Ornithomancy: Divination From the Flight and Cries of Birds

Updated on July 2, 2020
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Dawn Leslie is a writer and book lover who loves writing about divination.

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. | Source

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.

Meanings and Symbolism of Divination

  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.

How to Interpret a Bird's Actions

  • 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.

What a Bird's Colors Might Mean

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

Different Bird Species Have Different Meanings

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

How You Can Read Birds' Hidden Meanings

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.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


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    • profile image


      12 months ago

      I have allot of questions

    • profile image


      14 months ago

      Very helpful thank you

    • profile image


      14 months ago

      I was walking to my car and a crow flew and hit me in-between my shoulders then landed on the ground next to me

    • Emhtn06 profile image

      Emma Houghton 

      17 months ago from Somewhere

      what about Australian birds like the one above.....

    • profile image

      Jeannie Scott 

      2 years ago

      I'm sorry but you are way way off in you "descriptions "meanings " of encounters with Messengers of the sky.Im not going to reference other interpatations ,as it will directly lead to articles written by Sounder interpreters. So I would encourage the readers of any article to do your homework and please see if you can find follow-up or like arrivals with authoritative content written by trusted ,:::::See ers ,: astrologer s etc ,Though fairly well-written not factual . The actual research on the subject needs to be studied and depth before it's pened. As not to mislead anyone , on their Journey , or on their way to their Spiritual Awakening. I am part Native American, animal totems, messages from Spirit Animals, taking very very very seriously. Not something you want to make light of or thoughtless campy satire from.

    • profile image

      Jesse Jackie Late 

      2 years ago

      What do black capped chickadee represent? After putting food out for the cheep cheeps, I later went outside again to go biking and when I opened the door, a black chickadee flew from the bird feeder which is right by the door and flew into a tree in my yard and stayed on one of the lower branches....so that was kinda neat since they initially would fly out of the yard international a neighbor's tree or something, instinctively to avoid any potential predators. : ) It seems ever since we started feeding them, they seem to be around more and not as flighty.

    • profile image

      Mona Lotinbed 

      2 years ago

      I don't mean to be mean, but bread isn't healthy for the cheep cheeps I hear..but I got birdseed (and I guess unsalted peanuts or peanut butter is ok for birds too. Thanks for the advice...I was out biking and had a bird fly in front of me three times and line...the few few times on the ground (left to right ) but the third time it flew up to the other side up onto a fence (to my left). I think it might had been a house finch....I should double check to find out for sure. Then maybe within an hour after ward's when I was biking a second bird flew in front of me

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      So I've been training- running and while I'm out running many times I have a crow or two that fly so beautifully overhead... and when I see them I get this empowering strong feeling of power, ir is the best feeling.... I was able to get a few pictures of them but my friend who runs with me sometimes has witnessed how they seem to come around me just wondering what it really means... most the time I'm not able to get to my camera to get pictures but I wish I could because they're always so beautiful in Flight around me

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      When I was walking to work today and I felt something lightly bump my head, I checked and it wasn't droppings. Couldn't explain what it was any farther than the crow just overhead so I moved on but then I felt something bump my head again a bit firmer and the crow had moved another phoneline overhead. I felt a similar first bump a few days earlier and now I'm a bit concerned, assuming it is the bird, I'm wondering if its trying to get my attention. Then again it could just like me for some reason

    • profile image


      2 years 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!!

    • profile image


      3 years 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?

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      What does the V-formation of birds signify?

    • hecate-horus profile image


      7 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!


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