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Ibis

or Nile-bird. The Egyptians call the sacred Ibis Father John. It is the avatar' of the god Thoth, who in the guise of an Ibis escaped the pursuit of Typhon. The Egyptians say its white plumage symbolises the light of the sun, and its black neck the shadow of the moon, its body a heart, and its legs a triangle. It was said to drink only the purest of water, and its feathers to scare or even kill the crocodile. It is also said that the bird is so fond of Egypt that it would pine to death if transported elsewhere. It appears at the rise of the Nile, but disappears at its inundation. If, indeed, it devours crocodiles' eggs, scares away the crocodiles themselves, devours serpents and all sorts of noxious reptiles and insects, no wonder it should be held in veneration, and that it is made a crime to kill it. (See Birds.)

Ibis.
The Nile-bird, says Solius, “rummages in the mud of the Nile for serpents' eggs, her most favourite food.”

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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