how to read birds as omens and signs

Cultural echoes edit

  • With a quote from Aeschylus on ornithomancy, Lewis Namier began his prosopographical study of politics in eighteenth-century England. “I took pains to determine the flight of crook-taloned birds, marking which were of the right by nature, and which were of the left, and what were their ways of living, each after his kind.” [12].
  • The magpie counting song is a folklore remnant of ornithomancy.[13]

Greek evidence edit

Ornithomancy originated in ancient Greece and can be found in Hesiod, Homer, and Archaic vases. One famous instance from the latter is found in the Odyssey, where an eagle appears three times, flying to the right and carrying a dead dove in its talons. This is interpreted as an augury for the arrival of Odysseus and the demise of his wife’s suitors. Prometheus is credited by Aeschylus with introducing ornithomancy to humanity by designating “those by nature favourable, and those/Sinister” among the birds. [6].

A formal consultation may precede or follow ornithomancy:[7] the seer would face north, and birds on their right—the east, the direction of sunrise—were considered fortunate (the opposite being true of the Roman augur, who faced south) [8] Despite the fact that the primary subjects of the study were the flights and songs of birds, any behavior could have been seen as a sign from the gods or as a prediction of the future.

The children’s wheelbarrow is kept full of water in my backyard for the few surviving birds. The bird visitors look exhausted and desperate. An ominous black crow dives through the smoke to steal a drink, a noisy myna bird is unusually quiet, a skylark flutters down and then disappears, and a honeyeater sits with its beak open, wings spread, panting as it tries to shelter from the 44 degree heat.

The second day of dangerous and poisonous air in Canberra is today. The rating for air quality is 3045; anything below 200 is considered dangerous. We’ve been instructed to stay inside with our windows and doors closed, avoid going outside, and use whatever resources at our disposal to clean our own air. I haven’t been outside today, nor have my children. I can’t even begin to imagine how oppressive the air must be for people who must be outside.

The ancient Greeks read bird signs as either auspicious or unlucky for centuries. Zeus is portrayed holding an eagle, a symbol of his might and authority, and Athena is holding an owl, a symbol of insight and wisdom. Before making any significant decisions, the ancient Greeks would check the omens from birds; only if the omens were favorable would they move forward. Some of the earliest Greek texts that we have are excellent examples of the ancient people’s reliance on augury:

The indicators that are emerging in front of us are not subtle in the least. This country is genuinely in crisis. This portends disaster if it is a sign of things to come. Time will tell if our so-called leaders are perceptive enough to recognize the warning signs and adjust, or if we all turn out to be “creatures of clay as frail as the foliage of the woods,” in the words of Aristophanes.

Ordinarily, our garden in Canberra is a veritable aviary. Blackbirds, crested pigeons, and fairy wrens all contribute to the chorus of tweeting and cooing that fills the early morning air. We are used to seeing flocks of cockatoos, parrots, and rosellas flying across a clear blue sky, squawking and streaking, depending on the season. Every evening, the currawongs swoop in for a last-minute meal, but not before the magpies stroll majestically across our lawns. We still talk about the night we saw a magnificent and uncommon powerful owl in our back garden. One Saturday morning, we watched a young kookaburra sunning itself on our swing while it ate lawn grubs.


What bird is an omen?

Crows and ravens have generally been regarded by superstitious people as birds of ill omen. Their croaking garrulity was believed by the ancients to portend calamity, and the belief still lingers among the moderns.

What does it mean if a bird visits you?

Bird visits can carry many different spiritual meanings, like “take some time to connect with nature” or “there’s a strong spiritual presence in your home.” Specific types of birds are known to carry certain messages, too—for instance, magpies are thought to be a symbol of positivity and good luck.

What are the signs of birds spiritual meaning?

Birds symbolize a lot of different things spiritually. Overall, birds have been believed to be symbols of transcendence in the spirit world. Many believe that seeing a specific bird means a loved one is checking in on you. Additionally, they’re seen as freedom from material constraints and even death.