This ostrich sits atop the Heraldic crest of the Digby family.
Why an Ostrich, and why a horseshoe ?
An ostrich proper with a horseshoe in it’s mouth forms the crest on the Digby family coat of arms.
The origins of this symbol date back to a century BC , and Jugurthine War between the Romans and Numidians. By ordering his warriors to mount ostriches, Jugurtha, King of the Numidians, was able to out flank the Roman cavalry and win victory.
The horseshoe celebrates the ostrich’s dominance, and is held upside down, traditionally unlucky, as this way up the luck falls out. This point ties to the Digby family motto, ‘Deo non Fortuna’ – ‘God and not Fortune’.
It is believed that the crest came to the family via the Angevin Kings of Hungary. Charles Robert, the first King of the Angevin dynasty, adopted the ostrich as a symbol of strength as part of his struggle to restore order to Hungary after his disputed succession.
In Heraldry the Ostrich is traditionally used as a symbol of watchfulness. An alternative explanation given for the horseshoe in its beak is that the horseshoe will fall from the ostrich’s beak should it ever fall asleep, and by landing on its foot, wake it to once again resume its watch.