How birds are used to find the longer term

How birds are used to find the longer term
28 March 2024 J.W.H

People world wide and throughout history have used birds to think and predict the longer term. In Wales, the decision of the early-arriving cuckoo in spring heralds a very good hay harvest later within the yr. For Aymara-speaking people within the Andes of South America, seeing a yellow-headed vulture is nice luck, while spotting a black vulture is bad. In the Kalahari of southern Africa, !Xõ hunters keep a detailed watch on blackfaced mumblings after an antelope hunt for signs of where their injured prey is likely to be.

Of all of the ecological knowledge that individuals world wide use of their day by day lives, awareness of birds and their behavior is some of the pervasive.

Karen Park and I actually have explored this phenomenon in our research, Listen rigorously to the birds. By comparing reports from six continents, we found that individuals from different communities concentrate to individual birds and what they reveal concerning the world around us, from impending weather to disease, mortality and the supernatural.

The oldest known depiction of the bird is present in the Chauvet Cave in France – a 30,000-year-old owl drawn with fingers on a soft wall.
Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

We analyzed over 500 accounts in 123 languages ​​about how birds are “read” in this manner. Perhaps unsurprisingly, owls were probably the most incessantly cited birds as omens or omens, and were normally related to death, ghosts and fear, but sometimes with something more positive, resembling the start of summer.

It has also been found that individuals often search for signs in crows, cuckoos, woodpeckers, herons, eagles, nightjars and chickens – but many other species also play the same role.

Half of all bird signs were audible – that’s, they were related to bird calls or songs. For example, in Ayoreo communities in northern Paraguay, the calls of tê plover and lapwing signal the drying of the landscape after a flood. Meanwhile, visual signs interpreted based on the bird's flight or other behavior accounted for 1 / 4 of the entire.

This intimate knowledge of what birds can tell us is commonly reflected as well the names given to them. For example, Aranda speakers in Australia call a kind of cuckoo of their language the “banana shriek” because its call causes rain to flow down waterways, heralding the ripening of the banana bushes.

The recently launched offer includes many more bird markings and multilingual names Atlas of the Ethnoornithological Worlda web based collection of data about birds and an area for collaboration between researchers and the communities wherein they work.

Reading birds

In many cases, “reading” birds involves a complicated understanding of ecological relationships – black-faced babblers lead hunters to a wounded antelope, for instance through their behavior and calls.

Similarly, the Welsh saying concerning the cuckoo could have its roots in awareness of climate and its effects on animals and agriculture. For example, special weather conditions that cause cuckoos to migrate from North Africa sooner than usual may provide good haying conditions.

Other connections may either be lost to history or enterprise into the unverifiable and literary. An example is the long-standing practice of European vitality: predicting personal or political luck with birds.

Two thousand years ago, the Roman statesman and philosopher Cicero belonged to a university of omens that interpreted the flights of birds and other patronages of the Roman state – perhaps with some skepticism about how much the gods were involved. Shakespeare also ordered Lady Macbeth to disclose her murderous plans, using the connotation of ravens as messengers of death:

The raven itself is hoarse
It's the cackle of Duncan's fateful entrance…

However, ecologists are increasingly documenting the ways wherein birds can predict environmental conditions resembling tornadoes – by avoiding strong storms along migration routes, possibly through infrasound perception. Environmentalists also confirm direct communication and cooperation between humans and honeybirdslong known to the inhabitants of East Africa, which lead beekeepers to the hives in exchange for leftover honey.


The knowledge of those ecological indicators by professionals and native people is an example of sophisticated eco-literacy – the power to read landscapes, waterscapes and skyscapes to know what has happened and, subsequently, what might occur next.

À lire aussi : Have humans evolved beyond nature – and can we even need it?

Just 50 years ago, eco-literacy was taken with no consideration, a basic education that many individuals world wide saw as an integral a part of informal childhood learning. However, these skills at the moment are disappearing in lots of communities. This is harmful if we lose certain bits of ecological knowledge, however it is even worse if we stop taking note of the natural world altogether.

Lady Macbeth loved her ravens…

More than a 3rd of the bird signs in our sample were considered “omens” – and unfortunately for the recipients, they were mostly bad omens. Omens are signs, normally understood as not originating from any specific entity, which might be a feature of the human tendency to hunt and find clues on the earth around us.

By the spectrum of bird signs, from those strictly based on ecological facts to those related to more supernatural notions of luck and omen, we’re able to take a position about their connections.

People all around the world have traditions of exploring the world; perhaps the abilities acquired in observing natural history will even be applied to the concepts of fate, luck, and destiny. After all, we’re consistently attempting to learn from the past and predict the longer term.

From a one that introduced tens of hundreds of years ago Owl on the partitions of the Chauvet Cave in France, to a neighbor I overheard in a café talking about how they thought a visiting robin brought them good luck. Our lives are inextricably intertwined with the lives of birds and other creatures around us. By recording these relationships, we are able to higher understand how people lived in a multi-sensory connection to their worlds – and keep this selection open for each us and future generations.

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  • J.W.H

    About John:

    John Williams is a Reincarnationist paranormal Intuitive freelance writer...he is living proof of reincarnation existence, through his personal exploration, he has confirmed its authenticity through visits to the very lands where these events transpired.

    Through guided meditation/s using hemi-sync technology he has managed to recollect 3 previous lives to his own, that go back to the Mid to Late 19th century.

    JWH - "You are the GODS! - Inclusion of the Eternal Light of Love and you shall never die”.

    “Death is Just the Beginning of Life”