3 Spiritual Meanings Of Hummingbirds + What To Do If You See One
The universe is always sending us messages, and certain things like numbers, planets, and even animals have unique meanings that can offer us insight when we see them. In the case of hummingbirds, here's what to know if you're always spotting these delicate little birds, plus what to do about it.
What hummingbirds symbolize.
Hummingbirds are not only some of the world's smallest birds, but their wings beat at lightning speed—and they're the only ones able to fly backward, according to Dawn Baumann Brunke, author of the book Animal Teachings. As such, she says, it's not surprising the hummingbird often symbolizes inspiration of the impossible.
And what hummingbirds may lack in size, they make up for in tenacity, she explains, noting that these birds are fierce and known to attack intruders with their long, pointy beaks and fast-beating wings. They can even drive away much larger birds, and because of this, "they were once honored in both myth and history as courageous and lively warriors," she tells mbg.
Before we break down a few more specific meanings behind this animal, it's worth noting that you should always take your personal associations with any animal into account when trying to interpret its message for you. Additionally, Baumann Brunke notes that there is some nuance between different hummingbird species.
"There are over 300 different species of hummingbird in our world, and each carries its own special 'medicine' or teaching. So, too—each color, shape, habitat, and other characteristics of hummingbirds may offer a more specific and unique message," she explains.
That said, here are three common messages from this bird when you see it.
3 spiritual meanings behind hummingbirds:
Live life to the fullest.
Hummingbirds may be small, but they are also mighty. Baumann Brunke tells mbg that they encourage and teach us to savor the moment, explore, adapt, and appreciate life, among other things. They also remind us of the good in people, the importance of sharing our feelings with others, and the importance of spreading joy to all.
...But give yourself rest too.
You can't live life to the fullest if you're exhausted all the time! According to Baumann Brunke, hummingbirds also set an example for how to balance action and rest. She tells mbg that they represent restoration and rejuvenation, likely because when they're asleep, they appear almost lifeless—but upon awaking, they're ready to go. "In this way," she says, "Hummingbird inspires us with the renewal of life."
Tap into your inner strength.
And lastly, hummingbirds are a great reminder that even the "smallest" of us has inner strength accessible whenever a situation calls for it. These little birds aren't afraid to stand up for themselves, even when they're up against a much larger bird—and so, too, can we.
If hummingbirds appear in your dreams.
"Dreams are much more personal than we realize, in which case, the symbol is supposed to get us to look at what is going on in our life and ask ourselves if it mirrors what happened in our lives the last time we experienced that animal in the aforementioned fashion," Van notes, adding, "If so, what issues from that time might still need to be resolved?"
Baumann Brunke echoes this point, noting it's important to take into account how you felt in the dream and what the hummingbird was doing. "Every dream is unique so it's hard to give generalizations, but if I was dreaming of hummingbirds I'd begin to learn about them," she says, adding, "My main advice is to take some time to deepen and meditate on the hummingbirds in your dreams and ask yourself, What do I need to know here?"
For more information on dream interpretation, be sure to check out our full guide.
What to do if you keep seeing hummingbirds.
Whether you're spotting them in your garden, on walks in nature, or even in your dreams, Baumann Brunke tells mbg you'll want to become a student of the hummingbird. "Watch them, observe closely, if not in the wild, then on nature shows or video clips," she tells mbg, adding to read hummingbird-related myths and legends, as well.
As you learn more about these amazing miniature creatures, you can gain an appreciation for their unique skills (i.e., hovering and flying forward, sideways, backward, and even upside down). These birds are all about inspiration to do the impossible, so if nothing else, allow yourself to be inspired!
Baumann Brunke also tells mbg to reflect on the moments you've seen hummingbirds and what those moments have conveyed to you. "What is your feeling? Is there a certain time or place when you see the hummingbirds? By being a detective you can look for patterns and themes and thus begin to discover the deeper meaning of what [the] hummingbird is attempting to share with you," she says.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.