There was a popular notion in England and France during the Middle Ages that birds started to look for their mates on February 14. The reason for this assumption is not clear but might be related to the fact that the warbling of the first songbirds after a long winter started sometime in mid-February. Hence St. Valentine’s day’s association with birds, especially lovebirds and doves. People observed this day by writing love letters and sending small gifts to their beloved.
Geoffrey Chaucer (1340/45-1400), an English poet mentions this belief in his “Parliament of Foules“:
“For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day
Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.”
St. Valentine’s Day was mentioned by Shakespeare. The poet, Drayton, wrote verses entitled “To His Valentine,” in which he expressed the idea of the birds’ mating on St. Valentine’s Day.
“Each little bird this tide
Doth choose her beloved peer,
Which constantly abide
In wedlock all the year.”
(In parts of Sussex Valentines Day was called ‘the Birds’ Wedding Day’)
People believed that the kind of bird a young lady might see on Valentine’s day would determine the type of man she would marry. (If a young girl saw a hen and a cockerel together on St Valentines Day then she will marry soon. )
Here are some examples of what you should look out for! (Hanging around a farm on Valentine’s day might be a good idea!)
Blackbird: A man of the cloth (Priest)
Bluebird: A man with a sense of humour
Crossbill: A man of argument
Dove: A kind mind
Goldfinch: A wealthy man
Robin: A man of the sea
Sparrow: A man of the country
Woodpecker: No man !!
Yellow Hammer: A wealthy man
Yellow Wagtail: A wealthy man
Whether you’ve just spotted your gold finch or robin, it’s always inspiring to think of the loyal birds who mate for life:
The most famous bird of love is the dove. Doves have been associated with love and marriage for thousands of years. They are extremely loyal to each other and their young.
Canada Geese are extremely loyal and if one of a pair is injured, the other will stay with the injured bird and guard it until it’s better. Both care for their young.
American Bald Eagle
Eagle pairs mate for life and build a large nest together high in a safe location. There they tend to and raise the few chicks they hatch each year.