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'Light in the Darkness'
The Cucuio (Cucuie) of western India is one of those rare birds that emit a light from themselves. It's as big as a thumb, has four wings and eyes that shine like lamps. Men caught them to serve as a source of light. Some of these creatures together can replace candles, or even torches. In India people carry them to light the paths in the dark. Many people use them to work late at night as well. Armies moving about sometimes rather use Cucuios than torches or candles since they can't be extinguished by wind or rain. When the glow in the eyes of these birds begins to dull because of frequent use, they are released. Once the glow is back, they are caught again. It has eyes underneath its wings as well, though they only glow when the birds fly. It is known that some people squeeze the luminescense out a dead Cucuio's body and rub it on their face to give light in the dark.
A close relative of the Cucuio is the Ercinee
from the Hercynic Wood in Germany. According to some, the Ercinee and the Cucuio are just fireflies and not birds. But there is not a single doubt about their illuminating cousin, the Alicanto
. The people of western India, the Hercynic Wood and the Chilean mountains do warn anybody to be careful to follow these lights, for sometimes these lights just go out and one could find himself lost in the wilderness at night.
-The Book of Dragons (and other Mythical Beasts)
, by Joseph Nigg
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