9 Birds That Symbolize Death (A to Z List + Pictures)

Birds That Symbolize Death

These nine birds symbolize death: blackbirds, ravens, crows, kites, vultures, owls, nightingales, swans, and bats.

While most birds represent freedom, love, and peace, certain birds also represent death. These are often black-colored birds because black is the color of death.

It’s also common that scavenger birds that eat carrion meat are representative of death because they seek out dead animals.

Birds that Symbolize Death

1. Bats

Scientific NameChiroptera
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

Bats are technically mammals but they can still fly so we can still count them as birds. There are many stories and incidents because of which bats are associated with death.

The most famous vampire Dracula is inspired by bats and it drinks human blood. Also, these are nocturnal animals that carry a lot of harmful diseases and infections which can be harmful to humans. It is never good to be bitten by a bat as it can cause you many viral diseases.

Many species of bats also feed on the blood of their animals which makes them a symbol of death.

2. Blackbirds

Scientific NameTurdus merula
RangeWestern Europe, New Zealand, South-East Australia
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

In many of the mythologies and folklores, it is believed that blackbirds are the birds that carry death messages from a witch or a demon.

People believe that if a blackbird caws at you then it is an omen of death.

Also, the dark color of these birds is one of the many reasons why this bird represents death. That is why if you see a blackbird, you should be a little more cautious and pay more attention to your surroundings.  

3. Crows

Scientific NameCorvus
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

Crows also look quite similar to ravens but they are smaller in size. These birds also symbolize death in some of the cultures. However, there are a lot of cultures that view crows as positive omens.

In some European countries, it is believed that if a crow flies over a house and caws constantly then it can be a prediction of the death of one of the inhabitants.

Many people also believe that crows carry your memories from your previous birth and if a crow caws constantly then it can symbolize someone’s death. 

4. Kites

Scientific NameMilvinae, Elaninae, Perninae
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

Kites are a true symbol of death. These birds look like eagles when you see them from the ground but they are smaller in size and are some of the top predators in nature.

Whenever you see a kite circling in the sky then it usually means that some animal is definitely going to die as it is their hunting maneuver. These birds viciously kill small rodents and reptiles and represent death in the most natural form. 

5. Nightingales

Scientific NameLuscinia megarhynchos
RangeCentral Europe, Central Asia, Central Africa
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

The nightingale is a sweet bird but it is also associated with many stories and folktales.

There are many stories in which people who tried to scare away nightingale birds ended up dying due to mysterious reasons. There are many other stories in which the bird brings death to people who have done wrong things in life.

Overall, the symbol of death associated with a nightingale is still a positive one as it harms only the people who try to harm it in any way.  

6. Owls

Scientific NameStrigiformes
RangeWorldwide except polar regions
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

While modern movies and cartoons may depict owls as cute and positive creatures, there are many cultures in this world where owls are seen as a bad omen and are often associated with death.

In China, many people believe that if you hear an owl call then someone close to you might die soon. Also, in Indian culture, seeing an owl at midnight and hearing an owl call a few times at night can represent evil spirits and death.

It is believed that you should not look an owl in the eyes as it has hypnosis powers and can make you go crazy. 

7. Ravens

Scientific NameCorvus corax
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

Many people confuse ravens with crows but ravens are different from crows as they are larger in size and also have a different tail shape and flight pattern compared to crows. These birds also symbolize death in many cultures and tales.

Mostly, ravens are associated with mourning and death. In many folklore and popular tales, the appearance of ravens represents the death of a character or a figure in the story.

In many cultures, people believe that if you see a raven in your dreams then someone close to you might die in an accident.

8. Swans

Scientific NameCygnus
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

Swans are some of the most beautiful looking birds and they are the purest symbol of love. However, swans are also associated with death and their association is not as negative as you might think.

In many cultures, it is believed that if you see a swan dying then it can represent a good and peaceful death for someone around you. As a caring person, you would only want that if someone close to you is dying and you can’t save them then at least they die a peaceful death.

9. Vultures

Scientific NameGyps fulvus (Griffon Vulture)
RangeOld and New World
Conservation StatusLeast Concern

Vultures also represent death in the truest form possible.

Although these birds do not hunt or kill animals, they feed on dead bodies and carcasses of animals and humans.

There is a Pulitzer Prize-winning photo by a South African photojournalist Kevin Carter that shows a starving child almost on the brink of death and right beside the child is a vulture waiting for the child to die so that it could eat him. That photo itself is a true representation of death.

Vultures mean death automatically because you will always find them near something dead.  

Summary of Birds Representing Death

#Birds that Symbolize DeathMeaning
1.BlackbirdsIn many of the mythologies and folklores, it is believed that blackbirds are the birds that carry death messages from a witch or a demon.
2.RavensRavens symbolize death in many cultures and tales, most notably in the poem The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe.
3.CrowsCrows symbolize death in many cultures because of their ominous black color.
4.KitesKites also symbolize death because they are animals that circle dead animals.
5.VulturesVultures also represent death because they are often seen flying overhead when an animal dies.
6.OwlsOwls are often associated with death in many cultures.
7.NightingalesMany stories and folktales associate nightingales with death.
8.SwansIn many cultures, it is believed that if you see a swan dying then it can represent a good and peaceful death for someone around you. 
9.BatsThere are many stories and incidents in which bats are associated with death, perhaps because they live in deep dark caves that make us think of walking into the unknown, much like death. 


Those are some of the birds that symbolize death. Death is also a part of the cycle of life. Any mortal who has taken a life form on this earth will have to die one day for sure. It is an element that you can’t run away from and accepting this aspect is good, as it gives you more peace than you can imagine.

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