Birds as Symbols and Omens

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

From ancient times to the present, certain birds have been considered both symbols and forecasters of events. These eight birds, from every part of the world, have been especially important.

Cranes are revered in Asia as symbols of long life.

white crane
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Cuckoos are welcomed as a sign of spring in Europe and are considered omens of a happy marriage.

Doves symbolize love and peace. To dream of doves means happiness is at hand.


Eagles are considered sacred by Native Americans. The claws and bones of the birds are believed to drive illness away. As the symbol of the U.S., the bald eagle stands for endurance, independence, and courage.

bald eagle with nest
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Owls are considered prophets of doom. In ancient Rome as well as modern European and American folklore, a hooting owl warns of death.

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The phoenix is a mythical bird that dies by fire, then rises from its own ashes after 500 years! Thus it symbolizes renewed life.

Ravens have been reverred by sailors, especially Viking explorers, for their ability to find land. Other cultures believe ravens can predict death and pestilence (disease). Folklore has it that the raven's sense of smell is so acute that it can smell death before it comes.

Storks are symbols of good luck. In folklore, storks deliver babies.

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