Hummingbird Symbolism (Meanings & Interpretations)

Watching a hummingbird fly or hover can be so mesmerizing. But, have you had an encounter with one recently or a dream about them and wondered about hummingbird symbolism? Hummingbirds have represented so many things to different cultures and religions throughout history.  

Happiness, health, good fortune, and communication from the afterlife are all represented by the hummingbird. For many individuals, hummingbird symbols and sightings hold a special place in their hearts. Many see the hummingbird as a treasured totem animal. In this article, we’ll highlight what hummingbird encounters and dreams mean, their value as spirit animals, tattoos, and so much more. 

What Does a Hummingbird Symbolize?

Seeing a hummingbird in action is enough to pique the interest of everybody who sees one. The hummingbird’s physical skill at sipping nectar from flowers, beautiful colors, and flying ability elicits delight. Based on its behaviors, actions, and how it moves through life, we can look at the qualities of a hummingbird and apply their lessons to our own lives. 

Here are some of the most common symbolism associated with hummingbirds:

  • Speed and Efficiency
  • Self Confidence and Individuality
  • Agility
  • Courage
  • Healing
  • Rest
  • Happiness and Good Luck

Speed and Efficiency

If there is one thing you know about hummingbirds it is probably how fast they are. By the time you spot one they are already zipping away to the next flower. These tiny birds beat their wings up to 200 times per second and reach speeds of nearly 60 miles per hour when in an aerial dive.

The swiftness of hummingbirds can remind us to seize the day, and also not to dwell on negative situations. Cultivate the energy and lightness to leave negativity behind and move on to the next opportunity. 

The spirit animal of the hummingbird is a message that if you’re feeling stuck or unsure of what to do, try something new. Get out of your slump by changing your perspective and cultivate resilience.

Self Confidence and Individuality

The hummingbird, like the honeybee and the butterflies, is an important pollinator. Many plants simply cannot exist and propagate without the help of hummingbirds spreading their pollen from one flower to another.

When you feel small or insignificant, remember that one person can have an enormous impact. The hummingbird urges you to act on your goals, no matter how modest they may appear to others. Your positive energy can help you in achieving your goals.

Agility

Hummingbirds are well known for their agility in flight. Not only can they hover in place, but they can turn on a dime and even fly backwards. Between their small size and speed they can easily weave in and out through branches, dodge obstacles and reach food sources other animals cannot. 

For these reasons hummingbirds can symbolize areas of your life that you can apply more flexibility and adaptability to. Don’t forget to step back and look at things from a different perspective.

Make sure your mind stays agile and not closed-off with rigid thinking. A visit from a hummingbird can be a message to seize an opportunity and a willingness to move in any direction to achieve your goals. Be open and think outside the box. 

Image by Steven Patron | pexels

Courage

Many hummingbirds migrate incredibly long distances twice a year, moving hundreds or even thousands of miles between their summer and winter grounds. These tiny but mighty birds can cross the Gulf of Mexico in one night, and make it from Mexico to Alaska and back again.

In this way, the hummingbird can remind us that no matter how small we might feel, we can still tap into our courage and bravery in the face of a tough obstacle. We can all find the courage and stamina within us to endure through difficult times. 

Healing

Flowers and hummingbirds have a mutually beneficial relationship: the hummingbird takes nectar from the blossom and the flower gets additional pollination, extending both parties’ lifespans.

Symbolizing health, healing, and vigor, the hummingbird is a perfect fit for this. The hummingbird is a spirit animal that encourages you to pay attention to what it is that feeds your mind and body.

You should always be aware of what you’re putting into your body, as well as what you’re putting out into the world. The question is whether or not it is symbiotic, balanced, and healthy. A hummingbird’s instinct is to flit from one place to another. Don’t remain stagnant in a situation that does not serve you.

Mental and Physical Rest

The hummingbird, despite its frenzied activity, needs to take a break from time to time. Hummingbirds can enter a hibernating, deep-sleep state known as torpor to conserve energy during cold nights. 

You may be a person who thrives on keeping busy and always moving forward. If you see a perched hummingbird sitting still or see a hummingbird during its torpor state, it may be a message to you to slow down.

Without mental and physical rest we can injure ourselves or enter mental burn-out. A resting hummingbird can remind you to set aside your frantic energy and make sure you allow yourself downtime and rest.  Recharge your batteries and focus on some self-care so you’re ready to take on the challenges of your goals.

Happiness and Good Luck

The hummingbird is a sign of happiness for many people. La dolce vita – the sweet life – is symbolized by hummingbirds who are always hopping from flower to flower seeking the sweet nectar within. Their movements are light and joyful, drifting to each blossom and stopping to enjoy its bounty.

The hummingbird is a constant reminder to enjoy the little things in life. Be present in the moment and stop to find the joy in what’s in front of you. Just as hummingbirds use their long beaks to probe deep into the flower, so to should you look past the mundane to find the silver linings and everyday magic.

What Do Hummingbird Dreams Symbolize?

There are multiple ways to interpret a dream. One intuitive way is to focus on how it makes you feel. When you consider the dream, what emotion comes up for you? Without thinking about it too much, what is the first interpretation that comes to your mind? Don’t discount what your own inner voice tells you.

But of course, we can also look at what others have determined the symbolism of hummingbirds are in dreams. 

Here are some common hummingbird dream associations:

  • You wanted to become a hummingbird: You may feel trapped or held back in life and long to be more free-spirited
  • Having a friendly relationship with a hummingbird: this can indicate a shift in your awareness of self. If you are sensing a change in yourself that may cause fear while you are awake, dreaming of a hummingbird in this way can encourage you to be confident in the truth of who you really are, do not fear uncovering the true version of yourself.
  • A hummingbird follows you / is attracted to you: they are attracted to your qualities of energy, high vibration and connection with the divine. They are encouraging you to use these gifts to make a positive impact to those around you.
  • You hug or have comforting physical contact with the hummingbird: you have accomplished something in your life that should be celebrated, be proud of yourself.
  • You have a pet hummingbird: hummingbirds are wild creatures and should not be captive. If the hummingbird in your dream was kept as a pet, it could indicate that you are feeling trapped by something and not letting your true self shine through. Don’t let others hold you back, be free like a hummingbird. 
  • Holding a hummingbird in your hand: it is time to take action on a goal or project that has been on your horizon. The right spiritual energy is around you now to to help you with this new endeavor. 
  • Catching a hummingbird: if you are actively trying to catch a hummingbird in your dream, you may subconsciously be reaching out in your life for something new or chasing a dream or ambition. Hummingbirds are fast and difficult to catch, so take time to think about what you are chasing and make sure the intentions behind it are pure and for good rather than out of fear or desperation.
  • Nectar-drinking hummingbirds in your dreams: If the dreams focus is hummingbirds drinking nectar, this could signify there are areas in your life where you are over-indulging or being excessively materialistic
  • You see a dead hummingbird: this can represent that you have been holding yourself back from pursuing an opportunity. Have you been too afraid to take the next step or putting off a project? Opportunities can pass you by if you are too timid to grab onto them. Work on self confidence so you can step up to meet future opportunities with openness and willingness. 
  • A lone hummingbird flies past you or stops to look at you: Reminder to savor the nice things in life. Also could be a message from a deceased loved one that they are in a happier place and are encouraging you not to worry and to focus on the joyful things in life.
  • You see an especially vibrantly colored hummingbird: A colored hummingbird can also hold a meaning. White for new beginnings, red for trusting the process of what you are passionate about, black for transformation, blue for trusting your inner voice and intuition, and green to remind you to nurture the new path or project you’ve started.

Symbolism in Visits or Encounters With Hummingbirds

For the majority of individuals, the presence of a hummingbird is an indication of good fortune. It can also foreshadow the arrival of unexpected delights right around the corner.

If you recently lost a loved one and a hummingbird visits you, it may be your loved one’s way of helping you through this difficult time and reminding you to focus on love and joyfulness.

When a hummingbird looks you in the eye, it might be a sign that your life is going to take an unexpected turn in the right direction. Perhaps the hummingbird is encouraging you to look at the bright side and appreciate the good times.

As they hover in front of your face, hummingbirds are showing off their inherent curiosity and boldness. Remember to remain boldly curious and joyfully inquisitive in your own life.

Additionally, hummingbirds have been observed to recognize and associate humans with a source of food if they are regularly fed in your backyard garden. If you routinely feed them and are out in your yard a lot, they may begin to recognize you and be more comfortable around you.

A hummingbird landing on your shoulder or hand is extremely unusual. The presence of a hummingbird landing on you may indicate a moment of tranquility or a pause from the stresses of daily life. It can also signify a deeper level of trust or closeness with a close friend or member of one’s family.

You may want to pay attention to divine energies if hummingbirds fly up close to your face. When a hummingbird flies up to your face, you must write down what you were thinking at that moment as it may have significance to your future.

It is also said spiritual forces are answering your thoughts for a sign or advice when a hummingbird hovers near your face.

People who are devoutly Christian often take sightings of hummingbirds as signs from God, telling them that their loved ones have returned safely or that angels are surrounding them.

Superstitions About Hummingbirds

  • The hummingbird is a sign that difficult times are behind you.
  • It is a good sign if the small bird visits you following the loss of a close friend or family member.
  • The death of the hummingbird is a sign that you are ready to commit.
  • When you come into contact with a hummingbird, you will be blessed.

Spiritual and Cultural Meaning of Hummingbirds

Hummingbird Totem | image by Orin Zebest via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Different religions and cultures see hummingbirds in a variety of ways. Because hummingbirds are only native to North and Central America, these cultures have the richest history of hummingbird lore. In most other countries you can find some connection between hummingbirds and good luck, love and happiness, but they are more recently developed and based on these histories from the places where hummingbirds actually live.

Hummingbirds in Shamanism

Shamans employ rituals to communicate with the spirit world and heal themselves and others. They saw hummingbirds as being associated with joy and love. Shamans believed hummingbirds could stop time and deliver messages. Feathers of a hummingbird were said to open up the heart chakra to bring in feelings of unconditional love, joy and heal relationships.

Hummingbirds in Christianity

Hummingbirds have long been associated with Christianity’s belief in the afterlife. Even though the hummingbird isn’t specifically referenced in the Bible, many people interpret its appearance as a sign from a departed loved one.

Seeing a hummingbird when grieving is taken as a sign that the deceased is now in a better place, safe and content. It can also be taken as a reminder to focus on the simple joys of life while working through the grieving process.

Aztecs

One of the two main deities in the Aztec religion was Huitzilopochtli and was often represented as a hummingbird. He was considered the god of war and the sun. He was conceived when his mother Coatlicue (an aspect of the earth goddess) kept a ball of hummingbird feathers that fell from the sky. These feathers contained the soul of warriors, as hummingbirds in the culture were often looked at as reincarnations of dead warriors. Upon the death of a warrior, their soul would first become one with the sun, then after four years went on to live in the bodies of hummingbirds.  

Mayans

Hummingbirds were sacred to the Mayan culture. They believed they were created by the gods as tiny but speedy messengers that could transport their thoughts between worlds. A superstition rose up around this that if a hummingbird was seen, it meant someone else was thinking about them and wishing them well. Mayans also believed hummingbird feathers contained magic and healing powers. 

Hummingbirds as Spirit Animals & Totems

Hummingbirds have long been revered as a sign of spirituality, drawing from myths, folklore, and other sources. Hummingbird power animals, spirit animals, or totems are considered essential by some.

Let’s see what a hummingbird’s spirit is all about:

As a Spirit Animal

The Native American belief in totem animals is closely tied to the concept of a spirit animal. A person’s “spirit animal” is a creature with a similar spiritual bond. They can be real or fictional, depending on the context.

Connected individuals are aided by a spirit guide or messenger. A hummingbird’s spirit animal indicates excitement and lightness.

If you see them, whether in your sleep or your waking state, hummingbirds serve as a gentle reminder to emulate their vitality. To put it another way, instead of focusing on the negative aspects of our lives, we should focus on the positive.

Hummingbird as a totem

Symbolic representations of a person’s personality are called totems. For this reason, many babies are born with a totem animal as a part of their psyche.

The hummingbird totem is related to a love of freedom, sweetness, and a sense of playfulness in life. For those who are looking for a continual reminder of the beauty in their lives, a hummingbird totem is a perfect gift.

One must also take into account the less fortunate aspects of one’s personality. It takes a lot of energy to fly like a hummingbird.  Therefore, persons with this totem may need to spend more time at home recuperating and their dreams may be constantly shifting.

Hummingbird as a power animal

There are times when you may require the assistance of a power animal. They can provide you with the motivation, insight, and skills you need to combat negativity.

In this example, the talent is being able to keep your footing while maintaining a sense of lightness in your step. Hummingbirds’ ability to maintain flight and the unique figure-8 movement of their wings may serve as inspiration for this design.

When you feel like you’ve lost your way and need a new sense of excitement to keep going, call on the power of this animal.

Native American and Indigenous People’s Hummingbird Symbolism

Native American folklore, art, and totems all feature the hummingbird, which has long been revered by the people of the Americas. 

Traditional folklore depicts it as a messenger bird, and it is respected in many cultures.

Hummingbirds hold special value for Native Americans because of their close ties to the natural world. 

For different tribes, the bird has a variety of meanings, such as a messenger of luck, a healer, and a source of vitality. It’s also possible that the hummingbird is born from a flower, according to some.

The Northernmost Shores

The bird is a lucky charm for many Native Americans living around the Pacific Northwest coast of North America. Depending on where you go, you might see hummingbird totem poles.

The Hopi carve a Kachina of a bird, a spirit-like carving. Following the legend that hummingbirds brought rain and re-fertilized the land, they hold a special place in people’s hearts.

Hummingbirds have long been associated with guiding people from the depths of darkness to a place where there is sun, light, and life.

This time around, the same bird was sent out to find out what is beyond the blue sky in Navajo folklore. Despite his extensive search, he came up empty-handed.

Cherokee

There is an ancient Cherokee legend that says a dying woman needed medicine from a tobacco plant to be saved, however the tribe did not know the plants location.  A medicine man transformed himself into a tiny hummingbird and found the sought-after tobacco plant.

Southeastern Coast

The Taino are a group of indigenous people who lived in the Caribbean and the United States (Florida). They see this tiny bird as a symbol of peace, rebirth, and new beginnings. 

For this reason, they have named their soldiers the “Hummingbird Warriors” in honor of the birds.

Puerto Rico

There is a Romeo and Juliet type legend where a young man and woman from different tribes fell in love. The woman was promised in marriage to another, and the young man pleaded with the gods to stop the marriage. The gods turned her into a red flower, and turned the young man into a hummingbird so that she would forever attract him and he would forever find her. 

Hummingbird Tattoo Symbolism

A hummingbird tattoo shows that you are a person who enjoys life’s many pleasures. Some of the most common meanings of hummingbird tattoos are:

  • strength and perseverance
  • freedom and a carefree spirit
  • happiness and joy
  • A reminder of a loved one who has passed
  • love of nature

Are hummingbirds good luck?

Hummingbirds are viewed as good luck by pretty much everyone who encounters them. When you glimpse them they are certain to at least make you smile, if not instill a bit of child-like wonder at their beautiful jewel-toned feathers and faster-than-life wings. 

The hummingbird is a good luck emblem. The hummingbird was long seen as a sign of good fortune and procreation in cultures around the world. For centuries, they have been respected for their beauty and strength in a variety of cultures.

In addition, they evoke feelings of lightness, freedom, speed, cleverness, and agility, all of which can act as motivation for those who encounter challenges in their lives.

Conclusion

Hummingbirds, an indigenous species in North and Central America, have a long history of mythology and folklore across all cultured who encountered them. Whether like the Shamans, you believe it is a messenger and can stop time, or like the Christians who think it brings a message from God and the departed, hummingbird symbolism always has a positive message of joy, love, transformation, and opening your heart. 

About Mary Richardson

Mary is an outdoor enthusiast, nature lover, and amateur birdwatcher that enjoys sharing her knowledge and experiences with others.