Birds always symbolized freedom, with humanity being fascinated by the gorgeous wings swaying through the high skies. That’s why humanity wanting to ink birds on their bodies doesn’t come as a surprise. However, the swallows are different, and different cultures mark different meanings of this fascinating bird.
In this article, we’ll provide the best inspiration of swallows that we can find. Hopefully, that’ll help you design your tattoo idea and present it to your tattoo artist. Additionally, we will decipher some meanings behind the swallow tattoos across different cultures.
Swallows belong to a family of passerine birds that can be found everywhere across the world. They are so widespread that some species can even be found in Antarctica, the coldest continent in the world. They are the aerial masters, that can also use their aerial skills to feed and that way survive. They easily adapt, which is why they’re so widespread across the world.
In Europe, the swallow is known as the barn swallow, although they are more so than anywhere diverse in Africa when it comes to the different species of Hirundinidae. Some species are considered long-space migrants, which means that they’ll likely travel south in the Americas and Europe, seeking a warmer climate as the seasons change.
But, why do people decide to put them on their skin through ink? They are some of the most popular birds to get inked, but why is that? It’s believed that it’s because swallows are considered migrants, curious explorers who travel a lot and cross huge distances. A lot of people are driven by traveling and exploring experiences that bind them to the traits of the swallow.
The Swallow Tattoo Meanings
Still, the meaning of the swallow tattoo dives deeper and more detailed than the exploring and inquisitive traits of humankind. There are other migrant birds, but swallow tattooing is increasingly popular.
Below, we listed the most important swallow tattoo symbolisms and meanings. Before attempting to ink the swallow on your skin, ensure to read about the meanings below and inform yourself.
As mentioned earlier, exploration is the key trait of swallow tattoos and is adored by many who are wanderlust and free spirits for travel and explorations. Interestingly, swallow tattoos are usually inked by sailors who are exploring the seas and oceans. It has been that way throughout history.
Usually, hawks and eagles are associated with freedom but swallows are those that represent inquisition, curiosity, and will to explore. If you find yourself searching for the answers to the questions no one has ever asked, if you’re naturally inquisitive and like to learn new things, then you will flatter yourself with a nice-looking swallow tattoo.
Both Greek and Roman ancient mythologies proposed that swallows are associated with the afterlife and that they represent the departure of the human soul. Additionally, some Gods from the two ancient mythologies could transform themselves into swallows to explore the world.
In sense of that, many people who opt to tattoo a swallow decide to do so to mark their transformation or departure from the old ways of life. It’s great for people who want to manifest their transformation for the sake of peace, happiness, and joy.
Additionally, people often believe that they’re bond to their spirit animal, with many believing that the swallow is their significant spirit animal. That said, a lot of people tattoo the swallow to connect with their spirit animal at a deeper level.
Similarly to the exploration, the journey symbolism relates to the migrating aspect of swallow birds. There’s a belief that when two swallows are tattooed on separate parts of the body, like left and right hand or foot, it marks the departure and long-distance. Sailors used to tattoo swallows on each side to mark the long journey that they need to pass to get to the final destination.
Safety is another trait of the swallows. It is another trait that is associated with the sailors and travelers, so we freely can say that swallows are a species of bird that works like a lucky charm and protector of the travelers in particular.
Many sailors tattoo the swallows because they believe that swallows will provide them with protection that will ensure their safety while they are on the sea. Many people who travel a lot, use their swallow tattoos to seek protection and safety while they are on the road.
5. Care & Affection
If you’re among people who want to tattoo the twin swallows on each part of the body, then you’re doing it to represent the care and affection trait of the swallow tattoo. Swallows are usually associated with people who don’t have difficulty expressing compassion.
Those people have a lot of empathy for them, and they feel with everyone that they know and care about on a higher level. Similarly, the swallow tattoo is attached to the people who are deeply connected to their friends and family members and feel the need to express that affection, care for them, and protect them from any harm.
Similar meaning can be given to love relationships and significant others who are looking forward to each other and willing to offer safe harbor to one another.
Although there are a lot of birds who are gladly connected to the symbolism of freedom, many people see the freedom inside the swallows that are the migrating birds that don’t skip on exploring the new grounds. For many people, freedom is a different concept and as such, a lot of people are willing to give up a lot of things to find freedom. If you’re one of those people, then the swallow tattoo is a perfect choice for you.
Also Read: 60+ Tattoos Which Symbolize Freedom (2023 Updated)
Fidelity is another definition of the faithfulness of one person who is loyal to another, just in higher and stronger meaning. Fidelity obliges people to feel loyal towards the people and causes that they believe in. A lot of people who ink a swallow tattoo aren’t afraid of manifesting this quality trait.
Fidelity is an important symbolism of swallows that many will gladly tattoo on themselves. It’s much stronger than the loyalty itself and creates a strong and reliable bond.
Swallow vs. Sparrow Tattoo Meaning
If you’re inexperienced with different bird species, then you’ll easily get confused about the difference between a swallow and a sparrow. But, here we’ll detail the meaning of the two birds, and help you make the right choice of tattoo.
People also get confused when they tattoo black and white tattoos. Both birds are small, and as such, it’s easy to confuse them if they’re both black and white. If you opt for a vibrant and vivid color, then identifying the two becomes quite easier.
The meanings between the two birds are also quite similar, which is why a lot of people can’t make the difference when making the tattoo of one of them. Additionally, many people don’t care about the meanings if they’re similar, so they’ll tell the tattoo artist to do “whatever” that they consider sitting close with the meaning they’re trying to identify with.
Both birds are used as totems and have quite similar meanings. Some of them are loyalty, love, affection, and empathy, especially towards friends and family members. Both birds also symbolize love and passion in relationships and marriages.
Still, there are a couple of differences:
- Swallows are the symbol of self-discovery, migration, exploration, and a journey that results in the ultimate transformation and continuation of life in this or another form.
- Sparrows are a little different, while swallows continually migrate and are driven by the exploration-will and curiosity, sparrows usually come back home, closer to the family. They are the symbol of victory and successful overcoming of hardships and struggles.
It’s also worth noting that while both birds are available in different sizes and shapes, as well as colors, there are some important differences to note. The swallows are significantly larger compared to the sparrows, and there are also key differences in the colors of both birds.
Swallow has a blue back and dark tail, which also makes it easily mistaken for other bluebirds. On the other hand, sparrows are small, have dark cheeks, and a set of brown and creamy patterns that describe them. Also, swallows have orange-like cheek which makes them easily distinguished in nature.
Swallow also has a long black tail that looks sophisticated, and gives it some additional elegance, while the sparrows have small tails that are also brown like the rest of their body.
Popular Places For Swallow Tattoo
Where you’ll ink a tattoo of a swallow is completely up to you. However, a lot of people want to make their swallow tattoos stick and be easily recognizable. Below, you can check some popular places for tattooing a swallow, which may help you with making your own choice.
- Swallow tattoo on wrist
- Forearm swallow tattoo
- Swallow tattoo on thighs
- Swallow tattoo on the back
- Swallow arm tattoo
- Swallow thigh tattoo
- Swallow feet tattoo
- Swallow tattoo on neck
14 Best Swallow Tattoo Designs
After highlighting all the symbolic features of swallow tattoos, we hope that you’re ready to pick your design for a tattoo. Don’t worry if you’re out of inspiration, here are a dozen of the swallow tattoos on different locations on the body. Make sure to check them out and consult your tattoo artist on how the result would look like.
Swallow Tattoo On Arm
This tattoo may not be as detailed as some other swallow tattoo, but it still represents a one of a kind symbolism of courage and freedom which stand behind the wings of a swallow. This tattoo looks simplistic, minimalistic, and yet lovely enough to perfectly fit with other, healed tattoos on the arm.
It shows a swallow that’s diving into the flowers, which are a part of other, floral-design tattoo. You can easily tell this one apart from the sparrow, even though the ink is dark, somewhere between black and navy.
Black Swallow Tattoo
This tattoo looks ridiculously similar to the one we detailed above. Nevertheless, this one is more detailed, shows the exact distance between the different feathers and their layers, and a detailed, long, and elegant tail that describes a swallow.
The swallow itself looks elegant in its flight of freedom and exploration. It can even be used to mark transformation as its expression looks serene, yet excited for what is coming. This type of tattoo would look great on any part of the body, regardless of whether this design idea is for men or women. We say that it’s for both!
Mother Swallow Tattoo
Let’s be honest, there are not a lot of traditional swallow tattoos around, and finding one design that can help provide a solid inspiration is more than enough to get a cool-looking traditional tattoo. This swallow is colorful, vibrant, and energetic, carrying the message with “mom” written in it.
We said earlier that the swallows can be a symbol of family, of love, affection, and care towards friends and family members. We can freely say that many people see their mother as their pillar of strength and reliability. If you want to dedicate a swallow tattoo to your mother, this is a sheer example that it’s a common practice among the swallow tattoos on the market.
Swallow & Anchor Tattoo
Swallows are closely related to the sailors, and more so than anything else, anchors relate to the sailors, overcoming hardships of the sea and stormy sky to get to their final destination. Combining two symbolic tattoos is amazing and greatly encouraged. However, it’s not so easy to blend two different designs.
In this tattoo, we can see that it’s possible, as long as enough attention to the details is involved. The swallow is also carrying a piece of tree, likely an olive tree that is symbolic to many sailor stories where birds are sent out to explore whether there’s a land likely. Similar symbolics is also found in Noah’s arc, although it’s the dove that brings the branch to Noah.
Swallow Tattoo On Neck
Tattoos on the neck have grown in popularity as of late, but they’re quite challenging and painful because of countless nerve ends that reside on the neck. With that in mind, if you want to ink a swallow on your neck, prepare your reservoir of patience and tolerance, as the ride will last some time, and be severely painful in the process.
Nevertheless, when the pain is endured and proper aftercare is applied, the end results look as amazing as in the picture above. The swallow looks joyful in its flight of freedom and could look great with other tattoos. We commend the attention to detail and sharpness of the design.
Swallow Tattoo Behind The Ear
The design with the flowers that the swallows are attached to so much they travel to the Southern, warmer parts of the world in the winter to find warmer weather, are familiar in the swallow tattoos, and they shouldn’t surprise us. This particular look fits great behind the ear, but it’s likely a lot of pain to make. Nevertheless, it’s a great idea for those who are looking for a small swallow tattoo and additional inspiration for more elements.
Wrist Swallow Tattoo
Wrists tattoos are increasingly popular, and the wrist swallow tattoos are no exception. This one looks magnificently and fits great with the blueish background. The twin swallows are usually the symbol of love, prosperity, and rich family relations, so tattooing two of them can hint at the care and affection, as well as fidelity and loyalty between two soul mates.
This swallow is surrounded by what seems to be a horseshoe, which is also believed to bring luck and prosperity in family relations, friendships, and romantic relationships. This tattoo could look great on some sleeve tattoos given that it’s surrounded by other symbols on the same arm. We commend the attention to detail and sharpness of the symbols. Each feather is represented uniquely.
Chest Swallow Tattoo
Chest tattoos are popular, and this one depicts two swallows that are separated by distance. This is another instance where we can say that swallows can mark the family bond, as well as the bond between two lovers in a relationship. The two are traveling towards one another, and it shows a symbolism of the ever-lasting love and flame that’ll never be extinguished.
Bicep Swallow Tattoo
A bicep is a popular place for swallow tattoo, especially for sailors who are at a distance from their families and their loved ones. Fortunately, the colorful patterns and vivid colors in the wings mark closure between the two love birds that are at distance from one another. This tattoo is relatively small, so it could either include more swallows to show the family relation, or some other location such as wrist, back, and others.
Swallow Tattoo For Women
Swallow tattoos are appropriate for all genders, but we decided to dig down for some more elegant and sophisticated designs. This back tattoo of a soft ink swallow looks sophisticated and graceful.
Swallow Tattoo On Thigh
Swallow tattoo designs are quite popular on the thighs, they give the symbol of femininity and gracefulness, similarly to the design that we detailed above. A good idea would be to ink a swallow on each thigh if you’re trying to symbolize love and relationship.
Swallow Tattoo On Side
Side tattoos are relatively rare and hard to spot unless you’re in swimwear or some casual clothing variant. Nevertheless, the side is a great position for a swallow tattoo, especially if you want to mark safety, journey, and transformation. You can also make a multiple swallows tattoo if you’re looking for a more family-oriented design.
Forearm Swallow Tattoo
This tattoo speaks confidence, and it’s easily visible if you’re wearing a short-sleeve shirt or a tank top. The details look gorgeous and display a beautiful looking swallow that is both gentle and somehow bold. It’d look ideal for both males and females.
Additional Questions About Swallow Tattoo
If you have some additional questions you’re too scared to ask before getting a swallow tattoo, here you may find an answer you may be looking for.
Are Swallow Tattoos Expensive?
That widely depends on how big the tattoo is. If you’re looking to make a small swallow tattoo for your wrist, or back, you may get it for up to $100. However, larger swallow tattoos are more expensive and more time-consuming to make. It’s also important to go to a reputable and reliable tattoo studio.
Does Getting A Swallow Tattoo Hurt?
Every tattoo hurts in the making process, as well as during the healing process. Getting tattooed involves getting a piece of your outer skin layer pierced to shape and ink the tattoo you’re looking to make. Each body part hurts differently, but some factors decide how much making a tattoo will hurt.
You can talk to your tattoo artist and make an agreement to take breaks for you to rest from the pain. It’s a common practice when inking a tattoo and your tattoo artist should agree with you.
You can check our tattoo pain chart in this link, and learn which body parts hurt the most, for each biological sex.
Is Inking A Swallow Acceptable For Both Sexes?
Swallow tattoo looks great on both men and women. That said, there are no gender or sex differences when it comes to getting this lovely bird. Swallow is universal, as is its symbolism.
That results in it looking great on both men and women. However, to add special effects and looks, it’s important to pick a location that will make your tattoo stand out and strengthen your bond with it.