Forecasting Weather With a Goose Bone

Foretelling Weather: The Ol' Goose Bone Method

By Warren Evans
November 18, 2018
Goose Bone Method
Yankee Archives

Can you really predict weather with a goose bone? Back around the turn of the last century, in the days before the National Weather Service, the so-called goose bone method was a famous weather-forecasting technique.

Now, many of us have broken the dried “wishbone” with another person. The person who gets the “long half” of the bone gets to make their wish. Some of us may even recall that old-fashioned pastime of making wishbone necklaces.

To use the wishbone as a weather predictor, here’s how it worked:

Around Thanksgiving, Grandma would cook a freshly killed goose. She would roast it, carve it, and serve it, always being careful not to cut the breastbone from the carcass.

After the goose had been eaten, she would carefully remove the breastbone and cut away all the meat and fat left clinging to it. Grandpa would take the bone and put it on a shelf to dry, keeping an eye out for the coloration that would follow. If the bone turned blue, black, or purple, a cold winter lay ahead.

  • White indicated a mild winter.
  • Purple tips were a sure sign of a cold spring.
  • A blue color branching out toward the edge of the bone, meant open weather until New Year’s Day.
  • If the bone was a dark color, or blue all over, the prediction was for a real bad winter.

That’s it.

There is an explanation.

  • An overall dark color meant that the bird had absorbed a lot of oil, which acted as a natural protection against the cold.
  • The darker the blue coloring, the tougher the winter ahead would probably be.

Of course, back in the day, all the geese were local and not factory-farmed. So not just any goose will do!

Now ever heard of the prognosticating power of the woolly bear caterpillar? See our woolly worm weather page!


The 1980 Old Farmer's Almanac


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We used to always butcher a

We used to always butcher a Goose for Thanksgiving and my Dad would look at the goose backbone and would see what kind of winter we was going to have and it was ALWAYS correct. These were farm raised geese.

Mmmmmmmmm, sounds like a wild

Mmmmmmmmm, sounds like a wild goose tale...

it may but there are a lot of

it may but there are a lot of crazy beliefs in this world

I would guess that it would

I would guess that it would be a wild goose. Wild animals depend on instinct more than farm-raised ones. A wild goose going on instinct would know what sort of diet habits to adapt if it felt a cold winter coming on. A farm-raised goose would eat whatever it was fed.

Good article. I have never

Good article. I have never heard of this method. My thought though is does it make a difference if the goose was wild or farm raised?

i would also think it would

i would also think it would be wild