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Foul Fowl: Bird Pests in Ancient and Modern Egypt

Wish I were able to attend this recent conference in Egypt, and especially to see this interesting presentation by Nicole B. Hansen.

Foul Fowl: Birds as Agricultural Pests
Birds are often thought of by Egyptologists for their frequent appearance as hieroglyphic signs, as a significant source of dietary protein, as animal mummies, or for the reverence shown to them in the ancient religion. Because Egypt was, and still is, an important migratory corridor for birds and a place where they have long refueled themselves before continuing on their journey over sea and desert, they are also one of a number of fauna that posed a threat to the food supply in ancient Egypt, alongside insects, mice, monkeys and even hippopotami. This paper will explore the role of birds as agricultural pests in ancient Egypt, using ancient archaeological, artistic, and textual as well as modern ethnographic and ornithological evidence. The species of birds responsible for such depredations, the food sources (fruit, grain and animal) that they targeted, and behavioral and seasonal aspects will be discussed. In addition, various preventative tactics, means of scaring, and traps used to reduce the damage that birds caused will be covered.