Mother Carey's Chickens

Stormy petrels. Mother Carey is Mater Cara. The French call these birds oiseaux de Notre Dame or aves Sanct&aeigh; Mariae. Chickens are the young of any fowl, or any small bird.

“They are called the `sailor's' friends, come to warn them of an approaching storm; and it is most unlucky to kill them. The legend is that each bird contains the soul of a dead seaman.”

(See Captain Marryat: Poor Jack, where the superstition is fully related.)

Mother Carey's Goose.
The great Black Petrel or Fulmar of the Pacific Ocean. Mother Carey is plucking her goose. It is snowing. (See Hulda.)

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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