Bird tattoos are tied to some of the most profound meanings in the tattoo world. Since the dawn of time, and almost universally across all cultures worldwide, the bird has symbolized the human spirit or soul, and is frequently connected to the divine.
In ancient lore, birds often accompanied Heroes on their quests to defeat villains, monsters, and dragons. The bird could fly on ahead and forewarn the hero of impending danger (giving rise to the popular phrase, "a little bird told me".)
Birds are frequently associated with magic, the supernatural, or with religion. Images of birds have been found everywhere, from hovering over mummies in Egyptian crypts to adorning Arapaho Indian Ghost Dance costumes. It is no surprise that our Judeo-Christian depictions of angels and cherubs include bird-like wings. With rare exceptions, the image of the bird is a positive and uplifting symbol.
In tattoo designs, two birds are often portrayed together. Generally, one is dark, the other light (or one in color, one in black-and-white, etc.). This symbolizes the duality of nature (happiness/sadness, light/dark). Sometimes this duality is depicted with the bird and another animal, e.g. fighting a snake to represent good versus evil. Birds are often included with other tattoo images, e.g. they are often added to the branches of a Tree of Life tattoo design .
Granted, there are some other interpretations for birds, but they may be a stretch for tattoo meanings. For example, there may be sexual connotations. In China, the word for bird "niao" also means penis, and the dual meaning/image of "cock" as rooster or penis traces back to ancient Rome.
Birds can also be associated (usually negatively) with the mind, e.g. "bird-brain" is an insult in many Western cultures, and in Germany to "have a bird" is to not be quite sane. Generally, though, if you get a bird tattoo, people will not associate these less frequent meanings with it unless you tell them.
Bird of Paradise tattoos
Birds of Prey tattoos (includes Falcons, Hawks, Owls, Vultures)
Eagle tattoos (includes Bald Eagle)
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Fragile Life Bird Tattoo
I got my Fragile Life Bird tattoo, in honor to my baby, in Symbol of a new fragile life, within my own life
Birds with cherry dice
I saw this birds n cherry dice tattoo in a tattoo magazine on the inside of the upper arm. I loved the colors and even the little nautical star. I …
Japanese Phoenix Tattoo
Got this Japanese Phoenix Tattoo to go along with my Japanese cherry blossom on my ribs and to tie in the devil chick on my back. It is also a cover up …
Free Bird Tattoo
Free Bird Tattoo represents my life and my journey transforming through many painful experiences throughout my life, which is represented by the flames. …
Black & Grey Owl Tattoo
Fell in love with this owl as soon as I saw it. Always been a fan of night time, a "night owl" as my mother's called me most of my life. So it fit perfectly! …
Free Bird Tattoo
My brother died in May 2010. I got a tattoo of a swallow in rememberance of him because at his funeral Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd was played. I got …
2 Birds To Judge
I have two crows on my chest holding a warning label. In my belief the crows are birds that carry the soul to the after life to be judged one bright for …
A Spiritual Saying On Loving Life, The Past And Present Is Illusionary - Your Always In The NOW. Just Be..And Enjoy Being. Ox
To me, my tattoo represents freedom and the ability to go where you want. The birds are flying who knows where or from what or what they may be flying …
JoJo Dove Tattoo
I chose this because of my Grandma. She raised me and when she died I was torn apart. Her favorite song was on the wings of a dove and she had planned …
Swallow Bird Tattoo
I had wanted a tattoo ever since I graduated high school, but never could decide on what exactly I wanted. For over 5 years I went back and forth between …
Swallow Tattoos Return Home
All swallow birds return home to San Juan Capistrano every year. So the swallow tattoos were used to say that you will always come home. I've been through …
Sarah Swallow Tattoo Not rated yet
I got this Swallow tattoo because I had just turned 18 and I thought it would be a good symbol for me moving out and growing up.
Breaking Away From Home Not rated yet
The constant feeling of being on my own as a kid. Got this on my 18th birthday. Im now on my own. Graduated, inspired by college, and have a beautiful …
Humming bird tattoo & flowers Not rated yet
My grandma loved birds and flowers. When you walked down the street all you could see, hear and smell were her flowers and birds. She was so close to …
Megan Swallow Tattoo Not rated yet
Birds symbolize freedom. I got this Swallow tattoo to symbolize me finding myself and putting my future in front of my past.. it's not done I'm going …
Cheri Swallow Tattoo Not rated yet
My Dad lived in a nursing home for the last 2.5 years of his life. He was comfortable, but had always been active, both physically and mentally. When …
Purple Bird Tattoo Not rated yet
I ALWAYS WANTED THIS BIRD, I LIKED IT AND I HAD NO MEANING TO IT. SO I GOT IT DONE AND MY SISTER IN LAW DID ALSO.
girl with tha bird tattoo Not rated yet
When my father was still alive he used to have a small bird figurine that he kept in his room. He never let me have this little bird figurine because …
Polish Coat of Arms Not rated yet
Swallow Tattoo Hannah Not rated yet
I lost my dad six years ago. This year, I turned 18. I wanted something of a memorial tattoo as my first for my dad. I wasn't into the idea of an angel …
My dark passenger Not rated yet
I'm the #1 fan of my friend Pi�r's drawings and I wanted a tattoo with his kind of graphics. Then I've asked him if he would draw it to me. Then I like …
Bird Tatoo Meaning Not rated yet
Hi, i and my girlfriend had this tatoo..some years back.. and we want to know the meaning for this tatoo. so if u could help us.. pls.
Swallow Tattoo Representing Freedom Not rated yet
Throughout childhood I was in a constant battle between families - knowing my parents were divorced - it was difficult to please both sides. Especially …
Reborn - Phoenix Tattoo Not rated yet
Late in year 2010 I lost my nan and I loved greek mythology and for my rememberance of her I wanted to believe she has been reborn
Sarahs Swallows Tattoo Not rated yet
Swallows can also have the meaning of overcoming a difficult struggle in your life.
Birds Within Tattoo Not rated yet
Well My names Amber and I convinced my mom to get me a tattoo for my 18th birthday. The tattoo is a tribal star that has been embedded into my chest …
My Bald Eagle Tattoo Not rated yet
I lost my best friend at the age of 10 back in 2005. My best friend was my Uncle Rod.. I got this tattoo last year in memory of him, his favorite animal …
bat winged knife tattoo Not rated yet
I made my tattoo out of anger, the pain aroused the dark part of me. It gave me this new personality, and ever since i had it My courage have been lifted …
Baby Owl Tattoo Not rated yet
I do have one tattoo that is very important to me. It is on my upper back, placed right in the middle, between my shoulder blades. I plan to get another …
Free Tattoo - Eagle Tattoo Not rated yet
My first tattoo. I got this for the USA! Because I love where I'm at!