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Water-ouzel Drawing of black-bellied water ouzel
Ainu Legends

Why an Ainu, upon killing this dipper bird, should immediately swallow its heart
"The water-ouzel came down from heaven. He is of a black color and lives along the watercourses. His heart is exceedingly wise, and in speech he is most eloquent. When therefore he is killed he should be immediately torn open, and his heart wrenched out and swallowed. This should be done before it gets cold or damaged in any way. If a man swallows at once, he will become very fluent and wise, and will also be able to overcome all his opponents in argument.

"But the water-ouzel has power to help in another way. For not only does he make people eloquent, but he also makes all who swallow his heart prosper in wealth far above their neighbors. The person who is fortunate enough to swallow one is called by the special name of Chikoshinninup epirika guru, i.e., 'the person who has gained a charm.'"

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Image: Corbis/The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia/John Gould & H.C. Richter

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