Ornithomancy: Divination from the Flight and Cries of Birds

Updated on April 18, 2016
The cardinal symbolizes life-changing events and that you must take care of your health.
The cardinal symbolizes life-changing events and that you must take care of your health.

Birds are majestic creatures and have long fascinated humankind as messengers of the spirit world. With the ability to walk on land and fly through the air at will, to live among the trees and bask in the glory of the earth’s bodies of water, these amazing creatures are mystical enigmas. Divination from the flight and cries of these wondrous creatures is an ancient practice dating back to ancient Greece (ornithomancy) and Rome (auspicy), although other cultures used this ancient art as well. This form of divination is easy to use and involves learning the meanings and symbolism of three separate things: 1) the actions of birds 2) the color of birds 3) different bird species. Once you have mastered those three challenges, you will become a natural at bird divination.

How do you begin? Start by noticing the birds around you. Probably you encounter birds in your life everyday. Pay attention. Do this particular bird’s actions seem significant? Not all of them will, so do not become overwhelmed. You will feel a pull to pay attention to this bird. Sometimes there may be patterns that emerge, so pay extra special attention when this occurs because the birds are trying to get something important across to you.

1) The Actions of Birds Have Different Meanings

If a bird flies horizontally, you will reach your goal, but the going will probably get tough.

When a bird flies from right to left, it’s a sign that you will achieve your goals with ease.

If the bird flies from left to right, be prepared for some delays or obstacles—you may need to rethink things. You may need to seek advice.

A bird flying straight toward you means things are quickly improving, and happy days are ahead.

A bird flying high and fast—or better yet, flying straight up—means excellent and speedy success!

A bird flying quickly away from you warns you to proceed with caution and delay plans for a short time to get your bearings.

If you see a bird land and take off several times, or flying erratically, you need to go back to the drawing board because there are unseen problems to be resolved before you proceed.

If the bird in question takes off and then changes direction mid-flight, you’ll need to be flexible, because of a change of heart may lie ahead.

A bird that flies against the wind—those that seem to hover—this usually means that someone you’re dealing with is not what they appear to be; someone who you think is your friend may not have your best interest in mind. Beware.

2) Bird Colors
Sometimes flight patterns are not enough to give you the knowledge you need. What color is the bird? If you know that, you can take the divination a further step into identifying the prediction you seek. Here is a color list:

Red: a sign of good luck

Orange: excitement and bliss

Yellow: keep your guard up; a warning

Green: an adventure is ahead

Blue: love and joy

White: happiness and joy; a very good omen

Gray: peace and contentment

Black and white: you will avoid trouble

Brown: good health; healing; assistance

Brown and white: happy hearth and home

Black: a warning of danger or a show of the unseen

3) What Specific Species Mean

Blackbird: a fortunate omen

Bluebird: happiness, spiritual awakening

Cardinal: life-changing events, take care of your health

Crane: use all the wisdom at your disposal

Crow: usually a bad omen; cawing means you may have enemies working against you, so its time to bump up your shields, but if it cries three times it is favorable; a crow in flight foretells of upcoming travels.

Dove: highly fortunate, indicating peace, love and happiness; a goddess bird, promise for the future

Duck: a sign of a stable relationship; a quacking duck is lucky

Eagle: usually indicates misfortune, but can represent power, strength, and the matters of empires and leaders; Using your skills wisely will bring about success

Gull: you may soon travel

Hawk: soaring above your head means you will be victorious

Hummingbird: faithfulness, joy, prosperity

Jays: being tough when it is called for, success through perseverance

Magpie: good or ill fortune depending on the number seen, as in the rhyme "One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl, four for a boy"

Owl: hooting three times foretells a big change in status or an impending death; otherwise, its appearance can mean magic and wisdom

Raven: if met before going up against an obstacle, you will be victorious

Robin (North American): if you see one in the morning, you may have guests later in the day; if one nests near your home, it’s very good luck

Sparrow: means domestic tranquility; a nest near your window may mean strife in your love life

Woodpecker: your work will be a success

Wren: The luckiest of birds, seeing a wren means good fortune will definitely come your way; current situations are improving

Try Out Your Own Divination

You will need a plain white paper plate, birdseed, small pieces of bread, a pen, and your journal. Come up with a single question that you would like to have answered. Meditate upon it. Once you have settled upon your questions, write it on the underside of the paper plate. Turn the plate over and fill it with birdseed and bread pieces. Then say this charm over the seed:

My feathered friends, hear my request,
Of the gods’ intentions you stay abreast.
Please join me for this humble meal
And share your news, let none conceal.
Your most wise counsel do I seek,
By wing and feather, tail and beak.

Put the plate outside where the birds are most likely to gather. Wait and watch. Pay attention to how they arrive. Which bird arrives first? From which direction? Pay attention to all of their behavior. How do they leave? Now jot down notes in your journal.


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      anonymous 5 months ago

      I drive everyday a total of 3 hours and EVERY day a "normal" bird (i dont know what kind) will appear itll swoop in from the left to the right then disappear over my car and its always only ONE bird. I dont know what it means but its really starting to freak me out. If anybody has any ideas, let me know!!

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      Nikki 7 months ago

      Weirdest thing happened to me this morning I was walking into my office building and a black bird flew by me it touched my left arm and the same bird flew by me once again this time touching my right arm. It was weird. What could this possibly mean?

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      Ravijot 8 months ago

      What does the V-formation of birds signify?

    • hecate-horus profile image

      hecate-horus 5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Great hub! I feel a strong kinship with birds, I have my whole life, so I think this type of divination would be very suitable for me (more than Tarot or scrying). Thanks for sharing!