Bird Medicine: Totem Messages and Meanings

Collage of Bird Photos
Bird Medicine. Canva Collage / Getty Images

Birds, in general, are survivalists. They will first choose flight over fight. They instinctively know that fighting is a dangerous endeavor. Whereas flight is avoiding trouble: possible injury or death. Birds have superb reflexes. They teach us awareness and adaptability. Birds represent the air element and are also teachers of proper breathing. Song birds teach us about the healing properties of sound.

Bird totems can be powerful and fierce, gentle and graceful, or anything in-between. Discover the meanings of essential bird totems. This gallery featuring a variety of bird totems is just one category of a larger animal totem gallery. 

of 28

Cardinal as a Totem: Keeper of Vitality

Cardinal Totem. Adam Jones / Getty Images

Meanings and Messages: self-acknowledgment, life-blood, revived energy, responsibility toward family

The cardinal, a red finch, is easily recognized among other birds. Cardinals also tend to stick around for all seasons so easy to spot year round. As a totem, they interject vitality or serve as a reminder that vitality is lacking. What is your energy level right now? You may also need to brighten up a drab wardrobe with some color. Cardinals will whistle loudly to alert danger, for this reason, a cardinal sighting can be a signal to be on alert for possible trouble. The cardinal is family-oriented. The male helps out with feeding and protecting the fledglings. Ask yourself if family members are at risk or need extra care.

of 28

Chickens as Totems: Sacrifice

Small group of free range hens in grass
Free Range Chickens. Seb Oliver / Getty Images

Meanings and Messages: sacrifice, sun power energies, optimism, birth

The chicken and cock symbolize the yin-yang balance of male and female energies. Together they represent fertility and sexuality. Chicken eggs have been historically used in rituals as fertility symbols.

Chickens, longtime domesticated, are a stable of food in households. For this reason, chickens also represent nutrition and sustenance. When chicken or rooster visits the significance may very well have to do with your sexuality or hormone issues. Ask yourself if your yin is in balance with your yang. Everyone carries a mixture of masculine and feminine within them. How comfortable are you with your sexuality and relationships? Could you be gentler or more nurturing? Or, perhaps you have been sitting on the sidelines being silent for too long and really need to show your dominant side and shout out a Cock-a-Doodle Do.

of 28

Crow as a Totem: Symbol of Solitude and Creation

Crow in flight
Crow Totem. Dethan Punalur / Stockbyte

Messages and Meanings: opportunity, magickal energies, strength, alertness

Crows are extremely intelligent birds. They are adept at being aware of things around them and have been known to help birds and other wildlife when danger is near with their presence and loud CAW. When the crow visits as a totem it can be a warning of some kind. It is a sign that you need to be on alert for changes or differences in your surroundings or life circumstances. Crows are considered to possess magickal energies and in folklore have been feared as predictors of woe such as imminent bad weather, death, or illness. Crows are also opportunists with the ability to make the most out of any situation, outwitting all the other birds and animals. As a totem, the crow will help open you up to your fullest potential.​

of 28

Duck as a Totem: Grace and Comfort

Duck swimming
Duck Totem. James Hager / Getty Images

Messages and Meanings: family connections, emotional healing, calming influences

Ducks are associated with the element of water. They are good deep water swimmers and also are content to glide on top of a body of water. As a totem, the duck teaches getting in touch with your deepest emotions in order to get to a calmer state. Ducks are family oriented and enjoy companionship. If a duck visits,​ it could mean it is time to return to your roots and spend some time with your clan. Eckhart Tolle, best selling author of A New Earth often tells a story about how ducks do not hold grudges. They will ruffle their feathers and get in a snit with another duck over differences but within minutes later the argument is forgotten and the duck is calm and serene on the lake. Duck medicine teaches us not to hold on to our past troubles and to live in the moment.

of 28

Eagle as a Totem: Earth and Sky

Bald Eagle in flight
Bald Eagle. Tom Breakfield / Getty Images

Messages and Meanings: spirituality, balance, new heights, inner strength, visionary, power and control

Amazing and majestic bird of prey, the eagle is often desired as a totem. It holds a strong medicine. The eagle soars high in the sky, yet will swoop down to the ground in a swift motion to capture a mouse from the forest or fish from the water. Because of this, the eagle is considered a strong connection between earth and sky energies. The eagle has keen sight (bird's heightened view) to be able to see his prey on the ground from the air. As a totem, the eagle also represents keen insight. As a messenger, the eagle offers visionary talents. If the eagle visits you likely have clairvoyant abilities that could be tapped. The eagle also represents spiritual growth. When you see an eagle soaring overhead it is likely that you are ready to progress to the next level spiritually. The eagle is also the spirit keeper of the eastern direction or air quadrant of the Native American medicine wheel

of 28

Falcon as a Totem: Hunter

A montage of falcons
Falcon Totem. Johann Schumacher / Getty Images

Messages and Meanings: past life connection, swift movement, mental agility

The falcon is known to hover in the sky in slow motion or sit patiently on a perch while on the lookout for possible prey. When its prey is in sight the falcon will move swiftly to the ground to scoop up beetles, grasshoppers, mice and other small rodents. The falcon uses its mind, calculating the best move before taking action. The lesson the falcon teaches as a totem is to wait for the most opportune moment before making your move. If you take the falcon's lesson of patience and precise thinking to heart you will attain more successes than failures.

of 28

Flamingo as a Totem: Visionary

Two Flamingos beak to beak
Flamingo Totem. Joseph Devenney / Getty Images

Meanings / Messages: balance, vision, color, vibrance

Relatives: Crane, Stork

Flamingo as a totem teaches the importance of balance. Pink is the color associated with the heart chakra, and the pink coloring in flamingos vibrate with heart center and emotional energies. The flamingo is a visionary who draws its power from water. When flamingo makes its appearance you may be needing to get in touch with your emotional being. Ask yourself if you are out of balance in some way. Are you leaning too far in one direction? The flamingo is a flamboyant and vibrant totem that offers joy and love. Flamingo teaches us not to be afraid to show our emotions.

of 28

Goose as a Totem: Nurturer

Goose with baby gosling
Goose Totem. Westend61 / Getty Images

Messages and Meanings: nurturing, family, childhood memories, soul mates, collective purpose 

A common saying is "What's good for the goose, is good for the gander." This indicates that male and female geese share duties in the family unit caring for their young goslings. Geese, like swans, mate for life, teaching the importance of honoring your life partner. What child didn't have Mother Goose fairy tales read to them? Mother Goose is representative of the nurturing grandmother archetype. A person with goose totem carries nurturing energies and recognizes the importance of family and sharing workloads. Geese are migratory birds that fly in a v-formation, jetting through the skies noisily honking as they travel overhead. They have a good sense of direction and know where they are headed. When goose totem appears you may be embarking soon on a journey (physical or symbolic) with others for a collective purpose. The snow goose represents the winter solstice totem for the medicine wheel in some Native American traditions.

of 28

Hawk as a Totem: Visionary

A hawk
Hawk Totem. Daniela Duncan / Getty Images

Messages and Meanings: spiritual awakening, inner purpose, intensity, charisma

There are many different varieties of hawks. Common traits they share is a keen eyesight, superb hunting ability, and impressive flight patterns. As a totem, the hawk is representative of soaring to higher states of awareness and vision. You can expect communications with spirit to open up more fully whenever hawk visits. Hawk energy is highly-charged and not to be ignored. Hawk implies a higher calling needs to be expressed. Animal Reiki Shaman, Rose De Dan, says the red-tailed hawk also represents fire.

of 28

Hummingbird Totem: Symbolizes Sweetness

A hummingbird in flight
Hummingbird Totem. Jack Milchanowski / Getty Images

Messages and Meanings: infinity, creativity, promise, joyfulness

Among all the bird totems it is likely the Hummingbird is the most magical. They bring a smile to our face while watching their unique movement. Hummingbirds ability to hover in one spot teaches us how to be still and focused no matter how active we are. When the hummingbird totem visits we are reminded to appreciate the sweetness life offers. We have all heard the saying "Stop to Smell the Roses" and understand this means to slow down and enjoy life. The hummingbird teaches a similar lesson asking us to bury our noses more deeply and inhale the fragrant nectar. Life offers much joy and sweetness if we take the time to breathe it in.

of 28

Kingfisher as a Totem: Peace and Prosperity

A kingfisher with a fish in it's beak
Kingfisher Totem. Sven Zacek / Getty Images

Messages and Meanings: opportunity, abundance

It is important for the kingfisher to make its home near the water because fish is its primary diet. The kingfisher fishes the waters for its livelihood. When the kingfisher presents itself it could indicate that you need to venture outside of your comfort zone to find new resources. For anyone with the kingfisher as its totem draws energy from being near a water source. Kingfisher is a messenger that brings abundance and prosperity.

of 28

Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove Perching On Retaining Wall
Mourning Dove. Gabriel Dragu / EyeEm / Getty Images

Mourning Dove, a member of the pigeon family, feeds on seeds, nuts, and grains. The song of the Mourning Dove which gives it its name is a "mournful coo" that invokes emotional stirrings. When the mourning dove visits ask yourself if you need an emotional release of some kind. Pent-up emotions can cause health problems and psychological issues. You may be needing a good cry.

of 28

Osprey Totem / Fish Hawk

Osprey close up
KaidoKarner / Getty Images. Osprey Totem

Messages and Meanings: visionary, insightful, inner reflection

Osprey, aka "fish hawk" live primarily on a diet of fish. If the osprey totem appears it could indicate that you need to add fish or fish oil to your diet. The osprey's body is white underneath which is reflective of the waters beneath his flights when seeking its prey. Osprey's reflective breast teaches inner reflection as a totem. Anyone with osprey as a totem should also study the traits of hawks in general. Hawks are considered to be visionaries due to their keen eyesight. Majestic in their flight hawks are wonderful to watch as they fly in the skies.

of 28

Ostrich as a Totem: Grounding

Ostrich Totem. Ignacio Palacios / Getty Images

Meanings and Messages: flighty or nervous, earth connection, desire to learn

The ostrich is the largest bird in the bird kingdom. Because it cannot fly its lesson is the importance of grounding, teaching us not to be so "flighty" or "airy fairy." The ostrich teaches us that we can attain spiritual heights from a deeper rooted perspective. Gravity is the ostrich's strength, keeping it grounded. The ostrich as a totem symbolizes a strong desire to attain knowledge, this is apparent by the long neck that sticks upwards into the higher realm of learning. If the ostrich totem shows up it may be a message that you need to prepare to move up to the next level of life lessons.

of 28

Owl as a Totem: Higher Wisdom

Owl Totem. Tom Brakefield / Getty Images

Messages and Meanings: seduction, magic, hidden secrets revealed, prophecy, clairvoyance, clairaudience, silence

The owl represents wisdom and higher education. Because of the owl's keen eyesight, it is considered to be a great visionary. It also has superb hearing. As a totem, it can reveal clairaudient and clairvoyant abilities. This nocturnal bird is called "The Keeper of Dark Secrets." The owl totem has a connection to the dark side and the dead. The owl is associated with superstition and magical powers. Whenever an owl appears or you hear an owl screech in the night it may be that a secret will soon be revealed to you. Also, if a secret is shared with you in confidence, the owl serves as a reminder to honor that knowledge and keep the secret private.

of 28

Parrot as a Totem: Linguist

Parrot closeup
Parrot Totem. Ben Queenborough / Getty Images

Meanings and Messages: sunny outlook, color, interpreter, diplomacy

The parrot as a healer would be representative of both a color therapist and a speech therapist. Parrot is a magical totem that teaches us that the world is full of possibility. The role of the parrot is that of a linguist opening communication centers. When parrot totem appears look to see if you need assistance in understanding views that are different from your own. It may be time to widen your horizons or sign up for a class to learn a new language.

of 28

Peacock Totem: Laughter and Majesty

Peacock Totem. Jose Antonio Santiso FernA!ndez / Getty Images

Meanings and Messages: sight and sound, resurrection, watchful, karmic connections

The peacock is a majestic and mystical totem symbolizing inner wisdom. Whenever the peacock visits it is an invitation to view higher aspects of yourself through the eye image displayed on its magnificent display of feather plumes. The eye is your gateway to higher knowledge. Ask yourself if you need to widen your perspective and look deeper regarding a situation. The iridescent hues of blues and greens in the feathers have an exotic look. Are you stuck in drab surroundings? Are you able to reflect light and deflect dark emotions? The peacock teaches us to stand upright and show others our talents with pride.

of 28

Penguin as a Totem: Lucid Dreamer

Gentoo penguin overlooking bay
Penguin as a Totem. Markus Eichenberger Photography / Getty Images

Messages and Meanings: out of body experiences, lucid dreaming, perseverance, play

The penguin is an expert swimmer in the water but is unable to fly. Yet, the penguin's transition from water to land is swift. The penguin is able to leap out of the water and land on its feet. Ted Andrews, author of Animal Speak assigns penguin totem with the ability to consciously go out of body. If penguin appears lucid dreaming or astral projection is likely to come easily to you.

The waddle movement of a penguin on land demonstrates steady perseverance and its belly glide on ice showcases joy and play. The penguin totem teaches the connection between the physical and the spiritual. Another lesson penguin teaches is that there is a time for work and a time for play.

of 28

Pheasant as a Totem: Survivor

Pheasant Totem. Erich Kuchling / Getty Images

Meanings and Messages: sexual power, nesting, survival instincts

The pheasant feeds on grains and grasses. Anyone with pheasant as a totem benefits by incorporating more grains into their diet (oats, wheat, corn, etc.) The warm colorings of the pheasant help them to blend into the low grasses of the prairie and keep them hidden from predators in the wild. Historically, the tail plumes of the pheasant are associated with sexuality. For this reason, the pheasant totem represents fertility and sexuality. As a totem, pheasant gives sexual prowess and survival talents.​

of 28

Pigeon as a Totem: Messenger of Love

Pigeon Totem. Dethan Punalur / Getty Images

Meanings and Messages: love of home, early years, family concerns

The instinctual "homing instinct" of the pigeon makes it the carrier of messages from home. Pigeons, in general, are associated with the home and family matters. As a totem, the pigeon teaches us to return to our roots and explore our heritage. Seeing a pigeon can be a message to check in with family members to see if all is well. Pigeon also serves as a reminder that we come from a clan and are not alone. The pigeon thinks of the home as a safe haven.​

of 28

Raven as a Totem: Shapeshifter

Raven Totem. d Reschke / Getty Images

Messages and Meanings: mysticism, messenger of death, prophecy

of 28

Robin as a Totem: Keeper of Springtime

Robin Totem. Johann Schumacher / Getty Images

Meanings / Messages: creation, grounding, new growth, family

The robin with its red breast and trilling song awakens us to the spring season. When robin totem makes its appearance you can expect new spurt of growth or a new beginning for yourself. This bird is associated with the spring equinox, reaffirming the importance of seasonal changes. Are you honoring change in your life or are you stuck in old patterns? The robin teaches us to move forward and not to be afraid to try new things. The robin gets its nourishment from the earth, pulling earthworms out of the soil. It is true that the early bird gets the worm! Ask yourself, are you taking full advantage of new opportunities? Also, this action reminds us to ground our bodies and pull up life energies from the earth to nourish our spiritual selves.

of 28

Sparrow as a Totem: Survivalist

Sparrow Totem. Nick Saunders / Getty Images

Messages and Meanings: assertiveness, self-worth, survival

The sparrow is a common ​songbird that reflects the significance of the common traits we share with others in humanity and life in general. The sparrow does not think of itself as common and will assert itself in life to assure its own survival. The sparrow as a totem reminds you to appreciate your place in the world. Sparrow teaches that you have self-worth. This totem can show up when you are feeling "less-than" as a reminder that you are a valuable player on the planet. It is good to remember that each person has something unique to contribute to the tribe. This totem can also appear to anyone who has been acting boastful or uppity to teach humility and charity for others.

of 28

Stork as a Totem: New Beginnings

Stork Totem. olfo / Getty Images

Meanings and Messages: birth, new beginnings, home and family, fertility

The stork carries feminine or mothering energies. The stork is very attentive to its young. Everyone knows the fairytale about where babies come from. In the story, we are told that the stork delivers the newborn to the front door. Babies are often born with red markings on the backs of their necks that are affectionately called "stork bites." When the stork appears a birth or rebirth will soon happen. The stork is typically a bringer of new energies. Its appearance often precedes a change in the family dynamic, which may or may not be a new baby born into the family. The stork teaches the value of family and the need to protect the family unit as a whole. When the stork appears you may need to reconnect with your roots.​

of 28

Swan as a Totem: True Beauty

Swan Totem. Image Stock

Messages and Meanings: grace, soul-mate, awakening, longevity

Swan as a totem is strong medicine. Swans are graceful, strong, and tend to live a very long life. For this reason, the swan as a totem represents grace, strength, and longevity. As a species swans mate for life. A swan showing up can indicate the one you are with, or someone you are soon to meet is a soul-mate. The swan teaches that there is beauty in all things. As an archetype, the swan begins life as an "ugly duckling" and yet emerges into a beauty when fully grown. This children's story is a tale of soul-growth and also teaches inner beauty. The swan's message may very well be that things are not as they appear outwardly. Look beyond the obvious.​

of 28

Toucan as a Totem: Recognition

Toucan Totem. Wolfgang Kaehler / Getty Images

Messages and Meanings: colorful, attraction abilities, being seen in the world, attention

The toucan represents communication and showmanship. The toucan's colorful appearance and large bill indicate a strong desire to be seen and heard. When the toucan appears as a totem it is likely time for you to step forward out of the shadows and stand in the limelight for a while. If you have difficulty speaking in public toucan medicine can help clear and heal throat chakra blockages. The toucan may appear whenever you are craving attention, helping you to sort out why you are feeling this way. Toucan can boost your self-esteem. Toucan carries the energy of the class-clown with its antics and loud noises. If you have a clowning personality that you use to cloak insecurities, the toucan totem is mirroring your behavior to show you that it is safe to take off the mask and reveal your true self.​

of 28

Turkey as a Totem: Blessings

Turkey Totem. Jim Cumming / Getty Images

Messages and Meanings: assertiveness, self-worth, survival

Turkey totem represents a time of harvest and blessings.

Turkey is quite a bit like buffalo. very sacred. it is one that gives unconditionally. If you follow a wild turkey and watch you will find other foods to eat. the feathers have been used to make caps for ceremony as well as to keep the rain off. almost every part of the turkey can be used for one thing or another and of course, the bird is also a food source. To the Cherokee, the turkey was as sacred as the eagle if not more so. Turkeys teach adaptivity for that is what has helped them survive the destruction of their forest. they are nest sharers with several hens keeping eggs in the same nest and tending to them. this ensures a greater survival for all the chicks. It teaches strength through being in the flock and allowing others to assist you in not only finding food but raising your young and being a part of the whole.... source: Whitehorse Woman ​

of 28

Vulture as a Totem: Dignity and Perseverance

Juanvi Carrasco / Getty Images. Vulture Totem

Meanings and Messages: mysterious, vigilance, purification, patience, higher purpose

The vulture as a totem teaches the importance of all roles played in society. If the vulture appears it could be a reminder to honor service, no matter how big or small, that you offer humanity. Vultures depend on others to supply their nourishment, surviving by being scavengers, eating the remains left behind by more apt hunters. As a totem vulture teaches a "waste-not, want not" perspective and the ability to accept help from others with graciousness and dignity. The vulture has a keen sense of smell that helps him to find the dead and decaying flesh that he can clean up. Vulture teaches you to use your "scent-sibilities" to know what things nourish and what harms your body. The vulture is able to eat foods tainted with harmful bacteria due to a digestive system that resists disease, but this is not true for our human digestion. When vulture appears you may want to check your digestive habits. Are you consuming a proper diet, or are you introducing harmful toxins into your body?

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Desy, Phylameana lila. "Bird Medicine: Totem Messages and Meanings." Learn Religions, Sep. 6, 2021, Desy, Phylameana lila. (2021, September 6). Bird Medicine: Totem Messages and Meanings. Retrieved from Desy, Phylameana lila. "Bird Medicine: Totem Messages and Meanings." Learn Religions. (accessed March 27, 2023).