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What Do Vultures Symbolize? Their Full Symbolism & Meaning

Vulture symbolism

Vulture symbolism is an endless topic, but the main things they represent are death, rebirth, patience, and protection.

These birds of prey are mostly known for eating the bodies of dead animals and soaring in circles high in the sky, using rising air currents to prolong their elevation.

Here’s everything you need to know about vulture symbolism and what to do when vultures show themselves to you.


Meaning & Symbolism

Even though vultures are perceived as buzzards and are often associated with death, they still represent qualities that we can ingrain in our lives. They do symbolize some negative traits, but they also represent positive traits!

Black Vultures

Vultures are very important birds; they provide essential health and economic benefits and play a crucial role in preserving the ecosystems they inhabit.

By consuming carcasses, they prevent pathogens from spreading to other wildlife and humans and prevent contaminants from draining into the environment.

Vultures live in large flocks and are highly social birds. These birds often fly together when migrating and when searching for food. Outside of the breeding season, vultures will roost together at communal roosts, sometimes by the hundreds.

Learn more: Symbolism of Birds

They teach us the importance of protecting ourselves, our family, and the environment. Additionally, they teach us patience, death, and rebirth.


What does it mean when you see a vulture?

Seeing a vulture means a few different things. Seeing a vulture can mean that you need to go through a complete mental and spiritual transformation. This will help you feel more ambitious and passionate about achieving a positive state of mind as well as help you discover your true self.

Additionally, seeing a vulture can mean you need to switch on your intuition. It’s important to tune into your intuition so you can achieve excitement, joy, and fulfillment in life. It’ll help you feel more connected with your true desires and heart.


Spiritual Meaning

One of the main things vultures symbolize is rebirth. They’re there to tell you that whatever is happening in your life is something you need to let go of. Release yourself to the winds of change and fly to new beginnings.

These birds are creatures of the air; because of this, they’re often seen as messengers telling you that you need a different perspective. Whatever’s happening that’s weighing you down, you need to drop it and move on. Make sure you are investing your energy in the things that support your well-being.

Black Vultures

Arguably one of the most important lessons that vultures can teach us is to walk our walk. These birds don’t really have a voice, so they teach us how to keep our word and show people our true nature through our actions.

Related: Do Groups of Birds Really Have Their Collective Nouns (And Meanings)?

Sometimes vultures will show themselves to you around the time that someone in your life dies. This can be a very difficult time, but the Vulture knows that you’ll find a new way of living once the grief passes.


Death and Rebirth

Vulture symbolism often associates them with death. If you see a vulture circling high in the sky, most people will assume there is either a dying animal or an already dead animal below.

These birds are scavengers and use their sharp sense of smell to find decaying carcasses as their primary source of food. They also use their incredible eyesight to spot dead animals from miles away.

Because their food of choice is carrion, vultures are commonly associated with death. Even so, these birds aren’t predators, some buzzard species will hunt small prey, but practically all vultures prefer to consume dead animals.

Black Vulture

While it may seem grim initially, a vulture eating the dead to stay alive can be seen as rebirth. Vultures take in the old to create something new, preserving the natural cycle of life. On top of this, they cleanse areas of carcasses, which helps create a cleaner environment with less decay and bacteria.



If a vulture sees carrion, they don’t immediately swoop down to feed. They will wait and observe their surroundings before going down to feed.

They do this to protect themselves from any potential predators that may be hanging around. It’s believed that vultures will follow a dying animal until they pass so they can feed.

This is not the case; vultures are patient and respect the life cycle. They don’t try to rush death along.



In some cultures, vultures are seen as symbols of protection. Not only do they provide protection, but they also support those who seek them. Additionally, they’re seen as guardians of the spirit realm and can provide both comfort and guidance during any times of uncertainty.

Related: What is a group of vultures called?

Black Vulture

Seeing a vulture may mean that kind forces are watching over you. They’re giving you the strength and resources you need to overcome any challenges that you’re facing or may be coming your way.


Vulture Tattoo Meaning

The vulture tattoo has various meanings. Vultures are known for their watchful eyes and keen eyesight, which makes them a symbol of vigilance.

These birds are natural-born hunters and have an incredible sense of smell that helps them find their next meal. There isn’t an animal within miles of the bird that can escape being noticed.

Another trait vulture tattoos represent is intelligence. These birds are very social, intelligent creatures. In fact, they’re very social towards humans.

There have been several instances of injured vultures getting too attached to their caretakers, making them unable to be released.

Read more: Bird Tattoo Meanings & Ideas

Additionally, the things these birds do to make sure their young survive, along with themselves, are impressive. Getting a tattoo of this bird means you appreciate the intelligence of this animal.

Vulture tattoos can also represent caution. Vultures are always hesitant to dive in and eat when they find carrion. They always observe their surroundings and the situation before going in to eat.

They could become food for another animal if they’re not careful. It’s not uncommon to see them circle until they feel it’s safe to go in for a meal.


Vulture Symbolism – Frequently Asked Questions

What does a vulture symbolize?

Vultures symbolize a variety of things, but the main symbols they represent are death, rebirth, patience, and protection.

Do vultures sense death?

No, vultures can’t sense death or when an animal is dying. However, they do have an incredible sense of smell for a bird; they can sniff out carrion from more than a mile away.

Why are vultures associated with death?

Vultures are associated with death because they’re often seen circling above a dead animal. These birds are scavengers that use their sharp sense of smell to find decaying carcasses. They also use their incredible eyesight to spot dead animals from miles away. Because their main source of food is carcasses, vultures are often associated with death.

What gods are represented by vultures?

There are several gods and goddesses that are represented by vultures, including Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, Hathor the Egyptian goddess of love, Mut the Egyptian sky goddess, Isis the Egyptian goddess of life and healing, Nasr the Middle Eastern vulture/eagle god, Osiris the Egyptian god of the underworld, and Neith the Egyptian goddess of war to name a few.

How intelligent are vultures?

Vultures are very intelligent birds. For example, you can’t scare off these birds with the usual techniques because they’re smart enough to know that shiny objects, noises, bright lights, etc., cannot harm them.

What do vultures symbolize in Native American culture?

In Native American culture, vultures symbolize deceit, bad luck, and danger. This bird is seen as an aggressor, even though they’re not aggressive by nature. They’ll drive away other scavengers and predators when feeding, but that’s as far as their aggression goes.



Vulture symbolism is a wide topic – they are large, intelligent birds that represent a lot of different things. However, you’ll be happy to know that seeing can sometimes mean good things.

If you think a vulture is trying to send you a message, be sure you’re paying attention to the bird’s behavior and how often you see them. This will help you pinpoint exactly what they’re trying to tell you.

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!

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