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The Firebird (жар-пти́ца / zhar-ptitsa in Russian) is a magical creature in Slavic folklore, who appears in numerous fairytales. Sometimes confused with the more commonly known phoenix, the Firebird is depicted as a small fire-colored peacock or falcon, with feathers that glow so brightly a single plume can fill an entire room with light. As a child I fell in love with the intricate gilded illustrations in my mother’s Russian fairytale books, especially the ones that included the mysterious and beautiful Firebird.

Coincidentally, I recently learned that “Firebird” is another name for the Baltimore Oriole, due to its bright orange plumage. The Baltimore Oriole is the state bird of Maryland and an unofficial (or official, if you’re a baseball fan) symbol of the City of Baltimore, where I have lived for the last 17 years.