaldak had created everything men needed to live on Earth. He had created everything or almost, because for the Indians the creator is not perfect, otherwise he would have created all the ideal Indians.
All the Indians were ecstatic before the creation until the time when polar bear decided to put his big white coat on the country and blew his cold breath to make the winter come.
At that time, the Indians lived most of their time in the teepee and the little ones quickly became very sad. They had nothing to amuse themselves with, except the ashes of the fire which seemed scarcely lukewarm so the cold was intense.
During the summer they had played with the leaves of the sacred tree. They had made necklaces, plumes, butterflies, and they had also played with the brook. But with the snow that had covered everything with white, all their toys had disappeared and they had become very sad. So sad that Grandma Marmot noticed it and decided to go see Tabaldak.
She said, “You’ve created a lot of beautiful things for your adult children. You gave everything so they could live well. But you forgot my little ones.”
Tabaldak reflected for a moment and approved Grandma Marmot. He promised to fix things. As soon as spring pointed his nose, he began to think about what he could create to make the winter more enjoyable. It was then that he remembered seeing the children playing with the leaves of the sacred tree. So he decided to create the birds. But in his haste to delight the children for the next winter, he created the birds all white, of the same color as the winter.
The children were very happy with this creation. You should have seen them play with the loons, ducks, teals, partridge, woodpeckers, swallows, warblers, large-beakers, finches, sparrows, goldfinches, chickadees, blackbirds, sparrows and hummingbirds. The people spent the spring, summer and even autumn having fun with their new friends the birds.
When polar bear threw again its big white coat on the back of Mother Earth, the children realized that the birds were the same color as the snow and that they could barely see them. Even the birds were very annoyed to recognize each other. They were all the same color. They returned in their teepee with a lot of sadness still.
Grandma Marmot waw The sadness of the children. She went back to Tabaldak and said: “Tabaldak, I think you created the birds a little too fast. You gave the adults a colorful nature in your image, but you forgot that the little children also deserved the same colors for their birds.“
Tabaldak thought and ended up telling Grandma Groundhog: “You’re right. I’m going to fix my mistake. Call all the birds and tell them to gather here in front of me.“
Meanwhile, Tabaldak went to take brown earth, green lawn, green shrub, blue sky, Yellow Sun, fire red, cloud grey and made wonderful dyes that he put in magnificent pots in birch bark that Grandma marmot had fabricated for him. The pots smelled good of the fresh bark. Tabaldak placed the dye pots in front of him.
The White Goose advanced the first near Tabaldak and gave him a feather so that he could colour the birds.
The white Goose said, “Take my feather to do your creative work. I will stay white for your children to remember. Every year I will pass over their territory so that they can remember you.”
To this day, the white goose has not yet failed to come. Every spring, from the end of March to the end of May, nearly one million birds frequent the shores of Lake Saint-Pierre in Baie-du-Fèbvre. Thousands of birdwatchers and nature lovers are meeting along the flooded areas to observe the spectacular return of the white geese.
So the creator began his work. With the red and the brown, he coloured the blackbird. With the blue, he gave its colors to the swallow. With yellow, the coloured The Goldfinch and so on, until all the birds were covered with the colours of nature.
You could even, if you take the time to observe the birds, guess where Tabaldak took the dye to color each bird you observe. There is no color on a bird that is not in nature.
While he was doing his job with patience, a bird was constantly bothering him. He cried, beat the kite loudly, jostled others and forgot to share the joy of his brothers. He even went before the creator to insult him by telling him that his dyes were very beautiful, but not bright enough to put them on his magnificent plumage. Patiently the creator continued his work. The bird was increasingly disturbing, flapping its wings and constantly shouting.
He came back in front of the creator again and with a wing-shot overthrew all the dye pots. The dyes by pouring themselves mixed and became All black. You should have seen grandma marmot behind the teepee. She was in all her states, not believing her eyes to see what the bird had done.
The creator, in his great patience, picked up the black dye and put it back into a new jar that Grandma Marmot had brought. He picked up his feather again and continued his work. The disturbing bird returned a third time before him to insult him again, but this time, Tabaldak seized the animal by the legs, plunged it into the black dye and raised it very high at the end of his arm saying, “Such is thy will my beautiful bird And that is my will. Because you liked it, you will always be a disturbing and noisy bird. You’ll always have a heavy, noisy flight. The other birds will fear you and the animals will flee you. We’ll call you the Raven.“
And he let the bird go. But it was not the last bird. The last bird arrived humbly in front of Tabaldak.
He excused the brazen behaviour of the raven and said to the creator: “Tabaldak, I regret the raven’s gesture. I wish you’d covered my rainbow feathers for your creation. I could, so colorful, fly very high to the sun and draw large circles so that your children could see all your power. I wanted to be your symbol for your children.”
The creator was well moved by the words of the bird. He sid to the animal: “Open Your wings wide.”
He then took his feather and plunged it into the black dye. He put a little bit on the tips of the wings, a little around his neck. He also put a little on his tail and gently swept the animal’s back and said, “Such is your will, my beautiful bird, and that is my will. You’ll be my symbol. You will fly very high to trace the sacred circle. I’ll put all my power into it and my children will see it. You’ll be the only animal to look at the sun right across the way. We’ll call you the eagle. And to remember, every time one of my children planted a pole in the ground to burn his symbols and totems, at the top, he would place your wings to symbolize me. You will be a guide for my children. Such is thy will my beautiful bird and such is my will.“
I want you to know that since then, the Amerindians have been using the feathers of the eagle to make beautiful decorations and that there is always an eagle feather attached to the sacred pipe.
This legend is still very vivid in the Abenakis village of Odanak in Quebec.
Read also an article on falconry and various facts.