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30 Bird Tattoo Meaning & Ideas To Inspire Your Next Steps

Bird tattoos and the symbolism behind them

A bird tattoo represents the best of both worlds. Beautiful and elegant, our winged friends are one of nature’s most constant artistic expressions.

Birds are also very symbolic animals. Capable of flight, they never fail to fill us with wonder and envy! No matter how big or small, birds also exhibit subtle power and can be associated with everything from freedom, determination, and independence to good fortune, omens, and creativity.

With so many attributes associated with these impressive, special members of the animal kingdom, no wonder birds are popular tattoos. Birders can show the world the animals they cherish, and non-birders can showcase avian beauty associated with powerful symbolism.

What do bird tattoos mean? What do certain species say about you and what you believe in? See answers and inspiration for bird tattoos below!


What Do Bird Tattoos Symbolize?

Bird tattoos make simple yet profound statements. For birdwatchers, a bird tattoo often represents the “spark bird”, the first bird species that caught their attention. Birders also get tattoos of species that mean a lot to them.

For birders, such tattoos symbolize passion for life and the natural world. However, birders and our non-birding friends can also get tattoos to express the symbolism associated with certain types of birds.

Gulls might not seem to be the prettiest or most appreciated birds but they are powerful avian symbols. Like many birds, they represent independence and freedom. Gulls go where they wish and, like adventurous people, they can wander to wild places.

Swallows have similar meanings along with faith and loyalty. Tattoos of hawks and eagles likewise speak of independence as well as power and a strong will. Other birds can have additional meanings but every bird tattoo shows appreciation for the beauty of the natural world.


Blue Jays Represent The Boldness In Us

This big, detailed tattoo of a Blue Jay is indicative of a bold and powerful soul. It can also stand for intelligence and an appreciation for curiosity. Blue Jays aren’t shy and show it with bold yet peaceful colors and impressive voices.


Robin Tattoo

The European Robin is a classic symbol of English gardens and the quaint countryside. They symbolize an appreciation for the simple, beautiful things in life, cheerful songs, and an open, friendly attitude.


Birds Can Turn Into Works Of Art

This stylized House Sparrow shows an appreciation for classic, Asian bird art. It’s an excellent symbol of love, good luck, beauty, and faith. In China, sparrows also symbolize happiness and the joy of spring.


Creepy Crow Tattoo

Crows have long been important symbols to cultures throughout the ages. This powerful tattoo of a calling crow and crows in flight could symbolize intelligence, resilience, and adaptation in the face of challenging situations. Crows also represent strength and a tattoo like this shows that the wearer is definitely not a weak person.


Crow Tattoo

Crows are a sign of strength but they also have a gentler, more delicate and caring side. This tattoo of a stylized crow paired with pink blossoms shows that the wearer is feminine but that this attribute should never be related to weakness. On the contrary, they are a strong person, both of mind and of body.


An Elegant Hummingbird

Hummingbirds are wonderful bird tattoos. These small, colorful, and feisty birds are symbols of determination, hard work, and that the smallest of beings are capable of wondrous feats. They can also show stylized birds like this tattoo, or detailed depictions of actual hummingbird species.

See more hummingbird tattoo ideas


The Beautiful Owl

Owls are some of the most symbolic birds on the planet. When I hear an owl call at night, I can’t help but feel a sense of ancient mystery and wonder. Owl tattoos, even stylized ones like the owl pictured above, can symbolize everything from hope to rejuvenation, wisdom, mystery, transition, and protection.


Eyes of Power

Owl tattoos can also represent a connection of the spiritual realm. With its bright, surreal colors, this owl tattoo symbolizes the connection between dreams and the hidden world. It can remind us of the belief in beautiful spiritual guardians and angels; invisible but always watching over us.


Bird With Flowers

This lovely and artistic bird tattoo depicts a small stylized bird with a rose and other blossoms.  It’s an excellent symbol of the delicate, vital beauty of the natural world and the living treasures found therein. Tattoos like this encourage all of us to become more connected to nature, and that we can discover incredible beauty, even right in our own backyards.


Tattoos Inspired By Franchises

The Mockingjay from the “Hunger Games” books and movies might not be a real bird but it still acts as an important symbol. This version of the Mockingjay shows an appreciation for those powerful stories. It also acts as a symbol for staying true to your beliefs and having strength and determination in the face of seemingly impossible odds.


Magpie Tattoo

Magpies are bold and intelligent birds that remind us of devotion, happiness, and the fruits of logic thinking. Tattoos of these birds showcase these attributes as well as remind us to recognize and seize important opportunities. Get a magpie tattoo and it can also show that you have a curious and inquisitive mind.


Egret Tattoo

Egrets are incredibly elegant birds of simple, graceful beauty. This tattoo of an egret captures that essence with its simple yet powerful design. Wear an egret tattoo and you wear a symbol of grace, wisdom, patience, and spiritual harmony.


Vibrant Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds have such amazing iridescent plumage, they can resemble living jewels! This hummingbird might be stylized ink art but still manages to capture the shining and surreal beauty of these dynamic little birds. They are also fantastic symbols of determination, and the importance of being true to yourself.


Tiny Owl

Owls always make wonderful tattoos. They can take the form of elaborate depictions of powerful Great Horned Owls, or ink art of cute little owls like this tattoo. No matter what form they take, owl tattoos are wonderful symbols of guardians, wisdom, and mystery.



The intricate beauty of warbler plumage makes them great subjects for tattoos that celebrate avian beauty. This tattoo shows stylized warblers foraging in realistic fall vegetation. In addition to showcasing an appreciation for birds, it’s a good symbol for joy, happiness, and living life to the fullest.


A Magpie Re-Imagined

These stylized magpies might not look just like the actual birds but they don’t have to. This tattoo still demonstrates the bold beauty of these curious and intelligent birds. It’s an excellent symbol for devotion, magic, mysticism, and creativity.


Vibrant Tattoos Symbolize Good Luck

Goldfinches and other small yellow birds are symbols of joy, happiness, self-acceptance, and having a beautiful gentle nature. This particular ink art shows a stylized goldfinch that captures their cheerful beauty. Its bright yellow colors and open wings remind us to embrace the joy of life and focus on happiness.


Swallows As Symbols of Freedom

Swallows have been important symbols and depicted in bird art for thousands of years. This tattoo of a Barn Swallow captures its delicate beauty with realistic details. Such swallow ink art is symbolic of hope, love, faith, and freedom.


Common, Yet Utterly Magnificent

Rock Doves are birds too! Many people ignore city pigeons but closer looks show how beautiful they can be. This tattoo symbolizes peace and hidden beauty by highlighting the iridescent beauty of the overlooked pigeon.


Magpies In Tatoo Form

Magpies are popular subjects for bird art. This tattoo does a fantastic job demonstrating their striking plumage patterns and association with beautiful, well-kept gardens. It’s a good symbol of finding magic and enchantment right in our own backyards.


Dove Tattoo

Doves are classic representations of peace and joy. This tattoo demonstrates that symbolism with simple yet effective ease. Its open wings also remind us to not be afraid, but to have faith and take positive chances.


Simplicity Is The Key

Bird tattoos are wonderful expressions of freedom and natural beauty. This tattoo accomplishes those feelings with this depiction of a stylized yet lovely detailed bird.


Magpies Can Symbolize Many Things

Magpies can be depicted in a number of ways. However, these striking black and white birds might look best when shown as a devoted pair. This beautiful tattoo is an excellent symbol of joy, good fortune, and happiness, especially by placing it over another tattoo of the wearer’s family.


Hummingbird Tattoo

Stylized hummingbirds such as this tattoo make easy and elegant statements. They showcase the surreal nature of hummingbirds while also acting as a symbol of perseverance and hard work. Tattoos like this can also symbolize overcoming difficulties and being extremely capable.


The Key To Our Hearts

Swallows are living art in motion. So elegant on the wing, these small and beautiful birds always make wonderful tattoos. This particular ink art shows a pair of swallows that symbolize the powerful nature of love and devotion.


Simple Hummingbird Tattoo

Good hummingbird tattoos don’t have to be colored. As this one demonstrates, they can also be black and white. This depiction of a Lancebill hummingbird species symbolizes elegance in the face of challenging situations.


Hummingbirds And Flowers Belong Together

Hummingbirds never fail to impress. Despite being tiny birds, they are incredibly pugnacious and lovely little creatures. This tattoo showcases the natural, delicate beauty of these tiny birds that symbolize determination and hard work.


Magpie In Its Glory

Magpies are symbols of happiness, intelligence, and much more. This particular magpie tattoo represents the magic and enchantment associated with these bold birds.


Eternal Love Can Be Carried By Birds

Swallows will always be powerful symbols of freedom and eternal love. This ink art of a stylized swallow symbolizes the freedom that true love brings, the freedom to be loved for being yourself.


Swallows Re-Imagined

This bird tattoo is an excellent representation of a Japanese swallow. In Japanese culture, swallows are associated with success, happiness, and good fortune. Getting a tattoo like this symbolizes these attributes, new beginnings, as well as an appreciation for Japanese culture.


See next: Hummingbird tattoo ideas

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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