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Shakespeare's Crows, Owls, and Ravens - With Rod Molzahn

Happy Halloween from BirdNote!
© Illustration by Louis Agassiz Fuertes View Large

Shakespeare's tragedies and histories are filled with crows, owls, and ravens, birds of evil portent, promising sickness and death. Shakespearean actor Rod Molzahn describes some of them! King Henry speaks to Gloucester: "The Owl shriek'd at thy birth - an evil sign; the Night-Crow cried, aboding luckless time, the Raven rook'd her on the chimney's top, and chattering Magpies in dismal discords sung." Lady MacBeth, contemplating the killing of King Duncan, observes, "The Raven himself is hoarse that croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan under my battlements." Bolingbroke describes midnight as, "Deep night, dark night, the silent of the night when Screech-Owls cry..." Happy Halloween from BirdNote!

Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®

Shakespeare's Birds at Halloween

Featuring Rod Molzahn

This is BirdNote!
[Call of Scops Owl]
On Halloween, we recall that Shakespeare's tragedies and histories are filled with crows, owls, and ravens, birds of evil portent promising sickness and death. Here's Shakespearean actor Rod Molzahn:
In Henry VI, part 3, King Henry speaks these words to Gloucester: “Many a thousand shall rue the hour that ever thou wast born. The Owl shriek'd at thy birth - an evil sign; [call of a Eurasian Eagle-owl] the Night-Crow cried, aboding luckless time, the Raven rook'd her on the chimney's top and chattering Magpies in dismal discords sung." [Eurasian Magpie calling]
In another tragedy: Lady MacBeth, contemplating the killing of King Duncan observes, “The Raven himself is hoarse that croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan under my battlements." [Croaks of Ravens]
Bolingbroke in Henry VI, part 2 describes midnight as, “Deep night, dark night, the silent of the night when Screech-Owls cry and ban-dogs howl and spirits walk and ghosts break up their graves." [cry of a Scops Owl (which would have been heard in Shakespeare's location)]
In the same play, Iden, describing how he will kill Cade, conjures an image of horror saying," Hence will I drag thee headlong unto a dunghill which shall be thy grave, and there cut off thy most ungracious head; which I will bear in triumph to the king, leaving thy trunk for Crows to feed upon." [calls from a murder of crows]

Happy Halloween.
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Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Scops Owl 4502 recorded by M.E.W. North; Eurasian Magpie 60469 by G. Carey; Eurasian Eagle-owl by M.D. Medler; croaks of Common Ravens 137574 by G. Vyn; mobbing calls from a murder of crows 36942 by A.B. van den Berg.
Musical selection from Koyaanisquatsi by Philip Glass 1998 Nonesuch Records.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2012 Tune In to Nature.org   October 2012  Narrator: Mary McCann

ID# halloween-02-2012-10-31

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