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Birds – Positions


Birds are commonly encountered in heraldry, especially eagles, which occur in a number of stylised positions, for example displayed. Other birds can also be described as to position, though very often the blazon simply states “...three martlets...” for example. In this case the bird is assumed to be facing sideways with its wings folded, as in Ergham for instance: Argent a chevron between three martlets sable


The terms used for birds are:

Note that there are a few special terms in addition to those above. For example, a peacock is said to be in his pride when he is shown affronté with his tail fully displayed in a colourful circle. Pelicans (which are drawn stylised) are shown vulning or wounding themselves by piercing the chest with the beak. This is the result of a misunderstanding whereby this bird was thought to feed its young on drops of its own blood! A pelican in her piety is shown thus vulning herself while standing in the nest with the young birds around her feet.

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© Gill Smith 1997, 1998