Birds have long thought to be associated with otherworldly powers - not other planetary but other worldly, as in the spirit world. Their ability to fly far and high in ages gone by gave them a mystical quality that many looked to for signs and portents, and one of the most common 'bird omen wives tale' was that if a bird flew into your house through an opened door or window, death was not far behind.
The Bird Omen Wives Tale
In a home lies a sickly person, with family members standing vigil nearby. The health of the ill is in question and everyone is concerned that things could take a turn for the worse. A sudden rapping at the window of the sick room causes a start and those in the room turn to see a black crow sitting on the sill, tap, tap, tapping at the glass. Its insistence is unnerving - what does it want? Eventually the crow flies off, but not before leaving the concerned family members with a chilling superstition that their loved one is doomed to die.
The variations on this theme are many, but all fairly consistent; a bird tries or succeeds to get into a home, and this is considered a sign of imminent death. In some versions the bird strikes the window in flight (sometimes getting up and doing it again) or lands on the sill and strikes the window with its beak. Other versions have the bird enter the home through an open window or door. Should a bird get access to the interior of a home with no visible means of entry, the superstition is that it is equivocal to an intruder alarm tuned to sense death itself going off.
The Origin of the Bird Omen Wives Tale
There is no one source of the 'bird flying into house equals death' wives' tale, but it is a common enough superstition nonetheless. In days gone by people were prone to look for many superstitious or mystical answers to every day questions, and some questions that were not so run of the mill (such as “why must my loved one die?”). When something out of the ordinary happened people were quick to ascribe to it some mystical significance, whether or not there was a logical, natural explanation to it.
Any time a bird flies into a house it certainly is an unusual experience. Birds, being creatures of the outdoors and mainly shy of man to boot, do not typically try to get inside a dwelling. Some may get confused, thanks to an expertly cleaned glass window and give itself a braining on a house. Others may land on a handy window ledge and peck at its own reflection out of curiosity. As for a bird flying in through an open window, taking a break on a chair back, and then leaving, who knows? But it certainly is behaviour convenient to attach a sense of a message being delivered.
No Birds In My House!
The idea of birds being associated with death is very strong in some people, to the point that they won’t have decorations of birds in their home. One famous report has actress Lucile Ball tearing wallpaper out of a new home because she discovered little birds in the pattern that she didn’t notice before.
Fact or fiction?
We'll let you decide but before you do take a look at what one of our readers had to say about it…
I didn't believe this myth at first but now I do. In January of last year a black bird flew into my grandmother's house and just sat on the fireplace watching her, she tried to chase it out but it refused to go. Eventually she got it outside and when she did she saw two more sat on the window ledge outside. Three days later she passed away. At the time I didn't think the birds were a sign or an omen. Two months later a magpie got into my uncle's home, we don't know how, and once again three days later he passed away. I don't fear birds but I truly believe they can sense when someone is ready to pass on.
Carrying on with the bird theme why not take a look at our superstitious article about Saulting Magpies.
I have always believed and lived by the bird in the home either brings imminent death or good news of a birth. I have had birds in my home mulitple times this year, 2 birth announcements and one death followed within a week. Today, 3 birds were in my family room, had to fly in down the chimney flue from the fire place being lit up all day yesterday. We were able to get two outside, the third is in hiding. My mom n law passed last Wednesday and her body was to be flown from Montana to arrive in Baltimore this morning. I am hoping it was her soul along with my sis n law and father n law whom both had passed in early 2010 & late 2010. I do not want to bury anymore of my family or friends. It's too much.
HellCat - 10-Dec-13 @ 1:01 AM
We have lots of doves in our garden and they love eating the dogs pellets. Yesterday and today a dove flew into our house and then out again. I am very supersticious.
Adele - 24-Nov-13 @ 11:39 AM
two days running , a bird got into my house , wife is spooked . i will keep you guys posted
bobby - 25-Oct-13 @ 10:41 PM
Tonite, a little brown sparrow was flying around in my room.. I looked it up and it said either whoever killed the sparrow would die or a parent of whoever killed the sparrow. My grandfather got the sparrow out-how.... I DIDN'T ASK!! All who KNOW me -- know I am very spiritual, very receptive, a rare breed-made from a rare piece of cloth. At first I recorded it and I was very happy-- figured that it had to be comfortable to fly into my room and that it had to say alot about my presence.Then I googled it-- it says more than it being a sign of death to come. The sailors believed that they carried the souls of the recently deceased to heaven. Or, if a lady sees one on valentine's day she is to find happinessmarrying a poor man. There was also a whole section about it being a sign of good luck... I know Fri t/13 isn't necessarily bad luck it is also good! To be honest though, everything I read after the word DEATH -- not one word registered... I am alittle spooked...
MISS B - 4-Sep-13 @ 12:40 PM
I live in an apartment with a balcony with sliding doors opening on to it.I feed the birds on that balcony.I leave the screen open to allow my cat to come and go and have done so for 10 years .Nothing more than an occasional bee or fly has flown in. My cat became very ill about two weeks ago and I was told she had to be put down.While I was preparing to take her to the vet for the procedure a chickadee flew in and settled on the chandelier.It just sat there until I got a broom andand got it back out.I am not superstitiousbut that shook me.
none - 20-Aug-13 @ 3:56 PM
My wife came home from her night shift let the dog out of our conservatory the next thing she woke me to say that their was something flapping down stairs and that she thought it mite be a bird so I got up and their was a robin so I realized it but I did talk to it first and asked if it was ok.
ken - 3-Aug-13 @ 10:47 AM
My husband pasted away 7 months ago. I woke up today to find a small flying around my basement. I heard that is an omen of death.Does this mean my husbands death or someone close to me will die...?
Meg - 30-Jul-13 @ 3:08 PM
Actually there are two stipulations. Being It was known as an old wise tale. that it was the wise man that told things to come. By being able to tell what was to come by what surrounded him. Telling when winter was approaching by the blooming of flowers and trees. Life by the dreaming of running water. Death by dreaming of muddy water or birds in a dwelling. This is something people research but never get full true answers from. Its something that was handed down from generation to generation. And with things being handed down, a lot of those that got it handed down to them did not listen and learn and never passed it on down. Indians knew this best. js
whaaaa - 1-Jul-13 @ 1:05 PM
A sparrow got into my house one summer morning. No clue how she got in. Of course I was panicked but after opening both front and back door, she flew out. I think she was in the house over night because the night before I heard a tapping but no clue where is was coming from. I think she was tapping on the window trying to get out. I had never heard of the myth about birds flying into my house until years later. Anyway, about 6 months after this occurred my husband died in a car accident. After I heard the myth I truly believe now. My recent trouble is the other day a bird got into my vehicle. Took my almost 20 minutes to get her out. I wonder if this myth applies to vehicles as well as houses...Any thoughts?
Ladywestm - 24-Jun-13 @ 12:26 AM
Two weeks after a friend of mine passed away a finch came to visit me at my home I thought it was stuck on my screen but it wasn't I stepped outside and the bird Sat on my finger and I have pictures,Could this have been a massage.
Rcheney - 13-Mar-13 @ 1:25 PM
everybody telling their story here but what was the outcome ??
ercsi - 23-Feb-13 @ 1:55 AM
A black bird got in my house today. My wife says that it means death. What happens if the bird dies. My cat beat me to it and killed it. So does that mean anything? I don't believe in superstition but my wife does. So does a dead bird mean worse or what.
Dusty - 12-Feb-13 @ 5:55 PM
A wren just flew into my house today. My cat caught it within seconds. I took it from her mouth and it got away, I walked in the next room it was on the curtains. Igrabbed it again, flew out of my hand and flew directly towards my husband and he caught it in mid air. Effortlessly!!! My point is it wouldn't let me catch it but it commited suicide and flew into my husband's grasp, not knowing whether this is where he should fly to. It was released unharmed,stunned of course. This has never happened before! We have no bird feeders around our home. I had opened the door a crack to let our other cat in. Why would a bird come in with a cat? I've been reading up on this omen, not that I believe, just curious! My husband is suicidal and very depressed. He came into the room as an observer, the Bird came to him he just closed his hand. He held it to his chest, walk calmly to the door.
elle pear - 31-Dec-12 @ 6:29 PM
Yesterday a bird came through the dryer vent, I was scared but I got
The bird out the house by opening my front door, I was raised knowing that
If a black bird flies in your house means deaf, but all I could do is pray that deaf
don't come near MT family.
t.hill - 20-Dec-12 @ 8:10 PM
For the past 3 weeks there has been 5 black birds and 1 fantail come into my house, I don't know what this means but if it means what the internet says, then I'm really worried because my mums going on an airoplane next weekend. ):
rosie - 22-Nov-12 @ 3:44 AM
Today there was a bird in my kitchen and I was the one that saw it, my mum and I tried getting it out but it didn't want to go, it kept starring at me until my dog came...so now I am scared
Sapphire - 11-Nov-12 @ 1:18 PM
I have a small Blue Jay that has been flying into my bed room window for about two weeks. Now the same bird, was trying to get into my daughters window of her car. when she drove away he preceeded to go after my car. every day he is all over my car with poop everywhere.This Blue Jay will stare at me as if he knows me. Now, one year ago there was a baby blue jay in my front bushes and my cat had the bird in his mouth, as the mother bird was havindg a fit. I made my cat let him or her go and my husband placed the little angel back into his or her nest. what could this possibly mean if anything. I have heard, the worst could mean death and the best could mean good luck. where do I stand in this world of mythology.
Starr - 7-Nov-12 @ 1:06 AM
Monday afternoon, was in community building,1st visit to kitchen area there was no sign of deceased bird. As I checked before leaving one was there next to boxes. However this bird had been deceased for some time so I may have knocked something and its fallen from where it died. Wednesday in a McDonalds a Lorikeet flew into the doorway as a staff member opened it.Knocked it out but it did come to as we reopened the door and in it came. Staff member and myself eventually captured it and let it loose outside after a bit of a chase.I get home 2 hours later and open my door. Two of the little birds that have a mud nest in my eaves flew right into the house.Took me ages to get one out..I got tired and let the other stay for a while longer.I couldn't not direct it out the door it was not leaving.Even with tricks of turning light on and off.it went for the room with the light. So I turned patio light onand all others offand the trick didnt work like before. After a second round of trying to get it out I stopped for an hourand then eventuallyexhausted it to a lower flight height and directed out of the house. It was now 10pm.I think 3 lots of bird connection in less days is weird.As nothing like this has happened before. Not evenone bird incident.Is this a catch up or a sign??One lot say deathothers say good luck or messages.I could be up for an interesting weekend. And no the windows were not clean. and door ways were small and enclosed.
Jussy - 1-Nov-12 @ 7:07 AM
I have always heard of the old wives tale that a bird flying into the house or trying to enter a window means a death is ImInent. My min pin of 12 years Roxy had been ill with colitis. She seemed to be making a recovery. A week later a bird flew into our living room through an open door. It landed on the fireplace hearth edge and looked at my fiancé and pooped and flew off out the door. It landed outside on the ground and looked at me and then flew away. Several days later my dog took a turn for the worse and a couple days later had to be hospitalized and died yesterday. I am heartbroken.
Sally - 15-Oct-12 @ 11:46 PM
On Saturday night Sept. 15/12 around 11:30 p.m. I heard a noise against my kitchen window. It kept on until I investigated and I thought a small bird had gotten caught between the windows. When I came to the window it looked me in the eye and left? The next day I checked outside the window and there was nothing. Why was this bird not sleeping?????
ANNA - 17-Sep-12 @ 4:40 PM
I never heard this omen until tonight. I had a bird get into my apartment through the dryer hole. I have no dryer hooked up and it's used as the cat box room. I got it out of the apartment but in telling one of my co workers about it tonight she told me this omen. Now I am a little freaked out.
Mel - 6-Sep-12 @ 4:56 AM
A young bird flew through our families open door this morning and it was my grandmother who noticed it. I'm afraid of this myth and was wondering if anyone knows a way to keep such things from happening. For instance: smudging, praying, or having the family talk about? any info or help would be greatly appreciated.
DezMan08 - 13-Aug-12 @ 5:48 PM
As I was waiting for the vet to get to my house this morning to lay my kitty to rest, a bird flew into the room. About a half hour later, my kitty was free of pain, and laying peacefully and lifeless. Birds are omens.
Shan - 29-Jul-12 @ 9:25 PM
We regularly have birds coming into the house, we've had pigeons, robins, blackbirds and yesterday the cutest little female sparrow. Birds like sh*t happen, sometimes a bird coincides with a tragedy but so do lollipops, and butterflies and puppies.
vogonsrock - 25-Jul-12 @ 12:55 AM
A bird walked into my house yesterday through a space at the bottom of my screen door. I will keep you updated as to if there are any deaths to follow.
angroc - 25-Jul-12 @ 12:01 AM
I always heard that a bird flying into a home is bad luck. What about bringing one into your home and it dying in your care? It was a baby sparrow that I attempted to raise to be exact.
Pan - 20-Jul-12 @ 5:58 PM
This past friday, while we were out all day, the building manager came into our apartment and was fixing something in the bathroom. He must have had the back door open which leads out to an open porch. A pile of what appears to be bird poop was left on a school notebook. No other sign of a bird's entrance in the apartment though.I know the superstition about birds in the house portending death, but I also know bird poop is supposed to be good luck. How should I interpret this occurrence?
ket - 9-Jul-12 @ 3:51 PM
I was sitting watching t.v. and having a snack. Heard this fluttering sound and a bird was flying around my livingroom all of a sudden! The weird thing is that all the windows and doors are shut, no holes anywhere! I live in an apartment so I had maintenence come in to see if they could find how it got in. We are all FREAKED OUT! There is no way it could have gotten in! Never had the door propped opened today, but three days ago I had it open carrying in grociers. I have a very small apartment and it would have been flying around or pooping every where before tonight. What do you think about this? It HAS ME TOTALLY FREAKED! I would rather have seen a ghost! Then I would know how it got in!
OldLady - 16-Jun-12 @ 12:12 AM
I had a sparrow fly into an open window.Was able to get him to fly out by opening all of the windows in the house.
No one died.
drivetopless - 5-Jun-12 @ 11:45 PM
This is very strange and I hope someone can answer me.In the last 3 weeks, I have found a next full of baby bunnies, the mother had abandoned them and they all died.7 in all.That same day, a baby black bird made it's way into my backyard.The parents were feeding it.It couldn't fly, but wasn't injured.I opened the gate and it wandered out.Never saw it again.This morning, a baby pigeon is now in my yard in the exact same spot the baby black bird was.It's fine.It's parents are also feeding it.I'm getting a bit worried this is a bad omen.Nothing has flown into the house and I don't have a chimney.I haven't heard anything hit the windows either.I just keep finding all these babies in my back yard.I can't seem to find anything regarding this.