07 August 2012

Two-headed Spread-Eagle at Gaxaca, 1723

This is an interesting newspaper article that refers to some sort of mystery bird found at Gaxaca, which is possibly Oaxaca, Mexico.

Extract of a Letter from Cadiz, dated Sept. 8, 1723.

The Vice King of Mexico, who came on board the Azougue Ships, brings to the King of Spain a dead Spread-Eagle, which was shot thro' the Right Wing and Side by a Spaniard, as it was talloning a Faun near a Place called Gaxaca, who sent it to this Vice King, Eighty Leagues to Mexico. It remained Four Days alive. The Vice King ordered above 500 Indians well-skilled in Game, to ply all the Country for the flown Spread-Eagle, and promised a Thousand Pieces of Eight to the Person who brings it alive. This is a young Bird, not bigger than a middling Turkey, of the common Colour of an Eagle, but a larger Breast and Shoulders than ordinary, out of which spring Two Necks Seven or Eight Inches long asunder. On each Neck there is a perfect head of an Eagle, nearly proportioned to each other, save that the Right Head has the Beak something stronger and sharper towards the Extremity. It was seen he watched with one Head, while he fed and preyed with the other, and used both either Way. It has it's Feathers still, except what fell off from the Right Head and Neck, through the mismanagement of the Person who endeavour'd to cure it. The Right Head faces, thro' his Blunder, to the Left Side, otherwise it would form as it lies the Imperial Arms. As no History makes mention of such a Bird, the Admiration is very great, it having always been supposed that the Eagle was first painted with Two Heads on the Devision of the Roman Empire, with out any Intention to allude to the Reality of such a Creature. It made so much Noise in America, that the Notaries Publick lived on the Attestations taken of it some Weeks.

April 2nd to April 9th, 1724. American Weekly Mercury 225: 2. F used in typography of the era, has been replaced with the s to improve readability. One misspelling has been corrected.