Songbird Creation

Modern science tells us that birds evolved from dinosaurs.  Other stories are told too, such as this one from the Navajo creation story which tells about the creation of the smaller birds.
flying-lg dinosaur museum
It is said that Monster Slayer went to his mother Changing Woman to ask where he would find the Bird Monsters. (Tsé Ninájálééh) At first, his mother refused to tell him, fearing that her son would be killed by the awful bird-like monster that lived in those days on Tsé Bit’a’í, the Rock with Wings, now called Shiprock in northwest New Mexico on the Bilagáana maps.  But Monster Slayer was insistent and eventually she told him and he set off, intending to kill those monsters.

The bird monsters had two chicks and, like all bird chicks everywhere, they were ravenous and kept their parents busy all day, every day just feeding them.  But their parents brought only people for them to eat.  The two adult bird monsters flew over the land, grabbed living people, flew back to Rock with Wings and then dropped the victims from a great height onto the huge rock where their chicks could feast on the bodies.

Which is why Monster Slayer set out to find and kill them.

Finding them turned out to be easy. The male monster bird saw Monster Slayer coming from miles and away and, after making three passes at him, grabbed him in his huge talons, flew high above Rock with Wings and dropped him on the rocks far below.
Shiprock_NM
But Monster Slayer came prepared.  He had an eagle feather his father had given him and he used it to float gently down to the rocks.  Once there he cut open a bladder of blood from a different monster he had slain so blood flowed over the rocks as if Monster Slayer had really died.

Satisfied that his chicks could now eat their latest meal, the male bird monster flew off in search of more food for them. But the chicks were in for a surprise.

As they approached Monster Slayer, he leapt up and demanded that the baby bird monsters tell him exactly when both of their parents would return and where they would land on the Rock with Wings.  Terrified, the chicks told him.  Their father would return with the next male rain and their mother with the next female rain.  They also pointed out exactly which rocks their parents would land on.

Soon a male rain came with its lightning, thunder, wind, and hard rain.  The male monster bird returned as foretold by his chicks and Monster Slayer killed him by hurling a lightning bolt right through him.

Later, a female rain, with its soft, gentle, quiet rain arrived; the mother monster bird arrived, and Monster Slayer killed her too.

The baby chicks started an awful howling, fearing that they were next.  But Monster Slayer saw that they were still little and could be turned into useful birds and so he made one into an eagle and the other into an owl.

But now it was late afternoon, the sun was declining in the west, and Monster Slayer was stuck high up on the Rock with Wings with no way to get down.

c-pallid-batusgsJust then he spotted Bat Woman walking on the ground by the great rock and he called to her, asking for her to help him down.  But Bat Woman did not want to help because she thought of herself as being very ugly and she did not like for others to look at her.

Eventually though she agreed to help Monster Slayer down based on his promise to her that she could have all the feathers from the male Monster Bird with which she could adorn herself and become beautiful.  So Bat Woman helped him down, though not without trouble because Monster Slayer kept ignoring her commands to keep his eyes shut.

After he was down, he gave her all the feathers which she put in her basket.  But she did not want Monster Slayer or anyone else watching her put the feathers on and become beautiful so she started walking off toward a field of sunflowers.

Monster Slayer warned her not to go that way but she ignored him, just he had ignored her when she told him to keep his eyes shut.  As she walked, something fluttered in her basket but she kept going, right into the field of sunflowers.  Suddenly birds of all kinds started flying out of the basket containing the feathers of the monster bird.  When she realized that all those birds were coming out of her basket, she tried to stop them but couldn’t.

Finally she gave up trying to keep them in the basket, set the basket down and just watched as all those birds flew away.  “They flew away as wrens.  They flew away as warblers.  They flew away as sparrows. They flew away as titmice.”  All of them flew away until her basket was empty.

And there she sat, in the middle of the sunflowers, “. . .as ugly as she ever was and as ugly as she would always be.”  Which is why, it is said, that bats are still ugly and fly only at night so no one can see them.

And that is where songbirds came from.

We leave it to you to speculate on this question: How did this creation myth, which was told long before modern science discovered that birds evolved from dinosaurs, know about the Monster Birds from which, according to modern science, all songbirds derived?

___________________________
The entire story of the Navajo creation story about small birds can be found in Zolbrod, Dine Behane: The Navajo Creation Story, UNM Press 1984, pp 230-241.

The photo of Shiprock is from the NPS, the bat from the USGS, and the feathered bird monsters from the Dinosaur Museum.

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4 Responses to “Songbird Creation”

  1. Mad Bluebird Says:

    Watched a episode of MONSTER QUEST it was about BIRDZILLA of those who have seen or encountered giant birds and even about a 10 year old boy who was almost carried away by a giant bird and of two men who saw this bird that stood 8 feet tall and had a wingspan of 15 to 25 feet

  2. Mad Bluebird Says:

    Modern science is wrong birds didnt evolve from dinasours This whole evolution is pure fiction

    • fatfinch Says:

      Actually, no other explanation meets the facts.

    • Abrig Says:

      Modern science is, well, *modern* and *science* -ie it’s based on up to date facts and not ancient creation myths.

      Anyways, interesting post🙂 That’s a pic of a pterosaur, not a dinosaur or bird ;p But an interesting story in that all birds came from a common ancestor.

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