Bird Tattoo Meanings

John Dietrich

Mankind has always had a special connection to birds. They symbolize many human values, and we’ve even based ground-breaking inventions, like the airplane, on their body structure. Below, you’ll find a bird tattoo dictionary, which details the meanings behind different kinds of birds. Read on, and be mesmerized by these winged creatures!


Bird Tattoo Dictionary

Bird of Paradise: these birds are religious icons, native to Papua, New Guinea. They represent beauty, elegance, and grace as tattoo designs.

Cardinals: these bright red and brown birds have close connections with German culture, standing as symbols of happiness and joy. It’s not uncommon to see the birds depicted as a Christmas symbol in Germany. Cardinals also represent vitality, youth, and passion as tattoo designs.

Cranes: these elegant birds represent peace, prosperity, hope, and purity.

Doves: as one of the key symbols of Christianity, dove tattoos are a symbol of love and peace. Looking for more religious tattoo designs? Our Religious and Philosophical tattoo designs page has everything you are looking for!

Eagles: this iconic bird appears on the American flag, representing strength, power, spirituality, and wisdom. Eagles as tattoo designs often represent American patriotism.

Hawks: these are birds of valor and honour, and they commonly represent bravery, protection, and spirituality. They’re also known for their expert hunting skills.

Hummingbirds: the Aztecs once created talismans that were modelled after hummingbirds, believing they would bestow the person with vitality and strength. As tattoo designs, these birds symbolize energy, passion, and vitality.

Owls: these birds are a symbol of wisdom, mystery, and truth.

Parrots: as the only animal that can pronounce words, parrots have come to represent communication, companionship, and intelligence.

Peacock: though peacocks are known as the narcissist’s symbol because of their ostentatious feathers, they were originally representative of piety, kindness, compassion, and knowledge.

Phoenix: a mythical emblem of survival, the phoenix represents the circle of life. It also has intimate ties to the Christian idea of ‘rising from the ashes.’

Swallow: these small birds have long stood as a sign of safe journeying to sailors and members of the navy. These birds were thought to protect the souls of the dead. As tattoo designs, they symbolize beauty, peace, protection, and motherhood.

Swan: the swan tattoo stands for beauty, elegance, and grace.

Thunderbird: this mythical bird is a central figure in Native American culture, and its design was inspired by the eagle. Thunderbird tattoos represent honour, valor, nobility, and dominance.

Vulture: renowned for their expert hunting skills, vultures are symbols of death, renewal, cleanliness, and protection.

Whether your bird design is mythical or real, bird tattoos have a longstanding history as powerful symbols. The connection may be religious, cultural, or personal, but no matter which it is, any one of these birds can make a striking tattoo design. If you know of any other interesting bird tattoo meanings, let us know about them in the comment section below!

Interested in learning about more tattoo design meanings? We’ve got the ultimate list of tattoo design meanings.

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