Friday, January 7, 2011

The Wonderfull Battell of Starelings,1622

Today in topical dead bird news:

With all the dead birds falling from the sky lately (a.k.a. "the Aflockalypse"), I was reminded of this pamphlet I've had saved for a while. Suddenly, it's relevant!

In Cork, Ireland on October 12-14, 1621, it was raining starlings! But this wasn't just some boring dead bird situation -- these starlings were at war. Hordes of birds reportedly converged in such numbers that "the ayre was obscured and darkened by them." The birds, "mounting up into the Skies, encountered one another with such a terrible Shock, as the Sound amazed the whole City and the Beholders," until “there fell down in the City, and into the Rivers, Multitudes of Starlings or Stares, some with Wings broken, some with Legs and Necks broken, some with Eyes picked out, some their Bills thrust into the Breast and Sides of their Adversaries.” Damn. Can I just say that 400 years ago birds knew how to die with some pizazz! These 21st century birds just flop down on the ground without putting on a show of any kind.

After it was over, the amount of dead birds "was so great, that they were taken up with shovels, and swept together with besomes, that bushels were filled with them." The author seems to think this is bad, but I bet the starving Irishmen were pretty stoked, right?

What did it all mean? Well, like everything else bad that happened in the 17th century, "it doth prognosticate either God's mercy to draw us to repentence, or his justice to punish our sinnes and wickednesse, if we do not make haste to repent in due time."

But what about these recent bird deaths? Surely they are a message from God? A sign of the apocalypse? Well, renowned theologian and former Growing Pains star Kirk Cameron says: no! Don't be stupid. Case closed.