168 Small Bird Tattoo Designs to Mirror Your Passion for Flying


Nature has created a wide diversity starting from humans, to animals and birds, as well as when it comes to finding small bird tattoo designs. Birds are amazing creatures which have fascinated people with their ability to lift themselves towards the sky. The same fascination has probably determined numerous people to choose small bird tattoo designs. In order to embellish their skin or to carve a deeper meaning under their skin, people got bird tattoos during the past and the present.

Small bird tattoo designs are impressive for both men and women. They are known to draw the attention of various artists in a very mesmerizing manner. This is exactly the reason why there are so many bird tattoo ideas. It’s because various artists were inspired and had a creativity boost in order to bring innovative ideas for the best tattoo designs.

As it follows, you will find out what different types of birds mean, where you can get a bird tattoo and other useful information about the subject. All you need to do is just read further!

1. Small bird tattoo designs on the nape of the neck

2. A branch with a bird on it emerge from a half-moon tattoo

3. Blue bird inked on a woman’s ankle with a brush in its beak

4. Two birds standing on a branch inked on an ankle

5. Different flying motions of a small bird inked on wrist

6. Three small birds inked on an arm that seem to be gulls 

7. Old school swallow inked on a woman’s shoulder

8. Delicate tattoo based on the outline of two birds

9. Swallow outline filled with various decorative lines and curves

10. Realistic bird sitting on a rose with thorns

General Considerations About Small Bird Tattoo Designs

We are all familiarized with the notion of tattoo and how the latter can embellish the body of a person. However, wouldn’t be interesting for you to also know the meaning behind some people’s tattoos? Or, conversely, get one that talks without you having to explain it? Well, in case of bird tattoos, there are both easy and hard ways to do so.

Birds are nature’s charming creatures, which have the ability to send us on a mystical land. This is why, many of us though about getting a bird tattoo, thanks to its various meanings. Since there are more than 10 thousand bird species, there is plenty of inspiration to find when in need. Some birds, such as the phoenix or the griffin exist in mythology and they represent the idea of power and independence.

However, there are lots of other bird species that may symbolize delicacy or pride. For example, the swallow is one of the most representative birds when you want to put the accent of hope, loyalty and love. The swallow is also a symbol of agility and appetite for life. So, it can be said that a person wearing such tattoo is often full of life, has a good souls and is loyal.

The dove, just like the swallow, are signs or love and kindness. Moreover, the dove represents new beginnings and success in life. A sign of understanding in family and trust in couple life, the dove is the messenger of Aphrodite. This means it can also represent passionate love and beauty.

11. Four birds in motion flying on a woman’s back

12. Dove with its wings spread on a man’s hand

13. Swallow drawn like a sketch with red color accents and geometry

14. A bird that has escaped from a cage

15. A black bird that can be a raven, crow, blackbird, buzzard

16. A very cute baby owl tattoo on someone’s forearm

17. Two adorable birds flying on a woman’s shoulder

18. American traditional tattoo of a swallow inked on forearm

19. A small black bird sitting on a delicate branch

20. Black and white baby owl inked in the cartoonist style

The Symbolic Meaning of Small Birds Tattoo Designs

Birds are associated with the freedom of the body and mind. This is a good reason for a person to wear a tattoo of a bird. Why? Because a person who wears a bird tattoo is often seen as a free individual, who has both the attitude and the strength of character to be himself or herself.

Birds have great meanings in the symbolic way because they represent an important part of history and mythology in different corners of the world. In some cultures, birds helped heroes win the fight against evil, fact which makes them worshiped creatures. Conversely, in other cultures, birds were considered negative beings.

Christians compare birds with angels because they both have wings. So, this time birds are associated with kindness. In a similar way, birds have emerged in a series of religious ceremonies from various cultures.

21. Old school swallow tattoo on foot with colored leafs 

22. Different sized bats flying on a woman’s shoulder

Bats might not seem like happy birds to you, but the Chinese people think otherwise. They attributed luck, happiness and good fortune to bats. Conversely, Native Americans thought they are symbols of death and rebirth.

23. Wrist tattoo presents one version of small bird tattoo designs

24. Two black birds and a man bird as their leader

25. Forest tattoo could not be complete without birds in it

26. Realistic eagle tattoo done in a unique manner 

27. Sparrow tattoo with the texture of a robotic bird

A few small bird tattoo designs are actually unique. The one above is just an example. Although that is a simple bird, the texture of its body making it look like a robot is original.

28. Technologically advanced swallow with clean sides that mirror the universe

29. A small dove done under the collarbone

30. Amazing hummingbird design done in the watercolor technique

The Creative Design of Small Bird Tattoos

The variety of small bird tattoo designs is overwhelming because there are so many bird species and so many tattooing techniques. Each bird species is associated with its own physical features and personality traits. The latter represents the base when choosing among various small bird tattoo designs.

The choice can be made by comparing your own personality and attitude with that of various bird species. As it follows, you will have the chance to find out more about what common bird species symbolize. In addition, you will see birds drawn in various styles, ranging from minimalism to realism.

31. A splash of watercolors on a forearm tattoo of a bird

32. Colors added to a black birds tattoo 

33. An owl that guards a very important key

34. Unusual colors used for a double dove tattoo

35. Black birds come off a star and fly on a watercolored background

36. Watercolors and pointillism used for a hummingbird tattoo

37. Different colored and simple drawn birds tattoo

38. Books come to life as birds as fly away

39. A puffy owl is sitting on a branch tattoo

40. Simple owl with yellow eyes in an oval frame

Small Bird Tattoo Designs Throughout the World

Thanks to the mystical and religious meanings of birds, bird tattoos have been extremely popular. In time, numerous bird references were found. Starting from the Egyptian tombs from the pyramids, all the way to Christian representations of birds, their presence cannot be ignored. Among other bird references we can count the costumes for the Ghosts’ Dance from Arapao, numerous traditional weddings from Africa, various rituals and so on. The positive perspective over life has, in fact, made contemporary people feel more and more attracted to small bird tattoo designs.

Popular myths often present heroes accompanied by their birds. It was said that birds used to travel first in order to gather information and let their owner know. Actually, the saying that goes “a little bird told me” comes from just that.

However, keep in mind that some small bird tattoo designs may mean different things in different cultures. For example, in the Chinese culture, the word that means bird can also mean penis. So, here we have a sexual connotation associated with birds as well. Moreover, in Germany, having a bird can also mean the person in question is crazy.

One example of common bird tattoo is that containing two birds which have different characteristics. In general, one bird represents the good, while the other bird represents the bad. In fact, certain bird tattoos talk about light and darkness. They are meant to highlight the duality which is found in nature. This metaphor can be continued until it refers to happiness and sadness. When a bird fights a snake, it means there is a fight between good and evil going on.

41. Shoulder tattoo consisting of various small bird tattoo designs

42. Scars covered with ink that have deeper meanings

Scars cannot be covered with ink unless you have permission from a dermatologist. Any tattoo artist should require a form stating your scars can be inked.

43. The Sol key and other musical notes inside a hummingbird

44. Four birds and their flying stages

45. Realistic dove framed by the outline of a triangle

46. Nicely decorated bird cage open to let the bird fly

47. Cute bird tattoo placed behind the ear

Tattoos this small cannot be inked with many details, so pick a simple design that will send the same message.

48. Small realistic tattoo features a rose and a bird

49. Minimalist tattoo presents a black tree and bird flying away from it

50. Dark themed tattoo features bats, cat and a night lightened by a full moon

Also See: 170 Mandala Tattoo Designs With Their Meanings to Incite Spiritual Inking

Swallow Small Bird Tattoo Designs

Swallow tattoos have a rich history throughout the world. Over time, these birds were associated with health, richness, loyalty and the rigor of long journeys. These days, swallow tattoos are trendy, especially when they are associated with the nautical theme and inked in the traditional style. Often, the swallows are accompanied by stars, cherries, flowers, arrows and various messages.

The most preferred body parts in case of swallow tattoos are hips, chest, lower back and shoulders. However, these don’t make a rule and you’ll see that if you take a look at tattoo designs examples.

The Meaning Behind a Swallow Tattoo

Swallows, just as sparrows and blue birds, have always had a special meaning for sailors. This is because these birds were usually the first sign of land approaching. Of course, this has happened before the modern technology progress. So, for a sailor, a swallow tattoo represents his hope of getting back home safe.

Swallows are birds that return home every year, regardless of where they go. Each year, you can actually check this information by going to Mission San Juan Capistrano in California to witness it.

The swallow is the type of bird who chooses a single life partner. So, this means that swallows also symbolize love and loyalty towards family.

Among the swallow’s other meanings are:

  • going back home after a fight
  • survival
  • the Spring’s first swallow brings monetary success
  • A two swallows tattoo represents freedom
  • In UK, a man with a swallow tattoo is said to be a good fighter

51. Tattoo reads: You’re just time away

52. Geometrical bird tattoo used as a matching tattoo

53. A bunch of birds expressing freedom for a traveler

54. Detailed swallow design inked on a woman’s side

Side tattoos are known to involve a higher level of pain. So, if this is your first tattoo, try to choose another body part. Or, you can ask for a professional artist’s opinion.

55. The masterful art of flying expressed with ink

56. Old school bird design done in black and white

57. Exceptionally inked swallow looks flawless

58. Freedom from every point of view

59. Small bird tattoo designs that emerge from a feather

60. A small and very delicate outline of a swallow

The Symbolic Meaning of Other Bird Species

Positive Bird Species

The Phoenix – It is a bird that symbolizes rebirth. Moreover, it is a sign of renewal, hope and a new beginning. Also, it is one of the nicest birds that you can tattoo on your skin when it comes to colors and complexity.

The Dove – This bird symbolizes peace in Christianity and in other cultures as well. However, it is also associated with rebirth and innocence. Moreover, the dove represents longevity and silence in China, while in Japan it is associated with the god of war.

The Swan – The swan is gracious and remarkable through its perfectly white feathers. It is a symbol associated with light, life, grace, purity, love, solitude, poetry, music and honesty. Since the swan can represent both masculinity and femininity, it is believed to also symbolize perfection.

The Hummingbird – This bird species symbolizes a man’s will to life intensely every day. Generally, those who end up getting a hummingbird tattoo have an unstoppable will to live and a divine gift to wipe away any trace of negative energy. Moreover, it is said that a hummingbird has the role of reminding people to enjoys the small pleasures of life.

Yellow Birds – Because of the color yellow, almost all yellow birds are considered symbols of cheerfulness. They are like a ray of sunshine that also sing. One interesting fact about canary birds is that they were taken inside mines by miners. No, the miners didn’t take them for their singing, but because they died first if the air was not breathable. Thus, giving a warning sign to miners to get out.

Negative Bird Species

The Owl – Although sacred for Athena, the Greek goddess, the owl is often associated with negative aspects. Because it is a night bird, it symbolizes death, bad luck and spiritual darkness. Moreover, in Hinduism it was believed that the owl is the messenger of death, Yama. Even so, people get baby owl tattoos, which cannot be evil in this universe or a parallel one.

The Raven – Together with the crow, the raven is a bird with double symbolism; although it shared the solar symbol with other bird species, this one is considered a symbol of evil just because it has black wings. It is an intelligent bird, which may mean wisdom and prophetic spirit.

61. Dandelion and origami birds done on a watercolor background

62. Multi-colored feathers transform into multi-colored birds

63. Traditional swallow outline done on a foot

64. Nape of the neck tattoo featuring a flying swallow

65. An anchor and a swallow are both nautical themed tattoos

Best friend can find this combination perfect for their matching tattoos that are not identical. Both symbols are from the nautical tattoos category, but can be interpreted as friendship tattoos as well.

66. Medium sized swallow tattoo done on lower back

67. Artistic tattoo presents a feather that releases birds

68. Hand tattoo presents feather and birds motifs

Time for Conclusions on Small Bird Tattoo Designs

Small bird tattoo designs are available for you in defined forms, ready to get inked, or as ideas. Depending on what you are actually looking for, you could easily find a drawing that you like, or you need in-depth research about your bird tattoo. Regardless of the situation you are in, this article should’ve provided you with the much needed information about various bird species and their meaning. In addition, it’s impossible to not have a favorite small bird tattoo idea after reading this article.


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