Bird, as symbolism in literature, represents rich and diverse imagery that captivates writers. Birds universally represent freedom, transcendence, and spirituality. Their ability to fly connects them to the heavens, making them ideal symbols for higher aspirations. Birds can also convey messages from the divine, acting as messengers or omens. Each bird species carries its own symbolic significance, such as the wisdom associated with owls and the grace and beauty attributed to swans. Additionally, bird songs are often seen as expressions of joy, hope, or melancholy, reflecting the human experience. In etymology, the word “bird” is from Old English, which was written as ‘bridd’, which means young bird, which is derived from the Proto-Germanic word ‘brǐwaz’.
Birds symbolize freedom as the birds reach heights without having limitations. Birds also have an excellent ability to reach the point with freedom. In North America, the eagle represents freedom it has another name, King of the Skies. It is said that the eagle had independent power like that when America wanted its freedom from the British empire. The bird, the albatross, is also a symbol of freedom and is known for taking long flights and traveling incredible distances. The Harpy eagle is a national bird of Panama and symbolizes freedom. In the United States, the bald eagle is also a symbol of freedom. According to South America, the hummingbird is considered a symbol of freedom.
According to Christianity, the cardinal is the symbolism of transformation because the cardinal is associated with the blood of Christ and is a symbol of spiritual transformation and renewal. Native Americans believed the robin was a symbol of transformation. It is rusty red breast said to represent the rising sun and the return of warmth and life after the cold, dark winter. As per Ancient Greek mythology, the phoenix is a mythical bird, and it represents a symbol of transformation. Even the dead birds also represent inner transformation and growth within a person. In Celtic culture, the blackbird is associated with the goddess Morrigan, and it symbolizes the power of transformation and change. According to Hindu culture, god Shani is associated with the blackbird. It is considered karma and the power of transformation.
According to Chinese folklore, cranes symbolize guidance and parental love. Ancient Romans believed the raven was a symbol of communication, guidance, and wisdom because the raven represents sickness and death. In Celtic culture, bluebirds symbolize guidance and protection. They considered bluebirds are messengers from the spirit realm to give guidance to life. In the Inca, condors represent spiritual guidance and divine inspiration. Ancient Greeks symbolize the cardinal as a symbol of guidance and protection, and it is associated with the goddess Hera.
Europeans believed starlings were a symbol of communication and unity. In Nepal, the crow symbolizes communication-based on their local folklore. Parrots symbolize communication and sociability as parrots speak like human being speech. Native Americans believe the goose is a symbol of communication, cooperation, and the value of community, as well as blue jay, is also a symbol of communication.
In Ancient Egypt, the falcon is a symbol of protection from evil spirits. In Native American culture, woodpeckers symbolize protection and home-making traits. According to Ancient Greek mythology, the goddess Athena was associated with owls, and it symbolizes protection and wisdom. Chinese believe the crane is a symbol of protection and brings good luck. According to Hinduism, the peacock is associated with protection, and it is believed to keep negative energies away.
As per the pop culture, owls symbolize wisdom because owls live within the darkness, their own knowledge and wisdom. Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, is associated with the owl and is recognized as the symbol of wisdom. In Mesopotamia, ravens are symbols of wisdom and part of the ritual for the god Enki. Ancient Egyptians considered Ibis a symbol of wisdom and good fortune. In Greek mythology, red doves are associated with the goddess Athena, and they represent wisdom, courage, inspiration, and justice. Native Americans believe condors are symbolized wisdom, good luck, and divinity. Ancient Europeans considered the robin a symbol of divine rebirth and wisdom.
In Hinduism, the cuckoo bird symbolizes love, passion, and fidelity. Ancient Greeks considered the dove and bluebirds a symbol of love and beauty and associated with the goddess Aphrodite. In Caribbean and Chinese culture, the Flamingo represents a symbol of love and harmony. Hummingbirds symbolize love, joy, and beauty. In Japanese culture, people believe cranes are the symbol of love because they have a long life and mate partners for long life. So, they considered the pair of courting cranes to be a great gift for anniversaries or weddings.
Ravens and blackbirds are associated with bad luck. Ancient Greeks believed owls are associated with the goddess of Athena, and it symbolizes a messenger from the goddess to give luck. Dreaming of killing a crow symbolizes bad luck because crows serve as messengers of the dead. In coastal California, stroke represents bad luck. Ancient Chinese considered cranes to be a symbol of good luck.
Examples of Bird as Symbolism in Literature
Birds By Alice Jones
The manic barn swallows pitch
themselves out of the air
free-fall, the kind of dance
I didn’t learn, keeping things
the same took so much effort.
It pushed all dancing onto
paper. Wildness constrained
Swooping, maybe they’re only
looking for lunch. From land
it looks like grace, that thoughtless
freedom to follow whim
In this poem, birds are described as enjoying nature. Here, birds are a symbol of joy, survival, and freedom.
Birds By Kinereth Gensler
It is because of the birds, beaked dinosaurs
flying around in my country, raucous and dirty
or obsequious, their falsely sweet trill-language
a trick to make me think that I could understand them–
it is because they could balance no-hands on air, go
places that I could not, unexpected as locusts
and as many, scavengers, indestructible,
a world presence preceding me everywhere —
As per the above poem, the birds are as ancient and strong as dinosaurs. In this example, the birds are symbols of survival, strength, and tricking.
Birds By Yevgeny Vinokurov
What does this birdsong signify?
The echoing night resounds with song.
Probably it’s in praise of the starry majesty
Of heaven, or the boundless cosmos.
Or maybe it is no song,
Chat about various matter, like–
It’ll soon be morning, or it’s dewy now,
Or, eureka, he’s found
In this poem, the birds are symbols of peace, spirituality, and hope.
Birds In The Wind By Glenn Ward Dresbach
Under wide driven wings of cloud, and under
The unseen heavy-beating wings of thunder
Are wings of birds,
Now tossed like blowing leaves on a windy plain,
Now held suspended a moment, immobile; again
Like a rush of words
From a throat constricted no longer, like arrows flashing
Under the spears of lightning falling and crashing
On clouded shields….
I watch them go, and would not keep them from going–
At last alone with the sound of a great wind blowing
Over the fields.
According to this poem, the birds are a symbol of freedom, courage, persistence, and hope.
Quote By Munia Khan
Eagle’s flight of loneliness soars so high
Around its sigh, no more alone the sky
Other birds remain away, clouds pass by
Between shrouds of life and haze sun rays die
In this example, the author is describing the eagle, also known as the king of birds. Here the birds are the symbol of resilience, loneliness, and hope.
Saving Jemima: Life and Love with a Hard-Luck Jay By Julie Zickefoose
The presence of a single bird can change everything for one who appreciates them.
According to this poem, a bird symbolizes transformation, happiness, and hope.
Once Upon a Lockdown By Anurag Anand
A bird seldom depends on the strength of the breeze for its flight. It relies solely on its own wings to soar higher.
As per this dialogue, a bird is also a symbol of isolation, survival, courage, and strength.
Slammerkin By Emma Donoghue
The crow flew closer, as if to hear its praises.
In this example, the bird crow represents curiosity and attention.