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Autumnal Equinox

September 23, 2019

Today marks the mid-point between June's longest day and December's shortest day. We may hardly notice, but ancient cultures closely watched the changes in the sun's daily patterns. One legend from the Andes of South America held that only the giant Andean Condor (like the one pictured here), with its ten-foot wingspan, had the strength to lift the sun each morning and pull it back down each evening.  You can learn more about this condor at The Peregrine Fund. Or visit your local Audubon chapter, and find your local birds.

Full Transcript



Autumnal Equinox – September 23, 2019

By Frances Wood

This is BirdNote.

[Selection from “Outer Space Background”]

The autumnal equinox marks the mid-point between June’s longest day and December’s shortest day. We may hardly notice, but ancient cultures were closely attuned to the changes in the sun’s daily patterns. In the Andes Mountains of South America, some peoples believed that a great bird played a role in those seasonal changes.  

[Inca flute music from El Condor Pasa]

According to legend, only the giant Andean Condor, with its ten-foot wingspan, had the strength to lift the sun each morning and pull it back down each evening. Along its journey, the condor communicated with the sun god, who endowed the bird with healing properties. Some believed that eating the dried heart of a real flesh-and-blood condor would cure disease.

We now know that the Andean Condor doesn’t have any god-given healing magic. Oh, but they are magical. These condors are the largest flying birds in the Western Hemisphere, traveling up to 200 miles in a day in search of dead or dying animals. They’ve been known to drag carcasses weighing 44 pounds.

That’s quite a cargo for this 30-pound condor, but nothing compared to dragging the sun up each morning and back down again each evening.

[More space or Inca music]

Thanks for listening to BirdNote throughout the seasons. I’m Mary McCann.

Producer: John Kessler
Managing Producer: Jason Saul
Editor: Ashley Ahearn
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
Assistant Producer: Mark Bramhill
Narrator: Mary McCann
Opening sounds from BBC Sound Effects Library Selection “Outer Space Background” album Essential Sound Effects Audiogo 1996.  Inca flute music “El Condor Pasa” artists Peruvian Harp and Flute Ensemble album The Andes K-tell 2009. Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Ambient sound provided by Kessler Productions.
BirdNote’s theme composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
© 2019 BirdNote     September 2017 / 2019

ID#092206equi      autequinox-01c

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