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Water Wagtail Pied wagtail
Ainu Legends
Water-wagtail

How this waterbird whose tail constantly wags up and down created the Earth
"[T]he great God ... determined to render the world inhabitable. He, therefore, made a water-wagtail, and sent him down from heaven to produce the Earth. When [the bird] descended and saw what a dreadfully shocking condition the elements were in, and how they were mixed up in confusion, he was almost at his wits' end to know how to perform his allotted task. But he thought of a way, for he fluttered over the waters with his wings, trampled upon the muddy matter with his feet, and beat it down with his tail, till, after a very long time of fluttering, trampling, and tail wagging, dry places appeared, and the waters became ocean. In this way the worlds were gradually raised and made to stand out of the waters and caused to float about upon them.

"Therefore, the Ainu call the world moshiri—i.e., "floating Earth," and hold the water-wagtail in great esteem ... Thus it happens that at the present day even whenever this bird is seen he is sure to be found beating the Earth with his tail."

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Photo: Corbis/Roger Tidman

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