Some birds and the postures in which they are found in period English heraldry

Zenobia Naphtali, Wreath

(This table is associated with the November 2003 LoAR.)

The following table of bird postures is derived from the BIRD section of the Dictionary of British Arms (DBA), volume 2. This section of the DBA lists the vast majority of all English armory in our period that uses birds as primary charges.

The table is thus prescriptive, not proscriptive. Just because a bird is not found in a particular posture in this table does not mean that bird was never found in that posture in period - or even in England, as the bird may be found in a different posture when used as a secondary or tertiary charge. Despite this table's limitations, we hope that it will serve as a useful compilation to assist with the bird difference rulings in the cover letter of the January 2000 LoAR and the cover letter of the November 2003 LoAR. We expect that future research, and past research found in SCA references such as precedents and the Pictorial Dictionary of Heraldry, will augment the information in this table. We encourage the College to undertake further research concerning period bird types and postures, particularly in the heraldry of areas other than England.

Note on Displayed:

Other than the roughly 20 pages of displayed eagles, there are only two examples of displayed birds in the BIRD section of DBA. One is a cock and the other a dove (albeit not "upon a billet checky Or and gules"). This research thus supports the assertions in the Cover Letters to the January 2000 and November 2003 LoARs, which classify birds displayed (other than eagles) as "vanishingly rare" and a step from standard period style (a "weirdness").

Notes on Content:

Notes on Format:

Bird Postures
Blackbird, European [see Merle]
Bustard Rising
Cock [including Dunghill Cock, Moorcock] Close, Displayed [See Note on Displayed]
Coot (Close)
Chough [see Crow]
Corbie [see Crow]
Cormorant [see Duck]
Crane [see Heron]
Crow [including Chough, Corbie, Raven] (Close), Preying on [child], Rising
Dove (Close), Displayed [See Note on Displayed], Rising, Volant
Duck [including Goose, Shoveler, Cormorant, Spoonbill] (Close), Naiant [on water or ford in base]
Dunghill Cock [see Cock]
Eagle Close, Displayed [See Note on Displayed], Preying on [child, bird], Preying on wings elevated [salmon], Rising, Volant
Falcon [including Hawk] Close, Preying on [bird], Rising, Striking [bird - See Notes on Content]
Finch (Close)
Goose [see Duck]
Gull (Close)
Heron [including Crane, Stork] Close, Volant
Lapwing Close
Magpie (Close)
Martlet [including Swallow] (Close), Rising
Merle [a.k.a. European Blackbird] (Close)
Moorcock [see Cock]
Ostrich (Close), Rising
Owl (Close guardant)
Peacock Close, Rising, In his pride
Pelican (Close), [Close and] Vulning herself, In her piety, Rising and vulning herself
Pheasant (Close), Rising [from ground]
Popinjay (Close), Rising
Raven [see Crow]
Shoveler [see Duck]
Sparrow (Close)
Spoonbill [see Duck]
Stork [see Heron]
Swallow [see Martlet]
Swan Close, Naiant wings displayed [on ford], Pluming its feathers [see Notes on Content], Rising, Threatening attack [See Notes on Content], Volant