Birds are fascinating, with their wings, colors and beautiful singing and have been admired by men since the very beginning of the world, through beliefs and art. Symbols of freedom and joy, they are easily adopted as totems. Bird tattoos are beautiful, but each bird has got his own meaning that you may want to know before inking it forever on your skin.
Swallows are, of course, the indispensable bird tattoo. Coming from the sailor tradition, they were codes used to know the experience of a man: one swallow meant that he had travelled over 5000 nautical miles and so on. As the swallows are famous for their long journey and to return to the same location every year, their tattoos were a token for a safe return to home.
One swallow could even be tattooed before taking the boat and the second one when coming back, hence the popular symmetrical swallows on torso. This little speedy bird was also a symbol used in prisons and by thugs. The meaning has evolved with the popularity of old school tattoos and now, swallows are mainly used to symbolize love, loyalty, freedom and hope.
Other popular birds are crows, owls, eagles and birds of prey, each sharing ideas such as cleverness, strength, honor and majesty. The dove is usually used in religious contexts. With its white pure color, it is associated with Christendom, but also peace, freedom, love, purity and grace.