Hummingbird Tattoo Designs & Their Meaning

The smallest species of bird in the world, hummingbirds are colorful, fun and make a great design when incorporated into a tattoo. They have unique abilities to fly backwards and hover, so they can be tattooed in various positions — opening the doors for a range of ideas.

They can be tattooed on various parts of the body in different sizes, and they symbolize a number of meanings. The versatility of hummingbird tattoos makes them a very popular design choice today; however, you may be surprised to learn that they have a rich history dating back hundreds of years.

What Does the Hummingbird Represent?

If you’re walking in the park and look up to see a hummingbird, their stunning features are enough to put a smile on your face. They bring an aspect of happiness and hope, particularly when one is feeling sad. They can appear out of nowhere, and remind us that joy is often not too far away and can pop up when we least expect it. 

Hummingbirds roam carefree through the air, and are refreshing to watch as they bounce from place to place. They remind us to enjoy life and to live in the moment.

Their beaks are long and thin, which gives them the advantage of being able to reach deep into flowers and feast on the sweet and tasty nectar within. This behavior reminds us that we should always do our best to seek out the best things in life. 

They are known to travel up to 2000 miles in order to reach their final destinations, symbolizing endurance and tenacity. This gives us encouragement that we should do whatever it takes to pursue our lifelong dreams, regardless of the hurdles along the way. 

The figure of eight often symbolizes continuity and eternity. Hummingbirds also represent this, as they have the unique ability to fly around while moving their wings in this symbolic pattern. 

Meaning Behind the Hummingbird Tattoo

The hummingbird can represent a number of things, and there can be different reasons as to why somebody would choose to have one tattooed. From joy to sadness, the hummingbird is a versatile symbol expressing different emotions and experiences that have had an impact on one’s life. 

A common use of the hummingbird tattoo is to express the overcoming of a difficult experience that one has faced. Whether it be leaving a volatile relationship, recovering from an illness or dealing with the death of a loved one, we often see these as common reasons behind the want for a hummingbird.

Due to their size, hummingbirds have to fight to survive. What with their daily challenges against huge numbers of predators and environmental factors, being a hummingbird isn’t easy. Many people can relate to this, and this is why we see the hummingbird tattoos linked to people dealing with difficult times, overcoming them and fighting for their lives. 

The hummingbird is also very beautiful, and they can be found in an array of different colors. With over 330 species, it isn’t difficult to find one that matches your personality and features your favorite colors to create the perfect individualized tattoo. 

History of the Hummingbird

Native American mythology, folklore, legends and literature have often portrayed the hummingbird as being a symbol of love and will bring love to the person who sees them. Native American cultures also see the hummingbird as a sign of good luck, and that joy is to come.

The Aztecs associated the hummingbird as messengers between them and the Gods, the heavens and their ancestors. Religious and royal leaders would wear dead hummingbirds, or their feathers, around their necks in a small bag. They believed this would bring them closer to God, and would provide them with safety and protection. 

The Aztecs also believed that the best of the warriors who died in battle would be reincarnated as hummingbirds. They would find comfort in seeing a hummingbird after the loss of a loved one, particularly the loss of a fellow soldier.

Trinidad and Tobago is known as “the land of the hummingbirds” because there has been a record of 18 different species found on the island. Their national coat of arms features two hummingbirds, which incorporate the red, black and white colors of their national flag.

Popular Hummingbird Tattoo Designs

Hummingbird designs are endless, with a range of possibilities to decide upon. Not only are there so many types of hummingbirds to choose from, they can be tattooed in many different positions too. 

They can be incorporated with other things including trees, butterflies and plants, or they can be tattooed alone.

Hummingbirds are often tattooed alongside flowers, as they need each other to survive and the two together make a pretty design. 

Independent creatures, hummingbirds are lone travellers and spend most of their time alone. For this reason, it’s a more popular choice to have them tattooed as one with a background of flowers, clouds or plants as opposed to having more than one.

Common Color Combinations 

It’s very rare to see hummingbird tattoos that are done either in grayscale or in black and white. They’re extremely colorful birds, and a tattoo artist can incorporate any color into a hummingbird design.

Hummingbird tattoos are often bright and vibrant, and they are just as appealing to the eye as the birds are to be seen in real life. 

As they’re usually tattooed alongside flowers and plants, which can also be done using bright colors, together the design is often one that stands out and makes a statement. 

Common Body Placements

A hummingbird tattoo can fit on most parts of the body, but it depends on the size that you want. The bird can be altered in many different ways to best fit the body part, including the size of the beak, whether the wings are tucked in or spread and short or long tail feathers. 

Common placements for small tattoos include:

  • Hands
  • Wrists
  • Ankles
  • Behind the ear

Larger scale tattoos are often found on:

  • Arms
  • Legs 
  • Back 
  • Rib cage

The most popular placement for the hummingbird is on the shoulder, which goes with the idea and old expression of having a guardian looking over your shoulder. 

Is the Hummingbird Tattoo Gender-Specific?

It’s definitely a more popular design among women nowadays; however, the reasons behind women and men getting a hummingbird tattoo would be vastly different. 

Without the risk of sounding sexist, you’d usually find that women would get the hummingbird tattoo to symbolize meaning or that represents the overcoming of a bad life event. 

Men may get hummingbird tattoos but more as a status symbol to bring love, luck and courage, for example. 

The Inspirational Hummingbird 

With so many different meanings, the hummingbird can represent a number of things and make for great tattoo ideas. 

They’ve been inspiring people for generations. A famous passage from a book called “Stand Still Like a Hummingbird,” published in 1962 by Henry Miller, is sure to relate to many:

“When you find you can go neither backward or forward, when you discover that you’re no longer able to stand, sit or lie down, when your children have died of malnutrition and your aged parents have been sent to the poorhouse or the gas chamber, when you realize that you can neither write nor not write, when you’re convinced that all the exits are blocked, either you take to believing in miracles or you stand still like the hummingbird.”

Best Hummingbird Tattoos