Birds are a beautiful symbol of freedom and dreams. From small to big, black to color, these bird tattoos will inspire your next ink.
Birds are the messengers of nature. They bring joy to us with their colorful feathers and cheerful singing. Seeing birds spreading wings across the sky casts away the dullness and sadness.
While not all of us have the luxury of raising birds or going birdwatching regularly, bird tattoos become a way of connecting with these fluffy little friends. And because each species has its own symbolism, bird tattoos may carry various meanings.
So if you are thinking about getting bird tattoos, you are in the right place. We’ve gathered a list of bird tattoo ideas with their meaning explained. They are categorized in species and styles, so you can find the perfect design for your next ink.
Don’t forget to tell us about your favorite bird at the end of the post or share your personal story. Now, onto the ideas.
Disclaimer: This collection of bird tattoos is for inspiration only. Please do not copy the artwork. If you love these tattoos, follow artists and show them some support.
Simple and small bird tattoos
Table of Contents
Birds can be tattooed as big or small as you want. You have more flexibility in their placement with a smaller tattoo. You can put it on the shoulder, the arm, or somewhere as tiny as the side of the finger.
It is also a good idea to start small if you are getting your first tattoo. To make it more personal and unique, think about adding different patterns to the body or finding a species you related to.
Abstract dove tattoo on the arm
Want something simpler? Consider abstract bird tattoos like this. It keeps only the basic form, minimizing the cost of time. But the imagery is still recognizable.
Flying birds neck tattoo
Matching mother daughter tattoos
These mother-daughter tattoos prove that matching ink doesn’t have to be identical. In this case, the daughter gets a sparrow tattoo, representing youth and affection.The mother’s tattoo says, “today is my youngest day.”, echoing the sparrow symbolism. But they also make sense independently.
Black and white dove tattoo
Realism is not the only style for bird tattoos. If you are a minimalist, a simple tattoo like this one will fit your aesthetics better.
Beautiful and intricate bird tattoo ideas
There is so much you can do with bird tattoos. First are the feathers. You can go as detailed as you wish to make a tattoo stand out.
Second, the color. Bird tattoos don’t have to be exactly like the real birds. And this gives you the room to be creative. Customize a bird tattoo with your favorite color, and now you have a one-of-a-kind design.
Realism yellow bird tattoo
Abstract ink wash style black bird tattoo
Flowers and bird full sleeve watercolor tattoo
Realism bird tattoo
Stunning bird shoulder and arm tattoo
Bluebirds may refer to more than one species. For example, the Eastern bluebird, Bluejay, Indigo bunting, and some tree swallows all have stunning blue fur.
Across cultures, people believe that blue is a color that brings joy and calmness. Thus bluebirds are often seen as a symbol of happiness. And if you spot a bluebird in the wild, it’s a sign that something good may happen.
Blue bird neck tattoo
Neck tattoos can cause more pain because the skin is thin in this area. But a stunning bluebird tattoo like this is worth it.
Cute little bluebird and Camellia
Bluebird back tattoo
A shade of color can make a black tattoo pop. This back tattoo, for example, is painted in pure black except for the bird. The blue color not only draws attention. It also maintains the balance between visual impact and simplicity.
Bluebird and lily in the valley
Hand poked blue bird tattoo
Flying bird tattoo ideas
Just like other dragon and mermaid tattoos, bird tattoos provide different possibilities of postures to choose from. And many people opt for flying birds because of the symbolism.
While birds of different species may have different meanings, flying birds symbolize freedom and prosperity. Birds soar as they spread their wings. And they glide through the sky freely with nothing holding them back. Thus flying bird tattoos are sometimes referred to as free bird tattoos. They represent the wearers’ pursuit of freedom and dreams.
Flying birds collarbone tattoo
Collarbone tattoos are not easy to pull off. The skin is pretty thin, and there’s not much flat space to be creative. And a good collarbone tattoo should go with the flow of the bone structure.
This flying bird tattoo, however, checks both boxes. And it manages to bring movements to a static ink while keeping the relatively design simple.
Eagle and moon phase tattoo
Abstract dove tattoo on the arm
Lifelines are often seen in doctor or nurse tattoos, signifying how precious life is. This meaningful tattoo combines the lifeline and a bluebird. It’s a reminder to value our life and never give up on them.
Minimalist black and grey flying bird tattoo
A flying owl sleeve tattoo
Crow tattoos and symbolism
Across cultures, crows have both negative and positive symbolisms. For example, according to OnTheFeeder, crows represent death in Christianity but a messenger of God in Catholicism.
In the east, people also have contrasting ideas about these black birds. Chinese see them as a sign of bad luck. But in Buddhism, crows represent protection and wisdom.
Despite the different meanings, crows make excellent tattoo motifs because of their black color. Not many people have pure black bird tattoos, making crow tattoos rare. And they are considered to be powerful animals for their association with mythologies, witches, and magic. Therefore, crows may be what you are looking for if you are looking for a badass tattoo.
Crow side tattoo
Golden leaves and crow tattoo
A flying crow bicep tattoo
Crow standing on the rock
Hummingbird tattoo ideas
Do you know that a hummingbird can flap up to 70 times per second? Their streamlined bodies, long wings, and sparkly eyes make them cute tattoo objects. And because they have a variety of stunning, vibrant colors, they appeal to both tattoo artists and wearers.
It’s no surprise that these little birds come with positive symbolisms. They are considered to bring joy, good luck, and healing. And because they help spread pollens of flowers, they also symbolize growth and prosperity.
Cute hummingbirds thigh tattoo
Hummingbirds and kumquat
Tattooist Nonlee is known for her bold taste in colors. This shoulder blade tattoo is another successful experiment. By adding reflective metallic colors to the tattoo, both the birds and the fruits take on an unreal and stunning look.
Rainbow color hummingbird tattoo
Sometimes birds can be a canvas for your imagination. You can tattoo your favorite bird in the color of your choice and create a unique tat, just like this bird tattoo in rainbow colors.
A unique embossed hummingbird tattoo
Hummingbirds and wild flowers
Wildflowers represent life and energy. Despite the lack of care, wildflowers still thrive. With imagery like the hummingbirds, this tattoo would belong to a cheerful person with incredible inner strength.
Cute robin tattoos
If you want a cute bird tattoo, a robin may be for you. It’s hard not to love these tiny, fluffy pals with round heads, watery eyes, and an orange belly with a distinctive white patch.
In terms of meaning, robins are sometimes associated with death. But as the saying goes, new beginnings are often disguised as painful endings; robins also signify a new beginning and the start of spring. If you are to embrace a new life chapter, robin tattoos may bring you the hope and strength you need.
Robin and cornflower
Stunning watercolor robin tattoo
Robin and cherry blossom waist tattoo
Swallows are long-distance travelers. They spend most of their time flying in the sky. And some species of swallows are seasonal migrators.
That’s why swallows have been a symbol of protection for travelers and sailors. They believe the birds can ward off evil energies and keep them safe while away from home.
Black and white sparrow rib tattoo
A pair of swallows on the shoulders
While one swallow may represent the desire to explore the world, two swallows in a tattoo often mean a long journey. These swallows on both shoulders are a classic example. They are considered to be a lucky charm and will bring adventurers back home safely.
Elegant crane tattoos
Crane tattoos are getting increasingly popular recently, especially in Asia. These giant birds are highly distinctive with their long necks, long legs, and large wings.
In addition, cranes show up a lot in Asian literature as a symbol of longevity and loyalty, giving them a deeper meaning.
Because of their elongated body shape and wide wingspread, cranes make perfect tattoos for extensive placements such as the back, the rib, and the thigh. But we can also see small crane tattoos on areas like the sternum and the neck.
A flying crane on the back
Crane and sun tattoo
Crane and red spider lily neck tattoo
Crane tattoo on the sternum
Vertical crane landscape tattoo
Most landscape tattoos stretch horizontally. This arm tattoo, however, takes a different approach. By cropping out a narrow strip, it captures a glimpse of an oriental painting, leaving room for imagination. And it also fits on the arm better.
Bird and cage tattoos
Birds are not always the only objects in a tattoo. Sometimes they pair with other motifs to express a different idea. Bird and cage tattoos are a good example.
The meaning of bird and cage tattoos is pretty straightforward. The cage represents strains, confinement, and oppression, while birds symbolize the pursuit of freedom.
Depending on how a tattooist depicts the two objects, bird and cage tattoos can be positive or negative. For example, if the bird is locked in the cage, it may signify the current mental struggle of the wearers. They feel trapped and don’t know how to break out. On the other hand, if the birds are out of the cage, it may be a tattoo honoring the wearers’ strength or celebrating liberty.
Beautiful bird, cage and tree of life
Black and grey bird cage tattoo
Bluebird breaking out of the cage
Escaped caged birds
Dove bird tattoos with meaning
Doves are one of the birds we are all familiar with. Human beings have been domesticating doves and pigeons for centuries.
Because of the precise flight pattern and the ability to travel a long distance, they had been used as messengers before modern technologies. That’s why doves are considered a bridge between different cultures, spreading peace and joy.
These fluffy white birds also symbolize love because of their monogamy. They have one partner for life and are extremely affectionate with each other. So if you want to pay tribute to your relationship, a pair of doves will make perfect couple tattoos.
Realism dove tattoo
Gorgeous dove jewelry tattoo
A pair of doves on the back
Bird feather tattoos
When we think about bird tattoos, the most obvious choice is to tattoo a specific bird or a flock of birds. But feather tattoos can also be on your list if you want something simpler or smaller.
Depending on the colors, a feather can have various meanings. For example, a pure white feather may represent a guardian angel, purity, or protection. On the contrary, black feathers may be associated with spirits and death.
And because feathers are light and tend to fly with the wind, they may also represent the connection with a higher self or a light-hearted approach to life.
Different from tattooing a specific bird, feather tattoos let you be free with color palettes and shapes. You can customize it to your favorite tones or tweak it to fit different placements. But it’s also worth noting that feather tattoos have a significant amount of details, which may require time and skills as a realism tattoo.
Black and blue feather tattoo
Red feather arm tattoo
Yin and yang feathers on the forearm
Feather tattoo behind the ear
If you want a small and discreet tat, consider behind-the-ear tattoos. Slightly long hair on the side will allow you to hide the tattoo when needed.
Feathers are sometimes seen in witchy tattoos as they are associated with magic and mysterious power. So if you want something to represent an unknown side of yourself, a feather in dark colors may be a good fit.
Kingfisher bird tattoos with meaning
Judged by the look, a kingfisher might not seem very different from hummingbirds or robins. But their long, dagger-like bills distinguish them from the crowd. These adorable little birds are actually great hunters. They are extremely precise and skillful when it comes to fishing. And that’s how they get their name.
Kingfishers are capable of spotting and targeting fish from high above the sky, which gives them a symbolism of intuition and precision. Despite their small size, they attack prey times larger than themselves without fear. And it makes them a symbol of courage. So if you want a tattoo to honor your strength, bravery, and intuition, kingfisher tattoos might be what you are looking for.
Black and grey realism kingfisher
Kingfisher shoulder blade tattoo
The hunting kingfisher
Garuda tattoos and symbolism
Unlike what we’ve mentioned above, Garuda is not a bird but a mythical creature in Buddhism and Hinduism. In fact, it’s described as the king of birds. It is depicted as an eagle in the shape of a kite. Or sometimes, it takes on a human form with eagle wings.
In terms of meaning, Garuda has been seen as a symbol of power and speed. It is associated with domination and victory. And because it’s known as the nemesis of snakes, Garuda tattoos function as armor for the wearers, warding off evilness and bad energies.
Intricate Garuda sleeve tattoo
Traditional Garuda symbol nape tattoo
Bold color Garuda
Owl tattoo ideas
Owl tattoos are loved for a reason. Firstly, their baby-like big eyes and round face make them adorable. Secondly, they are known to be a symbol of wisdom and intuition, giving owl tattoos a deeper meaning.
Golden moon and owl tattoo
Fine line owl on the back
Geometric owl tattoo
Cute little red owl
Stunning peacock tattoos
Peacocks are no doubt stunning. Their gorgeous, gem-like feathers capture attention. So if you are feeling confident, peacock tattoos are a perfect fit for you.
Besides being an obvious representation of beauty, peacocks also symbolize eliteness and royalty. In ancient times, peacock dance was only accessible to the royals, thus making peacocks a proof of rarity and high social status.
Some people see peacocks as their spirit animals because they represent their inner beauty. Peacocks only display their most glamorous side by spreading their tail feathers. They are a reminder that true beauty is not always seen.
Stunning intricate peacock tattoo
Diamond peacock on the arm
Peacock feather tattoo
Flowers and peacock tattoo
Peacock portrait tattoo
Cute sparrow tattoo
Sparrows might not have the most stunning colors, but their symbolisms make them a widely loved tattoo motif.
A lot like swallows, sparrows have been a protection omen for sailors. Ancient Egyptians thought that sparrows were capable of taking the lost souls of sailors to heaven. But sparrow tattoos can also be a tribute to true love as the birds are monogamous.
Sparrow and Korean norigae tattoo
Which of these bird tattoos is your favorite?
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