thunderbird

thunderbird
/thun"deuhr berrd'/, n.
(in the mythology of some North American Indians) a huge, eaglelike bird capable of producing thunder, lightning, and rain.
[1820-30; THUNDER + BIRD]

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In North American Indian mythology, a powerful spirit in the form of a bird that watered the earth and made vegetation grow.

Lightning was believed to flash from its eyes or beak, and the beating of its wings was thought to represent rolling thunder. The thunderbird was often portrayed with an extra head on its abdomen, particularly on totem poles, and it was frequently accompanied by lesser bird spirits. Though it is best known in North America, evidence of similar figures has been found throughout Africa, Asia, and Europe.

Wooden thunderbird of the Haida Indians, northwest coast of North America, 19th century; in the ...

By courtesy of the trustees of the British Museum

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▪ mythological bird
      in North American Indian mythology, a powerful spirit in the form of a bird. By its work, the earth was watered and vegetation grew. Lightning was believed to flash from its beak, and the beating of its wings was thought to represent the rolling of thunder. It was often portrayed with an extra head on its abdomen.

      The thunderbird was frequently accompanied by lesser bird spirits, often in the form of eagles or falcons. Although it is best known from North America, evidence of similar figures has been found throughout Africa, Asia, and Europe (where it is associated with the woodpecker).

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Universalium. 2010.

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