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For the Birds
pileated woodpecker.jpg

I’m not one to put a lot of stock in omens, but every once in awhile you have experiences that make you wonder if they are significant, especially if they come in threes. (I’m not superstitious either.)  In the past four days, I’ve had three experiences that some cultures would say are symbolic and prophetic.  Others would say they are totems to pay attention to, and some might say that the spiritual world is sending me a message.  I’m still trying to figure out what they mean.

Three weeks ago, I cleaned my hummingbird feeder removing the winter grime, and refreshed the nectar complete with red food coloring.  It has hung on a hook on the deck untouched ever since.  Over dinner on a rare warm Seattle evening, I asked my husband why the hummingbirds hadn’t been back.  He said they were probably just waiting for the right time.  Within minutes, a hummingbird hovered three feet in front of my face, almost announcing his presence and as I held my breath, afraid to breath, it zipped off for greener pastures.  In some cultures, like the Andes, the hummingbird is a symbol of resurrection.  In various native tribes, the hummingbird is seen as a symbol of peace, love and wonder. They appear to guide you through life’s challenges.  Their quick maneuverability reminds us to look back at our past, but not to dwell there.  They propel us to move forward with energy and savor the sweetness in our planet’s beauty.  Sighting a hummingbird is seen as good luck.

On that same evening, after the hummingbird had departed, a single crow disturbed the quiet of the evening and soon was joined by at least a dozen other like-minded crows to create a raucous chorus. Crows are common creatures in our neighborhood and it is hard for me to revere them as sacred creatures but in many cultures they are.  Sacred or not, this chorus of cawing built into a frenzy that caught my eye as a kafuffle took place high atop a pine tree and before I knew it the pack of crows were heading toward me flying in a rather imperfect “V” formation.  As I looked up, I realized they were chasing an eagle, and not any eagle, a bald eagle with at least a seven foot wing span.  The eagle flew over my head only a mere twenty feet above me.  I could see its yellow beak, its strong talons, and with a few strokes of its wings it outdistanced its chasers.  Eagles symbolize courage, power, and the Mayan’s believe the eagle is affiliated with the dawning sun and appear to shine light onto our world.  Whether the eagle symbolizes Zeus coming down from Mt. Olympus or the Great Spirit in native cultures, it endures as a totem of strength, courage, power and leadership.

Finally, today as I was sitting in a business office, I looked out the window to see a pileated woodpecker searching for insects on the trunk of an evergreen tree.  Its red head and black and white striped head stood out against the gray bark.  Both elegant and striking, I was taken by its sudden appearance in such an unlikely place.  The symbol of the woodpecker is dominant in many cultures and can denote a need to be opportunistic and look for sustenance (like insects in a dead tree) in unlikely habitats.  The woodpecker is akin to the sign of Aries (my sign) in astrology and attracts trailblazers and those who take initiative.  The woodpecker stands for perseverance, diligence, and doggedness.

So, what does it all mean?  Perhaps I’m just lucky.  Or perhaps someone is trying to send a message that is masked in omen and spectacle, a message that is if not for the birds, is from the birds.

© Kelly Tweeddale 2012

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Kelly, Whatever the omen,


Whatever the omen, it's always a good sign when birds come around. I just love to watch them do their "bird-y thing." It makes me pause for a few minutes during my own "busy-ness" and reflect on their beauty, even those noisy, annoying crows!