Augury Bird Divination: History & How to Read Bird Flight Patterns

Augury bird divination is the act of reading birds and their flight patterns to tell the past, present, and future. It is one of the most ancient forms of divination used in Ancient Greece, Rome, the Celtic Empire, and Egypt (among others). It is also known as reading the auspices and ornithomancy. Learn the history of augury bird divination and how to read bird flight patterns here.

A History of Augury Bird Divination

Birds are special creatures – they bridge the gap between man and heaven. Birds are messengers from the gods, but also thought of as psychopomps in various cultures, guiding the dead to the other realms. The Romans called it augury, the Greeks called it ornithomancy, but it was essentially the same thing – reading the type, number, flight patterns, and behavior of birds to acquire messages from the gods. The Romans and Greeks considered augurs sacred spiritual leaders and looked to them for advice and fortune telling. The ancient Celtic priests, the Druids, also performed augury bird divination.

Nekhbet was a bird goddess of ancient Egypt.
Nekhbet depicted here clutching shen.

Augury In Ancient Texts & Myths

Augury bird divination is mentioned in ancient texts and seen in paintings of augurs on ancient relics from the Etruscan empire dating to the five-hundreds B.C. Agamemnon, a Greek mythical figure, had an augury bird diviner at his side to give him divine guidance. There were other forms of augury, including reading animal omens and weather patterns, but reading birds flight patterns was most popular in ancient Greece and Rome.

Native American Bird Divination

In addition, augury bird divination was used by indigenous American tribes. The Native Americans held a deep reverence for nature, including birds. Birds were messengers from the spirit world and many were totems. Bird legends penetrate Native American mythology: birds as being advisors, tricksters, heroes, and more.

Egyptian Reverence for Birds

In ancient Egypt, certain birds were sacred and connected with specific gods. The ibis was associated with the god Thoth. Thoth is depicted as a man with an ibis’ head. The god Horus was falcon-headed. Nekhbet was the vulture-headed goddess of Upper Egypt. And, the Great Mother Goddess of ancient Egypt, Isis, while not depicted as a bird, was the goddess of the sky and bore wings. Proof of bird reverence is the mummified birds found at ancient temple sites.

In augury bird divination, identifying the type of bird is important.
It’s important to identify the type of bird.

Augury Bird Divination: How to Read the Type and Number

If you want to learn how to do augury bird divination, the first step is to let the birds to show themselves to you. You can go out and seek the birds in the wild, but augury bird divination works best when the birds come to you with a message. It is a divine thing, after all.

1. Identify the Type of Bird

First, observe the type of bird. Ask yourself these questions: is it a native bird? Do I see it on a daily basis? What kind of bird is it? The importance behind what kind of bird you’re seeing is that species of birds have their own symbolism aside from augury; however, symbolism should be taken into account when reading auspices. For example, if you keep seeing a murder of 5 crows in your yard, it is time for mystery and renewal. If you see a cardinal in your yard – it’s a sign of joy and growth. Learning basic bird symbolism is incredibly important. Keep a journal of your bird studies. Learn how to identify them.

2. The Number of Birds

Next, take into account the number of birds. Is there one? Two that are interacting? Ten? Dozens? Hundreds? Numerology comes into play with augury bird divination and reading bird flight patterns. A basic understanding of numerology is helpful but not required. For instance, a pair of cardinals might bring a message of romantic love. The same with mourning doves, which often travel in pairs. Solitary birds indicate a need for the individual to be alone to recharge or learn a personal lesson. Use your intuition with the number of birds, but also use numerology to deepen your understanding.

The number of birds is crucial when reading bird flight patterns.
The number of birds is important too

Augury Bird Divination: How to Read Bird Behavior

Another important aspect of augury, maybe the most important, is to observe the behavior of the birds. First, are the birds calling to one another? Calling to you? Are they making sounds they normally would or is it a sign of distress? This was a crucial part of ancient Roman augury, and often one augur would spend his or her life learning and interpreting the calls of different sacred birds.

Bird’s Abnormal Behavior

Next, the bird(s) physical behavior is crucial. For example, is the bird(s) acting normal? Are they fighting one another? Flying away from a predator or going after prey? Are they looking for food or a mate? Guarding a nest? When you learn how certain birds typically act, you’ll notice right away when they are acting abnormal. For example, when large storms are coming, birds will begin to act “strange”. Birds give us spiritual messages, but they also warn us of danger. If a bird flies into your window, your house, or your car, they have an urgent message. Watch what the bird does carefully. Observe its movements and sounds. Is it trying to escape? Is it comfortable? These acts play into augury bird divination.

How to Read Bird Flight Patterns

The Ancient Roman augurs had a specific way of reading birds’ flight patterns. The sky was divided into sections. Depending on which section the birds entered or exited gave specific messages to the augur. You can read bird flight patterns in this way, by designating sections of the sky to bring certain messages. The four directions (north, south, east, west) play a key part. Depending on which direction the birds fly will tell certain things. In the mundane, birds flying south for the winter are obviously going somewhere to keep warm. This can be interpreted in your own way, spiritually, as well. The South is representative of passion, fire, motivation, etc.

Read Bird Flight Patterns by Shape

In addition to where the birds fly, observe the way they are flying. This means any shape formed in flight, such as flying in a circle, a V-shape, flying in uniform lines, spirals, etc. Each shape and symbol means something; base your message off intuition but also what you know about the symbol. For example, if a murder of crows is flying to the north and make spiral-patterns in the air, this could be a message of death in a spiritual aspect and rebirth (spirals and the north = symbols of death/rebirth cycle). The crows are spiritual mystery bringers and encourage one to dive deep and reflect upon spirituality, they are also considered psychopomps.

Bird flight patterns should be read: v-shaped, straight lines, etc.
Read bird flight patterns.

Use Your Intuition With Augury

Often in interpreting birds’ behaviors and flight patterns there aren’t cut and dry messages. A large part of augury bird divination is tapping into one’s intuition. This could be flashing mental images or full-blown visions. It could be a bird’s call that reminds you of a word. Maybe a specific bird reminds you of a specific person. Learning how to use intuition will help you be successful in augury bird divination. Then apply these augury principles to other divination forms.

Have Fun With It!

Divination takes observation, intuition, and knowledge of symbolism. Mix these three together and it’s a recipe for success. Try these same concepts with reading other things in nature: clouds, animals, trees/plants, etc. You will find you can read many things in nature and otherwise that others might not ever think to use. Have fun with it. Write down your experiences. And always remember – the future isn’t set in stone, but sometimes we’re given a message that our future could go in one direction if we make certain decisions. Yet we create our own destinies.

More on Bird & Animal Divination:


  1. How to Use Tarot to Work With Gods and Goddesses

    June 17, 2020 at 1:24 pm

    […] most people think of tarot and oracle, they think of divination – and for good reason. Tarot and oracle are primarily tools used as a means to divine current […]

  2. Jess

    April 11, 2020 at 7:02 pm

    I saw 5 hawks today circling, I’ve been seeing symbolism with birds a lot today along with number synchronicity, I asked my spirit guides if the birds were a sign and I picked a tarot card and I got The Lovers that has an image of two geese

    1. Mitchell van den Akker

      May 27, 2020 at 9:24 pm

      wow. the hawk spirit has come to me so heavy over the last 3 years. these past 2 have been even more intense. I saw one getting attacked by a mocking bird just now. trying to learn augury. anyone have any good text sources for interpritations?

      1. Em

        July 31, 2020 at 12:31 pm

        Me too… its really intense. Also looking for texts to learn augury. Even my friends notice how I am followed by Buteo Buteo and I am starting to notice their meanings.

  3. 10 FREE Witchcraft Practices For Those on a Budget

    March 29, 2020 at 1:53 pm

    […] the clouds’ patterns, patterns in sand or rock, or even omens and signs brought by wildlife. Bird augury is one of my favorites and costs literally […]

  4. 6 Ways to Work Your Magic Outside in PUBLIC Places

    February 27, 2020 at 5:54 pm

    […] include: reading patterns and shapes in the clouds, taking notice of certain birds or animals, bird flight patterns, etc. In addition, besides natural divination, if you’re sitting in traffic – license […]

  5. Annie

    September 17, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    This was a fascinating read, I love to watch the birds. It’s exciting to learn more about what they mean and how to use them for divination purposes. I especially liked the comment about seeing solitary birds. For the most part, I will see solitary birds. I will often take it as a bad omen, depending upon the bird, but it’s nice to realize that maybe it just means that I need to deeply explore my individuality. #ClairCoven

  6. bernice desmond

    May 3, 2019 at 3:16 am

    last night 5-0-2019…i was outside with the dog stood at the top of the ramp heard an owl…very cool i thought. i went to the bottom of the ramp to check on the dog, stood by the car, heard the owl again, only this time it sounded very close, just in the bushes about 20 feet away and low . i even wondered if some person was hiding in the bushes trying to scare me, hey i am in the country…….I walked back up the ramp , just a bit frighten, mind you… still hearing the hooting, then i looked up and saw a owl gliding over my head across the house to the woods beside us…….

Leave a Reply