Culture

What Valentine's Day Birds Can Tell You About Your Love Life

In ancient times, birds were used to predict the future. Here’s what they could reveal about your soul mate to-be.

It’s almost February 14: Cue the flowers, the gifts, the couples canoodling on every street corner. It’s all very festive—unless you’re single. But not to worry, your soul mate is out there, and there’s an easy, fun way to find out what type of person she or he might be. All you have to do is go outdoors and meet a bird—not a date—on Valentine's Day.

Here’s how it works. Back in ancient times, Greeks and Romans used a practice called ornithomancy to interpret their bird sightings and get a glimpse into the future. (The practice came from a branch of Roman religion and is mentioned in classics like The Bible and The Odyssey.) According to this avian soothsaying, the first bird a single person sees on Valentine’s Day is a symbol of his or her life partner; different species are tied with different human traits to forecast what this true love will be like. Below, we've drawn up a list of these ancient prophecies to help you match your bird to your romantic fate. Happy hunting!

Riches for Goldfinches

This handsome bird’s bright yellow coat is a sign that pure gold is heading your way. The yellower the feathers, the richer the mate, so sighting a male goldfinch might be in your best interests. Search for this avian Trump in weedy fields, munching on sunflower seeds and thistle plants. If you live in New Jersey, Iowa, or Washington (where the American Goldfinch is the state bird), you might not have to go far—chances are you’ll see one hanging out at a backyard feeder.

Kindness for Blackbirds

The glossy black garb of these songbirds reflects spirituality and charity. So, if you spot a Brewer’s Blackbird, for example, you might just end up marrying a Peace Corps volunteer or a vicar. To find this generous partner, carefully scan busy streets, parks, or coastal grasslands—these birds cope quite well with humans and have no problem foraging for food underfoot.

Power for Birds of Prey

Any guess what type of person raptors represent? These birds are mighty, swift, and regal, but are also known to bully other (weaker) birds. Seeing a bird of prey this Valentine’s Day is a sign that you’re destined to wed a businessperson, politician, or someone who’s a natural-born leader.

Take the Bald Eagle, for example. Not only is this majestic bird our national emblem, it’s also a terrific flier with razor-sharp talons that can crush bone. There’s no denying that eagles are awesome, even if they do steal food from smaller birds. After all, it’s just another business transaction in their book.

Knowledge for Nuthatches

Running into these clever little creatures means that your prospective spouse will be intelligent—perhaps a mathematician or a scientist. If you have a soft spot for nerds, look for White-breasted Nuthatches—the largest of their kind—in mature woodlands where they forage on tree bark (they often does this upside-down and sideways, so they’re definitely inventive).

Here are several other birds and the types of sweethearts they prophesize:

Bluebird: They like to make people laugh, e.g. a comedian or clown.

Duck: Your relationship will be homey and stable.

Sparrow: They work with the land, e.g. a farmer or geologist.

Dove: Your marriage will be happy.

Canary: They’re involved in healing, e.g. a doctor or masseuse.

Turkey: They love nature and are passionate about the environment, e.g. an activist or birder (!). 

Swan: They’re creative, e.g. a writer or dancer.