Bird symbolism is all over the world and is present throughout history. When looking at certain bird species, each type can have its own unique symbolism and various meanings based on different cultures or groups. 

Bird Symbolism Meanings

10 Bird Symbolism Meanings

1. Albatross

For sailors around the world, Albatrosses represent good luck and grace. But if this kind of bird is injured, captured, or dead, it is a bad omen for those at sea.

2. Blue Jay

A native bird species to North America, blue jays symbolize intelligence, aggression, flexibility, and communication. What blue jays symbolize depends on a place’s culture, but blue jays sometimes encourage open communication.

3. Cardinal

In China and Japan, cardinals are associated with the mythical phoenix, which represents transformation, fire, and rebirth. On the other hand, ancient Romans see cardinals to be a spiritual messenger that was sent by those who die and go to heaven.

4. Crane

Cranes’ symbolism is most prevalent in North America, Korea, China, and Japan. This kind of bird is symbolizes love, happiness, good fortune, and longevity. Cranes also represent royalty, grace, and balance. 

5. Eagle

As it’s known in the United States, eagles can represent strength, freedom, and wisdom. There are many sculptures, statues, and carvings not only in the U.S. but also throughout the Americas.

6. Heron

Herons can be found in coastal and freshwater areas, and different cultures have different meanings for herons. Depending on the Native American tribe, herons are associated with good luck as fishermen believed that a sighting of this specific bird would lead to a successful fishing trip.

7. Nightingale

Nightingales hold meaning in Native American and Celtic cultures. While this kind of bird does not appear much, Native Americans often view the nightingale as a sly or trickster character.

8. Robin

In ancient Europe, robins symbolized divine sacrifice and rebirth. This bird was also associated with spring and the coming of the new year. In ancient Christianity, robins were depicted as Christ’s helper in several ancient Christian paintings.

9. Sparrow

In Greek mythology, the sparrow is one kind of bird of Aphrodite. The sparrow symbolizes the spiritual connection of true love. In European folklore, sparrows have a more negative connotation. This type of bird is a sign of impending death. 

10. Woodpeckers

In Hinduism, woodpeckers symbolize an individual’s basic beliefs and impulses. Whereas, in Native American culture, woodpeckers are representative of home-making traits and protection.

Symbolism of Birds in Art and Literature

The symbolism of birds in art and literature represents a wide range of ideas. These ideas can include freedom, nobility, fertility, bravery, and much more. 

Throughout history, artists have drawn inspiration from birds. Oftentimes, birds will symbolize an aspirational quality. In Renaissance paintings and prints, artists depict human bodies with bird-like wings. 

In literature, birds can carry an array of meanings depending on the book and the author’s intent. To be able to comprehend their symbolic meaning, you need to look at the context and how the birds have been used.

For example, in the book To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, the mockingbird symbolizes the idea of innocence. In addition, in Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “The Raven,”  the raven is used to represent sadness and grief.

Native American Bird Symbolism

Bird symbolism is an integral part of Native American culture, as they are a deeply spiritual group and have a profound connection to nature.

Within each Native American tribe, birds can have varying meanings. For example, crows can symbolize different ideas and have different meanings. Ultimately, birds are a sign of freedom and a connection to heaven. Because of their ability to fly, birds are bringers of messages and symbols of change

Different Colored Birds and Their Symbolism

Black Bird Symbolism

For some, black birds symbolize good omens or are a messenger of bad news. However, Black birds can also represent adaptability, beauty, intuition, knowledge, and more. 

  • In some Native American cultures, black birds are a sign of the health of their harvests. But, in other Native American cultures, black birds are a link to the underworld and your inner self. 
  • In Celtic culture, black birds are in association with the underworld and God. Others thought that this kind of bird could send people to the grave or bring people back to life with their songs. 
  • In Christianity and Judaism, black birds have a negative connotation. They represent carnal pleasures and temptation.
  • In Japan, black birds were omens for happy marriages and good luck. In fact, if a black bird were to appear unexpectedly, then the sight symbolized that bad luck would be coming your way. 

Blue Bird Symbolism

A blue bird symbolizes hope, love, beauty, and spirituality. Overall, blue birds symbolize positive ideas or characteristics. For example, to some, bluebirds are symbols of joy and hope.

  • A bluebird can symbolize joy and hope or that good news is coming. On the other hand, some think that bluebirds are a connection between the living and those who have passed away. 
  • Blue jays are as a symbol of independence and strength. In addition, they can also represent kindness, selflessness, and honesty. 
  • An indigo bunting symbolizes wisdom, self-mastery, and spiritual realization. The shade of blue this bird possesses symbolizes profound thoughts, self-understanding, and more. 

Symbolism of Red Birds

Red birds tend to symbolize passion, courage, health, tradition, war, violence, and more. If you look closer, different red bird species can have their own meanings that differ from others. 

  • Scarlet macaws, found in Central and North America, symbolize confidence, boldness, and visibility. 
  • Crimson sunbirds symbolize speed. In addition, these birds represent not dwelling on things and taking quick action. 
  • Northern cardinal birds are symbolic of strength, courage, and loyalty. Cardinals don’t migrate during the year, so they need to withstand harsh climates.
  • Scarlet ibis symbolize balance and flexibility. The message associated with these birds is about knowing how to balance work and pleasure to grow. 

White Bird Symbolism

Across cultures, white birds are in folklore and mythology. In general, white birds symbolize power and divinity. But there can be many different interpretations.

Some believe that a white dove represents peace and hope. On the other hand, others associate a white dove as a sign of love and affection.

  • In Christianity, doves represent the Holy Spirit as they symbolize purity, grace, and spiritual renewal.
  • In China, a crane symbolizes long life and wisdom in paintings and sculptures. This kind of bird is representative of filial piety, loyalty, courage, and renewal.
  • In Greece and Rome, a crane symbolizes healing and renewal.
  • In Native American cultures, cranes are messengers between the physical world and the spirit world.

What Does a Bird Symbolize in the Bible

In the Bible, birds are used as symbols often. For example, birds can symbolize a number of different ideas and appear in a large number of bible verses. 

  • Blackbirds symbolize temptation and sin. Also, they are connection with the devil. 
  • Doves represent hope, and in the Bible, they symbolize hope for humanity and the Holy Spirit. 
  • Falcons symbolize duality, and they can also be representative of evil thoughts. 
  • Larks symbolize humility and modesty.
  • Partridges also represent duality.

Dead Bird Symbolism

In some cultures, a dead bird can symbolize hopelessness, grief, discontentment, and failure. But it can also symbolize life and joy in others.

For example, coming across a dead bird may mean a loss or the end of something. This could be that if you’re having a hard time, that hard time could be ending soon. 

Seeing a dead bird is also a warning sign. It would be important to pay attention to important things happening in your life.

Depending on what kind of dead bird you see, you should take a moment to think about the secret message behind the sighting. 

For Native Americans, dead birds can be a symbol of renewal, rebirth, change, or transformation. To Native Americans, death is a traditional stage from one life to another. 

Leave a Comment