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Swallows and Goldfinches


I absolutely love the voices of Goldfinches, just like tiny little tinkling bells, and have you noticed that they also sing when they fly, so they fly in a sort of up and down rhythm that makes them look quite comical like  a Disney cartoon!

The Goldfinch is a symbol of life, exuberance and pure joy, and I can totally understand why. In Medieval times it was seen as a protector against the Plague, later in Christianity the goldfinch became a symbol of the resurrection.

I couldn’t resist making a small charm although not like a Disney cartoon  😉

mosaic flying goldfinches

goldfinch wall sculpture

flying goldfinch wall sculpture


And then there are the swallows. I thought they had abandoned us this year, I missed seeing the fledglings on the telephone wire from the bedroom window, but it turns out they have moved from the usual nesting site in our porch to the farm up the road. I think they were quite late arriving from Africa this year, maybe because of our late cold winter.

Whilst researching a bit of swallow mythology I discovered a writer and illustrator called Olaus Magnus who was the archbishop of Uppsala in Sweden in 1537. In those days in Sweden they believed the swallows didn’t migrate to warmer climates but would plunge into the lakes in Winter under the ice and sleep until  Spring when the ice had melted. Here’s one of Olaus Magnus’ illustrations showing fisherman bringing up a net full of swallows.

A net full of swallows by Olaus Magnus (1500s)

Check out some more of Olaus’ drawings, they are fabulous!

Here are my swallows …

four mosaic swallows
A Gulp of Swallows

mosaic swallow

flying fast swallow sculpture

swallows and goldfinches

Some available to buy! See rattraymosaics.co.uk/shop/birds/ for details.


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  1. I’m sure I must have heard goldfinches but haven’t been aware of their song – so many different birds here. And our swallows appeared a couple of days ago but refused to let me take their photo, they said “we’re much too busy. Places to go, flies to catch!” Yours – both goldfinches and swallows – are as beautiful as the real birds.

    The idea of fishing for swallows is very curious!

        1. Thank you. So much mythology to work with too, I keep stumbling across new stories. Lots of timeless inspiration! Do you follow @folklorethursday on Twitter?

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