Species of the week #126 – Erdhenne

This week we have found a very special species for you. Fortunately, my staff have extensive knowledge of the species. My best office manager is therefore a trustworthy eyewitness, or rather earwitness, of an extremely rare species. The Erdhenne translatet in englisch “ground hen”, Columber domestius. Generations of Alpine dwellers know the Erdhenne intimately. For its gurgling and clucking can often be heard from dark corners of rooms and the floor. But woe betide you if she becomes visible, then her last hour has come.

Distribution status
Remaining occurance
Entire Alpine region
Last sighting
Wooden ceilings and floors, cellars, dark corners of rooms
Concrete ceilings, disbelief

The Erdhenne, also called Erdh├╝hnlein, Erdglucke, Erdglutsch or Herdhendl, is a house spirit from the entire Alpine region, the Upper Palatinate and Bavaria.
The voice of this spirit is said to come from the ground or from a dark corner of the living room and sounds like the gurgle, or peep, of a hen leading chicks.

The Erdhenne, like the toad or the house otter, is said to be a friendly guardian spirit who warns the inhabitants of the house of impending misfortune. It was once said that whoever saw the Erdhenne would die within the same year. In the 18th century, the author J. W. Aurichtahl doubted the existence of Erdhennen in his collection of superstitions published in 1718, because his research traps only caught mice instead of Erdhennen in the corners of the rooms and attics in question. Nowadays, however, we know that the Erdhenne really exists. There are ornithological recordings that clearly identify the ground hen. However, these have been lost for some time. .
However, the correlation of Erdhenne sightings and subsequent deaths has not yet been scientifically investigated. There is a large, short-term shortage of researchers and scientific assistants here, which clearly interferes with data collection.

It is possible, however, that the Erdhenne has a primarily preventive character. As suggested in this report from Austria:. Such a spirit stayed a long time ago on “Baumgarten” in the Gerlostal in Tyrol. It happened several times a year that the people, sitting together in the parlour in the evening, heard the glugging from the floor. They knew that the spirit was announcing itself to warn them of danger. But what was even more important was that he always answered questions readily.
One day, for example, the spirit gave a long, fierce glug and the people were frightened because they thought a great disaster was imminent. Then the farmer asked the ghost what was wrong. “Look in the old kitchen,” was the answer, and at the same time the chuckling stopped.

When the people went to look in the old kitchen, they noticed that it was “smouldering” in the hay barrel and the smell of burning was already spreading throughout the room. The damp hay had ignited itself. Thanks to the Erdhennes warning, the developing fire was discovered in time and the farm was saved from a conflagration.

So take good care of your Erdhennen and slide happily into the next year,
Your Jutta

Image: By Rene Fleischer – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26754778