Wooden thunderbird of the Haida tribe, northwest coast of North America, 19th century; in the —Courtesy of the trustees of the British Museum
In North American Indian mythology, a powerful spirit in the form of a bird that watered the earth and made vegetation grow. Lightning was believed to flash from its eyes or beak, and the beating of its wings was thought to represent rolling thunder. The thunderbird was often portrayed with an extra head on its abdomen, particularly on totem poles, and it was frequently accompanied by lesser bird spirits. Though it is best known in North America, evidence of similar figures has been found throughout Africa, Asia, and Europe.