10

in The Cursed Child a magical creature called the Augurey is used as an important symbol. (I'm talking here about the bird itself, not the character who becomes identified with it).

We get a brief description of the bird from Delphi, but I'd like to know more.

I did a bit of googling, and it seems like the creature is a pure Harry Potter invention. Does it come up anywhere else in the canon? Is there anymore information about it? It seems quite interesting, it's just the characteristics of the bird are not the most pressing thing when it is described in the play.

Out of universe, too, if it is pure Harry Potter, do we know what it was based on? And was it invented for The Cursed Child, or has it been about before?

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    'augur' was a profession in ancient Rome. It's a guy (priest usually) who watched birds & read the signs. – witchy Aug 16 '16 at 17:19
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Augureys appear in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them; their entry reads:

Augurey (also known as Irish Phoenix)

[Ministry of Magic] Classification: [Harmless, may be domesticated]

The Augurey is a native of Britain and Irleand, though sometimes found elsewhere in Northern Europe. A thin and mournful-looking bird, somewhat like a small and underfed vulture in appearance, the Augurey is greenish black. It is intensely shy, nests in bramble and thorn, eats large insects and fairies, flies only in heavy rain and otherwise remains hidden in its tear-shaped nest.

The Augurey has a distinctive low and throbbing cry, which was once believed to foretell death. Wizards avoided Augurey nests for fear of hearing that heart-rending sound, and more than one wizard is believed to have suffered a heart attack on passing a thicket and hearing an unseen Augurey wail. Patient research eventually revealed, however, that the Augurey merely sings at the approach of rain. The Augurey has since enjoyed a vogue as a home weather forecaster, though many find its almost continual moaning during the winter months difficult to bear. Augurey feathers are useless as quills because they repel ink.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

There's also a footnote remarking that noted loon Uric the Oddball kept about 50 pet Augureys, and subsequently went a little... odd.

This appears to be the only other information about Augureys in canon, although as ibid extensively cites, they were referenced a handful of times in Quidditch World Cup material on the old Pottermore; an oversized Augurey named Hans was the mascot of the Liechtenstein national Quidditch team.

Out-of-universe

As far as I can tell, Rowling has never remarked on her inspiration for the Augurey, though the description above calls to mind several possible (partial) influences:

  • The Phoenix, though not native to Irish mythology, is sometimes used as a symbol for the Provisional IRA

  • Dark birds, of course, have been death omens throughout history; there's a lot of superstition around crows for that reason

  • Similarly vultures, as with most scavenger birds, have a long cultural association with death and decay

  • The idea of the "mournful cry" is also a popular death omen, though in Irish mythology it sometimes takes the specific form of the banshee, a female spirit believed to foretell deaths in the Irish royal families:

    Her mission is to give warning, by a plaintive wailing cry, of the near approaching death of one of the family, and this cry is repeated at the moment when the soul leaves the body. [...] The spirit is generally heard at night, sometimes at midday, and very rarely in the mourning. The mournful cry is generally the only indication of her presence, but in a few instances she has been seen for a moment as a rapidly receding figure having the appearance of a withered old woman clad in flowing white drapery.

    The Funeral Customs of Ireland by James Mooney (1888), published in the Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society vol. 25

    Rowling, of course, actually included banshees in her story, though they bear little resemblance to the banshees of myth; Rowling's banshee appears to be a mashup of the mythological creature with the pop-culture image of the shrieking woman.

  • As Neeshka notes in a comment on the question, "augury" is a form of divination, originating in ancient Rome, that interprets omens by observing the flight of birds.

  • haha, same time :) – LilyM Aug 16 '16 at 17:12
  • @LilyM Give or take five minutes – Jason Baker Aug 16 '16 at 17:13
  • Yep it seems so! – LilyM Aug 16 '16 at 17:18
  • Why quote the wiki when you can quote the actual canon? – ibid Aug 16 '16 at 17:33
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    @ibid I'm content to note the reference and move on. I didn't expect there to be any additional information given about the bird in the QWC articles, and reading your answer has confirmed that suspicion – Jason Baker Aug 16 '16 at 17:47
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The Augurey was presented in Fantastic Beasts and where to find them :

AUGUREY (also known as Irish Phoenix)
M.O.M. Classification: XX

The Augurey is a native of Britain and Ireland, though sometimes found elsewhere in northern
Europe. A thin and mournful- looking bird, somewhat like a small and underfed vulture in appearance, the Augurey is greenish black. It is intensely shy, nests in bramble and thorn, eats large insects and fairies, flies only in heavy rain, and otherwise remains hidden in its tear-shaped nest.

The Augurey has a distinctive low and throbbing cry, which was once believed to foretell death. Wizards avoided Augurey nests for fear of hearing that heart-rending sound, and more than one wizard is believed to have suffered a heart attack on passing a thicket and hearing an unseen Augurey wail. Patient research eventually revealed, however, that the Augurey merely sings at the approach of rain. The Augurey has since enjoyed a vogue as a home weather forecaster, though many find its al most continual moaning during the winter months difficult to bear. Augurey
feathers are useless as quills because they repel ink.

1

In addition to the entry in Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, an Augurey also appeared several times on the old Pottermore, in four of articles involving the 2014 Quidditch World Cup.

Liechtenstein caused a serious upset in the qualifying stages by winning the group over China, the runners-up in 2010. Liechtenstein’s team mascot is a gloomy, oversized Augurey called Hans who has his own fan club.
(Quidditch World Cup (1990-2014)

LATE BREAKING NEWS
High-spirited American fans celebrating their team's historic triumph in the quarter-finals have kidnapped Hans, the Liechtenstein mascot. Hans, a large and gloomy Augurey (a rain-predicting, vulture-like bird), has gained a devoted fan following during the tournament. Liechtenstein coach and manager Ferdinand Jägendorf has issued the following statement: 'Das finden wir nicht lustig' ('we don't find that funny').
Fijian manager and trainer Hector Bolobolo's only comment after the match was 'I'm going to kill him.'
(Late Breaking News)

RETURN OF HANS THE AUGUREY
The Liechtenstein mascot is tonight back in his customised pen, but not before negotiations for his return reached the highest levels. Highly placed sources can confirm that the Liechtenstein Minister for Magic and the President of MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America) exchanged terse owls concerning the whereabouts of Hans, who was kidnapped by enthusiastic American fans following their victory over Liechtenstein in the quarter-finals. 'We are delighted to report that this prank has ended in a friendly and cooperative fashion,' announced President Samuel G. Quahog, 'and trust that Hans is none the worse for his little adventure.'
'We are very pleased that the Americans have returned our beloved mascot,' said Minister Otto Obermeier. 'Magizoologists are currently keeping Hans under close observation for ill effects. If any are discovered we will of course lobby the ICWQC for the USA's immediate disqualification from the World Cup.'
A harried ICWQC official responded: 'Look, we've had to perform mass Memory Charms on about 2000 Muggles living on the edge of the desert after the American celebrations last night, and don't get me started on the planes. I'm not telling the Americans they're going home. Not doing it. Just feed the bird some fairies and leave me alone.'
(Return of Hans the Auguery)

Once on the ground, the teams embraced in a heart-warming show of sportsmanship. Word has since reached us that the Japanese have presented the American team - whose supporters famously kidnapped Hans the Augurey, the Liechtenstein mascot - with a Hoo-hoo chich (the Hoo-hoo is a Japanese firebird).
(Play-off for Third Place)

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