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Native American Nuthatch Mythology

The nuthatch is not a very mythologically important bird to most Native American tribes. The Miwok tribe of California consider nuthatches to be medicine birds, and the Navajo say they are a symbol of old age.

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Ethnographic texts about the Cherokees also state that Cherokee people considered nuthatches to be thieves who stole nuts and seeds from Squirrel, but we have to say that none of our Cherokee volunteers have ever heard of such a thing. To the contrary, nuthatches seem like rather hard-working birds to us. Perhaps there was once a legend about a thieving nuthatch that is no longer passed down, which would have explained this old belief. Or perhaps this was actually a mistranslation and the original story was about crows, which often play a thieving role in Cherokee folklore.

Native American Legends About Nuthatches

*The Bird Tribes:
    Cherokee legend about the creation and symbolism of the nuthatch and other birds.

Recommended Books of Nuthatch Stories from Native American Myth and Legend

Native American Animal Stories:
    Great collection of American Indian tales about animals, told by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.
Flights of Fancy: Birds in Myth, Legend, and Superstition:
    A good book on the meaning of birds in world mythology, including North and South America.



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