Bird tattoos have been always associated with avid travelers (sailors, fishermen). Therefore, its meaning was freedom, adventures, overcoming obstacles, and luck. These tattoos were both plain and intricate and with the passage of time, they have acquired new meanings and new tattoo styles.
If you like bird tattoos and want to get one, check out these cute bird tattoos and their meanings.
The Meanings Of Bird Tattoos
For people, the bird symbolizes the freedom of the soul and the mind and emancipation as it flies whatever it wants. Many nations associated birds with positive and negative phenomena, but they always remained a significant part of life and the culture. The bird design is versatile as it may reflect innovative ideas, have an aesthetic value and it may carry deep symbolic meanings. The most popular bird designs are swallows, sparrows, eagles, a phoenix, doves, peacocks, a hummingbird, ravens, owls, bunches of birds.
A swallow tattoo has been always the mark of the brave and fearless people. In ancient times, sailors followed the swallows in the sky and it was a kind of their navigation system. Thus, it became the symbol of a safe trip home and was worn as a protective amulet. Besides, the swallow tattoo was the mark of certain sailor accomplishments in life (crossing the equator, sailing all seven seas). Also, many people believed that swallows guided the soul of dead sailors to the afterlife. In some cultures, swallows were the symbol of spiritual rebirth and hope for the better future. In Great Britain, these birds symbolized a conscientious worker.
From a modern perspective, swallows also denote loyalty and one love for life. On top of that, it may indicate freedom, gained through the fight. Oftentimes, the swallow may be depicted with other elements:
- A swallow and a floral twig symbolize freedom, hope, spring.
- A pack of swallows signifies good luck and success.
- A swallow and the name represent a strong union, love, fidelity, loyalty.
This tattoo is done in traditional, tribal, watercolor and realistic styles.
This bird has always been associated with solitude and sadness. Later it has gained a new meaning – freedom. Other meanings comprise:
- A pair of sparrows indicates strong and everlasting love. Besides, the sparrow was the sign of the Greek Goddess Aphrodite, which symbolized love and desire.
- The sparrow tattoo is used as a sign of the proper direction in all aspects of life.
- In ancient Egypt, this bird was a symbol of deceased people.
- The religious meaning of the sparrow tattoo stands for the idea of God’s grace, love, and care.
- For some nations, it symbolizes intelligence, wisdom, and freedom.
- It is believed that these birds find the second half once in life. Thus, this design is about loyalty.
- Small bird tattoos may indicate a cheerful attitude towards life.
The tattoo is performed in traditional, neo-traditional, tribal styles.
The eagle is a majestic bird, which is considered to be the symbol of spirituality, wisdom, and power.
This design may render a plenty of meanings:
- For the Greeks, the eagle was the embodiment of masculinity and strength. It was associated with Greek God Zeus.
- Native Americans believed that the eagle was the messenger of the Gods and it gave spiritual power.
- A double-headed eagle stands for the idea of religious power.
- Eagle feathers indicate spiritual and physical healing for Native Americans.
- The eagle claw symbolizes power and destruction.
- The eagle and the snake represent passion and temptation.
- The combination of the eagle, globe and the anchor represents the US Navy’s willingness to serve the world.
- The eagle and the American Flag say about love and loyalty for the country.
- Many nations associated the eagle with the sun. Thereby, it became the symbol of authority.
This tattoo looks great in a tribal style, traditional style, watercolor style and in surrealism style.
A Phoenix tattoo is a go-to tattoo for self-confident, powerful people as this bird re-emerges from the ashes that is why it has become the symbol of rebirth. This tattoo carries many meanings:
- Greeks associated the phoenix with limitless possibilities.
- Egyptians depicted this bird with feathers, made of gold. It symbolized the highest authority.
- In Chinese mythology, two phoenixes represent a perfect balance.
- In Christianity, the phoenix symbolized the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
- A rising phoenix design denotes the victory over chaos and destruction and hope for a better future.
- In some cultures, the phoenix is connected with the moon and it represents femininity and beauty.
- According to Chinese mythology, the phoenix is the symbol of grace and virtue and is second only in importance to the Dragon.
Neo-traditional, watercolor, tribal are the styles for this tattoo.
Love, peace, spiritual enlightenment – these are only a few meanings of a dove tattoo. This bird has always held its special place in different cultures and religions. This bird is considered to be the iconic symbol of peace and devotion and it is the sign of fraternity and tolerance.
Throughout the history, the dove design has acquired the following meanings:
- In the Roman Empire, it was the emissary for goddess Venus. Therefore, it denoted love, luck, and beauty.
- The dove is special for Jewish people. The dove concept has been featured throughout the Torah and it was connected with God and the Holy Spirit.
- In many cultures, the prevalent meaning of the dove design is harmony and balance.
- The dove, holding an olive branch, is a well-known symbol of peace, unity, and love.
- A dove and praying hands tattoo conveys a religious meaning. The praying hands denote reverence before God and the dove symbolizes God’s promises to listen and care.
- The Picasso’s dove – a plain lithograph of a white bird, created for the World Peace Congress, became the symbol of peace.
- In Greek mythology, the daughters of Aphrodite – the goddess of love and fertility were depicted as a flock of doves. Thus, the tattoo indicates commitment and devotion.
- Native Americans reckoned that the souls of dead people were transformed into doves. So, this design became the symbol of the afterlife.
- A flying dove may represent victory and success in any aspect of life.
The styles are minimalism, realism, traditional, watercolor.
A peacock holds its special place in Indian folklore as it is the sign of royalty and nobility. Aside from this, the peacock image is an indispensable part of many religions. Its rich symbolism is disclosed in the following meanings:
- A white peacock is the symbol of the church in Christianity.
- In Hinduism, the peacock represents prosperity and luck.
- In Buddhism, this bird is seen as the totem of honesty and it may symbolize the expansive consciousness.
- The peacock feathers were associated with the “All Seeing Eye”, so it is the emblem of knowledge and wisdom.
- In Christianity, peacocks may protect against evil forces. That is why this bird is displayed with the snake sometimes.
- In ancient times, the peacock feathers symbolized healing and rebirth.
- According to Chinese symbolism, the peacock is the mark of strong power and nobility.
A tribal style incorporates intricate patterns, and watercolor, traditional styles amaze with the abundance of bright colors and additional details.
Humming Bird Tattoo
This small, yet beautiful bird lives in the territory starting from Alaska to Chile and Americans have always dedicated a special place to this bird in their legends, mythology, tales and depicted it as a symbol of love. Also, it’s been portrayed as a sign of constant motion, progress and success. Other meanings of this design comprise:
- The Aztecs have seen this bird as the symbol of reincarnation.
- In nature, this bird may fly in all directions and it burns a lot of energy every day. Thus, this bird is associated with an ambitious and energetic person, who strives to achieve his goals.
- The tattoo of two matching hummingbirds indicates care, attraction, and happiness.
- Hummingbirds are lone travelers and they don’t depend on circumstances. Thus, this design says about the independent and balanced person.
- The hummingbird design may be considered as an inspirational symbol, which reminds that it’s important to live life to the fullest. Besides, it may indicate an energetic and cheerful personality.
- In many cultures, this bird is the sign of prosperity, joy, and happy life.
This design looks especially beautiful in vivid colors, but sometimes it is depicted in a tribal and dotwork style.
Raven (Crow) Tattoo
Sometimes this tattoo is perceived as an intimidating symbol, but in fact, the true symbolism of this bird is deep and far away from being negative. The raven was revered in many cultures for its ability to pick up the right strategy and solve any task. Thus, the primary meaning of the raven tattoo is intelligence and wisdom. Other denotations are:
- Native Americans have perceived this bird as a trickster and the Creator God.
- Some tribes thought that the raven was the bird, thanks to which the first day began. It happened because the raven brought the moon, the stars and the sun in the sky and shared with people its wisdom and knowledge.
- They are considered to be the bad omen and harbingers of death. Swedes and Germans believed that ravens were the guardians of the lost souls.
- In Norse mythology, the Valkyries came to the battlefield either to save brave warriors or to get their souls and ravens were their companions. Also, Odin, their father, was the Raven God.
- In some cultures and religions, ravens are seen as birds with a chatty nature. Greeks believed that they were cursed because talked too much and that is why their wings became black. Christians believed that God has punished the raven because it hasn’t come back to Noah.
- Pagan tribes have seen the raven as a unique bird, which was able to visit both real and spiritual worlds.
- Celts have perceived the raven as the symbol of war and death.
- The wolf and the raven often denote wisdom and intelligence.
Oftentimes, this design is depicted in colorful and black and white shades.
Magic, darkness, secrets, cloaked in the darkness don’t frighten the owl because it is comfortable with the realm of the unknown. This sensitive creature has a superior vision. Many people reckoned that the owl had the opportunity to see the evil. Also, this bird and its abilities are reflected in the folklore of many nations. The meanings of the owl tattoo are the following:
- Due to its vision, the owl became the symbol of a good intuition.
- For the Greeks, the owl was the totem of the goddess of wisdom.
- Sometimes the bird is connected with death as it is seen as the guardian of the afterlife.
- For pagans, the owl was the symbol of magic.
- The owl is connected with the moon. So, it is seen as the sign of mystery, magic and the cycles of life.
- In Slavic culture, the owl is the symbol of wisdom and intelligence.
- For Native Americans, the owl was the protector of the sacred knowledge. Also, it was the symbol of fertility.
- In ancient Greece, the owl was the symbol of holiness as it was connected with the goddess Athena.
- Ancient Egyptians believed that the owl was able to communicate with the departed people.
Celtic, tribal, traditional, geometric, neo-traditional are the styles for the owl tattoo. Often, owls are the part of coloured bird tattoos.
Bird Tattoo Ideas
The bird tattoo is a universal design, which looks great in any style, may be put on any body part and denote different meanings. Check out the best bird tattoo ideas.
This plain flying birds tattoo on the arm indicates freedom, independence, and success. Probably, the owner strives to succeed in life.
Soft, blurred lines resemble paint strokes and that is why this hummingbird tattoo looks volumetric. The bird is displayed in a motion, so the person with this ink is energetic and active.
This one is an example of the memorial tattoo. This flying birds tattoo is monochrome, that is why it looks a little bit gloomy. Perhaps, it was done to perpetuate the memory of a loved one.
Do you want to express your freedom-loving nature? There is no a better variant than this bird back tattoo. A colorful hummingbird design, done in a watercolor style, is an option!
The swallow tattoo is about spiritual rebirth and hope for the better future. Adorn your body with a flying swallow, done in a watercolor style to express this idea.
A dotwork style is classy and elegant. A small sparrow, done in this style, may decorate your body and signify loyalty and love.
A tribal eagle, which carries a rope in its claws, may be a great variant for women. Wear it to show that you have spiritual power and you’re ready to meet targets.
A traditional tattoo of a raven in the moon background with volumetric roses may reveal German traditions and express love for a deceased close person.
A white-headed bird is the national symbol of the USA. You may go for a traditional bald eagle tattoo and wear the image of the eagle’s head and the flying eagle to express your love for the country and a desire to serve it.
This bird of fire is displayed in vivid colors and its tale resembles the spurts of flame. A rising phoenix tattoo is an ideal option for women as it denotes hope for love and for the better future.
This minimalist design depicts a flying bird, surrounded by a floral wreath. The meaning is peace, unity, love, femininity.
Do you like owls and want to get one tattoo inked? Get a black and white owl tattoo in a cartoonish style, which will be the reflection of your cheerful attitude towards life.
If you need a lucky charm, then consider the peacock tattoo. If it is done in blue shades and is combined with blue flowers, it indicates prosperity and luck.
The owl has been always connected with mystery and magic. Wear the owl tattoo, done in a geometric style. Clear and straight lines in a combination with subtle waves create an alluring design and may mean a mysterious side of your nature.
This bird back tattoo looks stunning! The flying eagle is carrying a green snake in the claws. For women, this tattoo is very symbolic as it denotes sexual passion and temptation.
A peacock tattoo always strikes with a splash of colors, so it’s an ideal variant for a watercolor tattoo. A blue peacock tattoo will signify your nobility and honesty.
Thereby, get inspired by these ideas and adorn your body with a beautiful and meaningful bird design!