Monster Month: Oozlum Bird

Oozlum Bird

Pretty hard to find a picture of this creature that was clean enough for the blog.  You’ll see why later.  The above is actually the Oozlefinch, which I’ll get into later too.  So, what’s an Oozlum Bird?

Coming from the folklore of Australia and Britain, the Oozlum Bird is said to get its name from the Old English osle.  That’s the blackbird.  It’s described as . . . a bird.  Sometimes it has a beautiful tail and other times it is featherless.  It has powerful wings unless it only has one wing.  They can fly lazily or go at supersonic speeds depending on the version.  They can be a large bird or a small bird that is related to the ostrich.  The descriptions were all over the place, but there was one thing that always turned up:

The Oozlum Bird flies in an odd way.

So, what are the variations?

  1. The first story I found was that the Oozlum Bird flies backwards.  This is either to admire its own tail, use the tail to keep dust out of its eyes, or it wants to know where it’s been.  This seems to be the original version out of Australia.
  2. The Oozlum Bird can be used to describe an argument going in circles.  Why?  If startled, the bird will fly into the air and begin making circles that will grow tighter with every turn.  Eventually, the Oozlum Bird flies . . . up its own butt and disappears, which is why I was having trouble with pictures.  The Weejy Weejy bird does this as well because it only has one wing.
  3. Debuting in 1905, the American version is called the Oozlefinch and is the unofficial mascot for the US Air Defense Artillery.  You’re probably laughing after ready the last entry, but this version is different.  It has large, lidless eyes that can turn 180 degrees, including inside, which allows it to see everything.  Seeing inside is connected to a good leader needing to have self-reflection.  The bird is also featherless and flies backwards like in the first entry.  The Oozlefinch flies at supersonic speeds and drags enemy bombers out of the sky.  So, it is seen as a protector and good luck charm.
  4. W.T. Goodge wrote a poem describing the Oozlum Bird.  It was large enough to carry a man. Of course, it flew backwards, but maybe didn’t really fly.  It stayed in the air and let the earth turn beneath it.

The Oozlum Bird is more of an oddity than anything with specific legends.  Heavy drinking may be responsible for most sightings and the tales kept going.  That’s because a backwards flying bird that may fly up its own butt is comical.  So, there have been poems, movies, and running gags in some shows.  It appeared that a person from one culture would hear about the Oozlum Bird and then take it home where it would turn into a new version.  Though, I can imagine ‘backwards flying bird’ is a fairly common jump to make for a weird creature.

The bizarreness doesn’t stop people from trying to figure out the physics of this creature, especially flying up its own butt.  I found sites talking about how it possesses a small black hole in its rectum, which explains it disappearing with a big bang.  Others said it’s a portal to the Oozlum Bird’s home dimension or the dream world.  Feel like the sky’s the limit when coming up with theories here.  That might be why the Oozlum Bird spread to multiple areas.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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16 Responses to Monster Month: Oozlum Bird

  1. L. Marie says:

    Its being a mascot for the US Air Defense Artillery is interesting. I have to wonder if L. Frank Baum was inspired by this creature when he developed his orks (mentioned in THE SCARECROW OF OZ). Here is the description from the Wiki:

    An Ork is neither a fish nor a bird. It has four legs like those of a stork, and four wings shaped like an inverted chopping bowl and covered with tough skin instead of feathers. Its head is like a parrot’s, with a beak that curves downward in front and upward at the edges. It is not a bird, since it has no feathers except a crest of wavy scarlet plumes on the very top of its head.

    The most curious thing about an Ork is its tail: a queer arrangement of skin, bones, and muscle shaped like a propeller. It makes a buzzing as it spins, and with brisk flapping of their wings Orks can fly very swiftly. They are admitted to be Kings of the Air.
    In one of his books, Dorothy goes with her uncle to Australia. So I have to wonder if Baum also went there and heard about the bird you mentioned.


  2. It is amazing what you turn up in your Monster Month quest, Charles. Thanks.


  3. I’m thinking of how in Dr. Strange they drew circles on the air to open portals, and I think that must be what the Ozzlum is doing.


  4. V.M.Sang says:

    What a bizarre creature.


  5. I have vaguely heard of this one. It flew backward and whistled out its butt. It would be a tough way for an explorer to find a portal to another world.


  6. John Morrison says:

    stopped here on a quest for origin of a gag story from my HS math teacher about a bird, differently named, that also flies “into his own fundamental orifice” and “views his baffled pursuers”. have not found the same story, but I’m obviously on a good path. Thanks!!


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