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Vulture Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)

vultures roosting

Explore vulture symbolism and learn about the mental resources it may provide you with. Open your eyes and let yourself get inspired by the intelligence or patience of the vulture, and embrace this spirit into your life to take advantage of all it can generate and create for your destiny.

Table of contents

Vulture Symbolism and Meaning

Vulture symbolism speaks of flexibility, perception and is admired for the awareness of this animal. 

The vulture is a bird capable of using all its senses to achieve all that can be completed in this life and embraces every day with its wings wide open in front of the opportunities the Sun brings to the new day. 

This Sunbathing is a cleansing ritual, in which the bird dries the dew from its feathers and lets the ultraviolet radiation kill the remaining bacteria from the last meal.

The vulture symbolism is linked to death, rebirth, equalizing, perception, trust, seriousness, resourcefulness, intelligence, cleanliness, and protection.


Even if this bird is associated with death and other sinister ideas, the turkey vultures symbolism is about cleansing, adaptability, patience, loyalty, innovation, community, protection, death and rebirth, renewal, tolerance, protection.

In many cultures, the vulture symbolizes a guardian or messenger between life and death, the physical world, and the spirit world. 

They have magical powers and are even seen as Gods. It is a contradictory symbol of darkness, mystery, divine power, and great wisdom at the same time. (1)

Vulture Native American Symbolism

The symbolism of vultures in the Native American culture is mostly negative. In some regions, a vulture is a bird that symbolizes death and is seen as unclean. 

A vulture flying is a sign of bad luck or even danger. In Native American legends, the vulture meaning is a deceitful, aggressive character that bothers other birds.

One of these legends is depicted when everyone lived in the sky, and a jaguar caught a man to eat him. 

The latter presents himself as a wizard and promises to create a wife for the Jaguar if spared. The animal accepts and leaves the female Jaguar pregnant. 


Because the woman laughed at her mother in law for passing gas, the Jaguar’s mother kills her daughter in law. 

The Jaguar’s brother saves the twin babies from her womb that grow to have magical powers and take revenge on their mother. 

Being so powerful, they create the Earth for people to live on and capture the Sun and the Moon from the Vulture people, guarding them and keeping the planets for themselves. 

The twins send the Sun and Moon to the sky so that everyone could use them. (2)

Vulture Eastern Symbolism

The vulture’s meaning in Tibet is of a sacred bird because it feeds on dead bodies, not on living beings, thus cleaning the country at the same time. 

They have a festival dedicated to these birds, which is associated with the idea of reincarnation.

In this ritual, the Tibetans provide the vultures with a human corpse to devour and offer in this way the soul of the person the chance to another life. The spiritual meaning of vultures, in this case, is of a Dakini, a Tibetan angel. 


So, they view this ritual as giving the dead’s soul to the angels to take to heaven and await the next incarnation.

During this festival, monks must keep people in a good mood so that the spirit can leave this plane in peace. 

The remaining bones are broken into pieces and given to other scavenger birds. By doing this ritual, people believe that they also save the smaller birds from the vultures, as Buddha sacrificed his flesh to save a dove from this bird. (3)

Vulture Christianity symbolism

The vulture spiritual meaning in the Bible is of an unclean animal because they feed on corpses. These birds are linked to the kingdom of death, and leaving the bodies in their care was a sign of exclusion from society and God.

In Christianity, the vulture meaning symbolism is of judgment, shame, and a sick spiritual condition. 

Babylon the Great is illustrated as a place for evil, demons, and vultures. These birds are even linked to the Devil, leading you astray from the path of life and hunting you when you’re far away from Christ’s spiritual ways.

vultures roosting

Vulture circling is a symbol of the demon that waits to devour its prey. It knows you are about to slip and make the wrong choices, and it is patient until it can consume your soul.

Basing yourself on pleasures and evil deeds will sicken your spirit and bring you closer to the vulture’s claws.

Jesus refers to the vultures as the birds that will gather the corpses, cleaning the fowl from between the right people at the end of times, in the book of Revelations. 

Vulture Celtic Symbolism

The Ellen Trechend is a monster with three vulture heads in Irish mythology. This creature destroyed Ireland until the hero Amergin mac Eccit killed it.

In Celtic Ireland, Shamans used to have a ritual called “sky burial” in which the dead bodies would be left in a high altitude region to be eaten by vultures. 

These birds are also portrayed on the megalithic structures’ walls and symbolize the spirits that carry the dead to the Otherworld. 


It is believed that the cairns in which these things happened were built to help the shamans create this bridge between this world and the spirit world.

In Ireland, the law is forbidden to kill vultures, the buzzard spiritual meaning is also of cleansing in this region, as it eats rodents and is of no threat to pets and farm animals.

But what does a buzzard symbolize in Celtic tradition? They view it as an intelligent bird that knows how and when to consume its energy. It is a symbol of rest and replenishing your energies. It is associated with the Sabbath that is the first day of the week. (4)

Vulture African Symbolism

The Egyptian vulture was considered a sacred bird by the Pharaohs. The buzzard symbolism is present in the Ancients’ hieroglyphs and represents the letter A of the alphabet. 

These people believed that the vultures were born from eggs without a male pattern, which did not exist through this species. Being thought that these birds are only females, the vultures were associated with motherhood and purity.

In Egyptian mythology, the vultures were sacred birds that were close to Isis. The vulture animal is also present as a deity called Nekhbet, patron, and nurse of Egypt and the Pharaoh.


 It is illustrated as a woman with a vulture’s head, her wings being a symbol of protection with an emblem of infinity in its claws. 

The vulture eating dead animal symbolism is present here as well, and it is the representation of Nekhbet, death, and rebirth. Her cult was solely conducted by priestesses, who wore white vulture feathers clothes. This goddess was considered the first mother, from the beginning of time.

Vultures in African culture are kept close to protect from evil and improve women’s fertility. They are also believed to be an aid in contacting the deceased. (5)

Vulture in Dreams

The meaning of seeing vultures in dreams is of good luck, of something good that is about to happen to you.

You might dream of vultures circling and ask yourself, “why do buzzards circle in the sky”? Buzzard circling talks about something terrible that will happen, the loss of something precious in your life, and a warning to prepare.

What does it mean when you see a group of vultures? A flock of vultures signifies that someone you know will come in possession of a lot of money. 

But the flock of vultures’ meaning might also be of you helping someone with those finances.


What does it mean when a vulture crosses your path in dreams? If turkey vultures are circling, you should then be prepared for something terrible. It is an omen of great misfortune.

A dream of vultures attacking you speaks of the disappointment someone close will bring to you. A vulture attacking is an illustration of a person that gossips everything you tell them.

The vulture dream, meaning in which a dead vulture is present, is a sign of financial gain.

What does it mean when you see a black vulture? The black vulture symbolism in dreams is about listening to your conscience and not doing the things you know that you shouldn’t.

Vulture Encounters and Omens

Are vultures a bad omen? It is commonly believed so, being a sign of death. But are vultures good luck in any culture? It is said that it can be a powerful sign of rebirth as well.

You might see vultures on the roof and ask yourself, “why are vultures hanging around my house”? The vultures on the roof of the house meaning is of death coming into your household. But don’t get scared right away, for it might also be a symbol of healing.

An African superstition exists, which tells that smelling the vulture’s brain will give a person great intuition and help him win in various gambling games.


You might ask, “can vultures sense death?” The vulture symbol is present in many superstitions as a bearer of death, misfortune, and disease, a messenger of the Otherworld.

In Nigeria, the turkey vulture feathers’ meaning or vulture heads are costly and are about rituals made to connect to the spirit world or used as medicine. 

They also consider it an evil being, bad omen, and often kill these birds, although it’s forbidden by law. In other regions of this country, a vulture is just-food.

Vulture Mythology and Folklore

What do vultures represent in mythology? The meaning of buzzards, in general, is about their power to consume death and create life, nonetheless, being associated with the idea of rebirth and reincarnation.

Nasr is an Arabian deity, which resembles a vulture, and it is said to have been the patron of people during the prophet Noah’s life.

There is a legend in Bulgaria and Turkey that the turkey vulture symbolism speaks of this bird saving Muhammad from an eagle’s grasp. The vulture is named the “white father” after receiving eternal life and white plumage as a reward for its bravery, purity, and wisdom.


The Romans watched how the vultures flew to read what it means, whether it was a good or a bad omen. 

Romulus and Remus decided on which hill to build the new city on how the vultures flew. These birds were also seen as a symbol of love because they always passed in pairs.

In Italy, the buzzard meaning is of “master of cows” because the birds are often seen flying along with cattle. This happens for a reason; the vultures eat cows’ excrement.

Vulture Spirit Animal

The vulture spirit animal is associated with harmony, purity, and cleansing for the motif that it eats the dead and doesn’t let the disease get spread.

The spirit animal vulture makes its appearance in your life when you are in suffering to remind you that by hurting, you will grow and evolve to a higher self. This animal can also aid you in attaining clairvoyance and seeing auras, enlightening you spiritually.

The vulture spirit animal meaning is acting rapidly when sighting the opportunity, using this bird’s keen eye. The vulture is also a reminder that you should pay more attention to yourself and take care of your own needs, just as the vulture keeps clean by not having any feathers to infect on its head while eating.

The buzzard spirit animal is a symbol of protection and defense. This bird flies into your life as a warning to protect yourself and your loved ones from imminent danger.

It is the embodiment of adaptability in any good or bad situation. This spirit animal teaches us to get through anything as life lies ahead.

Resourcefulness is another aspect that the turkey vulture spirit animal bestows upon us by its ability to feed on the worst decomposed animals. (7)

Vulture Totem Animal

The vulture totem teaches you how to consume your energy efficiently and grants you the ability of clairvoyance.

The vulture character is someone patient with great intuition and can efficiently resolve problems because of this. 

If you have the vulture animal totem, you can quickly adapt to any situation and are a very protective person, especially to those you love or feel responsible for.

Vultures meaning magic, can help you find the strength and resources within yourself to take advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead.


The turkey vulture totem gives you strong will power, keen sight, and intelligence, making you a good strategist and team worker. 

You don’t get angry quickly and have the capacity to tolerate many things without letting them distract you from your path.

As a totem, the vulture meaning makes you too analytical sometimes, to the extent that you might get obsessed with your thoughts and delay acting because of the need to calculate and control everything. 

Your shrewdness can make you stingy from time to time, but it can also be a positive aspect if you don’t exaggerate. (8)

Vulture Power Animal

If you want to invoke the vulture power animal, try spreading your arms in front of the Sun and visualize this bird, so that the energy of the vulture can enter and help you. 

But remember that this power animal always expects something in return for its aid.

If you find yourself in a difficult situation and want to change for the better, call upon the vulture medicine to guide you. 

Learn how to manage your resources and keep your patience with the help of this turkey vulture medicine.


If danger is lurking and you need protection or if you require the power to protect others, the vulture power animal is the energy necessary in your case.

Turkey vulture’s meaning is about being opportunistic and knowing when to act and claim the riches, which means that it is not necessarily bad. 

This animal’s intelligence will help you analyze and calculate your project to the last detail, not missing anything. With the vulture power comes wisdom and patience, aspects indispensable when working hard to obtain the best result.

Vulture Tattoo Meaning

The vulture’s eye as a tattoo is a symbol of vigilance, as it is linked to the bird’s keen eyesight.

Vulture tattoos also symbolize intelligence and great capacities in hunting for their well-developed sense of smell. This bird prefers many things to survive, and it is an emblem for wits, struggle, and hard work.

The black vulture feathers tattoo is a symbol of strength, the best of best, the strongest of them all. The person who gets this image pictured on their body can be a bully in life.

vulture illustration

A turkey vulture walking tattoo illustrates adaptability and intelligence because it preys on the carcasses, picking everything from the bones, with its bald head, designed so that it doesn’t get infected when eating.

The hovering vulture tattoo is a symbol of death, associated with the idea that the vultures circle their dying pray and await the right moment to eat it. 

It can have both positive and negative meanings, depending on what the person who got this tattoo thought. It could be something from the past that has died and led the one pictured on to a new life, or it could be something or someone they have lost.


The vulture is one of the most potent bird totems and spirit animals. It can bestow enormous power to the governed, or you can invoke this spirit and symbolism into your life, so don’t hesitate to summon this fantastic creature when you need it.


19 thoughts on “Vulture Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)”

  1. Avatar

    I saw vulture 3 days ago sitting on my house roof after few days I can hear something walking inside my ceiling board when I shout it keep quiet what does that mean it’s scary

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    Hatzy Hornblower


    I led a Summer Solstice Ceremony in an Objibwa Medicine Wheel garden we built at the Groton First Parish House. We Cleansed ourselves with sage before we entered the garden. Then honored the earth with tobacco and corn meal. We prayed for its healing, for moderate weather, for peace and bountiful harvests worldwide in these troubled times. After our prayers around 10:40-11:00, seven vultures flew over the crest of nearby Gibbet Hill flew toward the Parish House and Medicine Garden: circling above a bit to the South just below the Sun then flew on toward the Northwest. I have had training with a difficult Cherokee shaman and later with Cherokee and other Northern tribal elders, teachings from a Salvadoran Shaman and his wife, Wampanoag leaders repatriating burial remains, as well as elders and spiritual leaders of the Pueblean cultures, seen and participated in rituals at William Commanda’s gatherings in Kiti Ganzibi, Quebec, and long ago at the Return of the Shalako Kachina at Zuni. and much more in Mexico and Guatemala. I feel the vultures were answering us. Part of their message is patience; more cleansing must be done.

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    My daughter today 06.10.22 at Wits today there was a Vulture outside the path she’s suppose to use going to her Res at Junction Avenue. I am so afraid of my daughter. She saw it through her window.

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    I found a turkey vulture in my back yard. It let me approach it so I went and got a cloth to put over its head and caught it. It must have been sick or something. I called around and found a rescue that would take it and I just dropped it off. After reading this I’m scared as hell. I just hope the bird survives and maybe by saving its life it will take away the bad ju ju.

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      Rescue centers don’t think they are worth rehab. They euthanize them…sorry. We found out the hard way. They only want to rehab hawks, owls, etc.

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        Yes! I found this out the hard way also! For 2 years an injured vulture has lived in or near my yard! It cannot fly and will not allow me to approach! The Rapture Rescue? Center here in SC would not talk to me about help! I feed it meals of decaying chicken I leave out to ruin ! So far he ?is Still Alive and Greeys the Sun every morning with spread open wings and I feel honored for it’s ” protection and helping me heal he death of my beloved partner of 34 years when he left Earth! I feel the Vulture is protecting me and as long as he can “Survive” the way he is ,I will do my best to help him as he looks after me! I have notified my neighbors to please Not to hurt him or run hm down if he can’t move fast enough to get out of thier way when he ” hops” across the road! His Flock Family nest nearby and roost in a small patch of woods across he stret from my house! He’s beautiful! I gather his feathers he sheds in my yard! Spiritually I feel he is protectiong and helping me heal thru my grief! I don’t understand the WHY the Avian Rescuse deems Vultures unworthy of helping but he is so Honorable to me ,Brave and Courageous,Until in the fullness of time,I will do all I’m able to let him know ,I believe he is worthy and noble to care for !
        Thank you for listening to my tale of my Vulture “Friend”! He is really so cool!

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    My husband has shared to me that it’s been 3 different times while driving, a vulture would swoop down almost getting hot by his vehicle. He has some Native American from his mother. Im in to the metaphysical. Is this a warning of some sort to him? Thank you for your response. Kind regards

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    I saw one of these beauties on the way to work today. It was sitting on a fence along a farm field. I really love to look up meanings of animals. Because I 100% believe they show up at given times to bring a message

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      Vultures will eat the young and infirm, but it’s generally easier not to. Pharaoh’s chickens (Egyptian vultures) actually use a stick to break open eggs so they can eat what’s inside; at some point, there was an Egyptian belief that they did this to release new souls. Vultures will eat the odd lizard or mouse if the opportunity presents itself, but they won’t hunt them the way an owl or other bird of prey might. Vultures tend to have weaker jaws and feet than other birds of prey, so they’re ill-suited to swooping down on or carrying off prey.

      Black vultures are different from other vultures. They’re the only New World vulture without a sense of smell and generally find corpses by following turkey vultures and running them off. They seem to almost prefer to attack and kill young and sickly animals over scavenging, and will even kill healthy young other vultures (and condors, for that matter) would probably ignore. They’re still not great at carrying things in their talons, but black vultures have a stronger bite relative to their body size than most other vultures (including condors). They cause tons of damage to property and livestock and, in the US at least, you need a special permit to kill them, which requires substantial proof they’re causing property damage and harm to livestock. I’ve never heard of a black vulture attacking, killing, and eating a feral cat the way other birds of prey do, but I wouldn’t put it past them.

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    Are there different types of vultures beside the Turkey vultures or are they all named the same? Also there always in packs so that must mean something right ? Please explain, I wanna get a tattoo of a vulture because it’s meaning describes me in so many ways, when I was in my adolescence I remember seeing like 40 to 50 of them on a radio microwave antenna an they were all black from head to toe there wonderful birds but do you think they are better then an eagle?

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      Vultures tend to be highly social, with different species of vultures feeding at the same time with little competition (though their is a hierarchy thing with vultures based on size, like with lots of other animals). In Tibet at least, some species of vultures even share nesting grounds. That’s why you often see them in groups (known alternatively as kettles, wakes, and parliaments, depending on what they’re doing).

      Turkey vultures are a smaller species of vulture, part of the New World vultures. New World vultures are those native to the Americas and includes condors. They aren’t closely related to the Old World vultures of Europe, Asia, and Africa; they’re similar due to convergent evolution. African vultures are technically a subset of the Old World, but they tend to be less closely related to the vultures of Europe and Asia than to one another. New World vultures tend to have highly-developed senses of smell (turkey vultures can smell buried remains at up to four miles away), excepting the black vulture, and are mute: they can hiss, grunt, and growl, but can’t vocalize. By contrast, Old World vultures can’t smell, but they can vocalize (griffon vultures actually sound like the raptors from Jurassic Park, if you can believe that).

      In the New World, we of course have the Andean and California condors. We have the turkey vulture and the black vulture. We have the lesser and greater yellow-headed vulture. And we have the striking king vulture, with its white back and colorful head. There are a lot of extinct species as well, including the massive teratorns, the largest of which had a wingspan of between 22 and 30 feet and was likely an active hunter.

      In the Old World, we have the handsome Egyptian vulture (also called a pharaoh’s chicken), palm-nut vulture, fierce-looking bearded vulture, imposing specimens such as the griffon vulture and Himalayan vulture, and uglier ones like the lappet-faced vulture and hooded vulture. There are more extant species of Old World vultures than New World vultures and they’re generally better-looking. Supposedly some Old World vultures can reveal fake eyes on their shoulders by hunching over, but I haven’t seen many pictures of this, and the ones I have seen have been griffon and Himalayan vultures.

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    Blessed angels of mercy & death, bestow on me your wisdom & breath. Never found & never never lost, your vision I seek to abound.

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    I have been watching and filming turkey vultures near my house for a couple of years now they come back at the end of April every year and stay for awhile and for some reason I became very connected to them and collected their feathers and made videos and put my own music to it, Then I read this article very interesting didn”t know there was so much info- At one time I was walking home and I had a fist full of feathers in my hand and a few of them seemed to be following me at the time Usually they would fly away from me but after seeing them every day for a couple of months I think they were getting used to me being around. It was quite amazing to hear them flying out of the Pine trees early morning in the dark especially when there was 30 or so of them at a time- It really gave me a chill I have made a decoration of their feathers which I felt the need to do for some reason and then I read your article – it really opened my eyes to the world of the Turkey Vultures Thank You

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