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Animal Omens and Signs: Rabbits, Deer, Fox, Birds and More

The belief in animal omens and signs dates back to our ancient ancestors. Because of their connection with nature, certain animals meant good or bad fortune. In this article, we look at some of the most common animal omens and signs and learn how to interpret them. What does it mean if a rabbit crosses your path? What’s the meaning of a fox crossing your path? What if a family of deer are in your backyard? Find out here.

Black Cat Omens

Have you ever heard that a black cat crossing your path is bad luck? Black cat omens are a well-known example of an animal omen. A black cat omen in China means good luck! But a black cat in the United States has long been thought to be a bad animal omen so much so that black cats are the least adopted cat in the shelters. I’ve had black cats as pets, they were never bad luck! This superstition most likely originates with a fear of witches and their familiars, which is why we see black cats used as decoration on Halloween.

Black cats have been an animal sign for many years but depends on the culture whether it's good or bad.
Mystical Mysterious Magic Surreal Cat Silhouette

Woodland Animal Omens & Signs

Deer Omens & Signs

Deer are a magnificent species with much lore surrounding them. The meaning of a deer in your backyard varies but usually means spiritual change or renewal. Have you toyed with the idea of becoming spiritual leadership? The deer in your backyard means a time of spiritual authority is ahead. If a white deer is seen, this is a bad omen. Also, nearly any albino animal is a bad omen. Where did this belief originate? Noone’s sure because typically the color white is symbolic of purity and wholesomeness, but the idea of a white deer being a bad sign is prevalent in the United States. My theory is it relates to white animals being linked to the Celtic Otherworld in ancient times…and therefore the fae and pagan deities.

A bad animal omen to people in the Eastern U.S. is the sighting of a white deer.
The sighting of a white deer is said to be a bad omen.

Rabbit Crosses Your Path

Rabbits are a favorite woodland animal, but if a rabbit crosses your path from left to right this is bad luck. Multiple rabbits in your yard is a sign of fertility – someone in the house will be pregnant soon. In the old days, rabbits were thought to be shapeshifted witches. According to Vance Randolph’s Ozark Magic and Folklore, if “the same rabbit crosses your path twice, it means you are desperately needed at home.” Rabbit’s feet have been carried as a good luck charm for centuries, so I’d venture to say rabbit signs are usually good luck.

When a Fox Crosses Your Path

The meaning of fox crossing your path is an increase in mental faculties—focus on learning and using your intelligence in tricky situations. Foxes were said to “charm” squirrels right out of a tree to catch their dinner. They were also considered nuisances because they’d steal the eggs or chicks right out of a henhouse. Moreover, the fox animal omen warns: don’t let yourself be “outfoxed.” The fox spirit also brings lessons of sexual empowerment, seductiveness, and learning to work in liminal spaces.

The Bear As An Animal Omen

First, if you see a bear in the wild, be sure you keep enough space between the two of you. Grizzlies are particularly dangerous, as well as mother bears. To that point, seeing a bear is a sign of a few things. One, it may be time to protect your children and family from an invading illness or intruder. Or two, it may be time for you to dive into the world of herbalism. Bears are often linked to herb medicine in indigenous cultures, and it’s said that bear medicine is strong medicine.

When fox crosses your path, your mental faculties will see an improvement.
The fox brings messages of improved mentality and reminds us not to be “outfoxed”.

Prairie and Desert Animal Omens and Signs

The prairie has its own ecosystem and unique animals. The Natives held animal signs and omens as sacred messages from the Great Spirit.

Coyote as Animal Omen

If a coyote is seen, this is often a bad omen. Different Native nations believe the coyote was a trickster and a thief. The Navajo believed the coyote was associated with “evil magicians” or “witches” who would put the skins of a coyote on their backs and shapeshift into “skinwalker” form. Still there are other indigenous who see the coyote in a different light.

The White Buffalo

In contrast to the fear of white animals in the East, the birth of the White Buffalo was a good animal sign from Great Spirit to the Cheyenne and Sioux tribes. The White Buffalo Calf woman was an otherworldly spirit that came to the Natives of the Plains to teach the Seven Sacred Rites. Because of the association with this divine spirit, the white buffalo is a good animal sign.

The Javelina: Desert Animal Signs

The javelina or peccary is an animal seen in the Southwestern United States that is similar to a wild boar. They are tough animals that survive the harsh conditions of the desert. When seen, they strike fear in the hearts of passersby…particularly if that passerby is on foot and in close range. However, to the Natives, the javelina brought a message of honest confrontation. Moreover, the young men were made to face the javelina and face their truth through this animal sign.

Antelope Message

The appearance of an antelope meant your ancestor had a message for you, according to the Plains Indians’ beliefs. The Hopi even had a deity associated with the antelope by the name Chop Kachina. The sight of an antelope was almost always a good animal sign.

Birds as animal signs mean so many different things.
Animal omens also include sightings of various birds.

Bird Omens & Signs

Owls as Omens

In the U.S., owls are frequently seen as a bad animal omen of an impending death in the family. In Mexico, La Lechuza is a shapeshifted witch. So whenever the call of an owl is head, people are fearful for their lives. While owls are often associated with illness or death, there are those who revere owls and see them as a good animal sign—one that brings wisdom and spiritual growth. Perhaps owls are merely trying to warn us of something they know is coming.

Buzzards and Vultures

Buzzards and vultures are regarded as portends of death, as they seen circling a dead animal or seen feasting on a carcass. Again, it all depends on how you want to see this animal sign—is it good or bad? From death also comes life. The Ozark people feared buzzards so much that they wouldn’t leave their houses if a buzzard was nearby. To the Natives, buzzards brought messages of blocked travel.

More Bird Omens

When a bird flies into your house its message depends on the type of bird and its behavior; however, the mountain-folk believed it was a bad omen. Roosters crowing at the back door is a bad omen—a portend of death; however, if the rooster crows at your front door you will have visitors before sunset. Finding feathers also has special meaning.

How to Interpret Animal Signs & Omens

Something to keep in mind when reading an animal omen or sign – not all animal appearances mean something significant. For instance – which of these scenarios seems more likely to be an omen? A. a crow flies in the sky above your car, or B. a bird flies into your house. I would say B is the more significant experience and is an omen or sign. Also, when reading animal signs, research the symbolism and superstitions of that animal, but be aware of the behavior of the animal AND your emotions at the time. Nearly every individual’s interpretation of these signs will be different from the next. And keep in mind, animal omens may come in the form of a dream too.

Common Animal Omens and Signs including rabbits, deer, foxes, birds, and more.

Learn More About Animal Magic:

7 Comments

  1. Jill

    August 16, 2021 at 12:56 am

    Javelina are not a type of wild boar, though look like them but are not related.

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  3. Michelle Reyes

    March 12, 2020 at 8:38 pm

    How about Lions ?

    1. Hailey

      June 11, 2020 at 9:56 pm

      I’m not very experienced, but I believe lions would mean courage, strength, and leadership.

      1. Heather Edwards

        October 19, 2021 at 2:45 pm

        I do believe you’re right. There are few references about lions. Two right off hand would be Asland in the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis which represented the returning King of Narnia. That was a direct literary reference to Jesus the Christ, who is described as a Lion when He returns.😉

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