Several bird omens foreshadow the final battle between Odysseus's men and the suitors. Early on in the book, two eagles tear each other to death; later, an eagle kills a goose (as in Penelope's dream); and toward the end, an eagle flies by with a swallow in its mouth. As the scene of the revenge draws closer, the birds that symbolize the suitors become smaller and weaker: the suitors' deaths become more and more inevitable. Birds, in The Odyssey, are transient messages from the gods. Athena herself takes the shape of a bird on several occasions; birds represent her sly and gentle take on divine intervention.
Birds Symbol Timeline in The Odyssey
The timeline below shows where the symbol Birds appears in The Odyssey. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...Telemachus to leave for home with Pisistratus. When Telemachus mentions Odysseus in his good-byes, an eagle with a goose in its claws flies by: a good omen. At Pylos, Telemachus loads... (full context)
...contest. Odysseus ignores another insult from the goatherd and speaks briefly to the cowherd. An eagle flies by with a dove in its claws, and Amphinomus convinces the suitors to stop... (full context)