Beginning Augury Divination: Reading Bird Omens

Now that spring is in full bloom in the northern hemisphere, the birds are out in full force. One of the first things my partner and I did when we moved into our new apartment was to set up a bird feeder on our balcony so we could see all of the birds that live around our complex. The bird seed seems to attract mainly sparrows, but there has been an occasional chickadee, finch, and cardinal visiting as well. The pine tree outside our bedroom window even has a black bird nest, and there have been regular fly overs by a pair of hawks that hunt the area.

I was so excited to find out that even though we moved further into the city, there is still plenty of wild life around for us to enjoy! The large variety of birds in particular has piqued my interest in reading bird signs and finding omens in their activity.

Augury divination has been widely practiced in many different cultures including the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Celts, and some Native American tribes. Birds are seen as messengers and portents of both good and bad luck depending on their activity and call. Depending on the way you choose to read bird signs, it could include finding meaning in different bird species, their flight patterns, their different calls, as well as their number and behaviors.

What I love about augury practice is that it highly based in intuition and the the practitioners personal associations with the birds, their colors, sounds, and number all go into reading them. For example, if you don’t know the bird species and their specific symbolism, you can still derive meaning from their coloring and its corresponding associations. Some will even look at the direction the birds are flying and use the correspondence of the cardinal directions as well as the color and number of the birds to understand the sign they’re seeing.

I find that certain birds or bird calls remind me of different people or events, which can also be used to divine their meaning. I often associate morning doves with my mother because she has an uncanny ability to mimic their sounds to the point where they respond to her. She was also my first source of knowledge on bird signs as a child. Specifically, she’d often relate a single morning dove seen on our way to school as meaning it would be a good day with fair weather, while two morning doves was a symbol of love and commitment.

Finally, different types of birds have specific religious associations and are symbols of various gods. For those of us who are pagan, if we see the birds that are associated with one of our Gods, it could be a sign that that deity is reaching out to us or trying to pass along a message. Ravens are a prime example of bird symbolism that spans across multiple religions – two ravens are sometimes associated with Odin as his messengers, whereas three can be a manifestation of The Morrigan.

The last thing I feel is important to touch on is understanding the difference between normal/common bird behavior and unusual behavior. It can be easy to get caught up in seeing certain messages over and over, but your just seeing the regular birds that frequent the are and are going about their normal activity. It is much more likely that irregular behavior is a sign or omen and that message is what is important to understand.

While I don’t have a lot of experience in augury yet, this is something I plan on practicing much more and will report back with what I learn in the future. Have you practiced reading bird omens before? Do you find that you focus on reading certain aspects (number, color, behavior, etc.) over others?