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Bird Symbolism & Meaning – Everything You Need To Know

Rufous Hummingbird

Do you know what your favorite bird symbolizes? What about the spiritual meaning of seeing an owl sitting on a power pole? Humans have been assigning different symbols to many species of birds for centuries.

Different species of birds mean other things to specific cultures around the globe. For example, in Hinduism, people believe certain birds are holy and symbolize purity and truthfulness.

In this article, we’ll share some of the more common symbols that birds represent and their meanings.

 

What Do Birds Symbolize?

Birds have served as symbols of freedom, good luck, faith, good health, strength, wealth, love, knowledge, and many other things in a wide variety of different cultures all over the globe. But how did this happen?

Humans have forever been fascinated with birds and their ability to fly.

They first served as messengers from higher powers that led nations and tribes to new sources of shelter and food.

Related: What does it mean when a bird visits you?

The first birds to be used as messengers were raptors. Birds like falcons, hawks, and eagles, hawks, falcons became bearers of both death and good news.

In most cases, raptors served as messengers from the gods, carrying either their punishment or their blessings. Later, birds became symbols of good things like fertility and healing.

Some cultures associated the birth of a child with birds or believed that a mother bird would carry a person’s baby to her nest before they were born.

Let’s go over the most common symbols associated with birds and what birds usually represent these symbols.

 

Freedom

Birds represent freedom because they can do what they want, when they want, and go where they please, whether it be via land, water, or air. They can soar through the air quickly and utilize their vantage point in the sky to give them a higher perspective. Birds are not limited creatures which is why they are seen as messengers from the gods or the spirit realm.

 

Canaries

Canaries represent freedom because they’re seen as an independent spirit. Additionally, they fly in the open air and show us that we can have freedom from anything that’s making us feel trapped.

 

Eagles

Eagles are commonly associated with freedom due to the Bald Eagle representing the strength and freedom of the United States. Also, eagles soar and fly high in the sky, where they watch for any prey.

Bald Eagle soaring the skies

 

Peacocks

In Celtic culture, peacocks are seen as animals that represent freedom and liberation of the soul.

Related: What do peacock feathers symbolize?

 

Cranes

Cranes are often associated with the renewal of both the spirit and the mind. Those who experience this are able to achieve a level of freedom that not many have.

 

Herons

Herons represent freedom because they’re known for their free will. These birds are known to be very independent, and you can’t have freedom without independence.

 

Sparrows

Sparrows are associated with freedom because they are believed to represent renewal. When we are renewed or reborn, we gain a freedom that we’ve never experienced before.

Sparrows are often to bird symbolism by freedom

 

Parakeets

Parakeets are birds that represent freedom because a lot of them represent being caged. However, wild parakeets that can be seen flying freely is a powerful symbol of freedom.

Related: How long do parakeets live?

 

Albatross

The albatross is a strong symbol of freedom because they take long flights and travel incredible distances.

 

Phoenix

Phoenix are mythical birds, but they still represent freedom. For a phoenix to be born, it has to die in a fire and rise from the ashes. They symbolize a powerful rebirth, renewal, and the freedom it brings.

 

Doves

Doves are associated with freedom because, in the Bible, they’re seen as the Holy Spirit. This arguably makes them the freest bird of all. Same goes for Mourning Doves.

 

Robins

Robins are also birds that represent rebirth and renewal. These are characteristics that are needed to be free.

 

Love

Birds symbolize love in many ways. You’ve probably seen a pair of doves together sitting on a wire or hanging out at a bird feeder.

Their symbolism for love goes all the way back to the Middle Ages. They’re a bird that mates for life and are commonly seen pictured with Aphrodite, who is the goddess of love.

 

Atlantic Puffin

Puffins mate for life without any pretense, symbolizing love and faithfulness.

 

Dove

Doves are associated with the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite. Additionally, they’re monogamous and mate for life.

Related: What does seeing a dead bird mean?

 

Swans

Swans are another bird that mates for life. Additionally, they have an elegant appearance, and Aphrodite found these birds sacred.

Male and Female Swan

 

Partridges

Partridges represent love for a variety of reasons. First, their breeding season overlaps with Valentine’s Day. Secondly, these birds are monogamous and will sacrifice themselves to save their children.

 

Cardinals

Cardinals represent loving relationships and are seen as messengers from the heavens who deliver words of comfort during hard times.

Read more: What do red birds symbolize?

 

Storks

Storks are associated with love because they will put everything on the line to defend their loved ones. Additionally, in some cultures, they’re believed to represent a mother’s love.

 

Magpies

Magpies are not birds that are commonly associated with love. However, they can represent both good and bad omens. If you see a magpie, it can mean that love is coming.

Black-billed Magpie

 

Lovebirds

Lovebirds represent love because it’s believed they can’t survive without their mates for long. Additionally, there is an ancient belief that lovebirds choose their mates on Valentine’s Day.

 

Pigeons

Pigeons represent unconditional love between two people because they’re known for their extreme loyalty and usually form lifelong bonds.

Related: How long do pigeons live?

 

Hummingbirds

It’s believed that if you see a hummingbird, the spirit of a loved one is near. In Central America, it’s believed that seeing a hummingbird means love will be coming to you.

Hummingbirds symbolize love

 

Herons

Herons are associated with love because they have a beautiful courtship display to attract a mate.

 

Cranes

Cranes are associated with love because they’re purely monogamous and mate for life.

 

Sparrows

Sparrows symbolize love because they’re the sacred bird of the Greek Goddess of Love, Aphrodite. Because of this, they symbolize spiritual connection and true love.

 

Peacocks

Peacocks are considered gentle creatures, representing both compassion and love.

Male and female peacock

 

Canada Geese

In some cultures, seeing a pair of Canada geese means your soul mate should be arriving soon. Additionally, in Chinese poetry, wild geese represent romance and love.

Related: What do geese symbolize?

 

Grace

Cranes are the most common symbol of grace. In fact, this symbolism is most prevalent in Japan, China, Korea, and North America.

The birds listed below are all eye-catching and elegant and have even proportions that make them beautiful.

When they fly, their bodies stay steady, and their wingbeats are slow and controlled. However, a lot of these birds are said to represent many things, not just grace.

 

Albatross

The Albatross is said to be a bird that teaches grace. They come into the lives of those who need to learn how to use their bodies in ways that will help them move fluidly through their lives in conditions that can seem treacherous.

 

Herons

Herons are commonly used to represent both beauty and grace. It is not hard to see why due to their stunning appearance and fluid movements.

Tricolored Heron

 

Swans

Swans are often associated with grace because of their white feathers and elegant movements. These characteristics are often seen as the grace and purity of the soul.

 

Cranes

Cranes represent grace because they fly and wade through water with graceful movements and have elegant form.

 

Faith

Birds have been used as powerful symbols of faith for thousands of years.

The stories, metaphors, and symbols they’re involved with have left quite the impression and resonate with the deepest parts of our psyches. You may or may not be aware of it.

 

Doves

Doves represent faith because they’re a symbol and tool of the New and Old Testaments.

Related: What does finding a white feather mean?

Eurasian Collared Dove

 

Eagles

Eagles are associated with faith because, throughout scripture, these birds represent God’s handiwork.

 

Sparrows

Sparrows represent faith because they were used to represent Jesus Christ’s lowly status when he was on earth.

 

Robins

These birds are associated with faith because when seen, they’re interpreted as a sign from Heaven to give us the message that a loved one is at peace.

 

Blackbirds

Blackbirds are connected to faith due to the belief that they have mystical powers that connect them to the spiritual realm.

 

Falcons

Falcons symbolize the holy and spiritually strong souls who are committed to spreading the Baha’i Faith’s messages.

 

Ravens

Ravens are symbols of faith because they’re associated with the God of Prophecy, Apollo.

Related: The symbolism of black feathers

Common Raven

 

Peacocks

Peacocks are connected to faith because they’re believed to represent immortality. Additionally, the eye-shape pattern that can be seen on the peacock’s feathers reminds Christians of the all-seeing eye of God.

 

Geese

In Christian iconography, geese are interpreted as the “flock” of Christ’s followers.

 

Larks

Larks are associated with faith because they’re believed to be messengers in both mythology and religion.

 

Owls

Owls are mentioned in the Bible, where they’re said to symbolize death, torment, loneliness, desolation, and darkness.

Northern Hawk Owl

 

Woodpeckers

Woodpeckers are connected to faith because they’re said to represent spiritual healing.

 

Storks

Storks represent faith because the Christian stork symbol represents vigilance and holiness.

 

Strength

Birds represent strength because there are some large and powerful birds that exist in our world.

For example, some can take down prey twice their size, while others can reach a speed of 182 miles per hour.

Additionally, the condor, which is one of the birds that represent strength, is seen in Roman mythology, where the God of strength and wisdom, Saturn, was believed to ride on one.

 

Osprey

Osprey represent strength because they’re masters of the land, sea, and air. They’re also true hunters with great agility, speed, precision, and power.

Ospreys symbolize strength

 

Condors

Condors are viewed as powerful sky spirits in South America. Additionally, in Native traditions, they symbolize righteous leadership, which is a trait that requires strength.

 

Eagles

Eagles symbolize spiritual growth, strength, and wisdom. They’re messengers from the highest gods and are considered “Kings of the Skies.”

 

Owls

Owls are powerful, large birds that are able to survive in the harshest conditions. This makes them the perfect candidate to represent strength.

 

Hawks

Populations in the eastern portions of Asia, along with Native Americans, see hawks as symbols of strength. On top of that, they’re excellent hunters who use all of their strength to catch their prey.

Ferruginous Hawk

 

Gyrfalcons

Gyrfalcons are powerful, legendary animals that are connected to the gods and embody strength.

 

Ostriches

Ostriches represent strength because they are by far the largest of all birds. Predators rarely attack them because of the way they carry themselves, along with their sheer size and strength.

 

Knowledge

Birds represent knowledge because some of the most intelligent animals in the world are birds. Even though there are more than 10,000 species of birds, only a small portion of them have made the list of incredibly intelligent animals.

Related: Smartest birds in the world

For example, Ravens can trick other animals into helping them, solve puzzles, and communicate at a level that apes can’t even match.

 

Ravens

Ravens represent knowledge because they’re very intelligent birds. Research has shown that by four months of age, ravens have full-blown cognitive skills. Additionally, before reaching maturity, their intelligence can rival adult apes.

 

Owls

In many cultures, it’s believed that seeing an owl in real life or in your dreams means you are about to receive great wisdom and knowledge.

Owls are symbols of knowledge

 

Crows

Just like ravens, crows are very intelligent birds. Additionally, in Celtic culture, crows symbolize unforeseen knowledge.

 

Bird Tattoo Meaning

As you can see, birds have a lot of different meanings and symbolize many things. Bird tattoos represent what the person who has it wants it to. However, the most common meaning of bird tattoos is freedom.

Learn more: Motivational Bird Quotes

They’re a popular choice, for good reason! Birds have beautiful colors and songs and are messengers of nature. Aside from general bird tattoos, owls, hummingbirds, crows, and robins are common choices.

 

Spiritual Meaning

Many bird species have different spiritual meanings. These are the top 18 birds with spiritual meanings:

  • Eagles – Freedom
  • Hummingbird – Good Luck
  • Parrots – Opportunities
  • Owls – Wisdom
  • Geese – Bravery
  • Crane – Grace
  • Flamingo – Beauty
  • Hawk – Protection
  • Crow – Knowledge
  • Cardinal – Loyalty
  • Blue Jay – Fearlessness
  • Bluebird – Hope
  • Magpie – Love
  • Stork – Long Life
  • Dove – Peacemaking
  • Raven – Guidance
  • Cuckoo – Alertness
  • Condor – Strength

 

Bird Symbolism – Frequently Asked Questions

What does a bird symbolize?

Birds symbolize new beginnings, hope, and freedom. Less commonly, they also symbolize prosperity, peace, and joy. Additionally, some bird species can also symbolize traits such as intelligence, strength, and courage.

What do birds symbolize spiritually?

Birds symbolize a lot of different things spiritually. Overall, birds have been believed to be symbols of transcendence in the spirit world. Many believe that seeing a specific bird means a loved one is checking in on you. Additionally, they’re seen as freedom from material constraints and even death.

What birds are spiritual messengers?

Different birds are spiritual messengers in different cultures. However, here are the birds that are most commonly seen as spiritual messengers:

  • Cardinals
  • Doves
  • Owls
  • Bluebirds
  • Hummingbirds
  • Crows
  • Swans

 

Conclusions

While birds symbolize many things and can be spirit guides, not every bird you come across will be trying to give you a message or be one of your spirit guides.

Therefore, it’s crucial that you take note of the setting that you’re in and what context you’re seeing a particular bird in to figure out if your encounter was just chance or something more.

About the Author

Brianna Goulet

Brianna loves to get outdoors for everything creative and fun. She has a passion for birds and is a hobbyist wildlife photographer based in Central Florida. Her goal is to share everything you need to know about birds so you can get out there, explore, and identify confidently!

Let others know your thoughts or ask an expert

Satabdi Saha

Saturday 25th of November 2023

I was touched on my right cheek by one very small,light- grey coloured wing which was not feathery but more tangible in substance.I was amazed because I saw only the wing and not the object that passed by my face. Secondly, all my doors and windows were shut firmly. It wasn't a hallucination, for I felt the touch on my cheeks .It happened within a fraction of a second and then vanished into thin air.I frantically looked for it, but couldn't see it anymore. The incident occurred about a year and a half ago but till now I have had no answer to it. Could you please analyse the spiritual significance of this occurrence?

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