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Foundations Of Religion: Birds In The Bible & Their Symbolism

White doves

Birds have always been important to people! We find depictions of birds in ancient art, and they are mentioned in historic writings, legends, and tales from every corner of the globe.

Religious books also talk about birds, one of those being the Bible! In the Bible, birds are actually mentioned on several occasions.

How often do birds appear in the Bible? Which species are mentioned, and what can they teach us?


Birds Mentioned in the Bible

As far as animals go, birds play a fairly prominent role in the Bible. Although we don’t find them on every page, several species occur in the New and Old Testaments.

Birds are often mentioned as symbols of positive attributes like strength, courage, wisdom, and care. They are often used to help teach about and instill faith.

The Bible also talks about birds in terms of food, and even as warnings. In the Old Testament, several birds are mentioned as being “unclean” or unfit for consumption.

These unclean birds include:

  • Waterbirds like cormorants and herons.
  • Vultures, hawks, and other raptors.
  • Owls
  • Osprey
  • Storks

Birds are also associated with aspects of everyday life such as when birds eat fallen grain or from baskets. However, birds in the Bible can also take the form of warnings and punishment.

In 1 Kings, there is more than on mention of “those who die in the fields” becoming food for the “birds of heaven”. Similar things are mentioned for people who have the misfortune to be executed by the pharaoh or die in battle or other circumstances and be subsequently eaten by vultures.

Some other important birds in the Bible are:

  • Doves
  • Eagles
  • Owls
  • Quail and Partridges
  • Rooster
  • Sparrows



The dove is one of the most frequently mentioned and important birds in the Bible. This peaceful bird is also one of the most memorable birds from the Bible because it plays vital roles in both the Old and New Testaments.

Learn more: What do doves symbolize?

In Genesis 8:8-12, after the Great Flood, Noah releases a dove to see if the waters have receded. The bird comes back with an olive branch to show that indeed, God’s judgement had passed and that Noah, his family, and the animals could start a new life.

Doves are wildly known for their biblical backround

In the New Testament, the dove continues to be an important symbol. Most of all, this lovely bird represents the renewing and comforting ways of the Holy Spirit.

During the baptism of Jesus, the Holy Spirit descended on him in the form of a dove. Similar to how the dove was a symbol of rebirth after the Great Flood, in coming down to Jesus, it symbolized another new great beginning; the birth of the ministry of Jesus Christ.



The Rooster is another important bird in the Bible. The fact that it occurs in the Bible at all shows how long people have used this domesticated bird!

In the Old Testament, the Rooster is only or mostly mentioned in Leviticus in regard to rituals of sacrifice. In that sense, this bird is a symbol of purification, repentance, and redemption.

The Rooster is also a symbol that God will keep His promise and not forget us. We see this in the Psalms.

Moving to the New Testament, the rooster continues to be a symbol of repentance. In Chapter 8 of the book of Revelation, a rooster is sacrificed on an altar to show the importance of repenting and accepting forgiveness through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

We also see the Rooster as a symbol of sacrifice in Mark 14; the one that Jesus will make when Peter denies Him three times before the Rooster crows. In this case, the bird might also be a symbol of the coming awakening of Christianity.



Eagles have been symbols of strength, power, and majesty for many people and in many places. In the Bible, eagles also play important, similar roles. In Isaiah 40:31, where we read, “Those hoping in Jehovah will regain power. They will soar on wings like eagles.”, the powerful birds symbolize freedom and the power of faith.

This symbolism is a reminder that while the strongest people can eventually fall, those with faith in God have the power of a soaring eagle. They can rise above and overcome anything.

Golden Eagle soaring in the sky

This focus on eagles as a symbol of faith that God will care for and provide continues in Deuteronomy and Exodus. In these books, God instructs Moses to teach a song to the Israelites that talks about God caring for them like a mother eagle who spreads her wings to protect her young and carry them away from danger.

Eagles in the Bible can also simply symbolize the total power of God. In Obadiah 1:4 and Jeremiah 49:22, the big raptors act as a symbol of Gods complete power and control over everything.



Quails can be abundant migrants in Israel. Sometimes, during migration, dozens of Common Quails can be found under desert vegetation, parks, and other green space.

This fact is noted in the Bible, especially in the book of Exodus. As the Israelites wandered through the desert, they caught and ate migratory quail. Because of this, quail in the Bible symbolize care and God’s ability to help people survive, even in challenging circumstances.

Quail are also a symbol of the importance of spiritual nourishment and being grateful. After the Israelites had prayed for food, God sent them quail to eat. However, many were greedy and ungrateful for this precious gift. As a result of their negative and ungrateful behavior, a plague occurred that resulted in many deaths.



Several owl species occur in the Middle East. They are commonly heard in many places, even in ruins and abandoned settlements.

This is reflected in the Bible, as owls are mentioned on several occasions. However, they only occur in the Old Testament, where they tend to be symbols of loneliness and wild, abandoned places.


In Isaiah 34 and Jeremiah 50, owls are mentioned as living in places where people once lived including the city of Babylon. They are symbols of the enduring nature of God’s creation, even in places people ended up destroying by merit of their own wicked ways.

In Psalm 102 and Micah 1, owls are related to feelings of loneliness and are also symbols of deep sadness. If we can imagine what it feels like to hear the sad hoots of an owl in old, empty desert ruins, that symbolism is spot on!



The sparrow is another important birds in the Bible. It has been used as a symbol of faith, the importance of being close to God, and a strong symbol of God’s care. We find it in both the Old and New Testaments.

In Matthew 10 and Luke 12, Jesus talks about sparrows and how even the smallest of creatures have value. He was teaching them about the importance of trusting in God, that God was in control of all details in their lives, no matter how insignificant they seemed to be.

In these verses, the sparrow also symbolizes God’s care and how He cares for people and all creation, even the smallest of animals.

In Psalm 84, sparrows are mentioned as nesting in the temple and are thus symbols of the importance of being close to God. They are also symbolic of the need to work to “build” your own nest closer to God.

Lastly, in the Old Testament, sparrows were a symbol of purification. In Leviticus, two sparrows were the proper sacrifice for being healed of a skin disease. Although people in Israel haven’t sacrificed sparrows for a long time, this still acts as a good symbol for seeking forgiveness and being purified and restored.


Frequently Asked Questions

Do different religions have different bibles?

Yes, different religions have different bibles. Different forms of Christianity can use slightly different types of bibles, and other religions have their own sacred books.

What do birds represent in the bible?

In the bible, birds are seen as symbols of hope and better times.

What is the holy bird in the Bible?

The holy bird in the Bible is the dove. It represents peace and the Holy Spirit.

What did Jesus say about birds?

Jesus said that birds don’t grow their own food and yet God takes care of them. Likewise, since people are much more important and God takes care of them too, people should have faith and not worry so much.

What bird represents Jesus?

The bird that represents Jesus is the dove. This bird is a symbol of peace and the Holy Spirit.

What birds symbolize Christianity?

The white dove symbolizes Christianity.

What bird symbolizes Heaven?

The white dove symbolizes Heaven, but many other birds are somewhat associated with angels and heavenly presence. For example, seeing a cardinal could mean that a loved one is near you!

About the Author

Patrick O'Donnell

Patrick O'Donnell has been focused on all things avian since the age of 7. Since then, he has helped with ornithological field work in the USA and Peru, and has guided many birding tours, especially in Costa Rica. He develops birding apps for BirdingFieldGuides and loves to write about birds, especially in his adopted country of Costa Rica.

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