When it comes to the truly unknown aspects of life, such as myth and magic, it is up to each of us to choose what we want to believe. Personally, I think that believing in a little magic can be a positive and joyful experience.
So when a small mixed-species flock of birds appeared at my office window yesterday, I was curious about not only the scientific reason for such flocking, but also the mythical messages behind such behavior.
The flock appeared suddenly and contained several Carolina wrens, a few cardinals (male and female), some blue-gray gnatcatchers, and a downy woodpecker. There were probably 6 or 7 birds, which arrived en masse, squawking and chirping as they almost appeared to be looking at me through the window.
My first thought was that there was a predator outside and they had joined together, emitting their warning calls to try to scare the intruder away. Although I didn’t see a predator when I went outside to check, I did find an article online entitled Mid-Species Flocking on the Stanford University website which seemed to verify this theory, by stating ” It is not uncommon to find birds of several species flocking together. One reason may be that such flocking increases the number of eyes and ears available to detect predators and may confuse them as many individuals flee at once.” The article went on to say: ” Next to predator defense, however, the most popular hypothesis to explain the formation of mixed-species flocks is an increase in feeding efficiency.”
To me, I have always liked to believe that there is a bit of magic associated with nature and the little creatures that share my yard. So I did a little research for the symbolic meaning of birds at a window.
The Divine Lotus Healing website had this to say about bird symbolism:
“Birds are amazing creatures that have much to share with people from the shamanistic traditions of the world. They are quick thinkers, happy in nature, and bring great joy to those who are open to receiving their messages.
When a person is on a spiritual path and they are opening or awakening to their journey, birds will appear, often flying next to the vehicle the person is driving in, as a sign of opening or moving closer to knowing what their path is. Birds will come to your place of residence and perch outside the windows, calling and chirping, bringing joy and happiness.”
I also tried to look up the symbolic meaning of the various bird species and did find a few of them. A website called What’s Your Sign.com listed meanings for the wren, the woodpecker and the cardinal.
According to that site, on a page titled the Celtic meaning of wrens, ” The wren may be tiny, but she packs a powerful symbolic message, encouraging us to go beyond the realm of the “known” and to access the adventure that waits for us!” They represent Friendliness, Sharing, and Creativity.
The site’s page on woodpeckers says : “The symbolic meaning of woodpeckers also point to a need for creative vision. Being opportunistic, woodpeckers can see value everywhere, even in dead trees. Have you ditched an idea or given up on a project? The woodpecker may be trying to tell you to breathe new life into your project, just as they build new homes into dead trees.” They represent Protection, Opportunity, Balance and Communication.
About cardinals, the site said, “Those who attract the cardinal as their totem are naturally energetic, love life, and happily help others where/when they can.” Cardinals represent Hope, Love, Cheer, Pride, Focus, Energy and Renewal.
And according to Andrea Wansbury, who wrote a book entitled “Birds: Divine Messengers”,
“The message of a woodpecker is SECURITY. Are you feeling a little insecure about life? Are you not moving forward in life because you are afraid of the unknown, and you’ll only do so if you can be guaranteed a positive and secure outcome? Are you relying too much on outside means to make you feel secure, like other people, or a big bank balance? Whatever it is, the woodpecker is trying to tell you that it is time for you to develop a true sense of inner security – that feeling that no matter what happens around you, you’ll always be safe.”
It’s fun to believe in myth and magic, but to me, the scientific wonders of the world are just as magical. Mixed species travelling en-masse to help protect and feed each other certainly seem to represent sharing, creativity, opportunity, focus and all of the other “magical” meanings listed above.
Whatever you believe, I encourage you to get outside and appreciate the wonders of the world around you. The experience is bound to add much more magic and meaning to your life.