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Nov 24 2013

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The Story of the Armenian, the Cuckoo and the Hoopoe

A funny story about the hoopoe and the cuckoo is told by the Rumanians at the expense of the Armenians. It is said that in olden times the forefather of the Armenians had to flee for his life. So, taking all his belongings with him, and mounting on a horse, he rode away as fast as he could. He feared lest his enemies would overtake him.



Riding on, he came to a forest and, not being able to find the way, he got into a bog. In vain did he try to get his horse up again. The more he tried the further it sank; so, taking all his belongings, he dismounted, and wading through the mud, he sat down at the edge of the bog and thought all the time what was he to do to get his horse out. He could not carry all his belongings, and, if he tarried much longer where he was, his enemies were sure to overtake him. Where he sat, there was a cuckoo, resting on the tree, and singing all the time, but the more he sang the deeper the horse seemed to sink into the mire.

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He took some food out of his bags, and, showing it to the horse, he tried to tempt it, but the horse paid no attention to him. Whilst he was now in great despair, there came a hoopoe and sat on another tree and began to cry “Hoop, Hoop.” No sooner did the horse hear the bird shouting “hoop, hoop,” than up it jumped as if stung by wasps. Overjoyed, the Armenian got hold of it, and putting his food into his sack he mounted again and went on his way. And out of gratitude the Armenians call the hoopoe to this very day by the name of cuckoo, for he saved their ancestor by his cry “up, up.” The cuckoo had made it lie down by singing “coo, coo,” but the hoopoe made it jump up by singing “up, up.”


There are some beliefs attached to the cry of the hoopoe forming part of that great section of prognostications by the cry of the birds. It is not, however, considered as an ominous bird. It merely foretells the fruitfulness or the barrenness of the coming year.

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