"I'm one with the Goddess
and open to Her Wisdom."
20th Day of the 4th Lunar Cycle
Ruled by Demeter
Lunar Tree Cycle ~ Fearn/Alder
17th Day of the Celtic Tree Month ~ Fearn/Alder
Moon Phase: Disseminating
Moon rises: 12:26AM EDST
Moon sets: 9:32AM EDST
Moon in the Mutable Fire Sign
Rhiannon's Cycle of the Moon
Lunar Meditation: The blessing of rain.
Sun in Aries
Sunrise: 7:01AM EDST
Sunset: 7:46PM EDST
Solar Question for the Day: "What
knowledge are you seeking?"
Imbolc (Gwyl Mair) Quarter
of the Year
April 3rd., 2010
Saturn's Day - the Day of Manifestation and Structure, Assessment and Responsibiity. There are minor magickal energies today for spells and rites regarding protection according to my Season's of the Witch datebook.
In Kate West's "The Real Witches' Year" book, the entry for today is about the Cuckoo.. I don't if I've heard a Cuckoo call. I am not sure we have any around here.
It is said that the call of the Cuckoo is the herald of the real arrival of Spring. There is a lot of folklore surrounding hearing the first call. Catching a Cuckoo and releasing it unharmed will bring great luck, but to bring one into the house invites misfortune.
So I decided to read more about these Cuckoo birds
and researched on line. The more I read, the more I
realized that perhaps I have heard them but had forgotten
that sometimes their call, the male that is, is likened to hearing a dove around here. But when it talked about
the breeding habits of the female who lays her eggs in other birds' nests I remembered them quite well. Here are some of the things said about them at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Cuckoo
Food and feeding
Its food is insects, with hairy caterpillars, which are distasteful to many birds, being a speciality. It also occasinally eats eggs and chicks.
This Reed Warbler is raising the young of a Common CuckooIt is a brood parasite, which lays its eggs in the nests of other bird species, particularly of Dunnocks, Meadow Pipits, and Eurasian Reed Warblers.
At the appropriate moment, the hen cuckoo flies down to the Reed Warblers' nest, pushes one Reed Warbler egg out of the nest, lays an egg and flies off. The whole process is achieved in only about 10 seconds.
Cuckoo chicks methodically evict all host progeny from host nests. It is a much larger bird than its hosts, and needs to monopolise the food supplied by the parents. The Cuckoo chick will roll the other eggs out of the nest by pushing them with its back over the edge. If the Reed Warbler's eggs hatch before the Cuckoo's egg, the Cuckoo chick will push the other chicks out of the nest in a similar way. Once the Reed Warbler chicks are out of the nest, the parents completely ignore them.
This Reed Warbler is raising the young of a Common Cuckoo
At 14 days old, the Cuckoo chicks are about three times the size of the adult Reed Warblers. The numerous and rapid hunger calls of the single cuckoo chick, and to a lesser extent its coloured gape, encourage the host parents to bring more food.
Cuckoo chicks fledge after about 20 –21 days after hatching, which is about twice as long as for Reed Warblers. If the hen cuckoo is out-of-phase with a clutch of Reed Warbler eggs, she will eat them all so that the hosts are forced to start another brood.
The combination of behaviour and anatomical adaptation of the common cuckoo was first described by Edward Jenner, who was elected as Fellow of the Royal Society in 1788 for this work. This was before he developed vaccination.
Female Cuckoos are divided into gentes - populations favouring a particular host species' nest and laying eggs which match those of that species in colour and pattern. The colour pattern is inherited from the female only, suggesting that it is carried on the sex-determining W chromosome (females are WZ, males ZZ). It is notable that most non-parasitic cuckoos lay white eggs, like most non-passerines other than ground nesters. The exception is in the case of the Dunnock, where the Common Cuckoo's egg has no resemblance to its hosts' blue eggs. This is thought to be because the Dunnock is a recent host, and has not yet acquired the ability to distinguish eggs. Male Cuckoos breed with females without regard to gens. This results in gene flow between the gentes and maintains a common gene pool for the species (except for the genes on the W chromosome).
Rather interesting to read about them and refresh my memory on their nasty little habit of taking over other birds' nests. You can see from the picture above how much larger these cuckoo chicks get. But anyhow back to what Kate West writes about them.
It is unlucky to hear the first Cuckoo before breakfast, so rise early at this time of the year. If you are not active when you hear the call, you should dance a jig to be sure of having work. If you have money in your pocket, turn it over to avoid being penniless. It was thought that when you hear the call you can ask a question and the Cuckoo will answer it by the number of calls, telling you how long before you wed, have a child, or die. Indeed it is held that the poor bird is so busy answering these quetions that it has no time to raise its young, and has to foster them out in other birds' nests.
By the way, the bird is somewhat larger than most expect being around a foot in length, and is often seen standing on posts in the manner of a hawk.
In Scotland the Cuckoo is known as the eun sidhe, the Bird of the Fairies, and is thought to winter inside Barrows or other entrances to the underworld. Elsewhere, it is thought that the Caillleach, pre-Celtic Goddess of Winter, released it from the underworld when she was finally ready to give way to Spring. [I like this last thought.....]