What Does It Mean When You See a Bluebird?

Are bluebirds really symbols of happiness? Discover the many meanings behind bluebird sightings in your backyard.

Bluebird Meaning and Symbolism

You might have heard the phrase “bluebird of happiness,” and as it turns out, there’s some truth behind it. What is the meaning of a bluebird sighting?

Around the world, bluebirds have a wide variety of associations and meanings, all of which carry positive connotations. Some believe the bluebird is a symbol of joy and hope; others, that good news will be arriving soon. Others still think that bluebirds represent a connection between the living and those who have passed away. Native American tribes in particular associated bluebirds with the return of spring after winter, prosperity and even fertility.

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“This male eastern bluebird (above) landed on my neighbor’s fence. I thoroughly enjoy photographing birds, and I thought the blue and orange background looked really pretty and matched the bluebird quite nicely. They say bluebirds bring happiness. This one did, for me. At the time my father was in hospice, dying from Stage 4 colon cancer. This photo turned out to be the last picture of a bird that I took before my dad passed. This photo will always be extremely special to me for that reason. My dad was saying goodbye in a way I would understand… through a bird,” shares Birds & Blooms reader Nikki Debraccio.

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly how the bluebird meaning became the bird “of happiness.” (Psst—if you see a cardinal, here’s what it means). A popular song from 1934 titled “Bluebird of Happiness” might have something to do with it, as might a 1908 play called “The Blue Bird.” But bluebirds were associated with glad tidings in European and Native American folk tales, as well as in Chinese mythology, all of which were written long before the song. Regardless of culture or even century, bluebirds bring joy.

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Bluebirds Bring Happiness

mountain bluebird eating bugCourtesy Wendell Shaw

“In Canada the winters are quite long. I always look forward to the arrival of spring, and one of the earliest visitors to show up is the mountain bluebird. I love their deep blue color. It reminds me of warm summer days with blue skies,” Birds & Blooms reader Wendell Shaw says.

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Bbxsept15 Daveweth, bluebird, bluebird meaningCourtesy Dave Weth

“Feeling a little down, I set out on a hike one morning to lift my spirits. I heard this male eastern bluebird before I saw him. He landed on a branch long enough for me to get a photo. Instantly, my blues were banished, and I smiled as I walked back down the trail,” Birds & Blooms reader Dave Weth says.

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276016499 1 Carla Ginn Bnb Bypc 2021Courtesy Carla Ginn

“It was Mother’s Day Sunday, and I knew this family of eastern bluebirds was about to fledge the nest. After dinner with my mother, mother-in-law and all the family, I grabbed my camera and went out to check the nest box. As I walked toward the nest box, I noticed the parents were strangely absent. I listened closely and didn’t hear the hungry cries of the nestlings. They had fledged and I had missed it, or so I thought.

Suddenly, I caught a flash of brilliant blue. Scanning the trees, I spotted Poppa Blue and his five beautiful fledglings lined up on a tree branch several yards away. Not wanting to disturb this precious family, I froze where I stood, zoomed in as best I could, and snapped my favorite bluebird photo of all time. Just seconds after Poppa Blue fed his hungry babies, he flew off to gather more insects, and Momma Blue arrived to feed from the other end of the line. My heart was happy for so many reasons on that Mother’s Day,” Birds & Blooms reader Carla Ginn says.

Next, find out do hummingbird sightings and robin sightings have special meaning? Plus, we chatted with our field editors about what seeing a wren means to them.

Emily Hannemann
Emily Hannemann is an associate editor for Birds & Blooms Digital. Throughout her years with the publication, she has written multiple articles for print as well as digital, all covering birding and gardening. In her role as associate editor, she is responsible for creating and editing articles on the subject of birding and gardening, as well as putting together Birds & Bloom's daily digital newsletter. After graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a master's degree in magazine journalism and undergraduate degrees in journalism and English, she has more than eight years of experience in the magazine, newspaper, and book industries.