Legend of the Golden Heron
so happened that the gates to paradise were near the sea. And there
lived a magnificent bird, a Golden Heron, who watched over the gates
by day. This lovely golden bird would fly down to the earth every
afternoon at sunset to stretch his wings.
One day a young prince was resting under a tree, when the beautiful
bird flew by. The golden dust from the wings of the bird caught
in the late afternoon rays of sunlight, sparkled like magic and
enchanted the prince. The prince began to hide himself, every afternoon,
under the tree to wait for the bird. He was in awe. After a few
weeks the prince began to want the golden bird for himself. He tried
tempting the bird with all sorts of things but the bird was not
interested in anything the young prince offered. The bird was always
mindful never to land on the earth. He had been warned by the keepers
of paradise that, once he set foot on the earth, he would never
again be able to return to paradise.
One day a Grand Sultan came to visit the princes father, the king, from across the desert.
The Sultan brought the king a bag a beautiful rubies as a gift.
A few days later, the young prince took the bag of rubies with him to look at under
his favorite tree, where he was now spending most of his time. It
was a cloudy day and the young prince got bored with the rubies and threw them away. The rubies sparkled as they flew through the air and were lit by a single ray of sunshine, just as the bird
flew by. The golden heron became confused and swooped down to the
earth to eat what he thought were the pomegranate seeds he was fed
in paradise. The very moment the golden heron landed on the ground
he turned into a gold statue! The young prince was sorry about what
he had done and picked up the statue of the golden heron. He took it back
to the castle with him and placed it on the window ledge of his
the days went by the young prince became very sad to see the plight
of the golden heron. Every moonlit night, when the first rays of moonlight
touched the golden statue, the bird would come to life and fly all
over the kingdom looking for his way back to paradise. He would visit other birds and ask if they knew how to get to paradise. His cry grew
more and more mournful as he searched the earth for his way back
to paradise. Just before dawn the bird would return to the window ledge and become a statue again
with the first glimmer of sunlight. He never found his way back
young prince knew he had caused such misery for this beautiful creature
and he stayed in his room in the castle more and more, with
his 'golden statue'.
His father, the king, became worried about the prince and tried
to take the statue away from him. As they argued, it fell and shattered
into a million pieces. The young prince cried as though his heart
would break, as he picked up the pieces. The king did not know what to do to console his son so he left him there.
Hundreds of tiny fairies came into the room from the garden below
to help the unhappy young prince collect the pieces and put them
into a velvet bag. Just then, the king came back into the room!
The fairies were so startled some of them jumped into the bag to hide. The
king was so upset to see his young son distraught over the shattered
statue that he picked up the bag and threw it out the castle window as
far as he could. A tremendous gust of wind caught the bag and carried it across the
what was in that little velvet bag that the king threw so far? The
thousands of pieces of gold of the golden heron statue and a dozen little
fairies whose wings were covered with magic fairy dust! and the
princes tears of sorrow.
The velvet bag came to land in a lagoon on a tiny island far away (now called Vieques). The
gold dust from the heron pieces and the magical fairies dust
and the young princes tears got so mixed together that when the
bag landed on the water and opened up, the bioluminescent bay was
The descendants of the magnificent Golden Heron from paradise are
the night herons who continue to keep watch over the biobay every
night, to this very day. All the herons today have inherited the
mournful cry the Golden Heron made as he could not find his way
back to paradise. But the magic from those days so long ago lives on in the bioluminescent bay and lights up the lives of all young children to this very day.
flying in the moonlight