Bold & Striking – Eagle Tattoo Ideas For 2024

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Eagle tattoo designs have been around since the beginning of modern tattooing in the mid 20th century.

However, as a symbol, eagles have been around for hundreds of years, a staple of animal tattoos.

Known as the chief of all the winged creatures, an eagle is a symbol of power, freedom and of human association with the spiritual and divine.

These big birds of prey are most commonly seen in Eurasia, with certain species also reaching the Americas and Australia.

In many cultures across the globe, especially among the Native Americans, the eagle is seen as the king of all birds, and a mighty eagle spirit animal.

Let’s go sky high to explore the wonderful world of eagle symbology, mythology and meanings across cultures.

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The Birds Of Prey – Eagle Species & Their Meanings

If you take away trivia information about eagles, let it be this one – eagles are actually not a natural group, but denote any bird of prey large enough to hunt sizeable prey.

They belong to the bird family Accipitridae in Latin and include several genera which are not necessarily closely related to each other.

The majority of 60 species occur in Eurasia and Africa.

Unlike like other birds of prey like owl, just two species can be found in the United States and Canada, nine more in Central and South America, and three in Australia.

These powerfully built birds of prey are larger than any other raptors apart from some vultures.

The eagles are ranked at the top of the food chain as apex predators in the avian world.

Members of the eagle family that are common in tattoos are:

Bald eagle – found in North America, all across the contiguous United States to northern Mexico. It has a white had and dark brown body, giving it the bald adjective.

Golden eagle – one of the largest birds in North America. Broad-winged and with a small head, at distance the tail appears long, projecting farther behind than the head sticks out in front. The golden part comes from a golden sheen on the back of the head and neck.

Every Tattoo Has A Story – Eagle Symbol and Its Meanings

When it comes to eagle tattoo meaning, this bird’s symbology is great and broad.

Images of eagles’ heads, in a characteristic manner of transmitting the image of a stylized bird of prey are common in the art of the early nomads of Central Asia.

The image of an eagle can be seen from the era of the early nomads, and continued to prevail later.

The definition of an eagle is a bird of prey with powerful wings and strong eyesight.

Its power and clairvoyance made eagle a widespread occurrence in the myths and symbols of all the ancient civilizations, with universal meanings:

  • the sky (solar) power,
  • fire,
  • immortality,
  • supreme imperial power,
  • divine.

The eagle has been used as the main symbol by many of the great empires throughout history, from Babylon to Egypt, through to Rome and even the United States. After years of debating over what would become the symbol of The United States of America, Congress finally agreed on the bald eagle in 1789.

In ancient Aztec tradition, the chief god told people to settle at a place where they find an eagle perched on a cactus eating a snake. This place is now Mexico City.

The eagle also brings the message of renewed life, such as another bird, albeit mythical, the phoenix, snake, and butterfly.

This is because it is associated with the east winds – the direction of spring, dawn and rebirth.

For anybody going through a hard time, eagle not only signals a new beginning, but can also provide that person with the stamina and resilience to endure the difficulties.

This strong and resilient bird of prey gives freedom and courage to look ahead.

It is interesting to note the importance placed on eagle feathers in various cultures.

Eagle Celtic Symbology

In Celtic mythology, the eagle is traditionally seen as one of the oldest of all creatures, surpassed only by the salmon in wisdom and age.

Golden eagles would be seen in Wales, and their appearance was used to foretell significant events:

  • the birth of a great hero
  • sentry, warning of the arrival of an enemy
  • a pair of eagle was a symbol of peace.

Highland clan chiefs still wear three eagle feathers in their bonnets as a symbol of their rank.

An old Manx name for the eagle is Drein – the Druid’s bird, giving them status as king of the birds.

It can be combined with other Celtic symbols for a Celtic tattoo design.

Eagle Native American Symbology

In Native American culture, eagles and their feathers have always held great significance.

Traditionally included in head-dresses, used in various ceremonies, eagle feathers were also awarded to warriors for acts of bravery.

They are also a staple in Native American tattoos especially feathers from the Bald and Golden Eagles, considered sacred within Native American traditions, culture and religion.

The eagle feather meanings include: honesty, truth, majesty, strength, courage, wisdom, power and freedom.

As they are seen roaming the sky and being so close to the divine, they are believed to have a special connection to God.

The Native American mythology explains that the Creator, when making the sky, created all the birds of the sky.

And of all the birds the Creator chose the Eagle to be the leader as the master of the Sky.

That being said, eagle is considered to be a messenger to God.

Eagle ornaments such as feathers are used to get the attention of the Creator, as he is honored in the highest way with it.

The wings of an Eagle represent the balance needed between male and female, each one dependent upon the strengths and abilities of the other.

Eagle Christian Symbology

The Judeo-Christian scripture also give eagles an important spiritual role, which makes them a great symbol to use together in tattoos with crosses, roses, etc.

In early Christianity the eagle was seen as a symbol of hope and strength, representing salvation.

In this quote from Isaiah 40:31 the eagle is praised saying:

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

In various places in the Bible, God’s strength takes the shape of an Eagle.

This is more prevalent in the Old Testament. Moses himself writes:

“You have seen yourselves what I did to Egypt and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to me.”

Moses also further spoke concerning God saying:

“As an eagle stirreth up her nest, flutters over her young, spreads abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings.”

Best Eagle Tattoo Placements

When it comes to the best eagle tattoo placements, luckily this bird of prey is a very versatile visual element in this regard, very commonly seen in tattoos for men.

Given that the actual eagle is a large bird, known for its size, it is a good idea to get a large eagle tattoo, even as far as going for a tattoo sleeve.

That would mean, giving it a wide space on the body, and getting an eagle chest tattoo or eagle forearm tattoo for the medium option.

Many also get an eagle shoulder tattoo, depicting a standing still eagle, commonly done in traditional American tattoo style.

Below you will also see small eagle tattoos, and the placements for those are almost all around possible, and as such as are common as a tattoo for girls.

Eagle Tattoo Ideas

To help you with your research for your next tattoo design, we went on a hunt through Instagram to find the best eagle tattoo ideas.

Take a look below to check them out all:

Are you looking for a custom eagle tattoo design? We got you.

Our expert tattoo artists will provide a quick initial draft to get you going.
Happy inking ❤

Milena Petrovic

Milena Petrovic

Co-founder of Tattoo Stylist

About the author

Milena has decided to start an organization that will create a safe environment for everybody to get their first, second or third tattoo and to encourage young people to transform their ideas into tattoos safely, with talent and vision.

You can find her writing about tattoos on Quora or updating our Pinterest profile with awesome tattoo ideas!

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