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



Published by Rebecca Budd

Blogger, Visual Storyteller, Podcaster, Traveler and Life-long Learner

18 thoughts on “Follow the Black Birds

  1. 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?


  2. 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!! 😀


    1. 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.


    1. 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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