Bird Tattoo Meaning, Designs & Ideas

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Birds are amazing creatures who many perceive as representing freedom as they are never tied down to one place and can fly freely wherever they choose.  They have been intriguing mankind for ages. With more than 10,000 species to choose from there is a lot of avian inspiration.

Some of the most popular birds used in tattoo designs are:


The swallow is a popular choice in nautical style artwork and often symbolizes hope, loyalty, protection or good luck. Besides the eagle (see further down the page), the swallow is possibly the best bird tattoo for those in the military considering their love for the see and the fact that many people in the military are very proud to be loyal and want to provide protection to their country.


This bird is seen as the symbol of peace and love. If holding an olive branch it can be a symbol of victory. The dove can also signify family or new beginnings. As you can see, there are plenty of great bird tattoo meanings associated with the dive, which is why it’s surprising that it is not a more popular bird tattoo. If you want more peace in your life or just want the world to be a more peaceful place, the dive tattoo might be perfect for you.


Owls are revered as being very wise creatures, thus making them an ideal choice for a tattoo for one wanting to reflect a sense of knowledge. They can also be seen as being secretive. What’s great about the owl tattoo is that you can be sure you will have an attractive bird with some fantastic meanings regardless of the design you end up going with. The owl is quickly shooting up the charts of most popular bird tattoos.


Although an immortal mythical creature, the Phoenix is widely chosen to symbolize the circle of life, survival and loyalty. It also happens to be extremely attractive on the skin, which is why it is a popular bird tattoo even if, unlike all of the others on this list, it isn’t a real bird. It’s a waste not to get the phoenix as detailed as possible, so be sure to work with a great artist in your area so they can give you a phoenix tattoo you can be really proud of.

Blue Jay

One of the most recognizable birds on the planet, the blue jay has come to symbolize bravery, intelligence, and spunk, among other things. The people who take pride in having at least one of those qualities would be perfect for a blue jay tattoo.


The raven carries with it a unique mix of bird tattoo meanings, including death, intelligence, creativity, and destruction. Since those meanings really are all over the spectrum, you might want to add in a few more design elements around the raven to make the meaning clearer to outside observers.


Chosen primarily for the bold colors and exotic look this variety of bird stands for luxury. While some people do use these bird tattoo meanings, many actually just get the peacock because of its unique look. Of course, you could always initially get it for its looks and then use one of its bird tattoo meanings later on.


Another of the most recognizable in the world, the cardinal has come to represent energy, passion, youthfulness, and loyalty. You can use one of those bird tattoo meanings or even combine a couple of them if they make sense for you as an individual.

Bird of Paradise

Birds of paradise aren’t the most popular birds out there, but they do come with some excellent bird tattoo meanings. Some of those meanings include stylishness, beauty, grace, and spirituality. If you take pride in the way you look, then you might find the bird of paradise to be the perfect fit for you.


The crane has long been known as one of the most popular birds in Japan, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it has some excellent bird tattoo meanings. Some of these meanings include hope, purity, peace, love, and prosperity. It also has the look of a prehistoric bird, so some people decide to get a crane tattoo for its looks alone.


Some of the bird tattoo meanings that vultures have come to represent won’t be surprising, but chances are a few will. Many people recognize that the vulture symbolizes death because of its propensity to show up when an animal passes away, but it also symbolizes patience, intelligence, survival, and purity.


The bird tattoo meanings that are attached to the flamingo are not too surprising at all. They include beauty, attraction, liveliness, and energy. If those meanings work for you or you were looking to find an attractive pink bird, this one might be a great fit. The flamingo tattoo looks great as a larger design, so it is the perfect bird tat for the thigh or the back.


In the US, the eagle is a very prominent symbol of patriotism. It also represents prominence, freedom and wisdom. Most people will recognize the meanings attached the eagle when they see the tattoo, but many owners get an American flag and other patriotic symbols along with their eagle tattoos. The eagle usually looks a lot better with its wings out in a flying motion than when they’re down to its sides, so it might be a good idea to get a larger eagle tattoo.


Everyone has seen a goose, but few know what they represent. Some of the top bird tattoo meanings that are attached to the goose include protection, companionship, family, and loyalty. All of these are fantastic family meanings, so the goose tattoo could be an excellent additional to a larger family tat.


This aquatic waterfowl has been seen as a symbol of patience, good fortune, comfort, and fertility. You have a few design options to choose from with the duck tattoo, including realistic, cartoony, or a combination of the two. You could even go with a rubber ducky if that adds additional meaning to the tat.


Like the peacock, the Hummingbird is also known for its vibrant colors. Due to their high flight speed and constant feeding, they depict energy and hard work. If you are proud that you put in a hard day’s work every day to support yourself and/or your family, then you might find the hummingbird to have excellent bird tattoo meanings. If you want your hummingbird to be flapping its wings at a high rate in your tattoo, make sure you get an artist who can make it as realistic looking as possible.


These birds of prey are some of the most inked. They have similar looks so are often categorized together. The falcon and hawk symbolize success, focus, spirituality, protection and intelligence. These are often inspirational tattoos as the owners want to achieve more success in their lives, stay focused, and protect those who are around them. These are two more birds that usually work better as large bird tattoos.


These striking birds are often used to represent renewal or the coming of spring. Because their presence typically signifies the end of winter, these birds are seen as a sign of hopefulness and optimism. Plenty of people want to find tattoos that represent optimism, so the robin or bluebird could be the perfect choice.

Bird Flocks

If you want to add even more meaning to one of the bird species mentioned above, you might want to get a flock of birds tattoo. Not only will you be able to use all of the same bird tattoo meanings mentioned above, you will also be able to add on to them by showing multiple birds flying or working together. Plus, you can expand the tattoo image a bit by adding in more birds, perhaps allowing you to get the look you were going for.

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