May 2023 Horoscopes: Birds of a Feather…Kill Together!
So, as you may have caught on, May’s horoscopes are soaring to new heights with our feathered partners-in-horror! Let the hunt for prey begin as we take to the skies–or even all the way out to the stars!
Disclaimer: These are mock horoscopes and are meant for entertainment purposes only, and are not representative of any particular person or people. For sources, I relied on my own observations of birds I spotted in the wild, or encountered at the wildlife rehabilitation center I worked at, as well as utilizing the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s “All About Birds” online database for more info on some of the birds listed below.
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Taurus (April 20—May 20). Sadly, vultures, in general, get a bad rap. Personally, I think they’re among the more fascinating members of the avian world. I selected these gentle and sociable birds for Taurus, because vultures have strong family ties, and typically gather in large flocks. During flight, they are sometimes mistaken for hawks, but you can tell the difference in the wing. Vulture wings have a tattered appearance, with the feathers curved up at the ends, as opposed to the wings of hawks, for example, which present a more uniform appearance when soaring or diving. Dining with a View: No VIP dining preferences here; savvy vultures will take food when and where they find it, and they’ll often be hopping around on the ground, helping themselves to the leftovers from other birds and nonhuman animals. They do roost in trees, however, and if you’re lucky enough to come across their roosting area, it’s an amazing experience. I was canoeing on the back waterways of Florida, following a bend in the river, and suddenly there they all were: hundreds of Black Vultures roosting in the trees lining the banks—stretching out their wings and having a jolly old confab while they waited for the sun to rise higher in the sky. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/browse/taxonomy/Cathartidae
Gemini (May 21—June 20). Just as Geminis are the zodiac’s shapeshifters, the American Bittern is the swamp version. Often hiding in plain sight, the American Bittern’s markings enable it to blend in perfectly with the swamp grasses. When on the hunt, the American Bittern holds their neck and head in an upright position, swaying gently from side to side, mimicking the motion of a blade of grass wafting in the wind. You probably won’t even know a bittern is there—so perfect is their camouflage—until they begin to move. I, myself, have seen a bittern exactly once, and when I realized I was looking at an American Bittern through my binoculars, you can bet I let out a gasp of astonishment. If you’re trying to catch a glimpse of this sneaky bird, it’s best to do as I did, and patiently scan the area where the grass meets the water. Dining with a View: These secretive birds tend to roost, and nest, amongst the protection of the grasslands, only emerging from that safe haven in order to hunt food.1 You’re not really in danger from these birds—unless you’re an insect, fish, or other amphibious life form. However, as with other herons and other wading hunters, beware that sharp bill! https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_Bittern/overview
Cancer (June 21—July 22). The Cancer’s feathered counterpart would be among the birds that dart along the water’s edge—a Least Sandpiper or a Dunlin, for example. They’re not picky about the company they keep either, and are always ready to mingle with other shorebirds, chattering to each other with a steady stream of peeps as they go about the more serious business of food gathering. They’re also not as discriminating about what they are eating—anything they can get is fair game, even vegetation and seeds will do in a pinch. And, you guessed it, not even the Cancer’s symbolic representation, the crab, is safe from the probing bills of these active feeders. Plus, as the Cancer prefers equitable partnerships with fair division of labour, they’ll be even more drawn to studying the habits and ways of the birds belonging to the Scolopacidae family. Dining with a View: These birds make their cozy nest on the ground, often tucked away in grasses. The male makes the nest, and, in the case of the Least Sandpiper, the male takes over the care of the chicks once they fledge.2 https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/browse/taxonomy/Scolopacidae
Leo (July 23—August 22). Splashy Leos will be represented by one of the most distinctive showstoppers of the avian world—the Roseate Spoonbill. In addition to the unique spoon-shaped bill that they sweep through the water to scoop up food, their plumage is a lovely pinkish white, accentuated by patches of darker rose. And, yes, they have the most amazing red-hued eyes. If you’ve been as fortunate as I have to see these birds up close and personal in nature, you’ll want to give them a standing ovation, for sure! Don’t expect them to give you the time of day though—while fond of hanging out with other A-lister birds such as “herons, egrets, or ibises”3, you won’t even make it onto this bird’s radar. They’re supremely focused on gathering food to sustain their fabulous coat of feathers. Dining with a View: As tempted as you might be to pay your respects, these birds may be difficult to spot in the wild, as they nest high (or deep) in trees like mangroves or thick shoreline shrubbery.4 (Please be aware that these special birds often nest, live, and forage in protected natural areas. No matter how starstruck you might be by this unusual bird, please respect their privacy, and try not to invade or disturb their rookery.) https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Roseate_Spoonbill/overview
Virgo (August 23—September 22). Virgos are almost invariably associated with hard work, being classified as one of the most industrious signs of the zodiac. And also the quietest and most overlooked workers, because of their unassuming and humble nature. They’ll be as patient and determined as their avian counterpart, the Ladder-backed Woodpecker. And, while this species of woodpecker is supremely efficient in their food-gathering activities, they are also uniquely adaptable, and often subvert the status quo and/or the established (natural) order in their quest of said efficiency. They’re the most quixotically quietest rebels you’ll find, and, in a rarity of occurrence, nature will often adapt itself to woodpeckers as a whole, as other bird species will take advantage of the woodpecker’s food-gathering and nesting practices to maximize their own chances of survival. Dining with a View: Got a dead tree you’re just “pining” to take down? Well, if you’re a woodpecker lover, it’s better to leave it standing! Woodpeckers, as well as other bird species, will take advantage of a seemingly dead tree to both nest and forage in. Dead trees are just as important to a viable ecosystem as live trees, if not more so. All of the woodpecker’s favourite foodstuffs can inhabit dead trees: worms, insects, ants, and more! And, Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, being largely desert inhabitants, will also take up residence in a wide variety of desert trees and tall shrubs.5 https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Ladder-backed_Woodpecker/overview
Libra (September 23—October 22). Like a Libra, there’s definitely no lack of confidence in the athletic Belted Kingfisher. When they’re not exhibiting their prowess in hunting fish and other water-based life forms, both the male and female’s plumage is as showy and distinctive as their calls to each other. A Belted Kingfisher sighting is definitely one for the birder’s books—I know I was thrilled when I first spotted a kingfisher in the wild! Seeing one perform their amazing aerial plunges when they spotted their prey in the waters below was an amazing experience. I could go on about the wonderfulness of Kingfishers in more depth, but words don’t compare to seeing these birds in dynamic action for yourself. Dining with a View: I learned something I didn’t know previously from the Cornell website—these birds really do live at the intersection of the water and the land! They dig out burrows in the shorebank when it’s time for them to nest.6 So it seems that their lethal powerhouse of a bill serves another purpose aside from catching fish! https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Belted_Kingfisher/overview
Scorpio (October 23—November 21). Ah, ducks. Scores of children head off to the local parks with our bags of bread to feed them.* Ducks seem to represent the pinnacle of joy and happiness, right? Well, much like the Scorpio, there’s a dark undercurrent running underneath that wonderfully passionate joie de vivre. Such is the case with the Muscovy Duck. If you’re risking life and limb to feed a Muscovy Duck, you better do it fast! Holding onto any sort of bread in a Muscovy’s vicinity will, at the very least, result in a chase as fast as your little legs can run–or some very sore fingers! In short, while Scorpios are wonderfully dynamic and interesting companions, they, like the potentially aggressive Muscovy Ducks, are a force of nature that should never, ever be taken for granted. Dining with a View: Generally, though, these ducks prefer more tasty treats over the fingers of people—grasses, water plants, insects, tadpoles, small fish fry, and more.7 They tend to nest in trees fairly high off the ground, although the parental duck tends to stick pretty close to the babies, and they follow the parent around, learning to forage for food at their parent’s side. Again, also be careful not to get between a parent duck and their babies. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Muscovy_Duck/overview
Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21). The avian pick for Sagittarius may come as a surprise. Rock Pigeons are hardly solitary or rare creatures, but that’s precisely why they are a good match for the Sagittarius personality. Because these birds are everywhere, and so is Sagittarius. This adventurous sign lives to explore, so much so, that they would like to be everywhere at once, if they could. All kinds of exploration appeals to the Sagittarius, whether it be mental, or geographical. And that’s exactly what the Rock Pigeon is all about, if you take the time to really observe them. They wouldn’t be so populous, and able to thrive in any sort of environment, urban included, if they weren’t so curious about everything. Other pigeons, or what’s in that plastic wrapper, or what did that person drop while they were too busy talking into that strange square device to notice. To the Rock Pigeon, every new thing in their world has the potential to be of interest to their inquiring minds. While the knowledge of a pigeon may largely rely on instinct or intuition, it’s still valuable knowledge. Especially when they can navigate long distances by factors like the Earth’s magnetic fields, or even sights and smells, and lots more.8 Dining with a View: Rock Pigeons are just as adaptable when it comes to nesting. They can be found raising their chicks on buildings as well as natural formations high off the ground, although they typically return to the ground regularly to feed.9 https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Rock_Pigeon/overview
Capricorn (December 22—January 19). Although Virgos are among the most industrious signs of the zodiac, they’re still out flown by the incredible persistence of the Capricorn. This sign’s ability to power through situations that would wear out most of the other signs is matched only by their stubborn persistence in the face of adversity. Naturally, this sign would be best represented by members of the avian world that are also unmatched in terms of the long haul. Sooty Shearwaters have extraordinarily large ranges, and similarly lengthy migrations, up to 40,000 miles for one trip, and can cover up to 1,000 miles in one day.10 Dining with a View: These astounding birds are not only exceptional flyers, they can also dive to extraordinary depths in their hunt for prey like fish and squid.11 When not plunging rapidly into the ocean, the Sooty Shearwater digs deep into the earth in order to nest.12 https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Sooty_Shearwater/overview
Aquarius (January 20—February 18). Like their zodiac counterpart, the mysterious Anhinga has more going on beneath the surface than meets the eye. You’ll spot the mysterious waterbird perched on a log, small tree, or a shrub, wings outstretched to the sun, and perennially waiting to take flight. (Unlike other avian waterfowl, the Anhinga’s feathers don’t have that oily waterproof coating—an adaptation that allows them to swim underwater for extended periods.13) Their feathers are a shimmery silver-black, and they definitely accentuate a swampy landscape that is already steeped in mystic vibes. As I mentioned in a former set of horoscopes, the Aquarius can move easily between worlds, and the Anhinga is much the same—they are just at ease in the air as they are in the water. Dining with a View: The feathers of an Anhinga lack the waterproof coating for a reason—it allows them to hunt fish underwater. On the surface, you might only see their head as the bird moves with an undulating motion through the water. Then, in the blink of an eye, the Anhinga will slip beneath the surface with barely a ripple, only to emerge moments later with their successfully speared prey. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Anhinga/overview
Pisces (February 19—March 20). As I’ve not encountered the loon in the wild, I’ve had to rely on the stories from others about the wonderfully eerie call of the loon. Based on those retellings of that mystical experience, I just had to make the loon Pisces’ avian “kindred spirit”. Emphasis on spirit. I imagine a Pisces sitting on the porch of the lakeside house of their dreams, mist drifting towards them from the water’s edge. From the twilight realm comes the otherworldly cry of the loon as they call to each other, far out on the waterscape, and far from the intrusive view of people. Let’s leave the Pisces to commune with the loon, shall we? Dining with a View: Loons are not as comfortable on static land as they are in the fluid water, and their nest will be in a location that will allow them easy access directly from the water, and in an area that has plenty of fish to keep these graceful aquatic athletes in top condition.14 https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Pacific_Loon/overview
Aries (March 20—April 19). I was just about to write that the Rufous Hummingbird was among the feistiest of the hummingbird species, but the Cornell listing beat me to it.14 But anyone watching these sparkling red-and-green hummers at a feeder knows this anyway. These teeny birds will drive off other hummers, and even other birds if they happen to be feeding nearby, even if they’re double- or triple the size of themselves. They’re a perfect avian match to the likewise feisty Aries, and this zodiac sign will be cheering on these diminutive warriors as they compete to be first in line to drink their weight (more like 3 or 10 times their weight in sugar water). Aries will definitely raise a glass to toast their successes. Dining with a View: Sadly, though, the Rufous Hummingbird’s feisty nature is limited when it comes to the impact of people and climate change upon the hummingbird species as a whole. (They are listed on the Yellow Watch List.) Some helpful actions the Aries could take to help this migratory species are: replacing a monotype (grass) lawn with flowering plants that produce nectar/are pollinator friendly, leave out the feeder even if it’s past the migration area (including in winter/colder months), and avoid the use of harmful pesticides. Contact your local Audubon society for additional/updated information on how to help hummingbirds win the fight! https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Rufous_Hummingbird/overview
*Can you imagine the shock I felt when I learned later in life that feeding bread to ducks and other birds is actually harmful to them? *gasp* https://ca.audubon.org/news/bad-idea-feeding-bread-ducks-and-other-birds.
¹Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds (database), “American Bittern”, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_Bittern/lifehistory.
2Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds (database), “Least Sandpiper”, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Least_Sandpiper/lifehistory.
3Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds (database), “Roseate Spoonbill”, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Roseate_Spoonbill/lifehistory.
4Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds (database), “Roseate Spoonbill”, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Roseate_Spoonbill/lifehistory#nesting.
5Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds (database), “Ladder-backed Woodpecker”, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Ladder-backed_Woodpecker/lifehistory.
6Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds (database), “Belted Kingfisher”, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Belted_Kingfisher/lifehistory#.
7Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds (database), “Muscovy Duck”, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Muscovy_Duck/lifehistory.
8Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds (database), “Rock Pigeon”, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Muscovy_Duck/lifehistory.
9Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds (database), “Rock Pigeon”, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Muscovy_Duck/lifehistory.
10Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds (database), “Sooty Shearwater”, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Sooty_Shearwater/lifehistory.
11Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds (database), “Sooty Shearwater”, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Sooty_Shearwater/lifehistory.
12Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds (database), “Sooty Shearwater”, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Sooty_Shearwater/lifehistory.
13Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds (database), “Anhinga”, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Anhinga/lifehistory.
14Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds (database), “Pacific Loon”, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Pacific_Loon/lifehistory#nesting.
15Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds (database). “Rufous Hummingbird”, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Rufous_Hummingbird/overview.
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“Bringer of Nightmares and Storms.” Horror writer Willow Croft is usually lurking deep in the shadows of her writer cave, surrounded by formerly feral (but still fierce!) cats for company. Visit her here: http://willowcroft.blog, or check out her other services here: https://kirsten-lee-barger.mailchimpsites.com/.