With their bright colors and tiny stature, hummingbirds are always amazing to see – so much so that this bird is a popular choice for a tattoo. A hummingbird tattoo is an amazing tattoo idea for the person who wants a mini reminder of joy and happiness permanently placed on their body.
Why Are Bird Tattoos Popular?
There are so many species of birds out there, so you can’t pinpoint a single reason why bird tattoos are popular among people with body art. However, a common theme is freedom.
Soaring through the sky on a clear day and being able to travel vast distances – who hasn’t had that fantasy at least once?
Birds have fascinated humanity throughout the ages, with different species flying their way through many cultures.
Looking back at ancient Greek mythology, many of the gods of Mount Olympus each had a bird that was sacred to them. Apollo’s bird of choice was the crow, Zeus’ was the eagle, and one of Aphrodite’s favored feathered friends was the sparrow.
“The sparrow was the sacred bird of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and symbolised true love and spiritual connection,”Owlcation
The hummingbird, too, has spiritual meaning that has captured the imaginations of people from around the world.
Symbolism Of Hummingbirds
There is something joyful and upbeat about hummingbirds – this might be due the incredible speeds at which their wings move. Not only do these tiny birds’ wings beat 80 times per second, but they can also fly backwards – in fact, hummingbirds are the only birds that can fly backwards and upside down.
It’s little wonder why these avians have made an impact on many people – and no, it often wasn’t because of their diminutiveness and seeming delicateness, at least for the Aztecs.
Hummingbirds In The World Of The Aztecs
The Aztecs had a certain reverence towards hummingbirds, one reason being that they believed that hummingbirds were the reincarnated forms of dead warriors.
Not only that, but their most prominent and powerful god, Huitzilopochtli, the god of the sun and war, was rather attached to hummingbirds.
According to Curious Historian, Huitzilopochtli actually means Hummingbird of the South.
“The great Aztec god was often shown in images as either the personification of an actual hummingbird or as a mighty warrior garbed in a helmet of hummingbird feathers. Archeologists have discovered paintings and drawings showing Huitzilopochtli, as well as carvings and statues.”
As the saying goes, great things come in small packages, and that’s clearly what the Aztecs believed.
So, just because the hummingbird is small in stature, it doesn’t mean that this bird cannot be a symbol of strength and power.
It wasn’t just with the Aztecs that the hummingbird found a special place – other Native American cultures put special meanings on them, too.
Hummingbirds In Native American Cultures
Hummingbirds are native to the Americas, and have a rich symbolism among some Native American tribes. As Native Languages explains, hummingbirds are associated with,
“beauty, harmony, industriousness, and integrity”
“In legends, Hummingbird is often portrayed as a healer or as a spirit being who helps people in need, and sometimes plays the important mythological role of fire-bringer. Seeing a hummingbird is a sign of good luck in many Native American tribes, especially Northwest Coast tribes.”
Just because hummingbirds are native to the Americas, doesn’t mean their influence stopped there.
Hummingbirds in Eastern Symbolism
You’re not going to find these tiny birds fluttering in Asia – except in artworks.
Hummingbirds are not naturally found in Asia, but they have still had an impact, such as in the Chinese practice of Feng Shui.
Feng Shui, a form of Chinese geometry, aims to help people live in harmony with their surroundings.
“The hummingbird is a singular natural spectacle – a true rara avis [rare bird] – an insistent life force, fed on sweetness, and seemingly tireless. It is the quintessence of chi. No wonder a hummingbird is a feng shui symbol to attract beneficial chi and good luck to your environment,”Love To Know
From this perspective, a hummingbird tattoo could be a symbol of harmony and good fortune.
Hummingbird Spirit Animal
The concept of spirit animals comes from Native American cultures, and it references a person having a spiritual connection with a specific animal. This animal can act as a messenger and teacher.
“The hummingbird spirit animal symbolizes the enjoyment of life and lightness of being. Those who have the hummingbird as a totem are invited to enjoy the sweetness of life, lift up negativity wherever it creeps in and express love more fully in their daily endeavors,”Spirit Animal
If you find a certain kinship with hummingbirds or recognize this bird as your spirit animal, it could be a sign that there is space in your life to develop your resiliency, enjoy the simple pleasures of life, and retain a positive outlook.
World Birds reiterates this idea by explaining that a hummingbird can signal a time for change,
“If you have the spirit animal hummingbird, you need to trust your inborn abilities. Allow your creativity to blossom. Seeing a hummingbird [means] that you must be more flexible and adaptable.”
These little birds have heaps of symbolism, but, at the end of the day, it’s what the hummingbird represents to you that is going to be the most important. Ask yourself, “What does a hummingbird represent in my own life?” This question can help guide you on your tattoo choice.
Other Symbols That Work Well With Hummingbirds
Adding other elements to your tattoo can take the design to a whole new level of not only aesthetic appeal, but meaning, too.
When you think of a hummingbird, you often think of these tiny creatures fluttering next to brightly colored flowers. This is because this is the food of choice for hummingbirds – they’re particularly attracted to vivid flowers. According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, flowers such as daylilies, lupines, foxgloves, hollyhocks, and petunias are particular favorites.
You, of course, don’t have to stick to these varieties – roses and hibiscuses, for example, would also work well with a hummingbird tattoo.
“Hibiscus tattoos can also represent youthful beauty. Paired with the energetic hummingbird, this may conjure images of joy and playfulness,”Tatt Mag
While a rose is often associated with love and affection, different colors can have different meanings. According to Fifty Flowers, ivory roses are said to represent calmness and grace, yellow roses joy, and peach roses gratitude. So, it’s not just about the flower – think about the color, too.
Choose a flower that has a significant meaning to you. You could also find inspiration in your zodiac sign’s flower.
Related Post: A Short Introduction to Floral Tattoos
As hummingbirds are meaningful in Native American cultures, a dreamcatcher could be the ideal symbolism to add with your tattoo of the bird.
Tatt Mag explains that for a person from an Ojibwe background (dreamcatchers come from Ojibwe culture, but did spread out) a hummingbird paired with a dreamcatcher can make a beautiful memorial tattoo.
“The idea is that nightmares will get tangled up in the ‘web’ of the dreamcatcher, while the feathers allow pleasant dreams to enter the child’s head. Because hummingbirds are seen as messengers in some Native American tribes, this makes for a powerful combo. Dreamcatcher tattoos with hummingbirds can represent a desire for prophetic dreams or messages from your ancestors.”
If you’re looking for a whole theme to get tattooed, with the centerpiece piece being a hummingbird or two, putting the little birds among nature can be an amazing way to represent your love for the great outdoors.
If you want a larger tattoo with multiple elements, it’s best to chat to your tattoo artist and work with them to create a cohesive design you love. Your artist will be able to tell you which elements will work, which won’t, and give you ideas you might not have even considered.
Adding your hummingbird on a tree branch resting can act as a reminder to slow down and rest. Incorporating flowers and leaves in colorful shades can make for an interesting full sleeve or half sleeve.
Hummingbird Tattoo Ideas
Hummingbirds come in some seriously eye-catching colors – jewel greens with bright purples and pinks, along with splashes of orange. Due to this pigmented palette, a hummingbird tattoo is an ideal piece of body art to get super creative and colorful with.
Both highly pigmented block colors and flowing watercolors would work well with this tattoo.
However, you’ve got to know what you’re getting yourself into when it comes to colorful tattoos – they do tend to fade faster than your traditional black and gray designs. As such, it is important to take extra special care of color tattoos – cover them up when you’re out in the sun, and put sunscreen on them.
It’s not only colorful hummingbird tattoos that grab attention, though. A delicate, highly realistic design using shades of gray is definitely something to consider.
Flowing tribal lines in black can also work with a hummingbird design.
“Tribal hummingbird tattoos are quite bold in appearance and look very dramatic once you’ve got it on your arm, back or legs. This tattoo includes bold black inked strokes that help create a tribal hummingbird. Some tribal hummingbird tattoo designs consist of different tribal shapes and patterns like swirls or circles,”Wild Tattoo Art
Tribal tattoos are immensely significant to different cultures, so do your research.
Whether you want a hummingbird with iridescent colors or a black and gray design, you could get either style as a micro, hyper realistic tattoo that would reinforce the small stature of the bird.
Related Post: 20 Most Popular Tattoo Styles
Plus, small tattoos are an amazing choice for first tattoos, and they are really easy to cover up if you work in an environment where visible tattoos aren’t condoned.
But, just because a tattoo is tiny, it doesn’t mean it’s easy to achieve – quite the opposite in fact. Small, delicate, highly detailed tattoos are often more challenging to do than larger, more traditional tattoos.
Tattoo artist Brian Keith Thompson gave a couple of points to Bustle regarding micro tattoos, including doing your research and finding a tattooer that does micro tattoos (not all artists do them) and being aware that a micro tattoo and traditional tattoo aren’t the same.
“If it’s a single needle tattoo, most artists cut the ink down because they can’t use just straight black because it bleeds out, so they cut it so it’s not as strong of a black pigment, so the body will actively remove it faster.”
Finer lines mean more room for noticeable errors – another reason to choose an artist who is well-versed in micro tattoos. Always check portfolios before you make an appointment.
Where To Place A Hummingbird Tattoo
As hummingbirds are small in stature, a true to size or near realistically proportioned tattoo of this bird won’t take up much space. So, places such as the ankle, wrist, and behind the ear are all ideal places for this tiny bird to perch.
Of course, if you want to place a hummingbird tattoo on a larger surface area – such as your forearm, bicep, or leg – there is nothing stopping you.
However, when getting a mini tattoo on a body part with lots of space, you’ve got to think ahead to the future body art you may want to get.
For example, you could get a minimalistic hummingbird on your thigh, but this little bird could cause a bit of an issue down the line if you want to get a full leg sleeve.
If you like the look of patchy, small tattoos next to each other with gaps – more power to you. But, if you think you’re going to go the full sleeve route – whether on your leg or arm – make sure the design of your small hummingbird tattoo will be easy to incorporate into the overall theme of your sleeve.
Related Post: Full Guide to Tattoo Placement
A hummingbird isn’t just a cute little bird that makes for a great mini tattoo. These tiny birds have symbolism behind them and have flapped their wings across cultures. As such, they are definitely worth some research and consideration for those wanting a meaningful tattoo.