VIEW THE MOBILE VERSION of Informational Site Network Informational

Welsh Folk Lore - Birds And Beasts.

Music And Bird Singing Heard Before Death
The writer, both in Denbighshire and Carnarvonshire, was to...

Birds And Beasts
Folk-lore respecting animals is common in Wales. It has been...

Birds Singing Before February
Should the feathered songsters sing before February it is a...

Birds Flocking In Early Autumn
When birds gather themselves together and form flocks in th...

Birds' Feathers
Feather beds should be made of domestic birds' feathers, su...

The Cock
Caesar, Bk. v., c.12, tells us that the Celtic nation did n...

Cock-fighting was once common in Wales, and it was said tha...

The Goose
Should a goose lay a soft egg, a small egg, or two eggs in ...

The Crow
The crow figures much in Welsh folk-lore. In many ways he ...

Crows' Feathers
In Montgomeryshire it was, at one time, supposed that if a ...

The Cuckoo Y Gog
The cuckoo is a sacred bird. It is safe from the gamekeepe...

A White Cock
A white cock was looked upon as an unlucky bird, thus:-- ...

The crane is often mistaken for the heron. When the crane ...

When ducks sportively chase each other through the water, a...

Persons who had eaten eagle's flesh had power to cure erysipe...

The Goat Sucker
A curious notion prevailed respecting this bird, arrived at...

Putting Hens To Sit
Placing the eggs in the nest for hens, geese, and ducks to ...

The Heron
The heron as it flies slowly towards the source of a river ...

The Jackdaw
This bird is considered sacred, because it frequents church...

The Magpie
The magpie was considered a bird of ill-omen. No one liked t...

The Owl
The hooting of an owl about a house was considered a sign o...

The peacock's shrill note is a sign of rain. Its call is s...

If the sick asks for a pigeon pie, or the flesh of a pigeon...

The Raven
The raven has ever enjoyed a notoriously bad name as a bird...

Robin Redbreast
Ill luck is thought to follow the killer of dear Robin Redb...

The Sea Gull
It is believed that when sea gulls leave the sea for the mo...

The Swallow
The joy with which the first swallow is welcomed is almost ...

The Swan
The eggs of the swan are hatched by thunder and lightning. ...

The Swift
This bird's motions are looked upon as weather signs. Its ...

Tit Major Or Sawyer
The Rev. E. V. Owen, Vicar of Llwydiarth, Montgomeryshire, ...

The Wren
The Wren's life is sacred, excepting at one time of the yea...

The Wood Pigeon
The thrice repeated notes of five sounds, with an abrupt no...

The Magpie Teaching A Wood Pigeon How To Make A Nest
The wood pigeon makes an untidy nest, consisting of a few b...

The woodpecker's screech was a sign of rain. This bird is ...

The stripe over the shoulders of the ass is said to have be...

The Bee
The little busy bee has been from times of old an object of...

Buying A Hive Of Bees
In the central parts of Denbighshire people suppose that a ...

Time Of Bee Swarming
The month in which bees swarm is considered of the greatest...

The Day Of Swarming
Sunday is the favourite day for bee swarming. Country peop...

Luck Comes With A Strange Swarm
It is considered very lucky indeed to find that a strange s...

It Is Considered Unlucky For Bees To Fly Away From Their Owner
As the coming of a strange swarm of bees is indicative of g...

Bees In A Roof
It was thought lucky when bees made their home in the roof,...

Informing Bees Of A Death In A Family
Formerly it was the custom to tell the bees of a death in t...

Putting Bees In Mourning
This is done after a death in a family, and the bees are pu...

Stolen Bees
It was believed that stolen bees would not make honey, and ...

A Swarm Entering A House
Should a swarm enter a house, it was considered unlucky, an...

The cat was thought to be a capital weather glass. If she ...

Cows Kneeling on Christmas Morn. In the upland parishe...

It is lucky to have crickets in a house, and to kill one is...

Caesar, bk. v., ch. xii., states that the Celts do not rega...

The haddock has a dark spot on each side its gills, and sup...

It was believed that hedgehogs sucked cows, and so firmly w...

A white horse figures in the superstition of school childre...

This pretty spotted little beetle was used formerly in the ...

A mouse nibbling clothes was a sign of disaster, if not dea...

Moles are said to have no eyes. If mole hills move there w...

Pigs used to be credited with the power of seeing the wind....

The Snake Serpent
The snake was supposed to be able to understand what men sa...

Flying Serpents
The traditional origin of these imaginary creatures was tha...

Snake Rings Or Glain Nadroedd
Mention is made in Camden of snake rings. Omitting certain...

It was thought that the devil could assume any animal's for...

The long-legged spider, or, as it is generally called in Wa...

The Squirrel
Hunting this sprightly little animal became at Christmas th...

The Blind Worm Or Slow Worm
This reptile is a snake, varying from twelve to eighteen in...

The Magpie


The magpie was considered a bird of ill-omen. No one liked to see a
magpie when starting on a journey, but in certain parts of
Montgomeryshire, such as the parish of Llanwnog, if the magpie flew from
left to right it foretold good luck; in other parts, such as
Llansantffraid, if seen at all, it was considered a sign of bad luck.

However, fortunately, a person could make void this bad luck, for he had
only to spit on the ground, and make a cross with his finger, or stick,
through the spittle, and boldly say--

Satan, I defy thee,

and the curse, or bad luck, indicated by the appearance of the magpie,
could not then come.

The number of magpies seen implied different events. It was a common

One's grief, two's mirth,
Three's a marriage, four's a birth;

and another rendering of the above heard in Montgomeryshire was:--

One for bad luck,
Two for good luck,
Three for a wedding,
Four for a burying.

Another ditty is as follows:--

One's joy, two's greet (crying),
Three's a wedding, four's a sheet (death).

As stated above, one is grief, or bad luck, if it flies from right to
left, but if from left to right it implied success or joy. So these
various readings can only be reconciled by a little verbal explanation,
but four's a birth cannot be made to be an equivalent to four's a
sheet, a winding sheet, or a burying, by any amount of ingenuity.

Should a magpie be seen stationary on a tree, it was believed that the
direction in which it took its flight foretold either success or disaster
to the person who observed it. If it flew to the left, bad luck was to
follow; if to the right, good luck; if straight, the journey could be
undertaken, provided the bird did not turn to the left whilst in sight,
but disappeared in that direction.

I heard the following tale in Denbighshire:--In days of old, a company of
men were stealthily making their way across the country to come upon the
enemy unawares. All at once they espied a magpie on a tree, and by
common consent they halted to see which way it would take its flight, and
thus foretell the fortune which would attend their journey. One of the
party, evidently an unbeliever in his comrades' superstition, noiselessly
approached the bird, and shot it dead, to the great horror of his
companions. The leader of the party, in great anger, addressed the
luckless archer--You have shot the bird of fate, and you shall be shot.
The dauntless man said, I shot the magpie, it is true, but if it could
foretell our fate, why could it not foresee its own? The archer's
reasoning was good, but I do not know whether people were convinced by
logic in those distant times, any more than they are in ours.

I will relate one other tale of the magpie, which I heard upwards of
twenty years ago in the parish of Llanwnog, Montgomeryshire.

I was speaking to a farmer's wife--whose name it is not necessary to
give, as it has nothing to do with the tale--when a magpie flew across
our view. Ah! she ejaculated, you naughty old thing, what do you want
here? I see, said I, you think she brings bad luck with her. Oh,
yes, was the response, I know she does. What makes you so positive,
said I, that she brings bad luck with her? My question elicited the
following story. My friend commenced:--You know the brook at the bottom
of the hill. Well, my mother met with very bad luck there, a good many
years ago, and it was in this way--she was going to Newtown fair, on our
old horse, and she had a basket of eggs with her. But, just as she was
going to leave the 'fould,' a magpie flew before her. We begged of her
not to go that day--that bad luck would attend her. She would not listen
to us, but started off. However, she never got further than the brook,
at the bottom of the hill, for, when she got there, the old mare made
straight for the brook, and jerked the bridle out of mother's hand, and
down went the mare's head to drink, and off went the basket, and poor
mother too. All the eggs were broken, but I'm glad to say mother was not
much the worse for her fall. But ever since then I know it is unlucky to
see a magpie. But sir, she added, there is no bad luck for us to-day,
for the magpie flew from left to right.

The magpie was thought to be a great thief, and it was popularly supposed
that if its tongue were split into two with silver it could talk like a

The cry of the magpie is a sign of rain. To man its dreaded notes
indicated disaster, thus:--

Clyw grechwen nerth pen, iaith pi--yn addaw
Newyddion drwg i mi.

List! the magpie's hoarse and bitter cry
Shows that misfortune's sigh is nigh.

If this bird builds her nest at the top of a tree the summer will be dry;
if on the lower branches, the summer will be wet.

Next: The Owl

Previous: The Jackdaw

Add to Add to Reddit Add to Digg Add to Add to Google Add to Twitter Add to Stumble Upon
Add to Informational Site Network

Viewed 2109