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Artist's description of Chickcharnee.

The Chickcharnee, the most famous of the mythological creatures of Andros, is said to live in the tops of the tallest pine trees on Andros. If you cross the Chickcharnee, he will turn your head on backwards. Other lesser known mythological creatures include the Lusca of the blue holes, the Bosee Anansee, and the Yahoo. Folk wisdom on the largest island in The Bahamas, Andros, requires that visitors carry flowers or pieces of brightly colored cloth. Such items charm the resident creatures called chickcharnies. If you see a chickcharnie, the people say, show it respect. The benefit is good luck for the rest of your life. The consequence of disrespect is that your head will be turned around forcibly and completely.

Chickcharnies are supposed to be forest-dwelling elfin creatures resembling birds. Their nesting sites are constructed by joining the tops of two pine trees. Their piercing eyes are red. They have three fingers, three toes and a tail, which they use to suspend themselves from the trees.

It is believed that the origin of the chickcharnie idea was the large, three-toed, burrowing owl which once lived in these forests, but became extinct in the 16th century.

On Andros Island, Bahamas, is a legend of mischievous, small entities called Chickcharnies. The stories tell of little people that once inhabited the remote forests of the island, that were highly aggressive, and that could turn their heads all the way around. Chickcharnies are reported only from Andros Island and are said to have three fingers, three toes, and red eyes.

Now, there truly once existed on Andros Island -- the largest (104 x 40 miles) and least inhabited of the Bahamas islands -- a Chickcharnie of sorts. It was a 2-foot-tall owl called Tyto pollens, a remote cousin of the smaller Common Barn-owl (Tyto alba). Tyto pollens was a large, flightless owl known there from subfossils. It may be that it was territorially aggressive and coexisted with humans. The ability of owls to swivel their heads, and a territorial aggression, may have been the basis for this particular legend, but this is speculation.

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