Do Hawk Sightings Have Special Meaning?

Updated: Feb. 29, 2024

If you see a hawk soaring in the sky, what does it mean? Throughout time, some people have thought hawk sightings have meaning or symbolism.

If You See a Hawk, What Does It Mean?

275114820 1 Donna Clemmer Bnb Bypc 2021Courtesy Donna Clemmer
Hawks are powerful birds of prey.

It’s common for birders and nature lovers to notice hawks hunting for rodents along the roadside or soaring in the sky. Across much of the country, you could see a red-tailed hawk perched on power lines or a Cooper’s hawk looking for a songbird snack near a bird feeder. If you live out west, you might spot a Harris’s hawk or a Ferruginous hawk. But have you ever wondered if these hawk sightings have meaning?

Just as some people believe seeing a cardinal is a special message from a loved one, seeing a hawk could have deeper meaning than you realize.

Do owl sightings have special meaning?

Hawk Symbolism and Spiritual Meaning

Shutterstock 231513913Keneva Photography/Shutterstock
The red-tailed hawk has meaning for the Cherokee people.

Hawks have played a significant role in cultures throughout history, likely due to their reputation as fierce and powerful birds of prey. These avian warriors were revered for their hooked beaks, sharp talons and keen eyesight and observation skills.

Check out essential hawk identification tips for birders.

Ancient Egypt

The sun god Ra (or Re) was often illustrated as a human with a hawk’s head. Ra was revered as one of the most important gods in the ancient Egyptian culture. He was worshipped as the creator of all other gods and the Egyptian people. Another Egyptian god, Horus, the son of Osiris, was often represented pictorially by a falcon.

What foods do hawks eat?


Many works of art depict Samurai warriors with hawks and falcons. The sport of falconry, or hunting using trained birds of prey, was a popular activity among the Japanese ruling class.

Norse Mythology

The Norse goddess of love and fertility, Freyja, wore a magical cloak crafted out of feathers to change herself into a hawk or a falcon. In this form, she could travel through the sky undetected and monitor the actions of all others.

Medieval Europe

In medieval Europe, ownership of falcons and other birds of prey was considered a sign of wealth and power for royalty and nobility.

The American kestrel is the smallest falcon.

Native Americans

In the 1500s, Spanish Conquistadors recorded that the Aztecs had trained hawks. Furthermore, the red-tailed hawk is considered to be a sacred, protective spirit for the Cherokee people.

Readers Share Special Hawk Sightings

250407445 1 Lynn Craska Bnb Bypc2020

“In spring, I begin monitoring local ospreys as they build their nests and prepare to raise their family along the Naugatuck River, in Beacon Falls, Connecticut. This photo is special to me because the wings have an angelic quality. I also like how the osprey is looking up to heaven,” says Lynn Craska.

hawk meaningCourtesy David Watterson

“During the summer, I took this picture of a hawk in my backyard in Southern California. I saw him land in the tree and thought that he would fly away if I approached him. He just stayed there looking at me for the longest time. It was a very special moment with nature,” says David Watterson.

Why do crows chase hawks and owls?

Bnbbyc17 Liz TabbCourtesy Liz Tabb

“This particular morning, a beautiful red-tailed hawk was hunting from a low branch. I pulled off the road and he indulged my fervent wish to take his picture. He watched me with an intense stare but was patient for several minutes before he flew to another hunting spot. We had a moment,” says Liz Tabb.

Next, learn how to identify a broad-winged hawk and a rough-legged hawk.