Elwetritschen or Elwedritschen (d and t sound alike in the local dialect anyway) are a species of bird-like creatures that are endemic to the forests and vineyards of Palatine. You will come across their traces everywhere, and if you keep your eyes open you may even spot some in Neustadt’s old town. They are very famous and subject to a lot of research in the field of tritschology. They are also known in the region called Oberpfalz in the Northeast of Bavaria, which used to be under Palatinate rule, and in some parts of the USA that have a lot of inhabitants with Palatinate roots. Probably the first immigrants from Palatine brought some with them across the Atlantic.
Elwetritschen are crosses between chickens, geese or ducks with elves and goblins. Due to their goblin ancestry, their eggs grow with the development of the chick. They are mostly nocturnal and feed on grapes, that’s why vineyard owners are not too happy about them. On the other hand, they are said to be extremely tasty. Any caught Elwetritsche ends up in the cooking pot or on the grill immediately. That explains why no photos of them exist.
Elwetritschen hunting is done in the darkness of the night, best after the consumption of a certain amount of local wine. The birds are very shy but at the same time very curious. You need a lantern to attract their attention. They will come and look. One of the hunters has to hold an open sack while his mates act as drovers and make noise in the forest around him. The frightened Elwetritschen will then hop into the sack to seek a dark refuge, and all it takes is closing the sack and carrying them home.
In other words, be prepared for everything if you are invited to go on an Elwetritschen hunt. The 'drovers' will soon disappear and assemble at the nearest pub to wait for the most probably unfortunate hunter and his empty sack... In other words, these birds are closely related to, for example, Wolpertingers and Australian drop bears.
However, they are part of the cultural heritage of the region. They have inspired artists and artisans to give them fantastic shapes and faces. Often they are depicted as females with breasts and long hair. In Palatinate souvenir shops you will find them in all materials from plush to pottery. The most impressive art work about them is the Elwetritschen fountain in Neustadt by Gernot Rumpf. A local Volkshochschule even offers a class where you can obtain an Elwetritschen hunting licence.