Animal Ghosts or Animal Hauntings and the Hereafter by Elliott O'Donnell
VII BIRDS AND THE UNKNOWN
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As Edgar Allan Poe has suggested in his immortal poem of "The Raven," there is a strong link between certain species of birds and the Unknown.
We all know that vultures, kites and crows scent dead bodies from a great way off, but we don't all know that these and other kinds of birds possess, in addition, the psychic property of scenting the advent not only of the phantom of death, but of many, if not, indeed, all other spirits. Within my knowledge there have been cases when, before a death in the house, ravens, jackdaws, canaries, magpies, and even parrots, have shown unmistakable signs of uneasiness and distress. The raven has croaked in a high-pitched, abnormal key; the jackdaw and canary have become silent and dejected, from time to time shivering; the magpie even has feigned death; the parrot has shrieked incessantly. Owls, too, are sure predictors of death, and may be heard hooting in the most doleful manner outside the house of anyone doomed to die shortly.
In an article entitled "Psychic Records," the editor of the _Occult Review_ (in the August number, 1905) supplies the following anecdotes of ghosts of birds furnished him by his correspondents.
"In the autumn of 1877 my husband was lying seriously ill with rheumatic fever, and I had sat up several nights. At last the doctors insisted on my going to bed; and very unwillingly I retired to a spare room. While undressing I was surprised to see a very large white bird come from the fireplace, make a hovering circle round me, and finally go to the top of a large double chest of drawers. I was too tired to trouble about it, and thought I would let it remain until morning. The next morning I said to the housemaid:
"'There was a large bird in the spare room last night, which flew to the top of the drawers. See that it is put out.'
"The nurse, who was present, said:
"'Oh, dear, ma'am, I am afraid that is an omen, and means the master won't live,' and she was confirmed in her opinion by the maid saying she had searched, and there was no trace of any bird.
"I was quite angry, as my husband was decidedly better, had slept through the night, and we thought the crisis had passed. I went to his bedside and found him quietly sleeping, but he never woke, and in about an hour passed quietly away.
"I thought no more of the bird, fancying I must have been mistaken from being overtired.
"Some months after my husband's death my youngest little one was born; he lived for twelve months, and then had an attack of bronchitis. He slept in a cot in my room, and I was undressing one night, when this same large white bird came from his cot, floated round me, and disappeared in the fireplace. At the time I did not for a moment think of it as anything but a strange coincidence, and in no way connected it with baby's illness.
"The next morning I was sitting by the drawing-room fire with baby on my lap. The doctor came in, looked at him, sounded his chest, and pronounced him much better. As he was a friend of the family, he sat down on the other side of the fireplace and was chatting in an ordinary way, when he suddenly jumped up with an exclamation, 'Why, what does this mean?' and took the child from my arms quite dead!
"For two years we saw nothing more of the white bird, and we had moved to another place.
"One day I was in my room, and my two little girls, aged six and eight, were standing at the window watching a kitten in the garden, when suddenly the youngest cried out:
"'Oh, mamma! Look at that great white bird,' putting her hands as if to catch it, exactly in the way it flies round one.
"I saw nothing, and the elder child said, 'Don't be silly, Jessie; there is no bird.'
"'But there is,' said the child. 'Don't you see? There, look! There it is!'
"I looked at my watch. It was twenty minutes past three.
"Two days after we received the news that a niece of mine had died at twenty minutes past three. The children had never known anything of the former appearances, as we had never talked about it before them. We have seen nothing since of the bird, but have for some years had no death in the family."
So runs the article in the _Occult Review_, and I can corroborate it with similar experiences that have happened to my friends and to me.