Love is definitely in the air. 

As we wing our way toward the big day, looking for birds in the sky, in the trees, on the water and all about might provide some answers for spouse seekers. Valentine’s Day comes whether you like it or not. So for all you singles out there, a bird may be just what you need to see into your romantic future. 

Ornithomancy is the art, science and historic practice of reading signs from birds to make predictions. It was practiced by ancient Greeks, Romans and — especially gifted in the art — Etruscans. Romans, like the Greeks, wouldn’t begin a session of their government or a war without consulting “the auguries,” a Latin word referring to birds. The custom of avian auguries is explained by a bird in Aristophanes’s play The Birds:

“We are your oracles — your Ammon, Delphi, Dodona and your Apollo. You don’t start on anything without first consulting the birds, whether it’s about business affairs, making a living, or getting married. Every prophecy that involves a decision you classify as a bird. To you, a significant remark is a bird; you call a sneeze a bird, a chance meeting is a bird, a sound, a servant, or a donkey — all birds. So clearly, we are your gods of prophecy.” 

And, so, what do the love birds say about your future mate? On Valentine’s Day, get your binoculars and note the first bird you see.  Each feathered friend has something to tell you. 

Consider yourself unlucky in love if you see a woodpecker and want to wed, as they signal an unmarried life. If you are already wedded, watch out for crows, as they suggest that you should leave your current partner. Don’t despair in either case, as marriage — and ornithomancy — isn’t for everyone. 

Doves predict a happy and loving marriage with a kind-hearted spouse, while swans portend a loyal and lifelong partner. If you are wishing for a fun-loving and good-natured mate, and one that will make you smile, look for a bluebird.  

For a homey and stable life, a duck is your bird. Knowledgeable Islanders will know where to find ducks, which kind of tips the scale in their favor. Travelers will do well to see a gull, which means a lifetime of voyages and adventure.

Bird oracles also have something to say about the livelihood of your future partners.   

A nuthatch hints that your spouse will be a logical type — perhaps a scientist or a mathematician — while a robin sighting will lead you to a spouse who works on the water, such as a naval officer or fisherperson.  

Dream of meeting a healer such as a doctor, masseuse, or other caregiver? A canary is your species. For green singles, look for a turkey, which is believed to bring an environmentalist-type. Blackbirds produce a spiritual spouse — a clergy or someone who does charity work. A bird of prey will lead you to a business person, politician or some sort of leader. 

Be cautious of peacocks, as they may bring a partner who is prideful and takes great stock in their appearance. Crossbills foretell finding someone with an argumentative nature. 

If you desire a country life, or to work the land, a sparrow is your favorite. And for those who seek a homebody or want to remain in their hometown, a pigeon is what you pursue. For financial security, a goldfinch will bring you a person of means; and a kingfisher sees someone who is already successful and with inherited riches. 

These are only ideas from bird lore and tradition. Don’t let them divert you from the true rara avis: a devoted partner.

A little bird told me that’s the greatest prize of all.

Suzan Bellincampi is Islands director for Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary in Edgartown and the Nantucket Wildlife Sanctuaries. She is also the author of Martha’s Vineyard: A Field Guide to Island Nature and The Nature of Martha’s Vineyard.