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Folktales and Superstitions of Birds

Jan 4, 2019

Image: Bird in flight -

Birds are all around us in every season.  Here from is a list of beliefs collected from all over the world for your enjoyment.

     *The appearance of an albatross heralds bad weather
     *Hearing a bittern's call foretells a greedy new acquaintance.

     *Placing blackbird feathers under someone's pillow and he will
tell his innermost secrets.
     *Blackbirds symbolize reincarnation.
     *Blackbirds are linked to the element of Water.
     *Two blackbirds seen together mean good luck.

     *In Navajo belief, two bluebirds gaurd the house of the Gods.
     *A bluebird in the yard presages happiness in the households.
     *Bluebirds are often connected with puberty rites of young women.

     *Hearing a bobwhite call means rain is coming.
     *Snow buntings are a symbol of hope in adversity.

     *Keeping a canary helps one's singing and speaking voice.

     *Cherokee belief states that cardinals are Daughters of the Sun.
     *Note the direction of a flying cardinal; toward the sky means
good luck, and toward the ground means bad luck.
     *Cardinals are magickally linked with the number 12, associating
them with the Sun
  Cat Birds
     *Catbirds nesting on the house means you will have visitors soon.

     *If a chickadee perches near the house, a long-missed friend will
     *Enthusiastic chickadee chirping means good weather on the way.
     *If you see a chickadee hanging upside-down, good news is on the
     *If a hen lays an even number of eggs, it is a bad omen.
     *If the hens are listless at feeding, it is a bad omen.
     *In China, the rooster is a symbol of eccentricity.
     *If the rooster crows early, the weather will be good that day.
     *If the rooster crows at night, a storm is coming.
     *If a rooster crows at your door, news is coming.
     *To keep evil at bay, throw the egg of a white hen over your right
shoulder toward the front door.

      *A cowbird near the house presages a fight in the household.

     *Eskimos say that flocks of cranes occasionally kidnap children.
     *The appearance of a crane means vigilance is needed.
     *Many cultures do a "crane dance" to bring Spring.
     *In Chinese legend, cranes take the souls of the dead to heaven on
their backs.
     *In Celtic myth, cranes symbolize war & death

      *A crossbill kept in a cage cures rheumatism and colds.

      *Finding a dead crow in the road is good luck.
      *A crow perched near the house wards off evil.
      *"Two crows I see, good luck to me."
      *In New England, it is unlucky to see two crows flying to the
      *Roman lore states:
          "A crow on the thatch, death lifts the latch."
       and  "One crow for sorrow, two for mirth,
           Three for a wedding, four for a birth."
      *If a pair of crows fly by a wedding couple, they will have a
long, happy marriage.
      *Some legends state that the soul of King Arthur lives on in a
      *North American legends state that crows brought the first seeds
from heaven.
      *In Celtic myth, crows symbolize war and death.
      *Crows are considered very magickal.
      *When sighting the first crow of the year, watch his flight. If
he flies off into the distance, you'll travel much in the coming year,
but if he just sits, you'll not travel at all.

      *A cuckoo's call means a storm is coming.
      *Cuckoos may be asked how long one will be married and how many
children one will have. The cuckoo answers with the number of calls.
      *Jingle the money in your pocket when you hear a cuckoo, for
"Turn your money when the first cuckoo calls, and you'll have money 'til he
comes again."
      *If a cuckoo calls from the North, sorrows are coming; from the
South, death; from the East, consolation; and from the West, good
      *Look at the cuckoo's bill. If it is yellow, communications will
be trustworthy, and if it is black, watch out for deception.
      *You can make a wish on the cuckoo's call.

Bird Folklore- Dove thru Starling
      *The dove is a symbol of peace, and the triumph of life over
      *To give counsel to Mohammed, Allah sent a dove as messenger.
      *In Japan, the dove is a messenger of war.
      *Note from where the first dove's call comes; if from above,
prosperity will come, and if from below, bad luck is on the way.
      *When an unmarried girl hears the first dove of spring, she
should take nine steps forward, nine steps back, and take off her right
shoe. In it will be the hair of the man she will marry.
      *Doves are said to lead thirsty humans to water in arid regions.

      *The eagle has long been an emblem of the Sun.
      *Seeing an eagle fly from left to right is a very good omen.
      *Eagles are believed to control thunder and lightening, due to
their association with Zeus
      *Eagle feathers are used for healing.

      *Egret feathers bring good luck to competitors involved in

      *Falcons represent success.
      *Falcons were messengers of Apollo.
      *Carryiing a hawk's or falcon's feather enables one to understand
the speech of birds.

  Texas flycatcher
      *The flycatcher is considered good luck in Texas (maybe because
he feasts on yellowjackets and hornets!)

      *Flicker feathers are a good luck talisman.

      *A goldfinch in a cage brings happiness into a home.

      *Several cultures state that the Sun was laid by the goose in the
form of a golden egg (origin of Aesop's fable.)
      *Seeing or owning a pair of geese brings happiness to a couple.
      *Check the Thanksgiving goose's breastbone; if it is thin or
light-colored, the winter will be mild. If it is thick or dark-colored, the
winter will be severe.
      *Geese are associated with the Winter Solstice, and should be
eaten on this occasion to bring good luck to the household.
      *Goosefeather pillows promote fidelity in those who sleep upon

      *A pregnant woman should never eat grouse, for fear of

      *Herons are symbols of longevity.

      *The Aztecs believed that hummingbirds were the reincarnation of
brave warriors killed in battle.
      *Hummingbirds bring rain.
      *Hummingbirds are linked to the Faerie Realm, and pass freely
back and forth.

      *Find a jay feather, soak it in rain water, and brush a sleeping
child's eyes with it. The child will never lose his sight.

      *The arrival of junkos mean cold weather is coming soon.

      *Kingfishers are symbols of dominance and bullying.
      *If kingfishers appear in December, the wind will not blow for
seven days before or seven days after the Winter Solstice ("Halcyon
      *Kingfisher feathers ward off lightening.

      *Kites are symbols of harassment.
      *Kites were said to have brought the law of the Gods to ancient
      *Gypsies say kites are bad luck.

      *Disturbing a lark's nest purposefully will ruin your prosperity
for life.
      *Larks symbolize fidelity.

      *Loons are considered magickal and can grant wishes in many
      *In Norway, the call of the loon in the evening means someone
will drown soon.
      *It is said that the loon escorts recently-departed souls to
heaven.  Magpie
      *Magpies predict the future, as in
          "One for sorrow, two for mirth,
           Three for a wedding, four for a birth,
           Five for silver, six for gold,
           Seven for secrets not to be told,
           Eight for heaven, nine for hell,
           Ten for the Devil's very own sel'."
  *Magpies were believed to be witches' familiars.

      *The appearance of a flock of martins means good luck.

      *The first meadowlark means spring is here.
      *The meadowlark is a good omen.
      *Mockingbirds are very magickal and will sometimes answer
      *Mockingbirds are symbols of hope and innocence.
      *If a mockingbird flies over the head of a single woman, she will
be married within the year.

      *The feathers of the nighthawk are sacred and are appropriate
offerings to the Gods.

      *Orioles near the house will cure jaundice, if gazed upon.
      *Orioles nesting on the house mean Faerie moving in.

      *Owls are alternately symbols of wisdom and deception.
      *The call of the owl presages death and misfortune.
      *If a pregnant woman hears an owl screeching, she will have a
      *Owl feathers placed under one's pillow cures insomnia and
      *Pictures of images of owls in the house ward off epidemic.
      *Tie a knot in a blue handkerchief to stop an owl's calling.

      *Parrots will lead humans to salt deposits.

      *The peacock is considered sacred in many cultures.
      *Peacocks are a symbol of vigilance, due to the "eyes" on their

      *Pelicans represent charity and family ties.

      *Pheasants bring rain.
      *In Japan, pheasants predict earthquakes.
      *Pheasant feathers enhance sexual potency, enjoyment and stamina
in men and women.

      *If you see a plover, rain is not far behind.

      *Pictures and feathers of ptarmigan ward off lightening.

      *Irish belief states that puffins are reincarnations of monks.

      *Dreaming of quail foretells hard times ahead.
      *If you hear the call of the quail within two weeks of naming a
new baby, the name you have chosen is proper. If you don't hear the
quail, reconsider the name.
      *Quail are a symbol of courage.

      *Circling ravens predict a battle, or alternately, a message from
far away.
      *Ravens are said to steal the souls of the seriously ill.
      *It is said that England will never fall as long as ravens nest
in the Tower of London.
      *A raven facing the clouded sun means hot weather to come.
      *If you give the afterbirth of a male child to a raven, the child
will be able to converse fluently with ravens all his life.

      *If you harm a robin's nest, you will be struck by lightening.
      *"Kill a robin or a wren, never prosper, boy or man."
      *A robin entering the house foretells of a death to come soon.
      *If a robin stays close to the house in Fall, a harsh Winter is
      *Robins are thought to be helpful to humans, occasionally
granting favors.
      *Robins are a harbinger of Spring.
      *Make a wish on the first robin of Spring before it flies off, or
you'll have no luck the following year.

      *Shrikes are considered messengers of ill news.

      *The appearance of snipes mean rain is sure to follow.

      *Sparrows were thought to be born of horsehair and mud.
      *A sparrow chirping repeatedly means rain is in the forecast.
      *Sparrows bring summer with them when they come.
      *In China, the sparrow foretells good luck in the next week.
      *In Hindu religion, the sparrow is the symbol of fruitfulness and

      *Spoonbills are considered sacred to many Native American tribes.

      *Starlings are considered murderous, and are an ill omen in

Bird Lore-
  Stork to Yellowthroat

      *The stork is sacred to the Egyptian God of wisdom, Thoth.
      *Storks are said to be able to take on human form.
      *Storks drive off snakes.

      *A flock of swallows resting on the roof foretells poverty.
      *If a swallow flies under a person's arm, they will lose that arm
      *In China, swallows are caught and then released by the river to
bring rain.
      *A swallow entering the house means prosperity.
      *To dream of a live swallow foretells a happy relationship, but
to dream of a dead swallow foretells the loss of the affections of your
      *A swallow swooping in front of you foretells travel soon.
      *Swallows can lead humans to the magickal herb that restores
eyesight (greater celandine.)

      *Swans are considered very magickal & sacred.
      *In Wales, swans are thought to bring the thunder and rain.
      *Swans are symbols of wealth.

      *Swishers are believed to help mischievious Faerie milk goats dry
at night.

      *Some Native American tribes considered turkeys cowardly and
refused to eat them, for fear of losing their courage.

      *After sighting the first buzzard, one may be assured that there
will be no more frosts.
      *Vulture feathers are a talisman against rheumatism, and could
sometimes bring the dead back to life.
      *In Greece, buzzards are an ill omen.
      *In Egypt, buzzards are a symbol of protection and women's
      *Vultures are considered to be the descendants of griffins.
      *If you see a lone buzzard, make a wish before he flaps his wings
and it will be granted.
      *If you see the shadow of a buzzard without seeing the bird
himself, visitors will arrive soon.

      *The call of the whipporwill can foretell an unmarried girl's
future; one call, and she will not marry this year; two calls, and she
will marry soon; three calls, and she will never marry.
      *If the whipporwill calls repeatedly, answer "No." If he stops,
someone in the household will die within the year, but if he continues,
all will be well.
      *The whipporwill is linked to the Moon.
      *Whatever you are doing when you hear the first whipporwill of
the year, that is what you will do for the following year.

      *The red-headed woodpecker is sacred.
      *Woodpecker feathers gaurd against lightening.

  Wood Thrush
      *A wood thrush singing around the house spells good luck.

      *Wren feathers are considered to be protective talismans,
particularly against drowning.

      *Yellowthroats are sacred to witches because of their "Witchy!
Witchy!" call.

      *If a dark bird sits on your windowsill, good luck will follow.
      *If a red bird crosses your path, you will receive good news from
a loved one.

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