Top medium reveals what it means when a loved one comes back as a bird

Olivia Newton-John’s daughter told the Mail her late mother visits her as an owl. Some will scoff, but here a leading medium reveals… What it means when a loved one comes back to you as a bird… or a flower, feather or rainbow

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Has a loved one ever visited you from beyond the grave? Perhaps they came as a robin, a rainbow or a single rose.

Many will scoff at the idea of signs from the beyond, dismissing it as mere coincidence or wishful thinking. But could there be more to it?

In Tuesday’s Mail, Olivia Newton-John’s daughter Chloe revealed that her late mother had visited her in different forms. ‘I think [the owl] is my mum’s spirit. I believe she’s also shown up as an orb, a floating light in multiple photos,’ said Chloe. ‘She’s put angels around me and shown up in different forms. That’s very comforting.’

Could she be right? And if spirits do reach out to us in myriad shapes, what does it mean if they appear as a feather instead of a flower, for example? Here, medium T.J. Higgs shows how you can interpret these different signs.

Some people are understandably frightened when they hear the word ‘spirit’. The way films and books portray so-called ghosts, it would have me diving under the bed covers, too.

The spirit world is a realm of pure love, says medium T.J. Higgs

But those depictions simply aren’t true. The spirit world is a realm of pure love.

My experience as a medium, connecting thousands of individuals with their loved ones, writing books and giving talks around the world, has taught me that death is not the end; it is just the beginning of a new existence.

The truth is that we are surrounded by the afterlife at all times and we are all shown signs on a regular basis — if only we choose to see them for what they are.

In its simplest form, a sign can be a sight, a smell, a sound or even a feeling that tells you a loved one is there. But it can also be a piece of guidance, advising you what to do or sometimes what not to do.

You don’t have to be at a seance or with a psychic. You can be anywhere when you receive it: on a beach, a mountain, out shopping or simply sitting quietly at home.

I am constantly amazed at how many people tell me they know exactly how their loved ones are going to make themselves known to them from the ‘other side’. Often, this will be based on something they said when they were still alive: ‘When I come back to see you, I will be a bee or a flower.’

Why don’t they materialise in their human form? It takes too much energy (although it can and does happen), which means the spirit is probably going to show itself in a much subtler, more unpredictable way.

Very often, the spirit will use something that carries its own distinctive and personal signature. This may well relate to the spirit’s personality while he or she was here in the physical world. So, for instance, someone who was passionate about ballet might display signs that relate to their favourite performance.

The good news is that once the spirit provides you with a sign and you have recognised and acknowledged it, the lines of communication have been opened for ever.


Signs are intensely personal. A colour, a number, a name, an animal or an object that is significant to one person may be completely insignificant to somebody else.

Roses are a powerful symbol of love and devotion and they appear in messages more often than other flowers

Roses are a powerful symbol of love and devotion, so it’s no great surprise that they appear in messages more often than most other flowers. They are mostly likely to be a sign from a spouse telling you that they are close by.

They could appear in an odd location, such as a crystal rose in a shop or simply on a walk while you’re thinking about your late spouse. I know of one grieving widow who found a single rose nestled in the middle of a bunch of lilies.


Certain objects carry more significance than others. Feathers, for example, signify that angels are among us. My own personal view is that if you find a feather in an obscure place — on the dashboard of your car, for example — this is a subtle message from the spirit world. It means they are present and rooting for you. Whenever this happens, I feel a real surge of confidence.


Dwelling in the air and seeming to straddle the physical and the spirit world, birds are particularly powerful messengers from the other side. Some of the meanings I have discovered are:

Swan: The waterbirds famously mate for life and for me are about love and relationships. If you are looking for a sign in connection with an everyday relationship and you keep coming across swans — they can be real or depictions of swans — this could be a good validation of your relationship. A loved one from the other side, a late husband, for example, could well be sending you the message and letting you know they approve.

Seeming to straddle the physical and the spirit world, birds are particularly powerful messengers from the other side

Robin: Many believe that robins have strong links with spirit messengers. They are associated with joy, divine sacrifice (because of the robin’s red breast) and spiritual rebirth. Gypsy lore connects them with good luck.

Crow: The crow is a sign of introspection. If one appears in an odd way, such as outside your window or next to your parked car, it might be saying: ‘Don’t make a snap decision, don’t rush it, think about what you really want.’

Hawk: These are the bird equivalent of Mercury, the messenger of the ancient Roman gods. Seeing a hawk is a sign that you need to take a good, hard look at those around you. This could well be someone you love sending you a message from the other side to take it more slowly with a new partner or beware a friend with ulterior motives.

Raven: This bird symbolises a change in consciousness, a sign that prompts us to try to understand ourselves better. If you see one and feel frightened, it may mean you need to learn about your innermost fears and demons.

Woodpecker: Whenever I’ve seen — or heard — a woodpecker, I have regarded it as a sign that something significant is happening either in my own relationships or in those of my close friends.

Whenever one particular friend was having an issue in a certain relationship, my local woodpecker would always make himself known in my garden. I picked up on his appearance because each time I would get a call from her.

The woodpecker was clearly sent by one of her loved ones urging me to help her. It was a troubled union and when the relationship finally ended the woodpecker seemed to vanish from my garden.

Seagull: Water and sea signifies the emotional side of life. Seeing seagulls in unlikely places such as your garden could signify that your emotions are all over the place.


There are many different opinions about the origins of the phrase ‘pennies from heaven’. Some think it is a variation on the biblical phrase ‘manna from heaven’, meaning good fortune.

What I do know is that it refers to a phenomenon that is very common. In my experience, the appearance of coins is one of the most frequent signs from the afterlife.

A coin in an unusual or unexpected location such as underneath a carpet or in the garden (I know of one woman who found four penny pieces in her bed) is a sign that the spirit world is trying to get a message to you.

If that penny has the year of your birth on it, it’s a stronger signal yet that someone is trying to communicate.


One of the rarest and certainly most dramatic signs you can receive is what is known as an ‘apport’.

This occurs when an object turns up in an unexpected place seemingly out of thin air. It has, in fact, been placed there by the spirit world.

Toys can appear suddenly in unlikely locations, and the meaning of the object will be very significant to the person who sees it

I have heard of a number of dramatic cases of apports over the years. For one grieving mum, the appearance of her late toddler son’s favourite teddy bear soothed her soul.

People have told me about objects, such as toys or pieces of jewellery, suddenly appearing in the most unlikely locations. The meaning of the object will be very significant to the person who sees it.


The animal kingdom has an ability to deliver powerful signs from the spirit world. Native Americans believe in the concept of ‘totem animals’, where a spirit is believed to take the form of an animal to communicate with us through dreams or visions.

Here is what it means if you see or dream of the following:

If a butterfly lands on you or you keep seeing them, it can mean you are on a journey from one stage of life to another

Butterflies: A sign of transformation and change but also of life going on. If a butterfly lands on you or you keep seeing them, it can mean you are on a journey from one stage of life to another.

I know of one woman agonising over booking a holiday-of-a-lifetime cruise seeing them regularly. The butterfly was her late mum urging her to go ahead with it.

Mouse: A symbol of scrutiny. It may mean you are over-thinking a situation or perhaps you need to examine it more closely.

Lion: This might indicate the need to find inner reserves of strength — perhaps when making an important decision.

Bear: This signifies new beginnings around the corner, but patience is needed for them to unfold. The bear hibernates through the winter and changes during this period.

Wolf: This means you are ready to attempt communication with the other side. In Native American teachings, a wolf is a teacher and can indicate some kind of psychic awakening.

Horse: This usually happens when you are on a personal quest — a new job, a house move, or even a change of location because it is linked to the idea of freedom. If one appears in your dreams, know you are on the right path.


Spirits can manifest themselves in the elements around us. Often, they are present in the wind and the rain, the sun and the sky.

There is a real resonance to rainbows as a symbol of our transient nature.

A rainbow symbolises a bridge to somewhere else. When spirits present themselves to us in this form, it is to make us feel safer and more peaceful.

Spirits can manifest themselves in the elements around us. A rainbow symbolises a bridge to somewhere else


The most dramatic way in which spirits manifest themselves is in visions. This is where their physical form can appear to be in the room with us.

Visions can appear to us all at any time of the day or night, but they tend to occur when we are almost asleep or in that semi-conscious state we enter as we wake up.

When we are in a dream state, the waves of our brains are in what is known as a ‘theta rhythm’, and when a medium is connecting to the spirit world, their brain too is in this state.

It brings them closer to the energy and vibration of the spirit world. During these periods, we find ourselves more open to signs from the afterlife.

As told to Samantha Brick.

  • Signs From The Afterlife: How The Other Side Can Comfort And Inspire You by T.J. Higgs.

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