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bird lore
The Oystercatcher.
Several West Highland folk-tales of birds and animals
are associated with Christ and His enemies. It is related
in the Islands that, when Christ was being pursued from
one Hebridean isle to another, he was hidden at low tide
by two oystercatchers, who covered Him with seaweed, and
kept watch over Him until His enemies had passed. And it
is supposed that for this act of grace the oystercatcher was
chosen to be the gille or man-servant of St. Bridget,
Christ's foster-mother. Hence the origin of gille-hridean,
the oystercatcher's Gaelic name.
No bird has occupied a more prominent place in the lore
and legend of Celtic Scotland than has the oystercatcher;
and Hebridean folk-lore is loud in its praise of this beautiful
creature. They say in the Isles that originally the colour of
the oystercatcher was black, and that, in recognition of the
bird's service to Christ, it was awarded a white plumage
on the breast in the shape of a cross. The breast and wings
of the oystercatcher appear for all the world like a white
cross, when the bird is seen flying toward one.
In Gaelic the cry of the oystercatcher is " Bi glic, hi glic ;
bi glic, bi glic ! ", meaning ' be wise,' ' be prudent,' ' take
care.' And this cry is commonly regarded by West High-
land mariners and fishermen as a warning of the approach
of a storm.
A Legend of the Duck and the Hen.
A folk-tale somewhat similar to that in which the oyster-
catcher concealed Christ under the seaweed is told of the
manner in which Christ, when pursued, came to a croft in
the Isles while the crofter was winnowing the chaff from

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