A linnet of hope

A linnet of hope

Birds are regularly used by Bronte as emblems of vulnerability or fragility – here this small creature is depicted as a source of hope. ‘It seemed as if a linnet had hopped to my foot and proposed to bear me on its tiny wing.’   Source: Charlotte...
Of gander and falcon

Of gander and falcon

A surprising juxtaposition of birds to convey a contrast. ‘… the contrast could not be much greater between a sleek gander and a fierce falcon.’   Source: Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre (London: Bounty Books, 2012 (1847)), p. 247 Photo credit:...
As lively as …

As lively as …

You can imagine the spark lighting up a prim Victorian drawing room, when the sexes are brought together within a confined space. ‘The ladies, since the gentlemen entered, have become lively as larks…’   Source: Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre (London:...
Widest-winged condor

Widest-winged condor

This novel being set in England, I liked this evocation of a splendid bird from the other side of the world.  You can see him wheeling down from an Andean eyrie in broad, confident circles, like Manley Hopkins’ windhover, ‘riding underneath him steady...
Of frantic birds and free human beings

Of frantic birds and free human beings

A withering riposte to any attempt at ensnarement or wing-clipping.  Mr. Rochester tries to bind Jane to him but soon learns that nothing will drive her away faster.   ‘Jane, be still; don’t struggle so, like a wild frantic bird that is rending its own...
Fresh-opened blossoms and mounting larks

Fresh-opened blossoms and mounting larks

I like the playfulness of sharing the divine charms of a bright spring day, even while saying it’s probably wasted on you. And of course, you have often forgotten yourself with straining your eyes after the mounting lark, haven’t you?   I did, two days...
A covert of coots

A covert of coots

A covert is a shelter or a hiding place, from which you might study coots.  It can also refer to a thicket in which game can hide.  Does this aquatic bird hide itself in thickets (or reeds), to be given this collective noun? See also my review of Arthur...
A murder of crows

A murder of crows

A memorable collective noun, though perhaps unfair on the poor old crow.  I have a soft spot for these intelligent and social birds and am not aware that they are any more murderous than other hungry...
A herd of curlew

A herd of curlew

The first time I have come across ‘herd’ as a collective noun for a bird.  Curlews are large wading birds of the sandpiper family, with a long down-curved bill and brown mottled plumage.  They apparently hang out in...

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