60 birdwatchersdigest.com • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER ’ 17 • BIRD WATCHER’S DIGEST
We weren’t that superstitious.
Well, Grandpa was. He thought it
was bad luck to work during any
week that had a Monday in it.
Birds have long been thought
to be associated with otherworldly powers. The ability to
fly gives a bird a mystical quality that many look to as a portent. A bird flying into a house
through a door or window was
said to foretell a death. If that
were true, there would be only
11 humans left.
“I opened the door and a bird
flew in,” I could hear myself telling the investigating police officer
from the homicide department.
“Are you the butler?” he’d ask,
eyeing me suspiciously.
I took a class on superstitions
and their meanings. The instructor felt that the original superstition was that when a bird flew in
through an open window, circled
the room or landed on the back
of someone’s chair, and then
flew back out, it was saying that
someone who lived in that dwelling was about to buy the farm.
There was no time frame.
Supposedly, Lucille Ball was
terrified of birds. Lucy refused
to stay in any hotel room that
had images of birds. No birds or
pictures of birds were allowed in
her home. Reportedly, she had
Japanese silk print wallpaper
that ran $90 a roll torn from the
front hallway of her Beverly Hills
home because shadowy images
of birds were part of its pattern.
Ornithophobia sounds goofy, but
who am I to question anyone’s
sanity? I’m afraid of microwave
ovens. There is a fine line between
sanity and insanity. Some people
think that line is clearly the keeping of a list of birds seen in cartoons. That hurts.
Superstitions were a way that
our ancestors tried to make
sense of an existence that seemed
capricious and frightening. They
didn’t have microwave ovens to
concentrate their fears upon.
In these enlightened days,
few people think that having a
bird fly into a house is bad news.
Our cat, Purl (a housecat that
never sets a paw outdoors, but is