Bizarre Bird Superstitions

As I was crawling out of bed a couple of mornings ago I was surprised that a bird flew right up and landed on the windowsill outside. It looked to be the very largest, fattest blue jay I have ever seen. It looked in at me and tapped three times on the window with its beak. It sat looking puzzled for a few more seconds and flew away.

I was awestruck. What a beautiful sight it was. I was able to see that lovely bird up close for those few seconds. I sat on the edge of my bed absorbing the wonder of it all.

Then I began to wonder. All my life I had been hearing superstitions about birds. And I have had more than my share of experiences with birds.

When I was in high school some friends and I were skipping school. As we came out of a building downtown I looked up to see what the weather was like. I was bird-bombed right between the eyes!

While out driving the other day I saw the biggest flock of birds I have ever seen. There were hundreds, maybe more than a thousand of them.

One time my son was waiting for me to come out from my job to give me a ride home. The birds bombed his truck so bad I was not sure I was going to be able to get in without being covered in excrement. These are just examples.

But back to superstitions. The first one I thought of was that if a bird comes into the house there will be a death soon. Lucille Ball firmly believed this to the point that she refused to stay in a hotel that had pictures of birds or wallpaper with birds.

Some people believe that this only applies to black colored birds. Some people believe it is good luck if a wren enters the house or nests in the eaves.

Some say that a bird flying in the house means that there is a change coming. It could be death, a change of homes, or some other change.

Birds flying into windows (house or car) are also supposed to bring news of death. Birds looking in the windows or tapping at windows can mean a death is coming. It can also mean that the bird is simply seeing its reflection in the window and interacting with the bird it sees.

I am happy to report that there have been no deaths so I believe perhaps that bird was flirting with his reflection. And I have a new great-granddaughter so there was a change in the family.

There are more superstitions about birds. Because there are so many and sometimes different birds mean different things, I am simply going to make a list.

Seeing an owl during the day means someone will die.

If a bird deposits droppings on you, it brings good luck.

A bird calling from the north means a tragedy is on the way, from the west brings good luck, from the south means the harvest will be plentiful, and from the east that you will find true love

If the ravens leave the Tower Of London, the kingdom will fall. Today the ravens' wings are clipped so they cannot fly away.

Pelicans are associated with those who fast in order to purify themselves for religious reasons.

Legend says that robins tried to remove thorns from the Crown of Thorns placed on the head of Jesus. The blood from the wounds stained their breasts red.

If you break a robin's egg something of yours will soon be broken.

Make a wish on the first robin of spring for luck.

A robin singing in the open means good weather is coming. A robin singing in the branches means a storm is on the way.

If the first bird you see on Valentine's Day is a robin, you will marry a sailor.

Peacock feathers carry the evil eye. The birds and feathers are considered to be bad luck.

The dove is the one bird that the devil cannot change into. Doves are immune to the devil's curses.

Doves carry the spirits of lovers. They mate for life. Often a pair of doves will be released at weddings to symbolize a long and faithful marriage.

Miners who see a dove near the mineshaft believe something bad will happen on the descent into the mine.

An albatross flying around a sailing ship means bad weather and high winds are on the way.

The albatross is believed to contain the soul of a sailor. Therefore it is unlucky to kill one. However the feet of dead albatrosses are used as tobacco pouches.

Magpies are supposed to be the devil in disguise. If a magpie is hanging around your house the devil is trying to cause trouble for you. If you carry an onion it will keep him away. You can also tip your hat and cross your fingers or spit three times over your shoulder and say "devil, devil, I defy thee."

In Scotland they believe the magpie hides a drop of Satan's blood under its tongue.

Legend says that magpies were the only birds that refused to give Jesus solace on the cross by singing for him. Then they refused to wear full mourning for them because of their black and white feathers.

In Korea magpies bring good luck and can foretell the future.

The hooting of an owl occurred befored the deaths of Agrippa, Julius Caesar, and Augustus Caesar.

Pliny stated that screech owls bring bad news.

In Wales an owl hoot at night meant either that it would snow or that one of the young girls in the village would take a lover and lose her virginity.

An owl skin nailed to the barn wards off evil.

Owl broth helps ease symptoms of whooping cough while eating owl eggs improves eyesight, helps prevent epileptic seizures, and sobers a drunk.

A sailor who kills an albatross will be lost at sea.

It is good luck to have a blackbird nest on your house.

See 5 crows, sickness will follow; 6 crows means death.

Whatever you do to a robin will happen to you.

Three seagulls flying overhead together is a sign of death.

Do not kill sparrows because they carry the souls of the daed.

When a swan lays its head and neck over its back a storm is coming.

A wren in the area will prevent you from drowning.

Good luck will come if a bird or birds fly diectly toward you.

For a girl to see her true love she places an egg in front of the fire on a stormy night. The man she will marry will come through the door and pick up the egg.

After eating a boiled egg either crush the shell or poke a hole in the bottom. Otherwise witches or evil spirits will collect the shells and use them to cast spells against sailors.

Bringing eggs into the house after dark brings bad luck.

Dirt found under mockingbird eggs will soothe sore throats.

In Appalachia eggs too small for cooking are thrown onto the roof to appease witches.

If a woman tosses an egg onto the fire on Beltane and sees a spot of blood she will die soon.

A hen with tail feathers like a rooster is bad luck.

When a chicken enters the house it means a visitur is coming.

When a rooster crows at dawn it is the signal for all evil spirits to return to the underworld.

Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet that the cock crows through Christmas Eve until Christmas morning so no evil spirits will spoil the holy day.

The cuckoo's first call in the spring has several meanings. For a young person it will tell you when you will be married. It signifies the arrival of a baby for a married couple. It will let an older person know how much longer they have to live.

Remove pillows from the room of a dying person. The pigeon feathers in the pillow will prolong the agony of death.

When ducks and geese quack and hiss more than usual rain is on the way.

If a duck or goose lays dun colored eggs the bird and eggs need to be destroyed immediately to prevent bad luck.

Jays go to see the devil on Fridays to give report. Any jay seen on a Friday is watching to report next Friday.

Carry kingfisher feathers to protect you from negative energy.

Akingfisher sitting on eggs means there are no storms at sea.

A dead kingfisher hung on the ship indicates wind direction.

A call from a kingfisher coming from the right means success in business; from the left business will be unsuccessful.

A martin brings good luck when it nests in the eaves and rears its young there.

If you look into an owls nest you will become depressed.

A man who eats owl meat will be obedient and a slave to his wife.

King Arthur visits the world in the form of a raven.

The sparrow symbolizes the gods of house and family.

If a stork builds a nest on the house it means love never-ending.

A swallow means summer is coming.

If a swallow builds a nest on your house it protects against fire, lightning, and storms.

A woman who steps on swallow eggs will be barren.

Parents who feed their children too many eggs will cause them to become sexually confused.

If you see a blue bird early in the morning you will have a happy day.

Seeing a yellow bird in flight means you will be free.

If you see a red bird in the winter you will have a prosperous spring.

If you are in trouble and a red bird shows up help is on the way.

In Ireland sweet singing blackbirds hold the souls of people in purgatory. If they are shrill when they sing the souls are crying for rain.

Australian aborigines chase black and white birds from camp because they believe the birds are eavesdropping on conversations and carrying information to the enemy.

Newlyweds who receive gifts with bird decorations on them will have an unhappy marriage.

If you eat mockingbird eggs you will be unable to keep a secret.

Birds making noise in the middle of the night tell that an earthquake is imminent.

If you salt a sparrow's tail you may catch it.

If you kill a turkey buzzard with a gun the gun will soon burst.

A woodpecker pecking as tree by your house tells that a caller will be there soon.

If you see a lone buzzard flying make a wish between flaps of its wings and your wish will come true.

Whatever you are doing when you hear the call of the first whippoorwill of spring is what you will do all year long.

If you see eagles sitting and not moving an enemy is coming.

Two people eating an eagle's egg will be protected against witchcraft.

If you would like to share some of the things you have heard about birds, we would like to hear them.


  1. Emma, thank you for this amazing report! There is one apparent superstition that I cannot find and have questioned it for many years. My husband, his mother, our daughter and I were in California and stayed for a week in a three bedroom "guest home" (separated from the main home on the same property). We felt very comfortable there. I don't remember anyone having nightmares or any happenings (accidents) when were there. On the last day, packing up to head back to Texas, we always look under the beds for anything we may have missed. We were so shocked to find black feathers (Crow? Raven?) spread thickly under each bed!! I've searched everywhere for what this means, but to no avail. Please let me know if you know anything about this meaning!


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