Owl Tattoo: Its Unique Meaning and Symbolism

For an animal that can turn its neck 270 degrees, owl tattoos sure have a way of turning heads in admiration.

Have you seen how deep and piercing an owl’s eyes can be? Yes, the eye is only one of the best features of an owl.

Owl tattoos do not just have a distinctive appearance, but also hold a lot of significance and meaning.

From being revered as sacred beings, a beacon of hope and even as a bad omen, there is so much to learn about this unique creature.

If you are a lover of owls and would love to get a tattoo on them, we got you.

In this article, we will divulge everything you need to know to help you make the best decision on getting your owl tattoo.

The Different Meanings Of Owl Tattoo

Meanings Of Owl Tattoo

Wherever they appear in history, owls have been feared, admired or considered sacred.

Not only that. Think of birth, death, witchcraft, weather and even medicine, and you will be surprised to know that owls are associated with all of these.

Many times, owls are regarded as wise animals. Other times, they are considered foolish.

The meaning and symbolism of an owl can vary according to culture and what the wearer wants it to mean.

Owls play a part in Egyptian, Hindu, and Celtic mythologies and lore.

Some cultures believe that the owl is an “angel of death.” And that once it perches on a public building, then a prominent public figure will die.

So, they believe that the owl is a guardian and protector of the dead. Also, that they have a way of communicating with the dead.

The owl is sacred to the ancient Greeks. They are sacred to the goddess of wisdom, Athena.

This is because owls are a sign of evolution, have acute hearing and are clever hunters due to their abnormally big eyes.

To the Native Americans, the owl is a symbol of knowledge.

Another place the owl doesn’t hold a good reputation is in Europe. They regard the owl’s nocturnal habits and solitary nature as a sign of bad omen. Its eerie hoot is seen as a death howl.

Coming to the belief in France, the owl is seen as both a good and bad bird. There, owls are of two species – eared and earless.

The ones with ears are thought to be a symbol of wisdom, while the ones without ears are a sign of bad omen.

Other places that see the owl as a sign of bad omen are in Europe, Arab, Africa and a few other cultures.

The Maya and Aztecs in America believe that this bird signifies destruction and death. To the Aztecs, the god of death is depicted by the owls.

The owl’s ability to see into the dark night is a sign that it has good vision. And thus it represents vision.

The type of wisdom associated with the owl is that of the soul. Because they see way beyond what ordinarily can’t be seen in the dark, people get the owl tattoo to show their ability to see beyond deceptions and illusions.

In many cultures, owls represent maturity and life transitions. It means that important things are coming their way.

Owls are also linked with astral projection, clairvoyance, and magic.

The owls’ close relation to the moon and their love for the dark is another reason they are termed mysterious birds.

They often bear with them ancient knowledge of the night.

Having gone through the various meanings of an owl, we believe you can now choose what your owl tattoo means to you.

owl tattoo design on arms

Why Are They Popular?

There are many reasons why the owl tattoo is very popular.

Their popularity keeps growing among men and women regardless of their ages.

The fact that owls are becoming rare because they have become endangered in recent times makes people see them as precious birds that should be immortalized through tattoos.

It is also popular among hip hop artists. For instance, the famous Canadian/American rap artist, Drake, has his on his back.

Because owls have the ability to fly silently, coupled with their nocturnal ability, they seem to possess one of the values people hold in life. And that’s one of the reasons they are very popular in the tattoo world.

Their spiritual significance and reputation for being mysterious is another reason owl tattoos are popular.

Looking at it from an artistic angle, owl tattoos are very detailed, striking and colorful.

And because they come in various sizes, they can go on any part of the body.

In terms of combinations, owl tattoos stand out when they are tattooed alone or paired with other images.

When it comes to variety, owls come in different species like the tawny frogmouth, snowy owl or the barn owl. These owls can all be merged together for a striking owl tattoo.

Additionally, the ability of the owl to approach its prey silently is one feature that sets the owl apart. This is also one of the reasons it has huge popularity amongst tattoo lovers.

Best Placement For An Owl Tattoo

Like most tattoos, owl tattoos are extremely versatile.

They can go on any part of the body and still look beautiful.

If you want to have an owl tattoo that stands out, you should consider having it on your forearm. There, you have the liberty of drawing the owl perching on a tree branch and staring with its penetrative eyes.

Perhaps the look of the owl in a flight position with its amazing wings spread all the way out is what you want. Then you should aim for either the chest or the back for such tattoo.

Your tattoo artist will have enough room to draw the intricate details needed to make the owl seem alive.

Another good place to have the owl tattoo is on your nape. That position imitates the owl in a clever manner. The nape has the ability to make the owl appear visible at night and concealed during the day.

As a general rule, for women, the owl tattoo can go on the ankle, in between the fingers, behind the ears, wrist, shoulder blade and hands.

For men, the biceps or chest, back, forearms, neck and chests are great options.

For other options, the hip or thigh, neck and leg can also work well.

Frequently Asked Questions About Owl Tattoo

What does an owl in flight mode tattoo signify?

It means freedom. It also means that there is no limit to what one can achieve. The owl in a flight mode also means that the person is at peace with him or herself. It is a spiritual tattoo that also connotes wisdom.

What does the snake and owl tattoo mean?

Both snakes and owls are predators that are greatly feared. They both strike without warning. When combined together in a tattoo, they represent power and strength. They also reflect a person’s charisma and ability to fight to the finish.

What does a wolf and owl tattoo mean?

The two animals make for a wonderful pair because the wolf brings out the owl’s predator side. The combination of both animals represents fierceness and danger. It is a good tattoo for anyone who has had a lot of fights with many battle scars to show for it.

What does the lion and owl tattoo mean?

The lion is known as the king of the jungle. The owl and lion are both precise predators and so when paired together, they represent supremacy. It is also a great way to show off power, strength and sly wit.

What does a rose and owl tattoo mean?

Oftentimes, when a rose flower is paired with an owl tattoo, the rose petals are shown to be falling off. This shows the loss of a loved one, and the owl is accompanying the person to the great beyond. Such tattoos are mostly inked by those who have either had a close encounter with death, or lost a dear one.

What does a skull and owl tattoo mean?

This is a depiction of what life after death is. People who are afraid of death often get this tattoo to help them overcome their fear. It is also for people who have had a close call with death multiple times and still made it alive.


There is so much you can do with an owl tattoo. With vibrant colors and gifted hands, your tattoo artists can actually bring an owl to life in the form of a tattoo.

You can have your owl tattoo in cartoon characters, perching on a tree branch, spreading its wings in flight mode or just the face with its intense eyes.

Whatever is your preference, you will find that the owl makes for such an interesting tattoo.

About the author

I’m S.R Bhuiyan, a proud Tattoo artist. I will share the body art journey with you here in PrettyJust. I have 10+ years of experience in the field of tattoo, piercing, nail art, and skincare. Check out my bio which has my tattoo studio/cat/travel pics!

Leave a Comment