The Oozlum Bird is a mythical creature found in British and Australian folklore that is said to display ridiculous behaviour, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. Indeed, it is perhaps best known to British audiences for being at the centre of the Carry On Up the Jungle film of 1970, where it is said to fly “up its own rear end”.
But where did the myth of the Oozlum bird originate? Is there more to its story than being a comically clumsy and flight-challenged bird? Read on to learn more about the Oozlum bird.
Related: Who is Tjinimin in Aboriginal Mythology?
What is the Oozlum bird?
As already mentioned, the Oozlum bird is a legendary creature found in Australian and British mythology. Its earliest recorded mention was in 1858. It is believed that its name is taken from the Old English word for the blackbird, osle.
Sometimes known as the Ouzelum bird, the mythical creature is often used colloquially to refer to a circular argument that is going nowhere. If someone is said to be “like an oozlum bird”, it may also imply that they are overly confident and a little arrogant.
The mythical bird was originally part of Australian folklore, but became familiar to the British after English poet William Thomas Goodge wrote the poem The Oozlum Bird after travelling Australia in the late 1800s. In the poem, Goodge tells of “Ginger Joe”, who relays a story of a journey taken to Sydney atop the Oozlum bird by a man named Jock McPherson.
According to folklore, the Oozlum bird is a wise bird that flies tail first to keep dust out of its eyes. Some even think that the town of Birdsville in Diamantina, Queensland, takes its name from the mythical bird.
What is the Oozlefinch?
A relative of the Oozlum bird is the Oozlefinch, a mythical bird found in America that flies backwards at extraordinary speeds. It is one of the unofficial mascots of the US Air Defense Artillery, and is said to prey on enemy bombers.
According to legend, it first appeared at Fort Monroe, the HQ of Coast Artillery Corps, in 1905. Only one person, Captain Merriam, saw the bird, and claimed that the oozlefinch had huge, bulbous eyes that allowed it to see everything at all times. From there on, the Oozlefinch has supposedly been present at multiple missile attacks coordinated by the US, serving as a protector and a good luck charm for them.
What is the Weejy Weejy Bird?
The Weejy Weejy bird is another mythical variant of the Oozlum bird which has only one wing. Similarly to its relative, the Weejy Weejy bird is usually depicted in comical terms and is said to fly around in circles until it “disappears up its own fundament”.
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To learn about other Australian mythology stories, why not check out our article about the legendary bat god Balayang.