Bird Meanings & Symbolism Explained

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blue jay, eagle, and red cardinal

Birds are fascinating creatures that have been studied and admired for centuries, each with their own underlying bird meanings.

Throughout history, birds have inspired humans to give meaning to them, with birds acting as symbols representing the connection between heaven and the earth as well as good and bad omens.

Bird symbolism is also popular throughout different cultures across the world. 

We can find bird stories from the most bizarre to the most peaceful, and whatever makes them special, there's no denying that each bird has a special uniqueness to them. 

Different Birds & Their Spiritual Meanings

RELATED: What Is A Spirit Animal?

1. Eagle: Freedom and Independence

Photo: Steve Boice / Shutterstock

2. Parrot: Opportunities and Wisdom

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3. Hummingbird: Love, Joy, and Good Luck

Photo: Chelsea Sampson / Shutterstock

4. Goose: Fearlessness and Bravery

Photo: AndrewSanders Photography / Shutterstock

5. Flamingo: Balance, Grace, and Beauty

Photo: Mrinal Pal / Shutterstock

6. Falcon: Vision and Protection

Photo: Dagmara Ksandrova / Shutterstock

7. Crow: Death and Bad Luck

Photo: Rudmer Zwerver / Shutterstock

8. Cardinal: Faithfulness and Loyalty

Photo:  Jeff Caverly / Shutterstoc

9. Condor: Leadership and Goodness

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10. Blue Jay: Fearlessness and Protection

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11. Blackbird: Beauty and Intelligence

Photo: J.M.Abarca / Shutterstock

12. Bluebird: Hope and Awakening

Photo: Alan B. Schroeder / Shutterstock

13. Magpie: Good fortune and Love

Photo: EMILY19 / Shutterstock

14. Stork: Long life and Mother's Love

Photo: Forecast / Shutterstock

15. Dove: Gentleness and Peacemaking 

Photo: Rene Baars / Shutterstock

16. Crane: Healing and Rebirth

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17. Cuckoo: Alertness and Warning

Photo: Simon C Stobart / Shutterstock

18. Owl: Knowledge and Wisdom

Photo: Alan Tunnicliffe / Shutterstock

19. Raven: Sickness or Guidance

Photo: Piotr Krzeslak / Shutterstock

20. Phoenix: Transformation, Immortality, and New Beginnings

Photo: Jagoush / Shutterstock

RELATED: Feather Meanings: Spiritual Meaning & Symbolism Of Feathers

Bird Spirit Animal

Birds are known for being the closest animals to heaven which is why their meaning and symbolism have a substantial effect on people's lives. 

Having a bird spirit animal is known to be one of the biggest honors because of this. Even a small bird can be powerful as all birds can connect to the human spirit.

Having a bird spirit animal means you are a very introspective and intelligent person and you can also sense danger long before it comes near you. You will stop at nothing to make sure that your loved ones are protected as you are fearless and courageous. 

Bird Totem

Bird totem animals are often seen as symbolic as they have a sacred history behind them.

They are commonly associated with Native American culture and tribes as they created these poles with the shape of a bird's head carved into the words as a reminder for them to learn self-awareness and insight.

Bird totems are very powerful connections know to help you connect to the past as well as become a talisman to help you see into the future. 

The spiritual meaning of a bird totem is about elevation, enlightenment, hope, and wisdom. The bird totem can therefore use its unique gifts to translate awareness.

It inspires your spiritual goal and reminds you that you are very close to it and to not give up.

Bird Meanings in Different Cultures

Native American Bird Symbolism

Birds are special symbols in Native American, with the mythology and folklore speaking profoundly of all different species of birds.

In most stories, birds serve as a connection to both the human and the spirit worlds. The godly divinities charge birds with a duty to deliver messages from the heavens to us. This then casts birds in different roles and explains why bird have different meanings in Native American folklore from villainy to jealous competitors to heroes and wise elders.

There are also a number of Native American tribes that designated birds as their clan animal. Some clans relate themselves to a specific type of bird such as the raven or eagle clan, while others choose to follow a more generalized approach.

For example, The Fusualgi clan or fuswvlke bird clan is the bird clan of the creek, the anijisqua bird clan or antisiskwa clan are the clan of the Cherokees, and the feather clan of the Mi’kmaq tribe. 

In most northwest coast tribes we can see various bird spirit animals and totem crests that proudly display artistic, creative, and significant birds to the tribes like eagles, ravens, and more.

Native American tribe descendants and clan members also are known for their enchanting tales, legends, and stories about different species of birds. Each story ends with a moral lesson about the value of life.

Bird Symbolism in Christianity

Bird symbolism and recognition are the living embodiment of religious scripts in which birds are symbols of hope and strength.

In the Bible, birds are a very significant creature as they appear again and again and often play a vital role in the formation of history. They symbolize mercy, hope, and divine intervention.

In one story, a bird carries the Israelites to safety on her wings. In another one about Noah, the bird brings back an olive branch to him, which signifies the end of a deadly flood. Jesus is also seen by a bird accompanying him to his first temple visit.

Birds also bring bread to the prophets, provide hope when they feel defeated, and give relief when they feel anxious. 

Bird Celtic Symbolism

The ancient Celtic people also believed in the power of birds, recognizing them as the souls of the departed. Birds were reincarnations of highly respected individuals and a symbol for the Celts as transcendence and freedom.

The Celtics also believed birds represented liberation and freedom for humans as they looked as if they could fly to the heavens and act as a moderator between their god and humans. They also believed birds could bring them prophecies and messages of guidance from "the One that is all-seeing."

They have many legends and stories about birds and how druids were able to shape-shift into them. The most widely known is about a witch named Ceridwen who could turn into a hawk, and a wizard named Taliesin, who portrayed companion of King Arthur and could also turn into a bird.

Birds still have significant meaning in Celtic culture as they are considered spiritual guardians, allies, and even helpers.

Celts also brand different symbols based on different bird species and carve the shape on their shields, banners, clothes, ornaments, and even get a tattoo design of a bird to represent the importance of birds in their culture.

RELATED: Spiritual Meaning Of A Swallow Tattoo

Megan Hatch is a writer at YourTango who covers pop culture, love and relationships, and self-care.