Saturday, January 02, 2016

Birds and Bards post of the day

Author BrianSibley is visiting Venice and has lots of he posts about the Cormorants,
 (a medium sized bird that dives to catch fish).

He relates their history in Venice, and then goes to point out the links of Venice, Cormorants, Shylock and Shakespeare...

And Shakespeare, the inveterate player with words, may have also made another connection: the Hebraic word for 'cormorant' is 'shalak', (meaning 'plunging' or 'darting down') as can be seen in the list of forbidden, 'unclean' creatures listed in Leviticus 11: 17...
The cormorant, because of its voracious appetite, also came to be a symbol of usury as can be seen from a 16th Century reference to attempts to rescue "poor debtors" from usurers and "the claws of such cormorant harpies".
Shylock, the Jewish moneylender, may, therefore, owe some aspect of his name to the shalak, the cormorant of Laguna di Venezia, that would have been a familiar sight both to him and to Antonio, the Merchant of Venice...
I didn't know that these birds were found in Europe: In China (but not here), they are used for fishing, by looping a noose around the neck so they can't swallow the fish, and then the fisherman removes the fish.

In Minnesota, we had kingfishers in our lakes. They are smaller and prettier than Cormorants and have a tuft of feathers as a crown on their heads.

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