Parchment, a single leaf, c. 515×370mm, each page with six lines of text and music in square notation on four-line staves, one line in red, comprising the chant for Easter day, illuminated with a large initial containing a naturalistic Hoopoe perched on a semi-naturalistic branch with flowers, accompanied by a foliate border nearly the full height of the page; with post-medieval pagination “13” and “14”, suggesting that this was the seventh leaf of the parent manuscript, which would thus have been a Summer volume, starting with Easter; minor cockling, and thumbing in the lower outer corner, not affecting the text or decoration, the top edge cropped with very minor loss of the extremity of the border decoration.
The initial introduces the responsory after the hymn on Easter day: “In pasca d[omi]ni ad mat[utine]. R[esponsorio] p[ost] hym[nus]. Benedicam dominum in omni tempore …”.
This is a very unusual subject for an initial in a liturgical manuscript, and an interesting example of close observation from life. The only comparable example we have found is in Kyriale K, one of the choirbooks of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice (see Giulio Pesavento, ‘Maestro del Kyriale K, un miniatore veneto-ferrarese alla ricerca di un catalogo’, in I corali miniati di San Giorgio Maggiore a Venezia: L’inCanto nella Parola, ed. by F. Toniolo and C. Ponchia, 2021, pp. 215–223, and p. 271 fig. 5d). It may possibly even represent an extinct species: today there are three very similar species, all with the distinctive crown of feathers, orange-brown upper body, striped black and white wings, and black tail. One other species is known only from its skeleton, having become extinct in the 16th century. The present example has white wispy feathers at the tips of its crown and thus differs from all three extant species, which all have black ends to their crown feathers.