No one knows better than a bird of the air where treasures are concealed.
- Aristophanes The Birds
I'm not a bird watcher, I can't pick out rare birds at a hundred yards, but I know the basics. I can spot a finch, a blue jay, a cardinal, a sparrow, a woodpecker, crows, and my special friends, hawks.
In Etruscan Magic, Leland wrote about birds in regard to finding treasure and in Aristophanes' The Birds, the scene opens up with two characters each carrying a bird to point the way to go. Etruscan augurium ex avium was concerned with the sounds birds made as well as the number of birds and the pattern of their flight.
We have some records of the Roman practice of Augury. We can only wonder if it was imported entirely from the Etruscans, or changed to suit the Romans, or both.
Something interesting from the holy wiki:
The lituus was a crooked wand (similar in shape to the top part of a crosier) used as a cult instrument in ancient Roman religion by augurs to mark out a ritual space in the sky (a templum). The passage of birds through this templum indicated divine favor or disfavor for a given undertaking.
A templum was the sacred space defined by an augur for ritual purposes, a place "cut off" as sacred. It could be created as temporary or permanent, depending on the lawful purpose of the inauguration. Auspices and senate meetings were unlawful unless held in a templum; if the senate house (Curia) was unavailable, an augur could apply the appropriate religious formulae to provide a lawful alternative.
To create a templum, the augur aligned his zone of observation (auguraculum, a square, portable surround) with the cardinal points of heaven and earth. The altar and entrance were sited on the east-west axis: the sacrificer faced east. The precinct was thus "defined and freed" (effatum et liberatum).
In most cases, signs to the augur's left (north) showed divine approval and signs to his right (south), disapproval. Stone-built temples followed this ground-plan and were sacred in perpetuity.
I've been quite taken with the pattern of bird flight lately. Look up, they'll let you know what's going on. I'm a believer in personal symbolism when it comes to divination be it tarot, tea leaves, pendulum or bird flight patterns: If you think a rose is a good omen, then it's a sign of good omen if it comes up in a tarot spread or in the formation of the tea leaves, or in the pattern of the birds.
If you take the time to center, you can see what the birds are telling us, and hear it too.
What does the pattern look like?
What is the sound? The rhythm?
Who is the bird sacred to?
Where in the sky?
Which direction are they traveling?
It's a big difference in meaning to have sparrows fly in a certain pattern or to have hawks fly in that pattern!
This is not only employed with flocks of birds, but also with single birds you might encounter through the day. I've often had birds chime in at different points in rituals when celebrating outside. This is the kind of this children learn at their parent's and grandparent's knee. It's typically a see and do process, not a lecture and private practice.
To start is easy, especially if you have any kind of background in divination and/or meditation:
Breathe, tune in to your blood flow, listen, look, receive, record
May your bird watching be auspicious!