Bird Symbolism, Spiritual Meanings, and Omens Explained

Updated on November 14, 2019
Layne Holmes profile image

Layne is a writer. She enjoys staying current on trends, media, and emerging topics.

Bird Symbolism, Spiritual Meanings, and Omens Explained
Bird Symbolism, Spiritual Meanings, and Omens Explained | Source

Birds have become prominent symbols all throughout the world and across various cultures. They are often seen as the supernatural link between Heaven and the living here on Earth. In certain cultures and religions, like those of the Middle East or Asia, birds represent immortality. In the traditions of the original peoples of North America and in East Indian myth, birds are considered departed souls or spirit messengers. In Christianity, birds can represent peace or may be used to symbolize a saved soul.

From symbols of love to symbols of the divine, or as representations of fertility, strength, protection, and beyond—find out the many meanings of birds throughout cultures, religion, and time.

The Meanings of Birds

Bird Species
Meaning
Eagles
Power, Rebirth, Courage
Cranes
Blessings, Bood Luck, Peace
Falcons
Victory, Nobility, Longevity
Owls
Wisdom, Death, Insight
Hummingbirds
Love, Healing, Joy
Nightingale
Love, Secrets, Anticipation
Peacock
Spring, Vanity, Serenity
Sparrow
Diligence, Creativity, and Productivity
Canary
Truth, Happiness, New Relationship
Swan
Twin Flame, Purity, Light
Eagles symbolize freedom, longevity, and strength.
Eagles symbolize freedom, longevity, and strength. | Source

Bald and Golden Eagle Symbolism

Eagles are magnificent raptors. It's no wonder that the bald eagle is the national symbol of the United States of America—symbolizing freedom, longevity, and strength. But even before the eagle became such a representation, both bald and golden eagles held great significance and meaning for the indigenous people of North America. For these people, the eagle carries a majestic quality and symbolizes wisdom, power, and rebirth. Flying at a higher altitude than any other bird, eagles are thought to announce the coming of spring.

For the Greek and Romans, the eagle was seen as king and was thought to carry the spirit to heaven. The Yoruba in Nigeria also have the following proverb: "he eagle is the father of birds of prey." In the Bible, the eagle represents the power of God over all that is evil and wicked.

To See an Eagle in a Dream

Seeing an eagle in a dream is generally a good omen—it means that you are firm in your beliefs or heading in a positive direction and are not easily wavered off path.

Crane are known for their exquisite mating dance.
Crane are known for their exquisite mating dance. | Source

Blue and White Crane Symbolism

Cranes are known for their exquisite mating dance and their significance in mythology can be found all throughout the world. White or blue cranes are exceptionally symbolic throughout many cultures. White cranes often symbolize wisdom, happiness, faith, blessings, and good luck.

In China, cranes represent longevity, prosperity, and purity. In Greek culture, the crane was accepted as an omen and is thought to bring about truth. Their dance, too, is often seen as a representation of love and a celebration of life in ancient myth.

In Japanese culture, cranes represent longevity—hence folding paper cranes is a popular tradition. It is thought that if someone folds a thousand cranes they will be granted a wish—hence, 1,000 cranes are often folded to honor the sick. (Cranes also came to symbolize the innocent lives that were affected by the bombing of Hiroshima.)

In ancient Egypt, the legend of a two-headed crane flying over the Nile meant that a prosperous year was to come. In Christianity, cranes are protectors from Satan. They represent endurance after returning every spring, which has been likened to Christ's resurrection.

Is it true that if you fold 1,000 paper cranes you get a wish?

In Japanese tradition, you will be granted a wish if you fold 1,000 paper cranes. Some say the task must be completed within one year of starting. Read Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes to learn more about the symbolism of the origimi cranes (orizuru) and how they came to represent peace and hope after the atrocities of radiation sickness following the bombings of WWII.

What does the crane represent in the Bible?

The crane represents goodness, order, and loyalty.

Falcons represent endurance, survival, and nobility.
Falcons represent endurance, survival, and nobility. | Source

Falcons: Meanings and Significance

Falcons are often hooded because they are thought to never rest—their eyes are always open and they assist hunters. Falcons represent endurance, survival, challenges, victory, nobility, and success.

In ancient Egypt, falcons came to be associated with Ra and the Eye of Horus (a falcon-headed god). Ra was depicted as wearing a double crown or disk around his head. In some cultures, the falcon is considered a trickster. In ancient Europe, only the wealthy could afford a falcon, so they were seen as prestigious. Many cultures view the falcon as a symbol of nobility.

Is it good luck to see a falcon?

Considering these birds are particular and sometimes elusive, yes it is good luck to see a falcon. Seeing a falcon often means that you can expect changes and opportunity. Falcons are all about strategy too, encouraging us to be smart and calculated. They may indicate that you are on your way to seeing things more clearly.

In many cultures, owls are considered harbingers of death.
In many cultures, owls are considered harbingers of death. | Source

Owl Symbolism and Meaning

Across many cultures, owls have represented wisdom, knowledge, and connection to the spiritual world. According to the ancient Greeks, an owl sat on Athena's blind side so that she could comprehend the truth. Hence, the owl has become a symbol of higher education and wisdom.

In some cultures, owls are considered bad omens—warning of death, illness, or heartache. They are famously depicted as the "prince of darkness" (pop culture reference Labyrinth with David Bowie), which is also a consequence of their nocturnal nature.

In Christianity, owls are often referred to in the Old Testament and are grouped alongside corvids and raptors—several "unclean" species. They are sometimes associated with witchcraft. The great owl can be found in many ruined cities and temples.

Indigenous peoples of North America, according to their tribal traditions, consider owls to be connected to death and afterlife. In some traditions, owls symbolize a warning. But to dream of an owl sometimes means something more positive—suggesting that the owl might become a protector. In some traditions, owls are associated with medicine and healing and receive great respect.

Dreaming of Owls

Dreaming of an owl is less ominous than seeing a live one. The owl may be bringing a message from a deceased loved one or bringing you knowledge or insight into a life matter or difficult decision.

Are owls good luck or bad luck?

Some consider owls to be bad luck—bringing death or illness. Many see them as harbingers of death and even go as far to consider their hoot to be the call of death. However, many people do see owls as protectors and messengers, communicators, and seers. It depends on your independent beliefs.

Symbolism of the Yellow Canary

Hummingbirds symbolize love and joy.
Hummingbirds symbolize love and joy. | Source

Hummingbird Symbolism

Hummingbirds bring joy—they are the smallest species of bird and are amazingly agile and fast. For being so small, they are extremely brave and mighty. Throughout many cultures, hummingbirds are seen as messengers—traveling long distances. They represent new beginnings, and the shape of their wings in flight are often said to represent the infinity symbol. They symbolize hope and new opportunities—some see them as messengers of heaven or even angels.

In the folklore of the indigenous peoples of North American, hummingbirds are considered healers. In Central America, they represent love. In the Bible, hummingbirds are thought to spread happiness and joy throughout the world; some even call them "God's tiny miracle."

Why do I keep seeing hummingbirds?

Seeing hummingbirds is a blessing. They are considered healers and bringers of luck and joy in love.

The nightingale is associated with love, longing, and creativity.
The nightingale is associated with love, longing, and creativity. | Source

Nightingale Spiritual Meaning

The nightingale has been used throughout literature and story to represent love, secrets, and mystery. A bird of the night with its evening song, it's nocturnal behavior colors the stories of many lovers' tales. Its song is considered to be a good sign and a positive omen for creatives (poets, singers, writers, and artists). It was believed that if you ate the heart of a nightingale, that you would be gifted with many talents.

In Christianity, however, the nightingale's song was likened to that of a wail or cry—similar to those thought to be trapped in purgatory, longing for escape to heaven. In earlier beliefs, the bird's song was likened to the announcement and celebration of Christ's arrival.

Nightingales also represent wisdom since they teach their young to sing the species' song. Hence, they represent creativity and the muse and solitude. The nightingale continues to be used throughout poetry and literature across cultures, traditions, and time.

Peacocks can represent vanity but also beauty and purity.
Peacocks can represent vanity but also beauty and purity. | Source

Peacock Meanings and Significance

Peacocks represent a variety of different things—from spring and rebirth to love and vanity, they are considered positive omens and bring luck to the seer. Peacocks are also used, alternatively, to represent, pride, stubbornness, vanity, and arrogance. The peacock or the peafowl, Pavo cristatus, is the national bird of India.

Peafowl are used to represent beauty in architecture and gardens throughout the world and are commonly incorporated as symbols of paradise. Also known as the "Bird With 100 Eyes," peacocks have a naturally occurring "eye" patterning throughout the length of their tail feathers. In Christianity, this patterning is compared to the all-seeing God or church. Catholics use the peacock to symbolize immortality. In some traditions, peacocks were used as sacrifices to bring about rain and fertility (in agriculture). They were said to dance before the rains came.

In Hinduism, Saraswati—the goddess of knowledge and wisdom—was associated with the swan, but she was also shown with a peacock beside her on occasion. Many people keep peacock feathers in their houses. The feathers are used as a symbol for the cycle of time, beauty, and knowledge.

In Buddhism, peacocks symbolize purity and their feathers are sometimes used for purification ceremonies. In Christianity, peacocks represent immortality. If you find a feather of a peacock, you are thought to have good luck.

Are peacocks monogamous?

No. Some believe peacocks symbolize fidelity and that they will mate for life. This likely isn't true as peafowl are considered polygynous birds—a male will mate with several females each season. If kept in captivity, however, green peafowl will form monogamous pairs.

Source

Sparrow Significance and Meaning

Sparrows are a symbol for rebirth, protection, and simplicity. The bird is seen as powerful, despite being rather small, as it works hard to build a nest and go about its day being productive.

In the Christian bible, sparrows symbolize freedom and one's ability to choose between good and evil. Sparrows were also seen as friends and communicators in folklore. If a sparrow builds a nest in your house, it is considered good luck. In Celtic tradition, sparrows represent ancestral knowledge. In ancient Greece, Aphrodite held a sparrow, which symbolized true love and connection and was considered sacred.

The Spiritual Meaning of Swans

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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    © 2019 Layne Holmes

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