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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
Production video #9: what bird is that?
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News from Bree
spymaster@theonering.net

Nov 25 2012, 4:50am

Post #1 of 52 (1554 views)
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Production video #9: what bird is that? Can't Post

Radagast the Brown communes with a bird If those first three seconds of the ninth production video for The Hobbit don't grab your attention, nothing will.

It's illustrative of Jackson's ability to convey a great deal in just a few short moments.

Although it's not our first glimpse of Radagast, nor of Radagast communing with an animal, it is our first video glimpse of Radagast communicating with a bird (click for HD screencap).

This may seem unimportant, but consider that in Unfinished Tales (UT) Christopher Tolkien remarks that Radagast's Quenya name, Aiwendil, 'must mean "lover of birds".' Now, as much as the film-makers are legally unable to use the material from UT and the like, they surely must have read it at some point.

And consider the deep affection and respect for the creature that the actor, Sylvester McCoy, as he says "Show me." conveys with his face and his tone of voice in just those few brief moments.

For those who are concerned about thematic fidelity to Tolkien (all of us, surely!), this is a reassuring.


(source: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/radagast-the-brown)


For, in Middle-earth, the little things are just as important as the big things. Indeed, it's the attention to (and, paradoxically, the simultaneous haziness of) the tiny details that gives Tolkien's Middle-earth its lived-in feel.

Now, at first I assumed that the bird that Radagast is communicating with here is a hummingbird.

It hovers. Hummingbirds hover. Ergo, it must be a hummingbird. Right?

Not so. A birder friend who knows about hummingbirds tells me it is most definitely not a hummingbird.

So, what is it? (to steal a famous Red Dwarf quote)

Well, apparently hummingbirds aren't the only avian species that can hover, as it turns out. They are, of course, the most well-known of hovering birds, due to their vivid colouration.

In fact, it turns out that some species of thrush can also hover. You can Google this for yourselves.

But maybe it's too big to be a thrush? Tolkien tells us that the thrush of Middle-earth were particularly large.

There on the grey stone in the grass was an enormous thrush, nearly coal black, its pale yellow breast freckled with dark spots. Crack! It had caught a snail and was knocking it on the stone. Crack! Crack! The Hobbit, Chapter 11. On The Doorstep.

But what about that colouration? I dunno, what about this?

So, I'm thinking it's, perhaps, a thrush.

That being said, I'm not a birder. Maybe it's a starling. Maybe it's something else.

And even if it is a thrush, it's extremely unlikely that it's going to be the thrush that plays such a key role in the Company's quest.

Still, I feel it's an indication that we will see the thrush guiding Bilbo and Bard in one of the later films.

And for readers who enjoy the little beauties of Tolkien's The Hobbit, and wish to see that recreated in film, that's a comforting thing.



The views in this post are the author's own, and do not necessarily represent those of TheOneRing.net or its staff.


Fardragon
Rohan

Nov 25 2012, 11:10am

Post #2 of 52 (754 views)
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Well, it's certainly not a humming bird. [In reply to] Can't Post

It does look like it could be a member of the thrush family, but not one I'm familiar with. Maybe a NZ variety, or one unique to Middle Earth.

Could we see the same or similar bird speaking to Bard? It wouldn't surprise me.

Edit: bit of research, it looks very similar to an american robin (robins are thrush-family).

A Far Dragon is the best kind...

(This post was edited by Fardragon on Nov 25 2012, 11:15am)


DanielLB
Immortal


Nov 25 2012, 11:17am

Post #3 of 52 (729 views)
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A larger version of a Crossbill Finch? [In reply to] Can't Post

They come in a wide variety of colours.

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(This post was edited by DanielLB on Nov 25 2012, 11:19am)


Fardragon
Rohan

Nov 25 2012, 11:23am

Post #4 of 52 (716 views)
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Beak looks too small for a finch, [In reply to] Can't Post

and they tend to be more "dapper".

For practical reasons, it's probably a thrush. It's a lot of work to create a CGI model for a realistic bird. I can't see them doing it for more species than they have to.

A Far Dragon is the best kind...


DanielLB
Immortal


Nov 25 2012, 11:27am

Post #5 of 52 (718 views)
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Agreed and it's probably not an identifiable bird anyway. [In reply to] Can't Post

I was trying to look for bird species that fitted those found in the United Kingdom/Western Europe.

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(This post was edited by DanielLB on Nov 25 2012, 11:28am)


Demosthenes
Sr. Staff


Nov 25 2012, 11:30am

Post #6 of 52 (718 views)
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if all else fails... [In reply to] Can't Post

it's this:



More seriously, it's a Passerine of some sort. Whether this actually means anything, who knows? Probably not. Humans attribute too much meaning to things that are just random "cuz it was cool".

On the other hand it was:

b) the lead scene for the PD
a) really evocative

So maybe it's a subtle tease for something.

Insert your favourite Xanatos gambit here.

TheOneRing.net Senior Staff
IRC Admin and Hall of Fire moderator


(This post was edited by Demosthenes on Nov 25 2012, 11:33am)


Faenoriel
Tol Eressea


Nov 25 2012, 1:13pm

Post #7 of 52 (687 views)
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Seems very much like a thrush [In reply to] Can't Post

Given how important a certain thrush is in the story (and their occurences in some mythologies also), I wouldn't be surprised if Radagast had thrush friends also.

Some thruses:











But every word you say today
Gets twisted 'round some other way
And they'll hurt you if they think you've lied


DanielLB
Immortal


Nov 25 2012, 1:18pm

Post #8 of 52 (687 views)
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I'm convinced the bird is an American Robin [In reply to] Can't Post

I've been looking at pictures of them on google as well, and they also have the red patch under their wings like the bird in the new video blog

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Faenoriel
Tol Eressea


Nov 25 2012, 1:22pm

Post #9 of 52 (674 views)
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Yes, that is quite likely [In reply to] Can't Post

Of course, it's possible that our feathered friend here is just a fantasy bird that doesn't belong to any known species. (That would be dissapointing, considering how Tolkien almost always used real animals and real plants.) Yet even in such case, they most probably would have drawn inspiration from some real animal, in the spirit of the Oliphanths being inspired by the real Proboscids.

But every word you say today
Gets twisted 'round some other way
And they'll hurt you if they think you've lied


dormouse
Half-elven


Nov 25 2012, 1:50pm

Post #10 of 52 (667 views)
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Thanks for posting those pictures [In reply to] Can't Post

... that's interesting. My first reaction was that it's nothing like a thrush, but now I see those I agree with Daniel that it looks like the first one. It's just nothing like the most common thrush we have in the UK - different colour scheme.


Faenoriel
Tol Eressea


Nov 25 2012, 1:55pm

Post #11 of 52 (689 views)
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Thruses come in many colours [In reply to] Can't Post

Blackbirds are the most obvious example. But the general shape of the bird is very turdidesque.

But every word you say today
Gets twisted 'round some other way
And they'll hurt you if they think you've lied


Aitieuriskon
Lorien


Nov 25 2012, 2:11pm

Post #12 of 52 (645 views)
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Not a robin [In reply to] Can't Post

The bird in the vlog was too small to be a robin, which generally grow too large to hover (the ones in my yard are big pesky devils that bully the smaller birds). The coloration on robins is also usually less dramatically pronounced than the bird in the vlog or the image above.

I think they just gave a pretty color scheme to a typical songbird design.

"After all, I believe that legends and myths are largely made of 'truth', and indeed present aspects of it that can only be received in this mode; and long ago certain truths and modes of this kind were discovered and must always reappear." Professor Tolkien, 1951


dormouse
Half-elven


Nov 25 2012, 2:17pm

Post #13 of 52 (637 views)
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Robins are really small here.... [In reply to] Can't Post

...and their red is every bit as red as the bird in the vlog. I thought it was a robin at first, then had a better view and realised it wasn't.


dave_lf
Gondor

Nov 25 2012, 2:19pm

Post #14 of 52 (646 views)
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American Robin [In reply to] Can't Post

Ah the quirks of international discussion. It's kind of amusing to me to see debate on this subject--any toddler where I live could identify that bird.

It's not behaving like an American Robin, but that's because it's a special, magical (CG) robin.


(This post was edited by dave_lf on Nov 25 2012, 2:20pm)


dormouse
Half-elven


Nov 25 2012, 2:24pm

Post #15 of 52 (633 views)
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I'm no expert on birds... [In reply to] Can't Post

.... I've simply grown up with the idea that the thrush in the Hobbit - the one that overhears Bilbo and alerts Bard - is a song thrush because those are the ones we see in our gardens knocking snails against stone to break the shells. So reading about the Hobbit thrush as a child, that was the image I had and it stuck.


DwellerInDale
Rohan


Nov 25 2012, 2:24pm

Post #16 of 52 (659 views)
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He looks like a rufous-bellied thrush (photo) [In reply to] Can't Post

Here's a photo of a typical RBT

Link

Don't mess with my favorite female elf.



chrism628
Bree

Nov 25 2012, 2:53pm

Post #17 of 52 (619 views)
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American Robin Without Question [In reply to] Can't Post

Check out the bird here and the "calls" sounds it makes. They match whats in the video.

http://www.allaboutbirds.org/...merican_Robin/sounds


Demosthenes
Sr. Staff


Nov 25 2012, 2:57pm

Post #18 of 52 (582 views)
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Do they hover? // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

TheOneRing.net Senior Staff
IRC Admin and Hall of Fire moderator


Finrod
Rohan


Nov 25 2012, 3:00pm

Post #19 of 52 (606 views)
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Not an American Robin [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I've been looking at pictures of them on google as well, and they also have the red patch under their wings like the bird in the new video blog


Although I fully agree it is a turdid — that is, one of the true thrushes — it isn’t quite big enough to be an actual American Robin (Turdus migratorius), and its profile is more like one of the European thrushes. Notice the tail length in proportion to the body length: it is not the right proportion for an American Robin. That is the most obvious difference, and the most difficult to account for, if one tries to push for this bird being an actual T. migratorius.

An American Robin is a larger/longer bird than this one, and usually chunkier, too. This one looks more like a Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) in size and shape, albeit not really so much so in coloration. But the tail length is better there.

The warning or alert call it uses as it flies off in that scene is perhaps a bit off from an American Robin’s, too, but still distinctly thrush-like.

It is quite possible that the filmmakers “created” a new thrush, basing its coloration on that of one turdid and its size and shape on that of another’s. I haven’t look through all 65 turdids, but there are plenty that remind you of an American Robin without actually being such.

…all eyes looked upon the ring; for he held it now aloft, and the green jewels gleamed there that the Noldor had devised in Valinor. For this ring was like to twin serpents, whose eyes were emeralds, and their heads met beneath a crown of golden flowers, that the one upheld and the other devoured; that was the badge of Finarfin and his house.
The Silmarillion, pp 150-151
while Felagund laughs beneath the trees
in Valinor and comes no more
to this grey world of tears and war.
The Lays of Beleriand, p 311




(This post was edited by Finrod on Nov 25 2012, 3:02pm)


Faenoriel
Tol Eressea


Nov 25 2012, 3:01pm

Post #20 of 52 (585 views)
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THE trush could still be a song trush // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

But every word you say today
Gets twisted 'round some other way
And they'll hurt you if they think you've lied


Fardragon
Rohan

Nov 25 2012, 3:02pm

Post #21 of 52 (601 views)
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We have already seen that the Mirkwood Butterflies [In reply to] Can't Post

are Monarchs - a species not found in Europe.

The issue really is does this species of thrush smash snails on rocks like the European song thrush does?

A Far Dragon is the best kind...


chrism628
Bree

Nov 25 2012, 3:02pm

Post #22 of 52 (589 views)
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They Don't [In reply to] Can't Post

But this is the hovering cousin Robin of Middle-earth! They should of chose a hummingbird but still very cool!


Faenoriel
Tol Eressea


Nov 25 2012, 3:03pm

Post #23 of 52 (591 views)
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Ah, thank you for that [In reply to] Can't Post

I've never seen an American Robin in flesh, only European thruses; mostly blackbirds, song thruses and redwings. The bird in the trailer immediately reminded me of a redwing, expect that redwings have red only on their sides, not extending over their belly.

But every word you say today
Gets twisted 'round some other way
And they'll hurt you if they think you've lied


Fardragon
Rohan

Nov 25 2012, 3:06pm

Post #24 of 52 (579 views)
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They could use the same CGI model with a different coloured "skin". [In reply to] Can't Post

 

A Far Dragon is the best kind...


Finrod
Rohan


Nov 25 2012, 3:06pm

Post #25 of 52 (579 views)
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Not a European Robin [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Robins are really small here, and their red is every bit as red as the bird in the vlog. I thought it was a robin at first, then had a better view and realised it wasn't.


The European Robin is not even a thrush, and this is surely a thrush. Also, a European Robin is perhaps a bit too small for this bird.

…all eyes looked upon the ring; for he held it now aloft, and the green jewels gleamed there that the Noldor had devised in Valinor. For this ring was like to twin serpents, whose eyes were emeralds, and their heads met beneath a crown of golden flowers, that the one upheld and the other devoured; that was the badge of Finarfin and his house.
The Silmarillion, pp 150-151
while Felagund laughs beneath the trees
in Valinor and comes no more
to this grey world of tears and war.
The Lays of Beleriand, p 311



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