Bird animal totems have been used symbolically within all cultures throughout history. However, it is the Native American culture that is most often associated with the term animal totems. These totems are animal spirit guides who serve as messengers and are with us throughout our physical and spiritual lives to help us gain insights, self-awareness, enhance our connection to the past and even see glimpses of future events.
In the true sense, specific animal instincts and characteristics represent the qualities that we humans should learn to emulate. However, because we lead such busy and complicated lives, often there is no time for self-reflection. Having animal totems surround us gives us pause to reflect and perhaps make important changes for the better to our mind, body and spirit. At times, they can come into our lives when we are at a crossroads or during times of major decision-making.
Each specific animal has its own cycle of power. This cycle is the time at which the animal can pass on his most important messages and powerful energies to you. For example, the bear has a cycle of power that is spring and summer, because he is not as active during the winter months when he spends some of that time hibernating. However, the bear leave the den out of necessity during hibernation to sustain him. He can still send you very strong messages and lessons in times other than during his cycle of power.
You may be wondering how you can access your animal totems or how you can find out which ones are guiding you. One or more may be revealed. Listening to the animals around you will help you form a connection. Animal totems can also come to you as a vision in your dreams or through meditation. Pose these questions to yourself: Are there animals who you have been fascinated with since you were a child? Is there a type of animal who represents your personality? What animal have you felt a certain kinship with? Which animals are you the most fearful of?
This will begin the process of learning who your animal totems are. Study the habits and characteristics of those specific animals and try to discover how those things can apply to your own life or to a message the animal is trying to convey to you. If it is an animal you are fearful of, it may be a lesson in how you might overcome your fears in certain areas of your life. Also, if you find an animal is suddenly near you or one that comes into your life out of extraordinary circumstances, take notice. Watch its behavior — how does it appear, is it content, where is it looking, what is it doing? Look for the subtleties, as these will help decipher if it is sending a message to you.
With Blackbird as your totem, he will teach you to understand your relationship to Mother Nature. Blackbird will allow you to use your psychic abilities to their fullest potential, particularly in the area of healing. Be prepared for unexpected surprises. The Blackbird’s cycle of power is summer.
Blue Jay encourages you to be a little sassy today! If there’s something you’ve been wanting, ask for it. If there’s an issue that needs confrontation, don’t sweep it under the rug or Blue Jay will drag it back out into the open. One word of caution, though — Blue Jays will eat the young of other birds — so be direct, but not destructive. The Blue Jay’s cycle of power is year round.
The vibrant yellow canary is a type of finch and she represents the power of your song and voice. When Canary shows up as your totem, she wants you to practice speaking from the heart and shed any sour notes within you and to continue to spread joy with your words. Doing this will also enhance and awaken your intuition. Spoken or sung sound vibrations are healing, just as is canary’s beautiful singing voice. Sensitive Canary has a strong effect on your heart and throat areas and surrounding chakras. Canary’s cycle of power is year round.
Wake up! Cardinal is chirping at you—bringing a message of personal power. Stop shrinking from your destiny. Stop pretending that you are less than. If you are unsure of your path, ask Cardinal to fly with you — it’s certain he will help you focus, gain clarity, formulate a plan, become self-assured, and step out into the world with the confidence befitting a person of your power. Cardinal may also reflect past life connections with spirituality. The Cardinal’s cycle of power is year round.
Chicken represents fertility and sexuality — the yin (feminine energy). Chicken also represents diet, nourishment and the fuel we need to sustain life. Chicken asks you to use your determination to get new projects started. He also teaches you that you must listen before forming any opinions or conclusions. The Chicken’s cycle of power is year-round and daybreak.
Cranes have been revered for centuries in many Oriental cultures, symbolizing good fortune and long life. If Crane has flown into your life, he brings a message of good tidings. Be prepared for something special — emotional balance, good health, a spiritual “ah-ha!” moment or simply pure joy. This bird will keep you focused on your goals. The Crane’s cycle of power is year round.
Crow is always on the alert for trouble — and his loud caws warn of impending danger. Very little escapes Crow’s keen vision, which is why many cultures associate Crow with the keeper of knowledge. Crow has flapped his way into your life to bring a message of watchfulness — have you built your nest high enough to really understand what’s going on around you? The Crow’s cycle of power is year round.
Are you going through life carrying old grief, pain or hate? If so, Dove (sometimes known as Mourning Dove) encourages you to let go of your emotional baggage so that true healing can take place. It’s time to forgive, make peace, release and move forward, enjoying a rebirth. And, know that healing Dove is flying right beside you. The Dove’s cycle of power is dawn and dusk.
Duck is comfortable and graceful in the water and is a very social bird. As a totem, duck teaches you to reconnect with family. They can also help you deal with your emotions evenly and lovingly and guide you through the rougher waters of life. Duck reminds you that it may be a time for you to return to a place in your life where you felt safe and comfortable. The Duck’s cycle of power is spring and summer.
Eagle soars high enough to see the grand panorama of life, and yet has vision keen enough to spot a fish a mile away. He is a sign of great power. How is your vision? Are you seeing the big picture or are you only concentrating on the fish? Eagle is asking you to take a step back so you can once again see the whole. You’ve gotten so lost in the trees you’ve forgotten the forest. The Eagle’s cycle of power is year round and during daylight.
When migrating, a flock of geese are intent on getting to their destination. They fly in unison in a v-shape, which creates the illusion of an arrow pointing toward their destination. If Goose is your totem, this formation is an indication of new ideas or journeys, either physically or emotionally. The open end of the “v” symbolizes where the new ideas flow in. Because Goose never leaves behind his mate, he teaches you that loyalty and fidelity are of the utmost importance in life. Goose as your totem is also about communication and staying on your path. The Goose’s cycle of power is autumn.
Hawk flies into your life to bring you an important message. It may come in the mail, e-mail, a casual remark at the grocery store, a randomly selected page in a book, or even a phrase heard on the radio. Be alert, as hawk messages can sometimes be delivered in a subtle fashion. Because of the Hawk’s strong energy and power, be wary when expressing yourself. It can be dangerous for you and others because you can put people down too harshly. The Hawk’s cycle of power is the spring and the fall equinoxes (new moon).
Is your life in a state of balance? If not, long-legged Heron has flown in to help you. Because Heron is a water bird, he is most often associated with emotions. He stands motionless, almost in a trance, his body mirrored in the water below. Take steps to be like Heron — be quiet, go within and discover the answer to your questions. Follow your heart and be determined. The Heron’s cycle of power is spring.
Sorrow and worry have no place in your life, as Hummingbird’s message is one of absolute joy. The hummingbird’s darting movements, flashes of brilliant reds and greens, and unmistakable whirring sound are all guaranteed to bring a smile to the face of even the most stern and unfriendly people. As a totem, the Hummingbird also symbolizes accomplishing your goals, but having the proper amount of rest to do so. If life has been difficult lately, know that joy is flying your way. The Hummingbird’s cycle of power is daytime.
Loons mate for life, and their lessons are about loyalty, family and deep caring for one another. If you are experiencing a relationship fraught with power struggles, you are not practicing Loon medicine. If your relationship has become a power struggle, the Loon has appeared to remind you that this is a time of equal sharing and equal happiness. Something is amiss, and Loon thinks you already know what it is. The Loon will awaken your imagination and show you way to make your dreams and goal a possibility. The Loon’s cycle of power is dusk and dawn.
Ancient cultures associate Magpies with excellent fortune — so it looks like you’ve got something really terrific coming into your life. However, you may need to search a little to understand the true gift that’s being presented. Pay attention to omens, messages, the clouds, feathers, bird song — your fortune is hidden in those subtle messages. They are also telling you to use knowledge of the occult to gain answers. Opportunity is knocking at your door — will you answer? Are you using your skills and knowledge to the best of your ability? The Magpie’s cycle of power is winter and summer.
Mockingbirds are master imitators and can mimic the calls of many other birds. They are also fearless protectors of their nest and will attack any bird (no matter how large) to protect their young. Mockingbird’s lesson for you is twofold: listen to how you might be mimicking others in deference to listening to your own true voice or intuition; and to examine the value of what you defend. The Mockingbird’s cycle of power is year round — day and night.
Many cultures associate the Owl with death, while others see Owl as the “night eagle”— the bird that embodies shamanism. Owl has exceptional hearing, and his totem is one of clairaudience — the ability to hear spirit. If Owl has silently glided into your life, he is asking you to face your own fears and to listen to the messages spirit is sending you. The Owl’s cycle of power is nocturnal — year round.
With Parrot as your totem, it is important for you to pay attention to your communication skills. He reminds you that light conversation is just as important as deep conversation when it comes to nurturing your friendships. It may also be time to take a closer look at some of your friendships that are no longer meaningful and supportive or for you to take a look at how you are treating others. Parrot can also teach you about the power of colors and light and how they can affect us.
The male Peacock and the female Peahen are symbols of insight, knowledge and intuition. Peacock’s feathers are beautifully colored and the circle designs on them symbolize watchful eyes. Those eyes are a reminder for you to use your inner strengths and tune into your higher consciousness. As your totem, he helps you with your self-confidence and self-esteem. Peacock teaches you not to take a back stage — stand up and be proud of your accomplishments. Peacock’s cycle of power is spring and autumn.
Pelican is very light, although he seems awkwardly heavy. He is buoyant and able to float on top of the water; however, at times has difficulty taking off for flight. He also lives together with other pelicans in the community and shares in the nesting and food gathering responsibilities. Pelican teaches you to keep your chin up no matter how heavy your problems, trials and tribulations may be. As your totem, pelican will also assist you in understanding the importance of teamwork. Pelican’s cycle of power is year round.
Male Pheasant is extremely colorful and flashy, while female Pheasant is more plain in her coloring. This fact teaches you the importance of knowing when to show off your flamboyant side and knowing when to step back and blend in. Pheasant wants you to use your innate gifts to attract creativity and love in your life. You have the power to do this by making sure you stay true to yourself at all times. Pheasant also sends messages of healing, forgiveness and compassion.
Pigeon’s unique homing instinct keeps him from ever getting lost and always finding his way back home. As your totem, pigeon represents all things associated with the home and family. He reminds you to cherish your family and your home life and the unconditional loving connection they bring to you. Pigeon may be sending you a message to make sure that all is well with your immediate and extended family or to remember to revisit your family roots and heritage if you have temporarily forgotten it. Pigeon’s cycle of power is year round.
The Quail is a bird that is known for its family life and protection of its brood. Quail has a hypersensitivity to what is going around him and is always vigilant about looming danger. He shows up as your totem to make sure that you are fully aware of your surroundings and have all of the necessary tools ready to fight off adversity. You might need to act immediately to solve a family crisis. He may be indicating that you should make sure to protect yourself from harm. It is also said that quail can help you recognize your soul name. The Quail’s cycle of power is spring and fall.
Raven has long been known as the magical bird — the one who carries your messages and your prayers to spirit. Somewhere in your life, magic will surround it. Raven has been called a shape-shifter and his message to you is one of change — expect the unexpected, but know that Raven is flying close and will help you transform life’s challenges into life’s greatest desires and blessings. The Raven’s cycle of power is the winter solstice.
A member of the cuckoo family, and also known as the chaparral cock, Roadrunner lives mostly in desert habitats. He is an excellent runner and can go as fast as 18 miles per hour. He prefers running to flying. Roadrunner’s message is one of mental quickness, alertness and thinking fast on your feet. As your totem, Roadrunner teaches you to realize when it is time to speed up or slow down in your life and how to act quickly and deliberately in different situations you might face. Ask your Roadrunner totem to help you become more adaptable and to increase your ability to multi-task.
Robin (commonly referred to as Robin Redbreast) teaches that change can be accomplished with joy and happiness in your heart. Robin signifies growth and rebirth in areas of your life that have become stagnant. In order to do so, sing your own song or dance to your own drummer, and move forward. Trust in yourself and in your own intuition. The Robin’s cycle of power is spring.
Rooster represents sexuality and fertility — the yang (masculine energy). Rooster as your totem may indicate that you had past lives from ancient Greece or early Christianity. He reminds you to be enthusiastic and positive about things and keep a good sense of humor about yourself. He protects you from evil and helps to reveal your unseen abilities. The Rooster’s cycle of power is daytime.
The Stork as your totem will show you where you need to go for great success. He might appear after a change in the family has occurred (and not necessarily after a birth of a child). He reminds you of the value of family and the need to protect and nurture it. He also brings the message of rebirth. The Stork’s cycle of power is year-round.
As the well-known story goes, the “ugly duckling” turned into the graceful and beautiful swan. Swan as your totem represents your inner beauty, inner strength and grace. She teaches you to accept both the inner and outer beauty of yourself and others, all the while remembering that everyone is beautiful to someone. She reminds you to not only nurture others, but to make sure to nurture yourself. When Swan shows up in your life, it is important to pay attention to your intuition so that you can visualize your own future transformations and perspectives. Swan represents lifelong loyalty to family and protection of your loved ones. Swan is here to remind you that you have the ability to tap into your own spirituality to help others and become more empathetic.
Has turkey gobbled his way into your life? If so, he brings a message of sacrificing for the greater good. To some indigenous tribes, Turkey represents the spirit of the giveaway — a ceremony where those who have more give to those who have less, thus “sacrificing” for others. If Turkey helps you feel the spirit of giving, whom can you help? Turkey’s cycle of power is autumn.
Vulture as your totem will show you how to use your own energies powerfully and efficiently. They glide effortlessly instead of constantly flapping their wings. They use the thermal winds to avoid exhausting themselves. Vulture comes into your life to tell you to be flexible, go with the flow be resourceful and adaptable. The Vulture’s cycle of power is year-round, best in Summer and Winter.
Wake up! Woodpecker is tired of trying to get your attention, and he will peck and peck and peck until you hear the message. You have received the answer to a major question time and again, but refuse to act on it. It’s okay to ignore a solution — but be forewarned that Woodpecker will keep making racket until you make some movement forward! The Woodpecker’s cycle of power is summer.
To learn about Mammal Animal Totems, click here.
To learn about Insect Animal Totems, click here.
To learn about Reptile Animal Totems, click here.
For a guided meditation to meet your animal totem(s), click here.