Follow the Black Birds

“A furore Normannorum libera nos, Domine”

“From the fury of the Northmen deliver us, O Lord.”

 The Norsemen

The Vikings had an uncanny way of judging speed and wind direction, recognizing current movements and pinpointing the times for high and low tides.  While very little is known about their navigational methodologies and techniques, historians have suggested that they used a form of sundial and had a rudimentary astrolabe that could predict the positions of the Sun, Moon, planets and stars. Viking stories refer to “sun-stones” which may have been natural crystals capable of polarizing skylight.   “Viking’s Compass,” the local name for the mineral cordierite found in Norway, was used to establish the sun’s location by watching its changing colours.

The Vikings ruled the northern seas, but they had a little help from their friends. Those who have lived in the high latitudes are well acquainted with summer days of endless sunshine.  The stars are no match for the brightness of the sun.   Instead, the heavens gave the gift of winged companions.  The Vikings were experts in the behaviour of birds.  If the beak of a seabird was full, they were heading back to land; if it was empty, the seabird was heading out to hunt.  Legends tell of how the Vikings carried caged crows aboard their ships as a safety measure.  If the Vikings lost their way, they would release the crows, knowing that they would instinctively head “as the crow flies” directly for the shores and home.

“Wherever there are birds, there is hope.”
Mehmet Murat ildan

 

 

18 Comments

  1. Gallivanta says:

    I love your final quotation. Our feathered friends are such an integral part of our human story.

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    1. Clanmother says:

      You and I seem to be always in agreement. I often wonder if our winged friend are the superior beings….

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      1. Gallivanta says:

        Especially the old parrots of seafaring tales!

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      2. Clanmother says:

        They were amazing!! 🙂

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  2. cindy knoke says:

    Birds are smarter than we give them credit for. Fascinating~

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    1. Clanmother says:

      They seem to understand more than we do…when it counts, especially when we are lost at sea and can’t find our way home.

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  3. what a great post! this made a great finale of a read before going to sleep!
    zzzzzzzz

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    1. Clanmother says:

      And I woke up to your wonderful comments! Thank you…

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  4. ciao! hope…great shot.
    thebestdressup

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    1. Clanmother says:

      Thank you so much!!!

      Ci vediamo!!

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  5. Thats a Great Story Rebecca :), I love the idea of them actually carnying Crows to home to land – Brilliant…

    Thank you!

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    1. Clanmother says:

      I am looking at crows a lot differently now. As Sitting Bull once said, “It is not necessary for eagles to be crows.”

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  6. Ms Frances says:

    Little birds have been known to guide children lost in the woods back home to safety. Do they have a hidden sense and watchful eye that we can’t see?

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    1. Clanmother says:

      You and I know that it was a Loon that guided me back to safety…

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  7. Interesting about the sea bird and their full or empty beaks!! I’ve never heard that one before, but I’m sure it’s very accurate! So next time I’m going on a long journey by water I’ll have to look out for the sea birds if I get lost, or carry a collection of crows!! 😀

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    1. Clanmother says:

      You and me both – never thought to look at the beaks!! But if I lost my way, I am certain I would look for any sign. Thanks for stopping by and for your comments.

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  8. Ed Spadoni says:

    Who knew that the first GPS was a crow?! Great post.

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    1. Clanmother says:

      Thanks so much! After reading about navigation this past week, I am starting to question whether humanity is the most advanced species on this planet.

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