54 Bird Meaning & Symbolism Examples: Spiritual Meanings & More

Bird Meanings

Bird symbolism and meanings have intrigued people around the world for centuries as they still do today. Perhaps it’s because birds have been blessed with the gift of flight, but these beautiful winged creatures also hold important spiritual meanings for many. In this post, we’ll explore all facets of bird meanings and symbolism.

What do birds symbolize? 

Herons Flying in Formation

The terms “free bird,” “early bird,” and “birds of a feather” are familiar sayings to many of us. Indeed, they underscore just how much our feathered friends capture our imaginations and have an effect on how we live our day-to-day lives. In addition to these sayings, here are some symbolic attributes that we humans apply to birds:

1. Freedom

Birds are symbols of freedom because they can take off and fly, some with the capacity to travel great distances. In fact, birds defy the idea of borders. They can explore and experience the world in ways that most of us cannot. 

As symbols of freedom, birds spark our imaginations, making us question both the physical and imaginary constraints that could be holding us back from reaching our full potential.

2. Perspective

The term “a bird’s eye view” is derived from the bird’s ability to soar into the sky and see the world from a different perspective, which we can’t experience on the ground. So, in addition to freedom, the bird is a symbol of seeing, or understanding, things from a different vantage point.

Birds also symbolize the idea of seeing the bigger picture vs. getting caught up in the details. 

3. Bird Symbolism: Communication

Many species of birds are known for their intricate vocalizations and ability to communicate with not only their own species but animals of all types. Thus, the bird is also a symbol of communication and connection. They remind us that life is not just about going it alone, but interacting with others and striving for better understanding of each other.

4. Music

Along the lines of communication, many birds are known for their beautiful songs. Hence the saying he or she “sings like a bird” is used to describe a singer with a beautiful voice.

In fact, the chirping tones of bird songs have inspired musicians throughout history as well as bird watchers who simply seek out certain species to hear their songs. 

Birds remind us that music can be one of the greatest pleasures in life and our favorite songs can make up the soundtrack of our lives.

5. Travel

Some species of birds, such as cranes, travel thousands of miles during their seasonal migrations, enduring a range of challenging conditions as they do. As a result, bird symbolism also includes the idea of travel and adventure. In fact, birds inspired human beings to create airplanes, which have enabled so many of us to experience parts of the world that would have been impossible otherwise.

6. Grace and Elegance

Birds are arguably some of the most beautiful creatures who exist on our planet. In addition, their graceful movements embody the idea of elegance. As a result, bird meaning is also synonymous with grace and elegance, two qualities that life would be dreary without.

7. Purity and Renewal

Birds are often regarded as symbols of purity because of their association with air, the sky, and the heavens. When they take flight, it’s as though they transcend the challenges, or impurities, of Earth and the material world.

As well, aquatic birds are associated with the water element, which is also a symbol of purification and transformation.

In addition, many birds enjoy bird baths, shaking off their feathers as they get clean.

Thus, the bird is a reassuring symbol that we have the chance to “purify” our thoughts or renew ourselves in many different ways.

8. Love and Devotion

The term “love birds” to describe two people who are smitten with each other is not some random expression. In fact, 90 percent of birds are monogamous, with many species mating for life. So, birds are beautiful symbols for romantic love, bonding, and committing yourself wholeheartedly to your partner.

9. Bird Meaning: Hope

A bird soaring high in the sky can remind us of our own aspirations and reaching for our highest potential.

In addition, birds and bird songs are associated with the arrival of springtime and, thus, new beginnings.

So, the bird is also a symbol of hope and the promise of a brighter future.

10. Wisdom 

Throughout history, in many cultures, birds have been viewed as messengers. Not only have they been used to literally carry messages, as pigeons have, they’re also believed to carry messages from the divine.

In addition, despite the term “bird brain” being used to describe someone who isn’t that smart, birds are actually very intelligent creatures. Notably, owls, hawks, and ravens are considered to be some of the most intelligent animals.

Thus, bird meaning also includes wisdom and divine guidance. 

Bird Spiritual Meanings

Barred Owl
Barred Owl.

An important aspect to what birds represent to us is their spiritual significance. In addition to some of the meanings referenced above, here are some spiritual meanings that are applied to birds:

11. Angels

There is a saying that goes, “When cardinals appear, angels are near.” This saying stems from a belief that many people share, which is that divine energy manifests through birds.

Cardinals and hummingbirds, in particular, seem to be especially receptive to this energy.

However, in general, as with butterfly meaning, all birds are associated with angels and messages from spirit guides.

12. Divinity

Because they can seemingly soar into the heavens, birds have long been associated with divinity. In fact, in Native American cultures, the bird was viewed as a communicator between the People and the Great Spirit. Likewise, in Judeo-Christian beliefs, the bird is sometimes seen as a messenger for God. Similarly, in Hinduism, the mythical bird-like creature called the Garuda represents the power and strength of the divine.

13. The Holy Spirit

In addition to their association with God, or a Higher Power, the bird is a symbol for the Holy Spirit in Christian beliefs. For example, in Matthew 3:16,1 when Jesus is getting baptized, the Holy Spirit is depicted in the form of a dove. In this case, the dove represents spiritual transcendence and the presence of God.

14. Extra Sensory Perception (ESP)

Many birds have very acute senses, which enable them to detect a variety of stimuli in their environments. For example, the term “eagle eye” is used to describe someone who is highly astute because eagles have incredibly powerful vision: They can spot prey from miles away. In fact, in a number of ancient cultures, including Native American culture, people believed that eagles could see what was going to happen on Earth before it actually occurred.

In addition, some birds, such as owls and pigeons, have incredible navigational skills. 

These qualities, along with birds’ association with angels and the divine, is why they are also symbols of extra sensory powers, or psychic abilities.

15. The Soul 

Birds have long been associated with the human soul. This is in part because they can soar above the earth. So, the bird is a metaphor for the human soul leaving its earthly body and ascending to a higher spiritual level. In addition, as birds symbolize freedom, they represent the idea of the soul achieving spiritual enlightenment.

16. Spiritual Transformation and Ascension

Just as birds can be a symbol of the human soul, they are also symbols of spiritual transformation and ascendance. In particular, water birds, such as ducks and herons, embody the concept of transformation as they exist in the elements of water and earth, yet can fly seemingly to the heavens. 

17. Bird Meaning in the Bible

In the Bible, birds are symbols that convey a wide range of meanings. Some of the meanings include the Holy Spirit, freedom, gifts from God, and divine providence, as well as greed, sin, and death.

Additional Bird Meanings

Pair of Scarlet Macaws
Pair of scarlet macaws, Costa Rica. Photo: Ondrej Prosicky.

Experiencing birds in different contexts can also have special meanings. Of course, these experiences are personal, so they are highly dependent on your own experience and interpretations. However, in folklore, these common situations have some clear symbolic meanings. Here are some examples:

18. Bird Flying Overhead Meaning

Seeing birds flying overhead can indicate the need for more freedom in your life. It can be a sign that it’s time for you to “think outside the box” or broaden your horizons. 

Seeing multiple birds flying in formation can symbolize a return to family values or rebuilding the structures in your close relationships. It can also signify creative or business collaboration that will create greater outcomes. 

In addition, birds flying overhead symbolizes positive omens and hope for the future.

19. Seeing a Dead Bird Meaning

It’s understandable to be upset if you come across a dead bird. You might immediately think that it means the opposite of all of the positive meanings applied to birds. However, instead of viewing it as a negative experience, consider that you have been chosen to honor the bird’s life.

When souls are freed of their earthly bodies, they still have some interest in what happens to the vehicle that carried them in the material world. This is why it’s so important to pay respect to the bodies of those who pass, including birds.

So, if you come across a dead bird, you can say a prayer or meditate to honor their life, and, if possible, dispose of their body in a respectful way. 

20. Bird Pooping on You Meaning

It may come as a surprise, but in some cultures, such as Russia and Japan, a bird pooping on you is a sign of good luck to come. As birds are symbols of good luck and fertility, a bird pooping on you, particularly on your head, is a positive sign.

21. Meaning of Seeing Two Birds Together

Because most birds are monogamous, when you see two birds together, you are most likely seeing a bonded pair. So, seeing two birds together is a very positive sign for finding true love or that you have already met your romantic soulmate.

22. Meaning of a Bird Flying into Your House

A bird flying into your house can be a sign of good luck to come or an important message for you from the spiritual realm. It can also indicate that you have been called upon to serve a higher spiritual order, or God. 

A bird who flies into your house will not be in their element. So, it’s up to you to help guide them outside to freedom. In this way, you are a person who possesses higher spiritual awareness than many people you will come into contact with. So, it’s part of your purpose to help elevate the vibration, such as spreading more compassion, awareness, and understanding.

23. Bird Tattoo Meaning

A bird is a wonderful symbol for a tattoo because they are not only beautiful, they have deep and varied symbolic meanings. So, just as birds have a variety of unique meanings, so do tattoos. Hopefully learning more about bird symbols will help you decide on your tattoo design or bring added meanings to an existing tattoo.

24. Bird Dream Meaning

Like tattoos, dreams are personal to each dreamer. So, bird dream meanings will vary widely and will depend on the context, details, and types of birds in your dream.

However, be sure to take into account the emotions you felt in your dream, as one thing we all have in common is that our subconscious emotions don’t lie to us. As you consider those feelings, you can layer in the various meanings applied to birds, and hopefully you will gain added insights into what your dream is telling you.

Bird Types and Their Meanings

Albatross
Albatross.

We are blessed to have such a stunning variety of beautiful birds on our planet. Because each species is so unique, different types of birds have their own symbolic meanings. Here are some of the meanings applied to specific bird species:

25. Albatross

Good luck, positive omens, freedom, purification, spiritual growth

26. Blackbird

Intelligence, wisdom, mysticism, transformation, mystery

27. Blue Jay

Protection, courage, communication, dreams, opportunity

You can read more details on blue jay meaning in my post about blue jay symbolism.

28. Bluebird 

Friendship, loyalty, hope, joy, home, music, purification

29. Cardinal

Angels, love, devotion, companionship, home, good luck, music, flair

You can read more details on cardinal meaning in my post about cardinal symbolism.

30. Crow 

Cleverness, trickery, adaptability, teamwork, sociableness, reciprocity, transformation, psychic abilities

You can read more details on crow meaning in my post about crow symbolism.

31. Crane

Grace, devotion, faithfulness, travel, aspiration, longevity, immortality

You can read more details on crane meaning in my post about crane symbolism.

32. Dove  

Peace, love, navigation, gentleness, the Holy Spirit, the soul, hope

You can read more details on dove meaning in my post about dove symbolism.

33. Duck

Duck in Water

Laughter, happiness, good luck, bonding, emotional stability, odd couples, romantic love, purification, spiritual transformation

You can read more details on duck meaning in my post about duck symbolism.

34. Eagle

Bravery, loyalty, devotion, freedom, independence, truth, honor, the Divine, hope, foresight

You can read more details on eagle meaning in my post about eagle symbolism.

35. Egret 

Grace, purity, peacefulness, travel, transformation, divinity

You can read more details on egret meaning in my post about egret symbolism.

36. Falcon 

Speed, power, agility, navigation, freedom, nobility, bravery, victory, mysticism 

37. Flamingo 

Beauty, balance, elegance, vibrancy, romance, flirting, pizzazz, parties

You can read more details on flamingo meaning in my post about flamingo symbolism.

38. Heron

Elegance, patience, self-possession, wisdom, messages, transformation, good fortune

You can read more details on heron meaning in my post about heron symbolism.

39. Hummingbird

Two hummingbirds and a flower

Joy, healing, beauty, good luck, variety, angels, messengers, flirtatiousness, agility

You can read more details on hummingbird meaning in my post about hummingbird symbolism.

40. Nightingale

Music, melancholy, nighttime, the moon, sweetness, creativity, inspiration, enchantment

41. Owl 

Wisdom, knowledge, intuition, independence, courage, protection, observation, intuition, supernatural powers

You can read more details on owl meaning in my post about owl symbolism. And if you’re curious about white owl meaning in particular, please see my post on white owl symbolism.

42. Parrot 

Beauty, vivacity, communication, intelligence, fun, humor, companionship

43. Pelican

Selflessness, charity, transformation, order, healing, renewal, abundance, prosperity

43. Peacock 

Peacock Spirit Animal

Spectacular beauty, masculine power, sisterhood, protection, showmanship, renewal, immortality, good luck

You can read more details on peacock meaning in my post about peacock symbolism.

45. Phoenix 

The phoenix is a mythical bird who has powerful symbolic meanings, including: rebirth, renewal, self-care, healing, immortality, energy, eternal fire

You can read more about phoenix bird meaning in my post about the phoenix.

46. Raven

Intelligence, cunning, survival, partnerships, guidance, opportunity, transformation, the Third Eye, prophecy, insights

You can read more details on raven meaning in my post about raven symbolism.

47. Red Bird 

A variety of birds come in shades or scarlet, crimson, and other red hues. And each species has their own set of unique meanings. However, here are some general meanings that are applied to red birds: angels, romantic love, passion, energy, security, protection, determination, and good fortune. 

You can read more about red bird meanings in my post about red bird symbolism.

48. Robin

New beginnings, renewal, rebirth, emotional growth, opportunity, resourcefulness, optimism

49. Sparrow

Community, simplicity, minimalism, diligence, music, happiness

50. Swan

Grace, beauty, purity, eternal love, self-discovery, emotional growth, transformation, divinity  

51. Stork

Fertility, childbirth, family, community, abundance, prosperity, resourcefulness, regeneration, travel  

52. Swallow 

Speed, agility, protection, good fortune, power in numbers, collaboration, creativity

53. Vulture

Practicality, resourcefulness, patience, family, purification, transformation, the cycle of life

You can read more in my dedicated post on vulture meaning.

54. Woodpecker

Creativity, diligence, focus, rhythm, resourcefulness, awakening, support

Summary

Birds are captivating subjects who spark our imaginations and sense of wonder. While they exist for themselves, we can’t help but feel like they’re gifts to the world who make it a more beautiful and wondrous place. Undoubtedly this is why they symbolize so many important aspects of our own lives.

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Kristen M. Stanton

Hello. Thanks for visiting UniGuide. My name is Kristen and I started UniGuide as a tribute to nature, animals, and spiritual exploration. I hope you enjoy your experience here!