Augury is the art/science of making predictions or
prognostications based on the flight patterns of birds, and in
ancient days, that also included examining the entrails
(intestines) of dead birds. Unless you go in for the macabre
magik or dark arts, we'll leave the entrail possibilities for
another day. Migrations is more light-hearted or, dare I say,
The effect, as I perform it today, goes as follows: After I
describe the origins of augury and offer to give a demonstration
based on the migrations of birds, I point out that it is a bit
difficult to demonstrate indoors since birds rarely migrate from
room to room but prefer going from continent to continent.
However, by confining the bird to a cage and forcing the poor
little thing to drag the cage with him on his migrations, I can
slow him down enough so that we can all observe it in close
My apprentice then rolls out a small pedestal table upon
which rests a small wire cage containing a live canary. I pick up
the cage and vanish it. At the moment of the vanish, my
apprentice calls attention to a huge pile that has been in the
background all along, covered by a large ornate tablecloth. He
whips away the tablecloth and reveals a towering bunch of cages
of different styles and colors, stacked up at odd angles.
I put on my glasses and peer into the cages to see into which
cage the canary has migrated. I ask the children in the audience
to help point out the canary if they see him. Suddenly, a canary
flashes into view in one of the cages. I pretend not to notice
and let the children in the audience point him out, which they
usually do, screaming at the top of their little lungs, bless
them! However, as soon as I go over to that cage, the canary
immediately vanishes and reappears in a cage on the opposite side
of the heap, causing even more commotion and screaming among the
children. This happens again and again.
When we have finished playing with the audience in this way,
suddenly two canaries appear. They both disappear and migrate to
different cages. Then there are three canaries, and finally all
the cages fill up with canaries, who are chirping almost as
loudly as the children are screaming. I end it all with a wave of
my wand and a puff of smoke just for effect.
All the canaries immediately vanish and I bring forward the
pedestal table where the original cage and canary have suddenly
reappeared. I reach into the canary's cage and remove a tiny
scroll which the canary apparently has brought me and read the
prediction: "It will rain in Bermuda next Tuesday. Oh, by
the way, Calvin Jones is 10 years old today. The winning lottery
number is 1437 in Lower Patagonia's Instant Win lottery. Maria
Rivera lost her tooth last night..." et cetera.
It is a very long tiny scroll and is mixed with ridiculous
predictions along with personalized information about the current
members of the audience.