Bird symbolism is popular all across the world throughout different cultures. However, the consistent presence of these creatures is precisely what makes us curious and leads us to investigate and wonder.
What do birds represent? What is so special about bird symbolism that it is not only widely accepted but also adopted?
While some people draw parallels between the creature’s ability to fly and being a link between heaven and earth, we can find backdated references from the most bizarre stories to the most peaceful and calming ones. Whatever makes them special, their uniqueness is undeniable.
This is why in this article, we will discuss bird symbolism from their historical and spiritual meaning to their encounters and omens, and much more.
Table of contents
- Bird Symbolism and Meaning
- Bird Native American Symbolism
- Bird Christianity Symbolism
- Bird Celtic Symbolism
- Birds in Dreams
- Bird Encounters and Omens
- Bird Mythology and Folklore
- Bird Spirit Animal
- Bird Totem Animal
- Bird Power Animal
- Bird Tattoo Meaning
Bird Symbolism and Meaning
There is prominent symbolism of birds in various religions, different times, and cultures of the world, especially in the Middle East or Asia. But what do birds symbolize, and what does their symbolism mean?
The meanings of birds and their symbolism varies greatly from representing immortality, departed souls, and spirit messengers to representing fertility, protection, and strength. The difference in the meaning of their symbolism and representations is rooted in their different spices and kinds.
To give you an idea of the different representations and different meanings of birds, here are ten bird species with their respective symbolic meanings:
|Bird Species||Symbolism, meaning and association|
|1||Cranes||Peace, blessings, good luck|
|2||Eagles||Courage, rebirth, power|
|3||Owl||Insight, wisdom, death|
|4||Swan||Light, twin flame, purity|
|5||Sparrow||Productivity, diligence, creativity|
|6||Peacock||Serenity, spring, vanity|
|7||Nightingale||Anticipation, Love, Secrets|
|8||Hummingbird||Joy, Love Healing|
|9||Falcons||Longevity, Victory, Nobility|
|11||Bluebird||Joy, honesty, harmony|
|12||Crow||Transformation, change, adaption|
Apart from these specific meanings, bird symbolism indicates enlightenment, regardless of spiritual nature or worldly nature. The unique physical structure of birds with hollow bones, feathers, and light bodies gives them the ability to fly through the open blue sky. This is an ability that is understandably envied by flightless creatures like us humans.
When a bird opens its wings to soar freely, they let go of all their worries and fly above in the heavens and deliver divine messages to the ones that need them the most. Religious scripts also site references to this. We can also find various references to historical bird symbolism in literature, mythology, and folklore.
Bird Native American Symbolism
Native American mythology and folklore speak profoundly of different kinds and species of birds serving as a connection between the human world and the spirit one. The divinities charge these winged creatures with duties like delivering messages from the Creator to us. Although the messages and the methods of delivering these messages are neutral; however, the nature of the message casts birds in different roles. This explains how some bird meanings in Native American folklore vary from villainy and jealous competitors to heroes and wise advisors.
Different Native American tribes also designate birds as their clan animal. While some clans decide to relate themselves to a specific type of bird, like the raven clan or the eagle clan, others choose to follow a more generalized approach. These clans include the following:
- The Fusualgi clan or fuswvlke bird clan also known as the bird clan of the creek
- The anijisqua bird clan or antisiskwa clan also known as the bird clan of the Cherokees
- The feather clan of the Mi’kmaq tribe
In addition to the tribes solely dedicating themselves to these creatures as their clan animal, we can also see various bird spirit animal and bird totem crests in most northwest coast tribes. To this day, the bird totem poles proudly display artistically, creatively, and culturally significant carvings of birds like eagles, thunderbirds, and ravens, among many others.
The descendants of many Native American tribes and clan members also recall enchanting tales, legends, and stories about different species of birds. Almost all tales end with a moral conclusion to teach the value of life to their young members.
Bird Christianity Symbolism
Tribal recognition of bird symbolism is the living embodiment of what many religious scripts and leaders tell us. In other words, birds are so much more than hollow bones and feathers; they are living representations and symbols of hope and strength. Even throughout the bible, the significance of these creatures is incredibly dominating. They appear again and again, from the start till the end, sometimes as nothing but an exemplary reference while other times they play a vital role in the formation of history.
The question comes down to, what do birds symbolize in the bible?
Birds symbolize mercy, hope, and divine intervention, among other things. It is a bird that carries the Israelites to safety on her wings. It is also a bird that brings back the olive branch to Noah, signifying the end of the legendary flood. A bird also accompanied Jesus on his first temple visit. They bring bread to the prophets when they are hungry, hope when they feel defeated or alone, and relief when they feel anxious.
Maybe we will fend better for ourselves if we follow the footsteps of the prophets in considering birds. All we need to do is slow down, pay attention, and observe the birds. God can send these winged creatures to us with the very thing our hearts are crying for. If we let them, they can be our best form of medication when we are in spiritual pain and heartbroken.
Bird Celtic Symbolism
Ancient Celts believed in the power of animal worship mainly because they regarded them as the souls of the departed. Based on the type of animal, Celtics drew parallels with the transformation and life of the departed. Birds were considered the reincarnations of the most pious and highly respected individuals. A bird symbol stands for transcendence and freedom in Celtic.
Apart from the souls and reincarnations, Celtics also believe birds represent liberation for humans because of their ability to take flight high up in the heavens. This naturally led to them believing that the birds act as a moderator between the divine and mortals. This is what drives their beliefs extended to birds bringing them prophecies and messages of guidance from the One that is all-seeing.
Celtics also have many legends and stories telling us about how druids were able to shape-shift into creatures that bore feathers and could transcend high up in the sky. Among those legends, the most widely known are Ceridwen, the witch that could turn into a hawk, and Taliesin, a wizard, and portrayed companion of King Arthur, who could also turn into a bird.
Bird meanings to Celtic were and still remain very significant. Some consider birds as spiritual guardians, while others think of them as allies and even helpers. Therefore, Celts brand different bird symbols and different species of birds on their shields, banners, clothes, ornaments, and even on their bodies as reminders of their importance.
Birds in Dreams
What do birds symbolize spiritually and in our dreams?
When we see a bird in our dreams, it usually symbolizes our goals, hopes, and aspirations. However, many oneirologists, as well as skilled dream interpreters, will tell you how different the meanings of birds are in our dreams with different variables like the species, sight, and manner of observing the bird. Some types of birds mean harmony, balance, joy, ecstasy, and love, while others deliver warnings and foreshadow terrible times, struggles, or difficulties in a person’s life.
The manner of seeing the bird, as mentioned before, is also fundamental in their meaning. For example, the spiritual meaning of birds hitting the window in your dream or, in reality, means the divine is warning you to be aware and take notice, .whereas the spiritual meaning of flock of birds in your dream as well as in reality is a very positive one. It is an excellent sign, especially if you spot the flock nearby a familiar place, like your workplace or home. It announces progress, prosperity, and that abundance is coming your way.
Aside from the species and mannerism of seeing birds in your dreams, their behavior, color, and sound is also something worth noting. For example, if you see bird eggs, it means money, seeing a bird hatch means delayed success.
All of these minute details help pinpoint the exact interpretation that is unique and extremely meaningful to the dreamer.
Bird Encounters and Omens
Birds are everywhere. Humans typically don’t spend a day without hearing some form of bird song or spotting a colorful winged creature. Perhaps this is why most of us take the spiritual meaning of birds for granted. It is asking questions, like what does a bird in the house mean, and wondering about the special encounter with a bird, can we reach spiritual enlightenment that most of us so desperately seek.
The symbolism of birds is usually positive and filled to the brim with prosperous messages. The meaning of birds flying in front of a car is also a positive one. While it is a form of distraction the birds utilize to safeguard their nests, its spiritual meaning translates to awareness. It means that whatever spiritual goal you set out in your heart, you are very close to it. Don’t give up.
However, the mannerism of encountering them can change the omen from a positive to a negative very quickly. For instance, encountering or spotting a dead bird.
Dead bird symbolism relates to and indicates disappointment. Depending on the type of bird you are observing, the disappointment can be internal or external. Internally, you might be worried about some problems of yours that are constantly on your mind and perhaps concluding disappointment prematurely. Externally, you might be feeling disappointed by the actions of someone that you did not expect or foresee.
As explained earlier, the method of encounter also significantly affects bird meaning. For instance, while it is a very positive sign to spot birds near or outside your window, according to some superstitions, bird pecking at window spiritual meaning is the announcement of the death of someone close to you.
Bird Mythology and Folklore
There is no shortage of mythological stories, legends, folklore tales, superstitions, and beliefs in the rich cultural history of the world throughout time, as the Native American and Celtic clans demonstrate proudly. Therefore it only makes sense that the bird symbolism in literature transcends the boundaries of borders.
We see the bird sign most commonly in the Middle East, Africa, and European mythologies and folklore. They start from the most ancients cave paintings of giant birds to the most modern representations of the mystical birds.
The most famous bird mythology and folklore speak of the following winged creatures:
Phoenix is a bird with 500 years life cycle. Once one life cycle is about to end, the majestic bird builds a nest of itself and rest in it. When it is time for the phoenix to die, they spontaneously self-combust, and with the ashes, they are born again to begin their new life. The legend speaks of phoenix as creatures that have many mystical creatures like healing all sorts of injuries and poisons with its tears.
The roc is an Arabic or Middle Eastern mythological bird of enormous size. The tales of one thousand and one nights depict Sinbad encountering one. Reference to the roc can also be found in the Sanskrit epics Ramayana and Mahabharata.
The roman mythology speaks of Caladrius, a snow-white bird that usually resides with royalties. This pure bird can absorb illness and disease from sick people. The birds fly up into the sun to incinerate the illness. However, if this miraculous bird turned its head away from a sick person, then it was a sure sign of its unavoidable death.
Bird Spirit Animal
Of all the animals, having bird spirit animals looking after you is the biggest honor among all. These creatures are the closets to heaven, and which is the meaning of their symbolism has such a substantial and significant effect on our lives. They connect the humans to the spirits above and materialize ‘as above, so below.’
The spiritual meaning of birds as your spirit animal is the certain and sure attributes and abilities of yours. It means that you, like your bird spirit animal, are very perspective and intelligent. You can sense danger coming your way, long before it is near you. This is primarily how birds protect their nests, which again means that you are also very protective of your loved ones. It is most likely that you will follow the path of your spirit animal and stop at nothing to make sure that your loved ones are safe and protected.
This translates to you keeping the meaning of birds alive within you, especially in times of troubles and struggles.
Although you are fearless and courageous, don’t be afraid if you find an unpleasant surprise in your backyard. The meaning of a dead bird in the yard actually translates to the end of something as well as the beginning of something else. The transition might be unpleasant but very important for your growth.
Bird Totem Animal
People throughout history use Bird totems symbolically, but they are most commonly associated with Native American tribes. They created the bird totem poles as a reminder for them to learn self-awareness and insight.
Bird totems of all kinds are a powerful connection to the past of the bearer as well as a talisman to help them peek into future events.
Bird Power Animal
The spiritual meaning of birds, just like a bird totem, is one of elevation, enlightenment, hope, and wisdom. The bird power animal follows this meaning and provides us with unique gifts in the form of unique and independent perspectives and personalities.
For eons, people looked up to the sacred winged creatures by collecting their feathers and putting them in things important to them, especially in celebration of something or when performing a ritual. The power animal provides great meaning and significance in these events.
We see a glimpse of this in the powerful Egyptian god Horus who is usually seen adorned in exquisite plumage. Here lies the answer to the age-old question, what does a bird in the house mean?
Like the powerful Egyptian deity, the spiritual meaning of birds flying in our house is of peace, change, and freedom. In other words, they symbolize a transformation of some sort in the coming days.
Bird Tattoo Meaning
People very commonly use Bird symbols and their variations as tattoos designs. However, like all tattoos, we wonder, what do bird tattoos mean?
A bird tattoo meaning is deep and primarily stands for freedom, independence, and fearlessness. Some people who choose to get a bird symbol inked on their body tell us something that is individually unique to that person and his or her experience. They often relate to one of the following:
- Spirituality, higher understanding or a connection to the being supreme
- Self-sufficiency, self-actualization or the power of self-direction
- To enhance perspectives or capabilities, like agility, lightness, buoyancy, and the ability to rise above adversity.
Birds that represent freedom can mean mental autonomy, spiritual self-direction, and independence from the hindrances of physical capabilities or freedom of any other choice.
The significance of bird symbolism is undeniable. We see it echo throughout history and pass across borders. Different cultures have their own way of honoring these sacred winged animals, and they all recognize the importance and spiritual meaning behind their symbolism. Perhaps we can take a leaf out of their book and benefit from the mystical things birds of different kinds have to offer us. All we need to do is watch the birds.