Marysville, United States

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Myths from several regions associate birds with the creation of the world.

One of several creation stories in ancient Egypt said that when land rose out of the primeval waters of chaos, the first deity to appear was a bird perching on that land.

The Egyptians called the god the Benu bird and portrayed it as a long-legged, wading heron in the sun temple at Heliopolis.

The Benu bird created the universe and then made gods and goddesses and men to live in that universe.

A number of creation myths from Southeast Asia feature birds.

On the great island of Borneo dwell the Iban people, who tell of Ara and Irik, two bird spirits floating above an expanse of water at the beginning of time.

Seizing two eggs from the water, Ara made the sky from one egg, while Irik made the earth from the other.

As Irik squeezed the earth into its proper size, mountains and rivers appeared on its surface.

Then the two creator spirits shaped bits of earth into the first people and woke them to life with bird cries.

Other creation stories begin with the laying of a cosmic egg from which the universe emerges.

Indonesia, Polynesia, and the northern European countries of Finland and Estonia have stories of deities flying down to the primeval ocean to lay eggs that hatch into the world.

Birds appear in some myths as earth divers.

An earth diver is an animal that plunged to the bottom of the primeval sea and brought up mud from which the earth was formed.

Legends of the Buriat and Samoyed people of Siberia feature birds as earth divers.

Water birds such as ducks or swans play this role in the creation myths of many Native American peoples, including the Mandan of North Dakota.

A Navajo myth about a great flood tells that the people fled to an upper world, leaving everything behind.

The bird Turkey then dived into the lower world to rescue seeds so that the people could grow food crops.

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