2022—Pied?

When I first encountered the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, the illustrations in the children’s book I read showed the piper wearing a black and white harlequin suit so for all of my childhood I equated the word pied with black and white harlequin. As an adult I was surprised to discover that the term pied, which describes or names many animal and especially bird species, means simply two (sometimes more) colors. However, in its original use from the 13th century, the two colors were black and white. The term pied derives from Magpie which is a black and white bird (except in Central California where the Magpie is black and white and yellow). Despite learning that pied didn’t mean harlequin when I got older, I don’t think I ever knowingly encountered an animal that was known as “pied.” That is, until I first visited Australia 6 years ago. And again last month when I was able to photograph the Pied Currawong, a large black and white Australian bird almost as big as the common Raven. It often lurked in the rainforest. They seemed shier than the other birds and usually hung back away from the crowds of birds and people, like this Pied Currawong watching and waiting…maybe to lure the other birds away.

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