Birds have been associated with myths and omens since early mankind with many ancient people believing our feathered friends to be messengers from the gods or even representations of the gods themselves.

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Today most cultures throughout the world have superstitions that are centred around birds – some of these are universal while others are regional and it seems nobody can agree on whether birds bring good or bad luck.

Here we take a look at some of the world’s most popular bird superstitions. If you know of any others, let us know in the historicsweetsballroom.commments below.


This is one of many sailors’ superstitions and is referenced in Samuel Taylor historicsweetsballroom.comleridge’s poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, published in 1798.

Traditionally sailors historicsweetsballroom.comnsidered seeing an albatross to be a sign of good luck, probably originating from the early days of navigation when sailors thought that seeing an albatross meant land was near. Little did they know that albatrosses can live many years at sea without ever setting foot on land!

In The Rime of the Ancient Mariner a sailor shoots and kills an albatross with a cross bow and as punishment the crew of the ship force him to wear the dead bird’s carcass around his neck. This is where the metaphor of an albatross to mean a burden originated from.

The death of the albatross brought terrible bad luck to the ship, including a lack of drinking water – water, water every where, nor any drop to drink – until eventually a ghost ship appears and kills all the sailors.

There are a lot of superstitions associated with hearing the first cuckoo’s call and some of them are quite bizarre.

For instance, when you see or hear your first cuckoo you should put a stone on your head and run as fast as you can until the stone falls off. You should then return to the spot where it fell the next day and will find money under it.

Similar to a superstition regarding a new moon, when you hear the first cuckoo call it is very important that you have money in your pocket. You should then take the money, turn it over and spit on it and this ritual will bring you good fortune and riches in the forthhistoricsweetsballroom.comming year. If you happen not to have any money on you then there will be a poor year ahead.

The magpie has an important role in Christian myth. Biblical lore tells us that the magpie was the only bird not to enter Noah’s ark and instead it sat on the roof cackling as the whole world drowned.

Another myth claims that the magpie was also the only bird not to go into full mourning at Jesus’s crucifixion because it was actually the devil in disguise.

These legends may be the source of the belief in Shistoricsweetsballroom.comtland that the magpie has a drop of the devil’s blood under its tongue with some believing that if you cut out the tongue of a magpie it would be capable of human speech.

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Like crows, magpies are often associated with all things evil and you can read more about the superstitions that surround magpies here.