Kingfisher Tattoos: Symbolism, Meanings & More

Kingfisher Tattoos: Symbolism, Meanings & More

Kingfishers are gorgeous birds that can be found all over the world. Because of their unique colorations and feisty personalities, these birds are the object of lore, myth, and history all around the globe. Practically every culture has its own myth related to the animal.

Because these birds are culturally important worldwide, it’s no shock that they are popular tattoos. Ever since the tattoo renaissance of the 1980s and 1990s, similar birds have been a favorite tattoo.

Often, Kingfisher tattoos represent immortality, perseverance, fearlessness, and good luck. Many individuals opt for tattoos to embody these characteristics for themselves in a way that is bold and colorful. Keep reading for more.

What Is the History of Kingfisher Tattoos?

Kingfishers have been the object of curiosity and lore for centuries. Of the various bird tattoos, these have long been one of the most popular.


Especially since the 1980s, bird tattoos have been a favorite among individuals who want colorful and ornate tattoos. Because these birds have beautifully bright plumage, they are one of the first birds individuals think of when they imagine ornate and colorful tattoos.

Kingfisher tattoos have become even more popular over the last decade. Their popularity has become so apparent that many tattoo parlors across the nation refer to the bird in their shop name or in some of their popular designs.

What Do Kingfishers Symbolize?

Because Kingfishers have feisty personalities and beautiful plumage, they are a favorite bird among many. Plus, the fact that they are widespread means that they are ornately involved in so many cultural stories and lore.


Here are just a few examples of what they symbolize based on ancient and present-day ideas.

  • Ancient Greeks: The ancient Greeks associate the birds with the gods. The story goes that the Greek God and goddess Ceyx and Alcyone angered Zeus and Hara, which caused them to kill Ceyx. Alcyone drowned herself from grief. The scientific name for the Kingfisher is Alcedo, as a reference to Alcyone.
  • Sabah: Much like in ancient Greek lore, those in Sabbah viewed the bird as a messenger of the gods.
  • Irish Folklore: Irish folklore associates the bird with god-like preservation. It was believed that placing a dead Kingfisher in a dry place will prevent the body from decaying. More so, placing the dead birds around other items would prevent moths and other insects from clothes and other articles.
  • British Folklore: In King Lear, Shakespeare notes that the Kingfisher is the first bird to come from Noah’s ark, which suggests this was a belief by some at the time.
  • Native Americans: Native American traditions have various interpretations. Some tribes say that Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things turned a fisherman known to be a thief into the bird. The different colors represent different items the fisherman had stolen. Other traditions associate the animal with speed, agility, and luck.
  • China: Instead of being associated with the gods and immortal preservation, the bird represented faithfulness and happy marriages.
  • Malaysia: The Kingfisher is not associated with positive messages here. Instead, they are viewed as a bad omen.

Most of these myths point to boldness, immortality, and confidence. Because of these qualities, the bird is also often associated with the gods and good luck.

What Do Kingfisher Tattoos Mean?

Because the Kingfisher is so important to so many cultures, there are a lot of meanings behind these tattoos. Here are the different meanings behind tattoos including the ornate and feisty bird:

Positive Meanings

Tattoos with the animals are most associated with positive meanings. The symbolism behind the tattoos often roots back in the myths and legends as described above.

  • Immortality
  • Perseverance
  • Speed
  • Agility
  • Luck
  • Confidence
  • Fearlessness
  • Connection to the gods

Negative Meanings

Occasionally, these tattoos can be associated with negative meanings. Often, the negative meanings are closely related to the positive meanings. For example, fearlessness is a positive trait of the bird, but that trait can quickly turn into recklessness if in the wrong hands.

  • Bad luck
  • Recklessness
  • Theft

Characteristics and Styles of Kingfisher Tattoos

Kingfisher tattoos can come in a number of styles. That being said, most individuals who want a tattoo love ornate and colorful designs. Because of the beautiful plumage on the creature, colored tattoos pair beautifully with these birds.

Watercolor-style tattoos are especially popular for Kingfishers. These tattoos often show the bird in flight or surrounded by nature, such as water or pink flowers.

Furthermore, these tattoos are often very large and flashy. This makes sense because the birds themselves have flashy appearances. It isn’t very common to find small tattoos, but it is possible.


Where Do Kingfisher Tattoos Go?

Most Kingfisher tattoos are placed on parts of the body with a lot of space. For example, the thigh is a favorite location simply because the Kingfisher will have a lot of space to take up on your body. Many similar tattoos are also placed on the upper arm. Here, the bird faces outwards and takes on the world with you.

Occasionally, Kingfisher tattoos are also found on the chest, shoulder blade, calf, or forearm, but these locations aren’t as popular as the above mentioned.

Does the Type of Kingfisher Tattoo Have Any Meaning?

When most people imagine the Kingfisher, they imagine a Common or an Azure Kingfisher. These are the birds that have blue tops and orange bellies. Although these are the most popular species, there are many other birds that belong to the same classification.


Most varieties have similar personalities relating to feistiness and boldness. As a result, most Kingfishers have the same meanings as those described above.

However, you will want a tattoo of a Common Kingfisher if you want the most classic tattoo. This species is what most people imagine when they think of this bird.


Kingfishers have a strong root in history and legend, which allows the tattoos to be some of the most meaningful. These tattoos often symbolize immortality, the luck of the gods, and confidence, but it can also lead to recklessness if you are not careful.

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