I had a couple of birds fly into my house recently. Two of them. At the same time. They were in cahoots with each other! Or, more likely, they were mates.

Most everyone has probably heard that it’s bad luck for a bird to fly into your dwelling. Some of you may have even heard that it means someone will die.

Folklorist Vance Randolph got some interesting feedback from Ozarkers on this subject back in the early half of the 20th century.

What it really boils down to is confirmation that a bird in the house just isn’t a good thing at all, fate-wise, no matter which way you chew the matter. In fact, it’s apparently a bad sign if a bird even raps on your window, trying to get in.

Turtledoves, in particular, swooping in through your door means imminent death for “someone” – I presume that “someone” being one of the occupants of the home. Or maybe it’s just “someone” the residents know.

That mysterious question applies no matter what kind of bird it is, and I’d sort of like to know what the answer is, seeing as how I experienced it recently, though in my case the birds that rudely invited themselves in through an open back door were sparrows, not turtledoves.

I guess it could have been worse. It could have been a bat. According to Mr. Randolph, that is worse than any run-of-the-mill songbird.

However, the very worst of the worst bird to have fly into your house so far as life and death is concerned is… an owl. You probably already guessed that. If an owl flies in, you’re dead. Or “someone” is.

What is it about the poor owl that scares so many people? I’ve always sort of liked owls – from a distance. But in Native American and Ozark culture both, the owl is just a feathered ball of bad, bad, news.

The old Ozark superstition, recorded by Randolph, is that if anyone is sick inside the house that an owl flies into, you must kill the owl and lay its body upon the chest of the sick person or it means absolute death for the patient.

You know, if I woke up to find a dead owl on my chest I think the shock might kill me anyway. I have a bit of a phobia about all fowl anyway, in that I don’t like to touch them – dead or alive.

Going back to the poor, perhaps misjudged owl, here’s a quick story: A friend of mine and a Native American friend of his were traveling down Ozark backroads one night, when they suddenly came upon an owl just sitting in the middle of the road.

The owl turned its head toward the headlights and probably made an effort to fly, but my buddy, who was driving, couldn’t stop in time and the car ran right into and over the poor owl.

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