Flying Bird Tattoo Meaning, Designs & Ideas

The flying bird tattoo often represents freedom or independence. This image can also symbolize impermanence or spirituality. A tattoo of a flying bird may also be representative of hope, while a group of flying birds can symbolize family.

This article will explore the various meanings of flying bird tattoos.

Flying Bird Tattoos

There is quite a range of illustrations for flying bird tattoos. Some have one, two, or three birds, while others show a flock of a dozen or more. Smaller tattoos are often done as a black silhouette. Larger tattoos, especially with just one or two flying birds, are usually done in much greater detail.

Flying bird tattoos can be seen on several parts of the body. The forearm and collarbone are two common locations for this tattoo. Other popular areas are the upper back and shoulder, as well as the side of the torso. Women tend to have this tattoo more than men.


One of the most common reasons that people choose a flying bird tattoo is to represent the idea of freedom. Birds are symbolic of being free because of their ability to fly and seemingly go anywhere they choose.

Some birds migrate immense distances each year. The Arctic tern, for example, is known to fly over 40,000 miles annually from the Arctic to Antarctica. This ability to travel great distances is appealing to many individuals seeking freedom in their lives.

There are many reasons a person may be seeking freedom. Someone may choose this tattoo to represent physical freedom from abuse or illness. The flying bird image can be inspirational to a person who feels trapped.

A flying bird tattoo can also symbolize a person’s desire for freedom in the sense of mental health. People who struggle with illnesses of the mind often feel stuck and weighed down by their thoughts and negative beliefs. The flying bird represents a person’s hope to escape that.

Similarly, a person who is battling addiction may be seeking freedom from that. The image of the soaring bird is inspirational and can give an individual hope that they will be able to break free of their dependency.


The image of the flying bird is also symbolic of optimism and a positive outlook on the future. This is based on the idea that the bird is able to rise above and fly away from its current location or situation. 

A person may choose to get a tattoo of a flying bird either because they are, by nature, an optimistic person or because they are trying to develop that quality in themselves. The tattoo can act as a reminder not to sweat the small stuff but to look at the big picture.

A tattoo of a flying lark, in particular, can be symbolic of hope. Larks are one of the only birds that sing during flight–most birds only sing when they are stationary. The lark is also a symbol of a new day which is representative of starting fresh and looking at the future with positive thoughts.


A flying bird tattoo may also mean independence, especially if the image is of a single bird. Similar to the idea of the bird representing freedom, this tattoo can be symbolic of a person’s desire to break away from a particular group and assert their independence.

For example, someone who has had a difficult home life growing up may be seeking independence from their family. The flying bird represents the individual moving away from their family home and striking out on their own.

This image can also depict a person’s independence from a challenging relationship or marriage. The single bird flying away shows that the individual has broken free from their old partnership and is starting a life of independence where they choose the direction.


In contrast, a flock of birds often represents a person’s family or group of friends. It can also be symbolic of their community or even a connection to humanity as a whole. In these tattoos, the birds are illustrated all flying together in the same direction.

A person may choose this tattoo to display their love and devotion to the people around them, whether this is their family or friends. It shows that they are an integral part of the group and that they are all supporting one another on their journey together.

Another reason that a person may choose a tattoo of a flock of birds in flight is to try to manifest this sense of community and belonging in their own life. Someone who feels alone or isolated may be wishing for acceptance in their family or society and may opt for this tattoo to depict that desire.

Most frequently, flocks of birds in flight are done in black ink, but occasionally you will see a tattoo that has each bird with a different color. This illustrates the uniqueness of each person represented and their ability to use these strengths to work as a group.


Because they spend much of their time in the air, birds are commonly associated with the spiritual dimension. Birds can be seen as a sort of connection between the earth and the sky or the heavenly realm.

Many people believe that birds are in fact, spiritual messengers. Some individuals view birds as messengers of god. It is a common belief that seeing a bird can be representative of a person who has passed away.

For example, when a person sees a cardinal, it is said that this means a deceased loved one is visiting her. A tattoo of a cardinal in flight can be symbolic of a person’s continuing connection to an individual that died.

A tattoo of a bird in flight may also symbolize the impermanence of the physical world and the everlasting aspect of the afterlife. The flying bird tattoo can be a reminder to the individual to focus their attention on the spiritual world and not get distracted by earthly desires.

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