Divination by the flight of birds (ornithomancy)

Adivination by the flight of birds We have received several questions related to whether the flight of birds helps to divine the future or serves as a technique of divination.

The answer is yes and it is important to note that this technique is not new but rather very old and has been used many times as the divination by the flight of birds is described below:


Adivination by the flight of birds

Known as ornithomancy, divination by the flight of birds is ancient. Since time immemorial, birds have been thought to have special abilities to communicate the future, perhaps because they are one of the few creatures that have the ability to fly.

Birds were considered messengers of the divine. This seemed entirely natural, as the birds can fly directly to the gods at any time. Possessing all wisdom due to this interaction with deities, birds were favorite divination tools for most cultures. Scholars suggest that this use arose from the practice of sailors who, finding themselves lost at sea, could follow flocks towards land.

Omens can be taken from its sudden appearance; of the direction in which they fly; of their squawks; your number; the way they perch on the ground and their subsequent movements. An ancient form of specialized divination involved releasing a captive bird and determining the future based on the direction of its flight.

Some ancient civilizations preferred specific types of birds, most of which were predators. The Greeks and Romans watched eagles, ravens, crows, and vultures; the ancient Germanics also favored the first three of this short list. Celtic priests and priestesses favored ravens, eagles, and wrens. Many heroic figures in this ancient culture were described as possessing the ability to understand the language of birds and converse with them. This could be a veiled reference to proficiency in the practice of ornithomancy.

The Romans made bird divination an exact science. His augurs followed specific procedures. The fortune teller sat in a tent situated on a hill. Wearing a special robe, he would describe an area in the visible sky with his augur’s staff; within these limits the omens occurred. After performing libations with wine, he uttered a prayer asking the god Jupiter to «let there be unmistakable signs within the limits I have described.» According to the appearance of the birds and their behavior, the haruspex established that «the birds approved» or «the birds disapproved».

Divination by the flight of birds was used throughout the world. The Aztecs wandered the land, searching unsuccessfully for a suitable place to build their magnificent new city. They looked for signs daily. Finally, they saw an eagle perched on a cactus with a snake in its beak. Obviously, this was an omen from the highest power, which led directly to the founding of what is now known as Mexico City. An image of this omen is recognizable today in the colorful Mexican flag.

In the 19th century, the once-noble art of ornithomancy was reduced, in Italy, to the activities of street fortune-tellers, who supported trained parakeets. Those who wished to have their fortunes read sought out such fortune tellers and paid a small sum of money. The parakeet then randomly chose a slip of paper revealing the person’s fortune.

Some birds are still associated with divinatory messages. In the United States, for example, the red bird is a forecaster. If you see one, make a wish. If the bird flies up or to the east, the wish will come true.

Recent studies have shown that birds are rapidly disappearing due to habitat loss and continued use of pesticides. Actions are being taken to ensure their survival, and some species are beginning to grow in number. However, many of them are on the verge of extinction. In Hawaii, the song of numerous types of birds that only lived on those islands has been silenced. Fortunately, many organizations are directly involved in the preservation of wild birds.

Divination by the flight of birds is a pleasant way to know the future. Go to a place where there are lots of trees, a water source, and food for the birds. Stand up or sit down and ask your question. Turn your face to the sky and wait for the birds to appear.

If they suddenly cross the sky from left to right, the answer is favorable; if they do it from right to left, unfavorable. If no bird appears, repeat the question later.

If the birds fly directly towards you and above you, the signs are favorable or the answer is yes. If they fly over your head and away, it’s unfavorable, or it’s not.

Here are some other factors to keep in mind when practicing bird divination:

  1. Some birds are thought to be lucky, and some unlucky (see list below). Seeing a lucky bird on the left side greatly diminishes its positive aspects; an unlucky bird on the right will cause only a little bit of bad luck. However, the lucky birds on the right side and the unlucky ones on the left are clear signs and need little interpretation. This information, however, can be ignored if desired.
  2. The number of birds following the same path or perching on the same object during your observation also determines the answer: an even number is positive; an odd number is negative. Four birds flying from left to right is considered a most auspicious sign; three birds flying from left to right is inauspicious. Thus, their number should also be taken into consideration. Once again, if an odd number flies in the positive direction, probe your message as well as you can. (Here, «favourable» may indicate a positive guessing answer to a yes or no question; «unfavourable» may indicate a negative answer.)
  3. When heard during divination, the squawks of birds can also have a divinatory use. One or two screams are positive; three, negative. A higher number of squawks indicates that the birds are not currently available to provide responses.
  4. The height at which they fly plays a role in this form of divination. High-flying auspicious birds predict extremely good luck; if they fly low, a positive event diminished. Similarly, unlucky birds that fly high predict excessively bad events; if they make it lower, its effect is diminished.
  5. When you start working with the birds in your region—and they don’t need to be predators, although hawks and eagles are ideal—you may find that a particular species seems to provide the best results. If so, it is safe to ignore omens from other types of birds and trust only that species for messages.


Another type of divination by the flight of birds (number of birds)

This depends on the appearance of specific types during a session. The following list was drawn from European and American sources, and could stretch to over a hundred.

Eagle. You are often seen as unlucky, although eagles can also be seen as symbols of power and strength. Seeing one could indicate that you will overcome your current problems and emerge successfully.

Lark. Another lucky bird representative of love, the lark can also predict future health or illness. If a sick person sees a lark perched on a branch, he can determine the possibility of recovery. If the lark turns its head away from the patient, the condition will continue for some time. However, if you look directly at the fortuneteller, you will soon be restored to health.

Tile. A lucky symbol of happiness.

Owl. It is generally considered unlucky, since in most countries owls are omens of death or disaster. However, an ancient divinatory meaning for the appearance of this bird was very different: wisdom would be granted to the observer.

Stork. Pretty lucky. The future will be very positive; could involve children.

Quail. A peaceful home is predicted by the appearance of Lina Quail. It is a lucky bird. If there are discussions at the moment, they will soon be over.

hummingbird The appearance of these beautiful birds is very lucky, as they predict love, marriage or pregnancy.

Crow. It is generally considered an unlucky omen, although the number of its squawks is considered very significant. One is favorable, two is unfavorable, three is favorable.

Raven. Despite its shiny black appearance, the raven can be considered a positive omen, depending on the number. A raven heralds sadness; two, happiness; three, marriage; four, birth. Some cultures consider ravens to be the most prophetic of birds. It is lucky and unlucky.

Heron. Unlucky. Difficult times are coming.

Seagull. Lucky. He will probably be traveling soon. If it’s a business trip, it could be financially successful. If it is for pleasure, you will enjoy it very much.

Swallow. A lucky sign, whether perched or flying. Happiness is predicted. Love and luck.

Sparrow. When it appears during divination, this homely little bird ensures domestic tranquility. Very lucky.

Blackbird. A lucky omen whenever seen, especially if two blackbirds are seen together.

Golden oriole. Lucky. Happiness and peace are in the future.

Pigeon. Highly lucky. Predicts peace, love and happiness.

Duck. Lucky. Your relationship will be stable.

Robin. Lucky. The appearance of a robin portends a harmonious home life.

Wren. A lucky sign related to the future. Wrens are the luckiest birds.

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