Animal, Insect, and Bird Omens and Meanings

The Black Cat Omen
The Black Cat Omen

There is hardly anything that moves, flies or crawls that has not at one time served as a sign of a good or bad omen. And human activity throughout time has often had a superstition stamped on it. For example people often place their beds at a certain angle to attract good luck.

For riches to come to the family, the bed should be placed facing east. For a long life, south, and so on. Even stranger, money was supposed to be coming your way if you sneezed to the right!

If you picked up a pin then good luck would come to you. And if you met the same person twice in one day on your travels then you would get the same good luck. How that one works I have no idea, but you get the point.

So why are we so superstitious? There are many footballers who will only wear the same shirt, even if its dirty, to make sure that they win their game. Others touch the mantel above the tunnel entrance and then kiss a Cross that they are wearing. Of course there are many people who will just laugh at such silly superstitions. But I bet they still won't walk underneath a ladder!

Whether you call it superstition, fate, God's will or just habit, there are many Omens and Signs out there that people around the world still believe in.

In this article we will take a look at Animal Insect and Bird Omens.


Fate, Omens and superstition are very closely related. Back in history we didn't have the knowledge that we have today. Science was a thing of the future. Medical health literally was a case of trial and error.

Not knowing or understanding the concept of germs, virus or diseases caused by bacteria caused the population to be completely bewildered at why they were suddenly struck down with these unknown illnesses.

Human nature being what it is, they realised that there must be a reason for their bad luck but couldn't find a way to express it. So religion and fate took the brunt of the blame.

To counteract the bad we had to find a way to make good luck happen. Hence Omens, Oracles and Signs were born.

The strange thing was that even though it was through pure instinct many people did actually 'hit the nail on the head' so to speak. Certain plants were prayed over and picked under a full moon for example.

These days we know that the Wise Women back then were right. If we pick the plants leaves late at night the chemicals in the plants actually are much more potent. Instinct seems to have won out.


Back in the day, many tribes of people would choose a particular person, usually a woman, to be their Oracle.

The Web Definition of Oracle states that:

1. A priest or priestess who acts as a medium whom prophecy or advice was sought from the God or Gods.

2.Or a place at which such advice or prophecy was sought thereafter.

In other words, the Oracle could either be a person or a place. Either way, it was there for people to try to understand what was happening to them.

Most Oracles were very clever people. They would use the world around them to understand Signs and portents.

For example, they would understand such things as weather patterns, therefore giving advice on whether it was safe to travel at a certain time, or would the gods be bringing down torrential rain.

Most people would think the information came from the gods, when really it was a case of trial and error, luck and knowledge or the surrounding world.

Cloud Patterns over Switzerland courtesy of copyright
Cloud Patterns over Switzerland courtesy of copyright

The Signs

So what were the Signs?

These could be anything from cloud patterns, a breeze blowing a certain way or even birds flying low in the sky. Sometimes the Signs would in fact show something that today we would see as real science at work. For example if we see flocks of birds falling from the sky, we would realise that that particular flock could possibly have bird flu. Or as in a recent case of doves dying in Italy last year which had flown too high and frozen to death due to hypoxia.

Back in the past, the locals would see this event as a sign of bad luck, but not really know why or what was going to happen. We all know the story of Pompeii, where the local populace believed that the volcano was a warning from the gods. Of course these days we all realise that it is a natural occurrence.

To live with so much superstition must have been hard. Each step that was taken must have been like walking blindfolded through a dark room with holes in the ground. But we have to realise that actually the Signs, Oracles and Omens were also a comfort to the people. Knowing that the gods were keeping an eye on them was a way to keep them grounded and safe at a time when the world around them was a strange and terrifying place.

Vampire Bat
Vampire Bat
Wolf Howling At The Moon
Wolf Howling At The Moon
Red Squirrel Good luck Omen
Red Squirrel Good luck Omen

Let's Take A Look At Some Of The Omens.


  • Bat. Bad luck, especially if it cries while flying.
  • Cat. A black cat may be good luck or bad. Back in the old days it was said to all depend on whether you had done bad deeds or good before you saw it. To kill a cat was meant to signify disaster. And if one leaves your home then disaster will strike. Maybe this was because cats have a six sense and know when something bad is going to happen to the house.
  • Dog. Not really a sign of bad luck unless you walk past one and it howls at the moon.
  • Goat. Good luck.
  • Hare. Bad luck if one crosses your path.
  • Hedgehog. Good fortune, especially if you meet one going in the opposite direction.
  • Horse. Piebald is a good omen. But if you see its tail first, then bad luck will befall a friend.This omen probably started because someone stood behind the horse and got kicked.
  • Mouse. A white or brown mouse is good luck, especially in love. A grey one however is said to bring bad luck.
  • Sheep. A flock of sheep are really good luck.
  • Rat. Good if white, bad if its black.
  • Pig. A bad omen. Especially if you meet one immediately after getting married.
  • Squirrel. Happiness will be found soon after seeing one of these. Birds Birds
Swallow with nest
Swallow with nest


  • Crow. A bad omen, especially if seen to the left of the person.
  • Cuckoo. Not seen but heard foretells of good luck, especially if heard in the right ear.
  • Dove. A happy Omen. Particularly for those about to wed.
  • Gull. If touched by a gull, this is said to portray the death of a friend. Unless you are on a boat, then seeing one land near you is good luck.
  • Hawk. Powerful enemies are about to threaten you. especially if you see the bird to your left. Left is and has always been the sign of the devil.
  • Kingfisher. A big scandal threatens.
  • Magpie. One is an omen of bad luck even death. Especially seen on the left. Two, are very lucky, and shows that good luck will appear within three days.
  • Owl. Always bad luck. If he hoots three times, be extra careful.
  • Robin. Good luck.
  • Sparrow. Bad luck. Except for lovers.
  • Swallow. Very good fortune. Especially in early Spring. Even better luck if they build a nest under your room. Bad luck if you kill one.
  • Wagtail. Fortunate luck, especially if approaching from the left side.
  • Wren. Good luck. But never hurt or frighten it, at your peril!

Kingfisher public domain
Kingfisher public domain
Bumble Bee public domain
Bumble Bee public domain
Grasshopper public domain
Grasshopper public domain


  • Ants. A nest near your home is good luck. But to be bitten by one means arguments and quarrels.
  • Bees. Good luck if it is inside your house.
  • Cockroach. If seen in a strange place then it foretells a death of a friend.
  • Cricket. Very good luck. But if they leave the house or garden then bad luck will follow.
  • Grasshopper. Good luck and very good news.
  • Ladybird/bug. A good omen.
  • Spider. Bad luck all round. If seen in the morning, grief. Afternoon, anxiety. Evening, bad luck with money. Never kill one as this brings bad luck. To see a spider spinning its web shows that people are plotting against you. If its found on your body, then its good luck.
  • Wasp. Danger caused by jealously.

Human nature is such that we have always found ways to try and bring good luck to ourselves and those around us. Many of the above Omens possibly started out as coincidence. A plague of locusts descending on a village, a spider bite or even a flock of birds falling from the sky. These stories would have been passed down through the family and incorporated into the myths and legends of the time.

Even today in this age of science and technology, we still have the same subconscious fears that make us superstitious. Maybe one day we will be confident enough in our world to set aside these Signs and Omens. But I doubt it purely because I believe we need these Signs to hang onto. Its part of our Psyche, and lets face it, it makes the world and interesting place!

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Comments 65 comments

A r F profile image

A r F 3 years ago

This is a very interesting article. I am not superstitious, but I keep encountering dead birds in strange places , and the encounters are followed closely by another death (the first time a second bird, the second time my dog passed away, etc). I know it probably is just coincidence, but now part of my mind thinks it is an omen when I see a dead bird. I guess the human brain tries to make repeating occurrences into patterns, even with the repetition is just coincidence. Which explains why so many superstitions exist.

Michele Travis profile image

Michele Travis 3 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

Liked reading this hub very much. You put a lot of information I have never even heard of before.

Voted up!

Life Iz Beautiful profile image

Life Iz Beautiful 3 years ago from India

This is a complete piece of work summarizing effectively the omens/superstitious beliefs present in various cultures around the world.

I loved reading it. voted interesting.

Have a lovely day ahead.

Larry Fields profile image

Larry Fields 3 years ago from Northern California

Hi Nell. Here's a more generic animal omen: Many people in non-Western countries have noticed an association between animals of various kinds suddenly getting very nervous, and a big earthquake shortly thereafter.

'Enlightened' people in Western countries tend to pooh-pooh the putative animal-earthquake connection, because our authority figures and opinion leaders have not given us permission to think such things.

However there may be a reasonable explanation. Low-level seismic activity may cause greater-than-usual concentrations of certain gases to vent up through the soil. And we humans have such a puny olfactory sense that we're completely oblivious to it.

Voted up and interesting.

Janine Huldie profile image

Janine Huldie 3 years ago from New York, New York

Very interesting Nell and knew some of the superstitions, but many I did not. So thanks for sharing and educating me a bit. Have of course voted u p and shared, too!!

sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

Great information! Some of these I have never heard before, some have been around for years. There is a lot of truth to some omens and superstitions. For instance, walking under a ladder is bad luck, well duh. It's not too smart either. Some animals can sense when a storm is coming and earthquakes too. Larry Fields has reasonable explanation in his comment. Voting this up and interesting! :)

carol7777 profile image

carol7777 3 years ago from Arizona

I have not heard of most of these creatures and critters. And I do tend to be a little superstitious at times. You did a lot of research here for a most interesting hub. I am going to bookmark so when I feel like I want to be superstitious I will know where to look. Voted UP++++

Dale Hyde profile image

Dale Hyde 3 years ago from Tropical Paradise on Planet X

Well done and most informative! Thanks for sharing! Some of this I was familiar with, some of it new.

Voted up, interesting and useful. :)

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi Dale, thanks for reading, and I am glad you liked it, nell

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi carol, lol! yes we humans are a superstitious lot! thanks for reading, nell

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi sg, yes the animal sensing the the bad weather or earthquake does make perfect sense to me. They live by the earth and notice the changes more than we do in our high rise homes, so yes I would definitely follow an animal if its getting skittish! lol! thanks for reading, nell

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Thanks Janine, glad you liked it and thanks so much for the share, nell

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

HI Larry, yes I totally agree with you, and of course animals can feel the vibrations through their feet, use their smell and taste, and just about anything else we humans don't know how to use anymore. I would definitely follow an animals instincts more than take notice of what a person says! lol! thanks as always, nell

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi Life, thanks so much, and I am glad you liked it, have a great day too, and thanks!

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi Michele, thanks so much, yes we are a superstitious lot with our omens and such! lol!

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi A r F, that's really strange, maybe subconciously you are trying to find patterns to your grief, and yes I agree we do try and see patterns, I wonder why? maybe we should look into why we have to have a reason for things that happen, thanks so much for reading, nell

moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

My family believed a bird flying in the house meant a death in the family. My grandfather said when his little daughter and his little granddaugher were both sick at the same time a bird flew in the house shortly after they both died. I do genealogy and I did find their death on the same day just like grandpa said.

Voted up on your interesting hub.

Shri Mc profile image

Shri Mc 3 years ago

Hi Nell. So the pig could be the man we just married? Funny

drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida

What a fun topic you have chosen, Nell, and very interesting reading. I have some additional info for you re some of these omens. For example: the Bat - Bad luck, especially if it cries while flying. (It cries because it's as blind as a ... and cannot see where it's going.)

And the Gull ... really bad luck if it relieves itself upon you while flying overhead.

And a spider can create genuine anxiety ... because if it's found on your body that's good luck but if you kill it, that's bad luck. Just sayin'.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Interesting point moonlake, maybe there is something in it. I do know that the Cornish fishermen in England believe that the souls of their loved ones are now in the birds and gulls, that's why they respect them so much, thanks so much for reading, nell

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi Shri, I wondered who would come out with that first! Haha! brilliant, and yes it probably is! thanks for reading, nell

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi drbj, lol! yes poor little bat! and as for the gull wonder whether its bad luck if they pinch your hotdog from the tray on vacation? yep, happened to me greedy thing! lol! thanks for the laugh! nell

Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 3 years ago from Orlando, FL

I'm glad I'm not superstitious. At least I don't think I am! I do not like black cats. I still want to be a dove! Yeehaw!!

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi Linda, Haha! I love black cats! did you know that black cats are the most likely to be left at the cats home? nobody wants them! ahhh! poor little things, I love them I think they are lucky, and yes I can see you as a dove! lol! thanks again, nell

always exploring profile image

always exploring 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

Great topic Nell. I am not superstitious, but i hate it when a black cat crosses my path. Hee..I can see why people in times past were up-tight. Can you imagine a volcano erupting and not knowing anything about the scientific nature of such happenings? This was a fun hub.Thank's

someonewhoknows profile image

someonewhoknows 3 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

What about other animals like Serpents like the one that tempted Eve in the garden of Eden according to the bible?

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

yes it must have been terrifying back then, we take so much for granted these days, can you imagine it still being like that, scary thought! thanks as always, nell

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi Someone, I will have to look into that one, I would imagine that it would be bad luck though! lol! thanks for reading, nell

Lord De Cross profile image

Lord De Cross 3 years ago

These omens made me scratch my head! Kinda look behind my back when I got into my car. The pig one is the worst. But who is going to see a pig on the street? Unless... You know, you find a man hitting his wife and throwing up on the road. Great topic post halloween!

Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

Glimmer Twin Fan 3 years ago

What an interesting hub Nell! I loved reading about all of the different animals. I had no idea that a hare crossing one's path is bad luck. I have always found it fascinating that many of these omens/superstitions can be traced back to standard things and also that many of them are still believed today. I better look more carefully around me now!

aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

Very interesting information. We all like to hear about superstitious portents.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi Lord De, lol! thanks for your take on it! yes there are pigs and there are pigs! thanks for reading, nell

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi Glimmer, lol! yes me too! I never knew about the hare, maybe they were referring to a hare of the dog (drink!) lol! thanks for reading, nell

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi avian, glad you liked it, and thanks, nell

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

The list of omens is very interesting, Nell. Some I had heard of before, but the majority were new to me. Thanks for the great research!

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi Alicia, thanks for popping over! lol! yes some of them totally amazed me, who would have thought a mouse could be either a good omen or bad all depending on the colour! lol! can I hear an eek? thanks for reading, nell

Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

What a wonderful hub Nell.I am voting up and sharing.

So well informed ad your obvious hard work has certainly paid off. I wish you a great day.


Cathy Fidelibus profile image

Cathy Fidelibus 3 years ago from NJ

Great information and very interesting. I just saw a squirrel, I guess I will have a happy day :o)

alocsin profile image

alocsin 3 years ago from Orange County, CA

Do you know where these omen information originates? Are they Druidic, Angle-Saxon or just generally European? Obviously, different cultures will treat these omens differently. For example, in some cultures, a spider is considered good luck because it supposedly saved the life of Christ as a child. Voting this Up and Interesting.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi alocsin, I believe that most of them started out in Europe, no particular religion I believe, I think it was superstition that covered all the old religions, especially the ones that were transferring their beliefs to Jesus Christ, probably caused a lot of stress, therefore they hung onto the old beliefs, and these beliefs changed over the centuries, but it is interesting to know that different cultures have a different take on it, thanks so much for reading, nell

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi Cathy, lol! I certainly hope so! thanks for reading, nell

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi Eddy, and you too, hope your not flooded? thanks so much for reading as always, nell

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Nell........Good Grief.....that vampire bat is about the most horrid-looking creature!! Yuk. He can just keep his ugly butt far away from me!!

I like to believe that I am not superstitious in the least...but there are times, to be honest, when I dabble in some of the old myths and spooky tales of bad luck.....Your hub can cause some serious thinking and curiosity......I love I don't really place any mystifying fears upon black cats.....but they do have a certain LOOK to them that makes some people shudder! LOL....UP+++

kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 3 years ago from the Ether

I tend to like all of the animals, birds, and bugs that seem to be the worst of luck to most people. Owls are one of my familiars, as is the hare and the crow. I also have a thing for spiders! LOL. Great hub, and reminds me of ones that I enjoyed writing. Blessings.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi effer, lol! ah poor little bat! yes I know what you mean about cats, especially when the black cat appears in front of you at night! lol! thanks as always, nell

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi kitty, you sound like me! lol! I tend to like the things others hate, thanks so much for reading, nell

mary615 profile image

mary615 3 years ago from Florida

I'm not a superstitious person at all, but this was very interesting to read. I'll tell you: if I see a roach in my house, I know I have a problem. I'm a Southerner and my folks had a million omens they truly believed in.

I voted this Hub UP, etc.

By Lori profile image

By Lori 3 years ago from USA

Birds are often omens for me, and that was the first word I ever spoke too, "bird".

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi mary, l hate roaches too! lol! thanks for reading, nell

Hi By Lori, wow now that does sound like an omen! lol! thanks for reading, nell

rickzimmerman profile image

rickzimmerman 3 years ago from Northeast Ohio

Nell Rose: Great job! I've always followed the significance of animals in literature, lore & history. At this time of year, you might enjoy my hub on reindeer or polar bears or any of my more than two dozen Little-Known Santas, like:

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi rick, thanks for reading, be over in a min! lol!

someonewhoknows profile image

someonewhoknows 3 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

Here is an oh-man for you! If a canary drops dead in a coal mine or any kind of mine your in you can be sure your next .

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Yep that gas will get ya! lol! thanks someonewhoknows, nell

ishwaryaa22 profile image

ishwaryaa22 3 years ago from Chennai, India

An engaging and well-researched hub! Here in my country, we strongly believe in omen, oracles and signs. Thanks to you, I learnt a lot from the list of animals, birds and insects as signs of good or bad omen. Well-done!

Thanks for SHARING. Useful & Interesting. Voted up

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Thanks so much ishwaryaa, glad you liked it, yes we are a superstitious bunch over here! lol!

Lady Guinevere profile image

Lady Guinevere 3 years ago from West Virginia

Some of these are just funny to read about. If you go by mice it's a wonder there isn't more bad luck cuz there are more grey mice then black or white. How many dogs do you know tht howl at the moon? LOL Oh and Ants being good around your house....hhhmmmmm I dunno about that. it depends on the kind of ants, I would guess. We had carpenter ants destroy some trees around our house and some of the house itself had to be replaced. Superstition indeed. About the Oracles and such in the beginning of your hub...we still have many people believe there are demons instead of actual illnesses that can and are treated.

Great hub as always Nell. Voted up and interesting.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi Lady G, yes that's true about the mice, never thought of that! lol! thanks so much for reading, and I am glad you liked it, nice to see you!

midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore

I think superstition arises from the fear of the unknown....people need explanations for mysterious things that happen. Thanks for sharing these with us Nell!

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi midget, you are quite right there, I think we need these mysteries to keep away the normality of everyday things, thanks!

Peter Geekie profile image

Peter Geekie 3 years ago from Sittingbourne

Dear Nell-rose,

A really excellent article covering much of folk-law beliefs.

It takes me back to my Grandmother in Devon who would tell me of these superstitions in such a way I would believe every word. As you say much of reasoning behind these signs were based on known facts which matriarchal figures such as Grandma had memorised and could be used at appropriate times.

Thanks very much. Voted up, awesome and interesting

Kind regards Peter.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi Peter, thanks so much for reading, nell

Sree 3 years ago

I live with my parents & for so many years now, we have had a lot of insects have built an empire in our house. I remember we had cockroaches in our house & they used to breed in great numbers, we did all the possible methods to get rid of them, and in another house where we lived e had ants red ants building houses & laying eggs in the shelves & breeding like crazy, and then now they have moved in to an apartment & I live in a different house & now there are bed bugs all over , my mom always keeps the house neat & clean, but I do not understand why are all these insects coming into our house & growing in such a huge number, any thoughts??

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi Sree, I would think you are just unlucky with the area's that you live in, especially if you live in a hot climate, the best thing to do is just get the exterminator out, its horrible to hear that you have to go through this, what country do you live in?

adibo 2 months ago

As i was searching for insects and crawling insects. We are having a strange situation out here, all the living beings that lived inside the earth starts to crawl out on the surface and people are perplexed and panicked by this rare occasion, which made them think that there will be tremor and sesmic wave on it. For me belive their might be famine. i would like to know more about this situation. Your valuable information would be helpful. ASAP!

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 months ago from England Author

HI adibo, I doubt it would be famine, its a possibility that you may have a small earth tremor. to be honest I don't really know as I don't live in India, but the best thing to do is to keep your eyes open for the next few days and get ready to leave if necessary. but don't worry, I am sure its fine, okay? please let me know if anything happens.

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