Bird symbolism: 10 common birds and their spiritual meaning

Bird symbolism: 10 common birds and their spiritual meaning

Birds are widely regarded as symbols of freedom and eternity due to their ability to soar into the skies. Bird symbolism exists all over the world as part of different cultures, religions, and traditions. Every bird is uniquely breathtaking and symbolizes certain aspects of our lives, nature, and the unknown world.

Bird symbolism
Photo: (modified by author)
Source: UGC


Bird symbolism tends to associate birds with infinite possibilities, renewal, eternity, and the transition between life and death. The number of birds in the world probably explains why these animals are part of virtually every culture on earth.

Common elements of bird symbolism

Here is a look at birds' spiritual meanings in folklore, native cultures, and modern beliefs.

1. Sparrow

symbolic birds
Birds' spiritual meaning. Photo:, @daniyal ghanavati
Source: UGC

The sparrow is one of the most common birds in the world. The two most common species of the bird are the tree sparrow and the house sparrow. These little creatures can be found in Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia, and the Americas.

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Sparrow symbolism

Here is a look at some of the beliefs associated with sparrows.

  • Greek mythology

Symbol of love: In Greek mythology, the sparrow was one of the birds associated with Aphrodite, the goddess of love. The sparrow symbolizes the spiritual connection found in true love. Ironically, the sparrow is widely regarded in science as one of the most lustful birds.

  • European folklore

In native European folklore, it is a bad omen if a sparrow flies into someone's house. This is considered a sign of impending death. In Kent, a person who caught a sparrow had to kill it to prevent their parents' death.

  • Egyptian mythology

Ancient Egyptians considered sparrows as soul catchers. The birds were said to carry the souls of deceased people to heaven. It was a common practice for sailors to tattoo themselves with sparrow images to ensure their safe passage to heaven in case they died at sea.

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  • Indonesian folklore

In Indonesian folklore, a sparrow flying into someone's home symbolizes good luck. If the bird built a nest in the home, it meant that a wedding would happen in the home soon.

2. Eagle

spiritual birds
Spiritual birds. Photo:, @Frank Cone
Source: UGC

Eagles are arguably some of the most commonly used animals in ancient and modern symbolism. The eagle generally represents strength, freedom, and wisdom.

There are ancient artefacts, stone carvings, and sculptures that indicate the power of this animal when it comes to symbolic meaning.

Eagle symbolism

Here is a look at some of the meanings associated with this powerful bird.

  • Native America

Native Americans considered eagles sacred animals (especially the bald eagle). One of the most common aspects of bald eagle symbolism relates to wisdom, bravery, and a connection to the spiritual realm.

Eagles' feathers were widely used in certain religious rituals. Today, there are numerous sculptures, statues, and carvings of eagles throughout the Americas.

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  • Native Celts

In native Celtic culture, eagles were closely associated with three gods. Since the Celts considered trees sacred, any animal that lived in or on trees was equally considered sacred.

  • Mayan culture

In Mayan culture, the eagle is one of the Zodiac signs. It represents human beings who value freedom and can never be tied to a single place or person. These people possess limitless creativity and imagination.

  • Ancient Egypt

In ancient Egypt, the eagle was a symbol of wisdom because it flew higher than people and was, therefore, able to see the world from a far wider perspective than humans did.

3. Crane

What does a bird symbolize?
Symbolic birds. Photo:, @Pixabay
Source: UGC

Cranes are graceful, elegant, and beautiful birds, easily recognizable by their long legs and necks. They can be found on all continents except Antarctica and South America.

The birds are widely known for being easily adaptable to different climatic conditions. They are both plant-eaters and carnivores, which adds to their ability to survive in different regions.

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Crane symbolism

The crane's beauty has often captivated people throughout the world. The bird's symbolism is particularly prevalent in North America, Korea, China, and Japan.

  • Eternal love and loyalty

Cranes are often considered a symbol of everlasting love, youth, happiness, good fortune, and longevity. They are symbols of royalty, grace, and balance.

Additionally, these birds symbolize eternal loyalty. Every crane sticks to a single mate throughout its lifetime, making the species one of the most faithful in the bird world.

  • Balance

Some of the best photographs of cranes involve one or more standing on one leg. The birds can strike this pose effortlessly despite their significantly heavy upper bodies.

This habit symbolizes the ability to go through life without rushing into poorly-thought decisions that could endanger one's balance.

  • Focus and spirituality

In some cultures, the crane is associated with the ability to focus on one goal without getting distracted by other issues on the side. It also symbolizes the need to develop one's spirituality.

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4. Blue jay

What do birds symbolize in culture?
Symbolic birds. Photo:, @Frank Cone
Source: UGC

The blue jay is a little stern bird native to North America. The bird is renowned for its tenacity and determination. It is especially relentless when dealing with its enemies.

Blue jay symbolism

Here are some of the traits associated with the blue jay.

  • Intelligence

The blue jay is known for its patience and intelligence. It has been claimed that the bird often uses strips of materials like newspaper strips as tools to get food. The blue jay is seen to be in pairs, and when they fly, they keep a great distance from each other, a strategy of decreasing the probability of being targeted by the enemy.

Spiritually, the bird is thought to give knowledge and memories of long-forgotten things and provides intelligence on how to use them to seize opportunities.

  • Aggression

This bird is very aggressive as it makes various loud sounds that travel long distances. In some cultures, having a blue jay as your totem implies that you are aggressive; therefore, nothing can stop you from defending what you consider right.

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  • Flexibility and communication

The blue jay also symbolizes the ability to use any situation to one's benefit. This comes from the bird's ability to build nests in any tree or environment that suits it.

In certain cultures, those with blue jay as their spirit totem are said to be excellent in communication-related jobs such as law, public speaking, and politics.

5. Heron

What do birds symbolize in art?
Spiritual birds. Photo:, @Diego Madrigal
Source: UGC

Herons are coastal and freshwater birds commonly found all over the world. These birds closely resemble cranes, spoonbills, ibises, and storks. However, herons have distinctive retracted necks, while the rest have outstretched ones.

Heron symbolism

Here is a look at the symbolism involving herons in different cultures.

  • Native America

Certain Native American tribes associated herons with good luck. Fishermen believed the sighting of a heron would bring a successful fishing trip.

The bird was also associated with wisdom, determination, and curiosity.

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  • Native Japanese culture

White and grey herons can be seen in numerous ancient Japanese paintings. Some ancient legends suggest that lovestruck girls would often transform into heron spirits to dance on frozen ponds in winter.

In another popular Japanese legend, a prince died and turned into a white heron. In Japanese culture, the heron is said to represent purity, nobility, and grace. The bird is also widely considered to symbolize divinity.

  • Chinese symbolism

Herons appear in numerous Chinese bird symbol paintings representing the 'upward path.' In China, the image of a white heron stands for a path to heaven. In the country's folklore, it was the responsibility of herons to carry the souls of the deceased to heaven.

  • Ancient Egypt

In Egypt, the heron was considered God's messenger, as well as the creator of light. The bird was also a symbol of prosperity, regeneration, spring, dawn, and longevity.

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  • Christianity

Herons are closely associated with the suffering of Jesus Christ since it is said that the birds can shed tears. The bird is also known to symbolize patience and contentment. It is also termed unclean, meaning that it is not suitable for consumption.

6. Nightingale

Birds' spiritual meaning
Birds' spiritual meaning. Photo:, @Dikky Oesin
Source: UGC

The nightingale is a small passerine bird best known for its powerful and beautiful song. Nightingales are good at hiding their efforts, making everything they do seem easy, even if, in reality, they took a lot of effort.

Nightingale symbolism

Here are some cultures in which the nightingale holds significant meaning.

  • Native America

The bird does not appear much in Native American culture. However, where it does, it is depicted as having a sly character. Certain subcultures considered the nightingale as a trickster.

  • Celtic culture

Nightingales are grouped with other songbirds whose melodic voices are considered to be vehicles for prayers to reach the celestial planes.

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  • Nightingales in dreams

In some spiritual practices and beliefs, when a person sees nightingales in their dreams, it means that they need to evaluate their current state.

  • Nightingale folklore and mythology

Some myths suggest that in ancient days, eating a nightingale's head caused one to gain talent and inspiration in the arts. While this is an outdated belief, it still speaks a lot about how the nightingale came to personify artistry.

7. Robin

Symbolic birds
Symbolic birds. Photo:, @Pixabay
Source: UGC

Robins are widely regarded as the quintessential early birds. They are a common sight in North America, often seen pulling earthworms off the ground.

The robin is known for its end-of-winter appearance, cheery songs, and orange-coloured part. While the birds are a common sight in cities and towns, they are also at home in forests and mountains.

Robin symbolism

Here is a look at the myths, legends, and beliefs associated with robins.

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  • Ancient Europe

Ancient Europeans considered the robin a symbol of divine sacrifice and rebirth. The bird was associated with springtime and the coming of a new year. The robin brought happiness, change, wisdom, and happy songs.

  • Ancient Christianity

Several ancient Christian paintings depict the robin as Christ's helper. It is said that the robin tried to pull off the thorns on Jesus' Crown of Thorns. However, the bird only ended up getting feathers torn from its body.

  • Parenting, care, and growth

The robin is the ultimate symbol of nurturing young ones into adulthood. Robins are widely considered to be some of the best parents among all bird species. Seeing a robin is therefore associated with new growth in some cultures.

  • Hinduism

In Hinduism, the red colour on a robin's chest is said to symbolize a person's kundalini (a serpent-like force at the base of a human's spine). When one experiences inner spiritual growth, their kundalini uncoils and moves upwards as the person's enlightenment and awareness increase.

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8. Cardinal bird

What do birds symbolize in culture?
Birds' spiritual meaning. Photo:, @Tina Nord
Source: UGC

The northern cardinal, commonly known as the cardinal, is a fairly large, long-tailed songbird with a short, very thick bill and a prominent crest. Cardinals often sit with a hunched-over posture and a tail pointed straight down.

Cardinal bird symbolism

Here is a look into the symbolism associated with cardinals.

  • Ancient Roman culture

The cardinal was regarded as a spiritual messenger sent by those who died and went to heaven. The word cardinal comes from the Latin word meaning 'hinge.' The birds are therefore seen as hinges on the doorway between heaven and earth.

  • Native America

Among Native Americans, the cardinal has strong ties to other realms and, as such, acts as a messenger from the ancestors. The southeastern tribesmen associated cardinals with the sun as well as with good fortune.

  • Far Eastern cultures

In China and Japan, the cardinal is closely associated with the mythical phoenix (the bird of transformation, fire, and rebirth). The cardinal was associated with honourable rulers coming to power and the end of wars.

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In China, the cardinal (Red Bird) is said to stand over the southern quarter of creation and defend it from evil influences.

9. Woodpecker

Symbolic birds
Symbolic birds. Photo:, @ray jennings
Source: UGC

The woodpecker is a small bird renowned for probing insects on tree barks and chiselling holes to nest inside deadwood. Woodpeckers are fairly common all over the world except in Australia and New Guinea.

Woodpecker symbolism

Here are some of the cultures, religions, and beliefs in which the woodpecker appears.

  • Hinduism

The red colour on the woodpecker is associated with the root chakra, the prime and protective energy of a human. The bird symbolizes a person's core impulses and basic beliefs.

  • Native North America

Native North Americans recognized the woodpecker's home-making traits and thus associated the bird with protection. Additionally, the bird's beak drumming was taken to symbolize the beginning of ceremonies, processions, and in some cases, war.

  • Roman mythology

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In Roman mythology, the woodpecker is associated with Mars, the planet of energy and initiative. The zodiac sign of Aries is also closely associated with the woodpecker as a totem animal because of its association with the planet Mars.

The woodpecker is said to have befriended Remus and Romulus, the two founders of Rome. Legend has it that a woodpecker and a wolf fed the young twins whose father was Mars, the God of war.

10. Albatross

What does a bird symbolize?
Spiritual birds. Photo:, @PublicDomainPictures
Source: UGC

Albatrosses are fascinating birds known for their large wingspans and the ability to ride winds for hours without flapping their feathers. The albatross has a rich mythological and cultural history which persists to the modern day.

Albatross symbolism

Here are several beliefs associated with the albatross.

  • Ancient sailors

Sailors all over the world viewed sightings of an albatross as good luck. Its injury, capture, or death was seen as a terrible omen to those at sea.

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Additionally, the albatross symbolizes grace. It was said to guide humans in using their bodies to move fluidly through life, even in conditions that often seemed treacherous to their well-being.

What does a bird symbolize?

Birds are often seen as a symbol of freedom, hope, and new beginnings. They may also symbolize joy, peace, and prosperity. They can also symbolize traits such as courage, strength, and intelligence.

What do birds symbolize in the Bible?

What do symbolic birds in Christianity mean? Different birds symbolize different things in the Bible. Here is a look at some spiritual birds mentioned in the Holy Book and what they symbolize.

  • Dove: Which bird symbolizes hope? The answer is the dove. It has been used in the Bible to symbolize the Holy Spirit and hopes for humanity.
  • Blackbird: The blackbird symbolizes temptation and sin and is even attributed to the devil's workings.
  • Falcon: The falcon in the Bible carries a message of duality. On the one hand, the falcon represents evil thoughts. At other times in the Bible, the falcon represents turning to Christianity.
  • Lark: In the Bible, the lark is used as a symbol of humility and modesty.
  • Partridge: The partridge is another bird in the Bible that symbolizes a duality.

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What do birds symbolize in culture?

In many cultures, birds have been associated with the divine, representing a connection between the heavens and the earth. They are often seen as messengers between humans and the gods and may have spiritual significance.

In Chinese culture, the crane symbolizes longevity and luck; in Native American cultures, birds are seen as spiritual messengers.

What do birds symbolize in art?

Birds in art represent a variety of concepts, such as freedom, nobility, fertility, and bravery. Figures of birds are frequently used to represent the poet or musician and are thought to be omens, both good and bad.

What do birds symbolize in love?

Birds are often associated with love and romance as they represent freedom and a sense of new beginnings. In some cultures, they are seen as a symbol of fidelity, love, and commitment between two people.

In ancient Greek mythology, the gods Zeus and Hera were often depicted with doves as a symbol of their eternal love. In some cultures, the dove is seen as a symbol of the Holy Spirit and a messenger of peace and love. Additionally, a single white bird or a flock of doves can symbolize a soul mate or the reuniting of two hearts.

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What bird has a partner for life?

Many birds form monogamous relationships and stay with their partner for life, including swans, geese, bald eagles, and penguins. These birds are known for their strong pair bonds and usually mate for life; even if one of the birds dies, the other will often search for a new mate.

Which bird is a symbol of good luck and new life?

A swallow is a common bird that is often seen as a symbol of good luck and new life. This is because swallows are migratory birds, often seen returning to their nesting grounds in the springtime to mate and give birth to a new generation of birds. This is seen as a sign of hope, renewal, and the promise of a new start.

Bird symbolism is undoubtedly a fascinating aspect of various cultures and religions. Bird symbolism often represents freedom, creativity, and a fresh start. Birds are messengers of hope and a reminder that the sky is the limit.

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What incredible arts were discovered in unexpected places that no one could have predicted? Is each of these works uniquely in its own right, and has it earned a place in the art world as one of the most valuable pieces of art? Read on to find out more!


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