Birds as messengers

Photograph by Medford Taylor

Last evening Jack and I were driving to a friend’s house for dinner and had gotten into  “discussion” about moving. Jack owns an antique store/gallery and has been there for 20 years. I want to believe that he can close his shop, or sell it, and move easily to a new town/life, and he says that he wants to and yet, when things don’t seem to be moving (at all), I find myself blaming him for dragging his heels. As much as I know (in my head) not to blame others, and that all answers are within, and how disempowering it is to look to someone else to make things happen, I still do it…

Last night, it was under the guise of, “I’m trying to be helpful here.”…giving him all sorts of, what I considered to be, helpful suggestions and he was sitting there mute. I could feel the frustration building inside me, (which should have been a clue to check myself but I didn’t), so I pressed in even more.

Suddenly he said, “I just saw a peacock back there!” I thought he was talking about a sign with a peacock on it, or some other dumb thing, and just said “What? Where?”, “Turn back, there really is a peacock walking on the side of the road.”

I turned around, a little begrudgingly, and sure enough, on the side of the road was a peacock. We got out of the car to see if we could get near it. Where on earth did a peacock come from? I tried to call it to me, and had visions of myself sitting in the backseat holding it…bringing it some  place…where?… as Jack walked around behind it.  At that moment it flew right over the top of my head. We tried to find it but could not.

That has to be one of most unusual occurences of my life and I knew that it was a sign. I was more than a little stunned as we got back in the car and said, “Maybe that was a sign that if we can see a peacock in Rupert, VT, something so impossible as this, then Jack Metzger could move.” We both laughed, but I also appreciated how that startling bird helped me to re-direct my own critical thinking.

When we arrived at our friend’s home, and they were introducing us to good friends of theirs, Judi and Roger, and we told them what we just saw, Judi said with a big smile on her face, “That is a sign!” …I loved this response and knew instantly that we would hit it off.

Driving home from a very lovely, magical evening, I looked up the spiritual significance of Peacock and it said, “The call (of the peacock) has a kind of laughter quality to it, as if the peacock is a reminder to laugh at life.” pp 182 Animal Speak

“Be grateful for luck. Pay the thunder no mind – listen to the birds. And don’t hate nobody“. Eubie Blake

This weekend it might be fun to “listen to the birds” or watch them…see how they show up to help…I would also love any stories that you would like to share about birds in your life.

31 thoughts on “Birds as messengers

  1. Here’s a life lesson garnered from a peacock!

    My parents and I were traveling in England, and happened upon a country estate: while the buildings were closed, we were free to wander the grounds and enjoy the natural beauty it contained.

    As I sat quietly, enjoying the song of the birds, and the sunshine, I witnessed a young male peacock in the midst of a courting ritual with a peahen. He had spread his tail feathers to their full magnificence, and was strutting with a bumpy gait to and fro, his plumage jostling, the iridescent eyes twinkling in the most delightful display I’d ever seen. Then, suddenly, he dropped his feathers to the ground, and rushed towards the hen. She scampered away in either fear or consternation. Back he went into his performance, feathers quivering, trembling, his whole presence one of exquisite grandeur. Once again, he dropped his feathers, attempted to pounce on the hen, who, once again, retreated quickly.

    I have to say, I felt sorry for the poor guy!

    “Dude,” I offered in a friendly tone, “you’re doing great. Just don’t POUNCE. Sidle up to her. Let her get used to the idea.”

    Hmmmm, I thought. Karen, there are areas of your life in which that lesson might do YOU some good. Remember the peacock! 😀

    For me, the most magical birds are the herons. So ungainly on take-off, so wondrous and mystical in flight. Whenever I see a heron, it’s an omen that the universe is providing me with what I need for happiness, as I immediately feel a rush of joy when I see one.

  2. Mary, I love it…as much and all as I can live in the superiority of my own ego I still get into the poop of my own thinking. Your posting is a hoot. I’d have done the same thing. And I also do believe that birds, which appear in much of my textile work, come with a message when I need it. A very subtle reminder to you that you are only human in trying to get Jack’s end of things moving so that you can get your own life falling into place with a new location. Can’t be done. It will happen if it’s meant to happen, I keep telling myself that about a lot of things and catch myself every time I try to be instrumental in the serendipty of life.
    SandyP in Canada

  3. How wonderful! had that happen to my brother & I Cornwall (UK) years ago. Peacock flew out of the woods, low over the bonnet of his car and vanished into woods on the other side of the lane. We both wondered if we really saw what we saw!

  4. My husband had mourning doves appear at his feet after the death of his mother and of our daughter. He is not a spiritual person but was very moved be these events. Also a few weeks before my brother died in a motocycle accident, he had a bird sitting on the mirror of his truck when it was home. He called me about it and was concerned that he was going to die. Birds are messengers in our lives.

  5. Here is a funny thing; I have been adding beautiful things to my house recently, all with images of birds on them. A lovely box. towels, pillows, a duvet cover…..I live with many birds around me, I live on a small lake so they are everywhere in song and form. We are also trying to sell our place and I find I need all the beauty I can take in. Linda in Wisconsin

  6. Mary, I’m going through a rough time right now, but after reading this, I am going to look for my sign and I love the quote by Eubie Blake!!!! You made my day!!! Syl

  7. Bluebirds, bluebirds, bluebirds, they show up just when I need them… as if they can read my mind 🙂 Peacocks really can make a point, can’t they!

  8. Mary, what a fun story and what a nice evening. Crows make me tingle and bring messages all the time, usually in the parking lot at work. I have a wonderful little orange canary, Sherburt. “Burt” sings everyday and reminds me of happiness and to remember to say my gratefuls daily. Thank you for being you and sharing your experiences. You remind me that it is ok and we just keep on moving and appreciating through sharing. Teri

  9. Mine is a hawk. After my mom died, a hawk (or different hawks?) would perch on my back fence at times of significance – my birthday, Christmas, when Dad visited or was in the hospital, or when I needed a smile. Granted, I feed small birds, and she was probably looking for a snack, but still. On long trips I see hawks along the road watching out for my safety… Mom’s been gone 10 years now, and I don’t see hawks as often as I once did… maybe she thinks I can take care of myself after all? (OR… she has her hands full taking care of Dad again who recently joined her in heaven!)…

  10. Maybe the peacock which Jack noticed first, was also a sign to let the future take care of itself – and by getting too involved in making it happen, you may even miss out on a rare peacock sighting. Wow. Recently I couldn’t believe my good fortune to find the most adorable little lamp with one beautiful peacock feather on it (a sort of night light lamp) at Pier One for only $19.99! (that wasn’t even a sale price) – it stands about ten inches high and uses a candelabra type bulb. Now I will enjoy it even more thinking of my friends on the farm. – I will always have a fond spot in my heart for parakeets. Though I have none now, my son Rafa raised them when he was a young teen. At one point we had 18! The little eggs, no bigger than a jelly bean, were sat on by both the mother and father until one miraculous day when they hatched. When they emerged from the shell, they were totally naked little blobs, not even the suggestion of pin feathers yet, and sheaths over their eyes, a tiny hole for the mouth, the beak as yet unformed. Within one month, they were fully grown, – the wonder of seeing the pin feathers emerge and wondering what colors he or she would be. His very first parakeet, Mickey, lived to be seven, a ripe old age for a parakeet. He was so tame, – he would sit on my son’s shoulder when he practiced his saxophone, and sit on the side of the bathtub when he bathed. Ah, the tears that were shed by my ‘big’ 16 year old boy when Mickey finally passed on. Sweet parakeet memories. (the mother and father parakeets were a pure white female, Snowball, and yellow Daddy, Charles.)

  11. I have a pair of neighbourhood crows who swoop into my backyard looking for the stale crackers I sometimes leave for them. One is less wary and lands close to me as I’m throwing them. It seems to listen to me when I talk to it! My mother also had “pet” crows in her backyard; she passed away last November, and I feel a closeness to her when I see my crows. Sometimes I am thinking about her, and suddenly my crows will appear! There was a documentary on tv awhile back which I found fascinating; crows are very intelligent.

    I love your insightful stories, Mary.

  12. I share the hawk as talisman the way that Anne does. When I am on car trips I always count hawks and take them as signs of protection for the journey. I had the chance to foster a wee kestrel one summer. It found its way to me and my kids through a rehabilitator who knew of my interest in raptors. It was a great summer project, turning our little mountain house into an aviary. I had to feed it and keep it safe and healthy until its flight feathers came in . Eventually the whole house became his exercise area. Nights he spent in my room and he would bring me moths and perch on my book as I read in bed. He was fantastic and not as messy as you might think ! His release lacked any Disney drama. My son simply took the leather jessies off on his leg and off he flew. Mission accomplished. The experience was magical and makes for great memories.

  13. What and incredible post for me, Mary. Yesterday my friend Dave and I went pick up my hearing aids that I needed for years. I was so excited knowing I would be able to hear some much that I had missed for so long. The Pine Tree Society is in the middle a busy town, but the first thing I heard was a bird.

    On our way home we saw a pair of osprey soaring and diving. They are amazing to watch. Last evening as I settled down after a long day, I read in the news letter from my church in the city where I lived until three years ago. A couple I’ve known always had died within four days of each other and I missed their memorial service last Saturday. I was so upset that I couldn’t sleep for hours. Then I thought of those osprey and was able to quiet myself. This morning while I was eating breakfast, a hummingbird flew up to the living room window and hovered there. My friends were like hummingbirds never slowing down until they were in their 80s.

    Now that I have the hearing aids, I am able to hear the lovely bird chorus in my own field. It will be a wonderful weekend. 🙂

  14. Dear Mary,

    I was going to send you this video, changed my mind, and then today you asked for bird stories!

    Each fall thousands of starlings dance in the twilight above England and Scotland. The birds gather in shape-shifting flocks called murmurations having migrated in the millions from Russia and Scandinavia to escape winter. Scientists are not sure how they do it but the starlings’ murmurations are manifestations of swarm intelligence which in different contexts is practiced by schools of fish, swarms of bees and colonies of ants.

    I love the word murmuration. Or possibly it is the idea that there is something so magical and elusive in the world as “manifestations of swarm intelligence.” This is a wondrous video:

  15. I love this post, Mary, and all the heart-felt responses to it. I have a long history with birds as ‘signs,’ not the least of which is the pink Mourning Dove which, when seen, signals a warning of my hearing of a death. My dad passed six years ago on Fathers Day, and when I see a Cardinal (bird, not priest) I know he’s with me and sending me a message. Aside from those, I am in awe of all birds because to me, they signal the flight we could take ourselves if we would only just meld with the spirit of it.

    I also loved the fact that you found yourself feeling a bit snarky with Jack! Laughed out loud at that one. That’s why we all love you…you keep it so real.

    May you all give yourselves wings this weekend. Blessings to all.

    • Thank you for finding humor in my “snark attacks” Suzanne!…sending good thoughts on the wings of love back to you!

  16. This story just continues to amaze me! So many powerful messages in your evening drive! How unbelievably surprising that you saw this peacock on that road and that it flew right over your head! And that the peacock’s significance involves laughter, is just perfect…reminding us to laugh at life…how I love this!

    We were just talking about Cedar Waxwings…my husband’s favorite bird. They are quite beautiful, always travel in flocks, love berries, and are known to pass one berry, mouth to mouth, down the line to a flock mate. Whenever we are anywhere in the house, regardless of what we are doing, regardless of what mood we might be in, when one of us looks out and spots them in the fruit trees, we call to each other, “hurry, hurry”, as if it is the most beautiful sight in the world…and it is…Happy weekend Mary and flock mates!

  17. Thank you, Mary. Your words always seem so timely for me. I have been in a funk the last couple of days and struggling to get out of it. It is so hard to try not to blame and/or criticize even under the guise of being helpful. Thanks for giving me a way to turn my perspective around.

  18. And don’t hate nobody. Words to live by. Thank you Sue S. for the great video and now I know what murmuration is. Thank you Mary for being real and sharing your thoughts with us. Unfortunately we can’t feed the birds here in Virginia because it brings the bears too close to our home. Wishing the flock a peaceful weekend.

  19. Thank-you Mary for this wonderful post. When my man was driving to work at 6am the other morning he was startled when a turkey appeared flying directly at the windshield of his truck! He swerved, it was all good and all he could say was,”I just didn’t realize they could fly like that!” We have our turkey “regulars” here in our yard and also the most beautiful songbirds and hummingbirds. They are my calm and my peace.Nature is my Higher Power.
    Have a great weekend, Cindy

    • That was the same feeling that I had when the peacock flew over my head Cindy! Have a beautiful weekend

  20. So happens I had an encounter of the bird kind yesterday afternoon that I want to share. We live near conservation land and often see wild turkeys, usually hens and chicks, but yesterday a lone young tom turkey was strutting about my neighborhood all my himself.
    He looked like a tourist, and he became this shared phenomena among everyone in the neighborhood who noticed him because of his proud, calm & inquisitive attitude. It seemed as if he had decided to take a little time off from his flock just to check out us humans for a little while.
    In Animal-Speak, Turkeys represent Shared Blessings and Harvest. This fellow certainly created a spirit of friendship and fun for us and I found myself feeling spontaneously happy about the beautiful June day, my lovely neighborhood and friendly neighbors. Pretty nice harvest, thanks to Mr. Tom!

  21. in despair or in question of my life as it is Spirit will leave a feather in my path…then i remember that i am not alone. finding a penny is also a talisman for me. funny thing the other day i was in my yard and found a penny next to a feather…guess i really needed the support that day!

  22. Hi Mary,
    As always, another great story from you.
    I had a pair of quails hanging around my house last summer. I enjoyed them so much but was worried my cats would catch them. They acted so tame. I think the amish farmer by me raises them & they must of got loose. Well they were so fun to watch & listen too. We kept the cats away as best we could. Was funny to watch my husband run after our big white hunting cat to save them. He’s a hunter too but appreciated my feelings for these birds. Our other fat cat who hunts very little was laying under our shrubs & the quail walked by & he just reached out & patted it’s butt with his paw. Too sweet! He knew they were Mom’s guests. They must of moved on because I haven’t seen them. What ever happened to them I ‘m glad they escaped the farm where they probably would of been dinner or used for dog training & got some freedom & entertained my husband & I & our cats. I’ve got many pictures to remember them. I think the same farm has a peacock now. Sounds like it. How ironic. Another laugh in life. Thanks for sharing your stories & letting all of us share ours. Have a great weekend. I’m headed to my sister’s arabian horse farm in the mountains in Fairfield, Virginia. Blue bird family too. I can’t wait. Beautiful there & it will be a full week of “laughter” 🙂

  23. Thank you for this post. Birds have always been important in my life. I had an owl when I was a girl. Fascinating experience. I used to breed Gouldian finches, they’re small birds with seven stunning colors on them. I currently have an African Grey parrot who is 13 years old. This week, my husband and I have been watching (and helping when necessary) a crow drama unfold in our backyard. A young fledgling has been on the ground and we have helped when cats appear. The parents are so incredibly dedicated and protective. I hope it makes it! I’m including a post I wrote about birds:

    http://asmallbluebird.blogspot.com/2011/03/i-grew-up-in-family-that-loved-birds.html

    xoxo Terry

  24. Dear Mary, I think I need to realign my energy. Everyone has such beautiful bird stories, and I’ve pulled 3 dead baby birds out of my pup’s mouth this weekend! But boy was she proud of Her “gifts”.

  25. Hi Mary,
    I am not used to leaving comments, but what has happened last Saturday, exactly a week ago, was so amazing, I think I have to share:
    My son who’s going through a difficult divorce, had to travel abroad and would’ve been gone the two weekends he has with his young boys, who are missing him dearly … the seven year old was ‘falling apart’ on the phone, when he realized that he could have seen dad at least part of the weekend, but mom had already made other plans.
    Out of love to his children, my son reached out to his estranged wife and invited her.
    They arrived together at the house, that he had just finished building (as a contractor/designer). As they stepped out and were standing on the terrace … seven eagles were circling above the house. First high up in the sky, then they came down closer and closer circling around the house. One flew lower than the roof of the house, turning his head left and right and left and right, looking around. Then they disappeared all together.
    My son was impressed by their huge size and beauty and called right away, telling me, something amazing had happened…
    We believe this was a powerful sign! I checked on Google ‘the meaning of seven eagles’ … it has happened in the mythology … but we don’t understand yet it’s spiritual meaning in this case…

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