The Ultimate Guide To Hummingbird Meaning & Symbolism

Inside: Hummingbird meaning and symbolism in a complete and thorough collection across cultures, religions, and beliefs.

Hummingbirds are unique birds that have wooed bird watchers from Alaska down to the Caribbean for centuries. With their jewel-colored feathers, acrobatic flying style, and signature hum, they are beautiful, brave little birds that inspire awe and devotion. 

They are also birds with deep spiritual and symbolic meaning. Many cultures the world over have assigned special meaning to hummingbirds, viewing them as magical beings that have helped end droughts, discover light, and bring messages from deceased loved ones. 

The Hummingbird As a Spirit Animal 

Before we identify hummingbird meaning as a spirit animal, let’s unwrap what a spirit animal is. A spirit animal is a guide in the form of an animal that helps protect a person on their life journey. They also are said to share personality traits and characteristics that the person embodies. 

Over time, modern, New-Agey interpretations of the term have come to mean everything from fictional characters, celebrities, food, or beverages. Anything that the person identifies with or loves is considered fair game. It is also largely considered to be cultural appropriation. 

The idea of a spirit animal comes from a variety of Indigenous and Native American cultures. Originally known as a “totem animal,” this individual animal represented specific clans, families, or people. It was a generally held belief that when the person died, their spirit would be absorbed into the animal.

As a totem, hummingbirds signify loyalty, courage, and determination. People with hummingbird totems are often colorful and positive individuals who enjoy socializing and accomplishing goals with love. 

Of course, that doesn’t mean that hummingbirds only symbolize positivity. On the contrary, the hummingbird can indicate a rapidly changing mood, emotional instability, and bursting with energy. 

Hummingbird Meaning 

Generally speaking, hummingbirds are symbols of lightness and joy. Those who have a hummingbird as a totem are thought to be playful, adaptable, and can combat negativity with ease. 

They also serve as good reminders to live life to the fullest and enjoy the simple pleasures in life. The same way a hummingbird pauses to drink a flower’s nectar and enjoy its sweetness is the same way that people with the hummingbird totem or spirit animal should aim to live their lives. 

A hummingbird is a flexible creature that can exhibit swift, rapidly changing flight patterns at the drop of a hat. Because of this, hummingbird symbolism also suggests that those who see the animal or have it as their totem either need to introduce more flexibility in their lives or are easily adaptable themselves. 

Additionally, spotting a hummingbird is considered a good omen, whether in real life or in your dreams. Often, hummingbirds are seen as messengers, spirits of loved ones coming to visit, or angels bringing good news from Heaven. 

Other symbols of the hummingbird include: 

  • Independence 
  • Healing
  • Good luck 
  • Agility 
  • Sweetness
  • Beauty
  • Diversity 
  • Flirtatiousness 
  • Freedom
  • Endurance 
  • Resiliency
  • Sensibility 

Hummingbird Symbolism in Different Cultures 

Hummingbird symbolism is seen in a variety of cultures and religions. Although they vary, there are some common themes, including joy, happiness, and lightheartedness. 

Native Americans 

dreamcatcher representing native american hummingbird meaning

Hummingbirds are native to North and South America, which has led to many legends and stories from different Native American cultures. Christian legends paint the hummingbird as a healer, a sign of good luck, or a simple symbol of love, wonder, and beauty. 

Mojave

The Mojave, a Native American tribe native to the Mojave Desert in Arizona, California, and Mexico credit the hummingbird for bringing people to the earth’s surface as a literal guide. 

In this story, the Mojave was a people that lived underground in complete darkness. A hummingbird was sent to look for a path to light. The little hummingbird searched the dark, twisting paths until he found one that led to the upper world, bringing the people out of the darkness. 

Navajo

The Navajo people also referred to as the Dine, tell a story about how the hummingbird was responsible for flying up to see what was on the other side of the blue sky. The hummingbird didn’t find anything, but to this day will still fly up into the blue to look. 

They also symbolize eternity, permanence, and devotion, as well as ferocity. 

Apache 

The Apache Nation believes that there was once a young man named Wind Dancer who could sing magical songs but could not hear. One day, he met and married a beautiful woman named Bright Rain. After his death during a harsh winter, Wind Dancer would visit Bright Rain as a hummingbird, whispering sweet songs in her ear and blessing those around him with good weather. 

Hopi 

Hummingbirds frequently appear painted on water jugs in the Hopi Nations. They credit the hummingbird for bringing rain. 

The legend goes that there was once a famine that lasted for years. One day, two young children created a hummingbird toy that came to life. This hummingbird brought the children ears of corn every day. However, he was very worried about their well-being and long-term survival. 

The hummingbird traveled to the center of the earth to speak with the God of Fertility, who took pity on the humans and made it rain. 

Cherokee 

The Cherokee have several legends regarding the hummingbird. 

The first legend tells the story of greedy geese named Dagul’ku, who stole the world’s only tobacco plant. An old woman, beloved by all animals, grew weak and ill without access to the plant. The animals that attempted to retrieve it for her were killed by the Dagul’ku. 

The hummingbird was the last to try. He convinced the council of animals that his plan to retrieve the tobacco plant without being seen would work. So small and quick was he that he was able to retrieve a part of the tobacco plant with seeds and bring it back to save the old woman’s life without being spotted by the Dagul’ku.

The second legend speaks of a young woman who is being courted by both a crane and a hummingbird. The woman chooses to marry the hummingbird because of his beauty, but the crane, unwilling to lose, challenges the hummingbird to a race around the world. 

The crane wins the race, not because of his speed, but because he can fly all night, unlike the hummingbird who can only fly during the day. 

Mexico

Many Mexican cultures consider hummingbirds to symbolize teachers. They have a story that a woman who was taught how to weave baskets that were used during the annual Day of the Dead festival.

Ancient Civilizations

Aztec

In Aztec culture, the sun and war god Huitzilopochtli was often depicted as a hummingbird. They believed that his mother Coatlicue birthed him after keeping a ball of hummingbird feathers that fell from the sky in her bosom. 

Furthermore, they believed that fallen warriors came back as hummingbirds.

Mayans

Hummingbirds were one of the most sacred animals in Mayan culture. They believed that their feathers were magic and possessed healing powers. 

The Mayans had a legend that the hummingbird was created by the gods using a piece of jade carved into an arrow shape. The gods needed a small and quiet messenger that could take their thoughts from one place to another. They were granted speed by the gods when people began to covet the hummingbird’s power. 

Additionally, they believed that two hummingbirds were the first species to get married on Earth. 

Finally, when someone saw a hummingbird in Mayan culture, it was believed that someone else was thinking about them or wishing them good thoughts. 

Caribbean

There are dozens of different hummingbird species that call the Caribbean home. Because of this, different countries have different legends about the hummingbird, although many believe that hummingbirds are deceased loved ones coming to visit. 

Puerto Rico 

Puerto Ricans believe that there was once a young couple from different tribes who met and fell in love. The young man begged the gods to stop his love’s marriage to another man, and in response, they turned her into a red flower. They then turned the young man into a hummingbird to help him find her. 

Trinidad

Southwest Trinidad is home to Pitch Lake, a glorious 100-acre lake that holds the largest deposit of asphalt in the world. Natives believe that once, the lake was a forest inhabited by an Amerindian tribe. 

After a battle that prevented them from hunting, they celebrated their victory by eating hummingbirds and costuming themselves in their brightly colored feathers. They were punished by the gods for their deed when the ground beneath their village opened and became a giant lake of pitch. The hummingbirds were the only creatures left. 

Taino

The Taino people resided in parts of Florida and the Caribbean. They believed that hummingbirds were peaceful, kind creatures that symbolize rebirth. 

Christianity 

The hummingbird is often seen as a symbol of death in Christianity. Although the hummingbird itself is not mentioned by name in the bible, they are frequently viewed as a message from a loved one who has passed on. 

When someone who is grieving catches a glimpse of a hummingbird, it is considered a symbol that their loved one is safe, happy, and has moved onto Heaven. 

Spirituality 

Hummingbirds have a special place in Shamanism as well. Their association with joy and love is particularly useful to shamans, who are individuals that practice rituals to interact with the spirit world for healing and communication purposes. Shamans view the hummingbird as a messenger and a creature that can stop time. 

They also believe that the feathers of a hummingbird can open the heart chakra, which is associated with trust, healthy relationships, joy, and unconditional love. 

What does it mean when a hummingbird visits you? 

Most people believe that hummingbirds who come to visit you, whether in a dream or real life, are harbingers of good news. They can also mean that brand new and unpredictable joys are only moments away. 

If you have recently lost a loved one and you are visited by a hummingbird, it could be your loved one coming to visit you to aid you in your time of grief. 

If you dream of a hummingbird coming to visit you, it can mean you are about to be inspired or experience new ideas. Inspiration can strike at any time, and finding your life’s purpose isn’t far away. 

What does it mean when a hummingbird hovers in front of your face? 

Hummingbirds that fly up and hover in front of your face are exhibiting their naturally curious and inquisitive nature. Additionally, if you frequently feed hummingbirds in your home garden, hummingbirds are known to not only associate you with a source of their food but can also recognize you. 

What does it mean when a hummingbird lands on your shoulder? 

It is rare for a hummingbird to land on your shoulder or hand. However, if you happen to dream of a hummingbird landing on your shoulder, this could represent you finding peace or pausing in the business of your everyday life. It can also symbolize an increase in trust or intimacy with a friend or family member.

What does it mean when a hummingbird comes up to your face? 

Hummingbirds that come up to your face can mean that heavenly energies surround you and want you to pay attention to them. It is essential when you notice a hummingbird coming up to your face to take note of what you were thinking. 

A hummingbird coming close to your face is a sign that spiritual energies are meeting your thoughts for a sign or guidance. 

What does it mean when you see a green hummingbird? 

Seeing a green hummingbird is a sign of prosperity and personal growth. This can mean abundance in your personal finances, good health, and success. It could also symbolize perseverance and patience. 

What does it mean when God sends a hummingbird? 

Many Christians believe that when they see a hummingbird, it is a sign sent from God to let them know that their loved ones are safe and happy or that angels are trying to communicate with them. 

What does it mean when a hummingbird makes eye contact? 

If you are lucky enough to make eye contact with a hummingbird, this can mean that you are about to experience an intense bout of joy. It could also mean that the hummingbird is telling you to be more optimistic and embrace your own happiness. 

Next Steps

The next time you see a hummingbird consider what “hummingbird meaning” is behind it. What is the sweet little buzzer trying to tell you? Check in with your intuition, beliefs, and current circumstances to decide if it means anything at all and if action is warranted.  

Have fun with it and happy birding! 


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