Bird. Birds in the Bible have the idea of something like “free spirits”or beings that freely and easily move from one situation to another. While they rarely engage in events and things in the world of “non-flying” beings, they have their own “agenda” of feeding themselves. Their beauty given to them by their Creator is to move swiftly through the air, and set themselves above the events of earth.

General Definition

A bird is a winged animal which in most cases can fly. For a complete list of all birds mentioned in the Bible, click on the “Animals” entry in the sidebar, then “Birds”, and below that will be an alphabetical list.


No other classification of birds than into clean and unclean is given. The Jews, before the Babylonian captivity, had no domestic fowls except pigeons . Although many birds are mentioned, there occur few allusions to their habits. Their instinct of migration, the snaring or netting them, and the caging of song birds are referred to.

Bird, Dyed.

So does the English version, Jer 12:9, wrongly interpret the Hebrew ‘áyit. which means beast of prey, sometimes also bird of prey.

Bird, Singing.

This singing bird of Soph., 2:14, according to the D.V., owes its origin to a mistranslation of the original, which most probably should be read: “And their voice shall sing at the window”; unless by a mistake of some scribe, the word qôl, voice, has been substituted for the name of some particular bird.

Birds, Speckled,

Hebrew çãbhûá’ (Jeremiah 12:9). A much discussed translation. The interpretation of the English versions, however meaningless it may seem to some, is supported by the Targum, the Syriac, and St. Jerome. In spite of these authorities many modern scholars prefer to use the word hyena, given by the Septuagint and confirmed by Ecclesiasticus, xiii, 22 as well as by the Arabic (dábúh) and rabbinical Hebrew (çebhôá’), names of the hyena.

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Thompson Chain Reference

(1) General References to Gen 1:20, 26; 9:2; Lev 11:13; Deut 14:11; 22:6; Psa 8:8; Dan 2:38
(2) God’s Care for  Deut 22:6; Mat 6:26; Luke 12:6
(3) The Nests of Psa 84:3; 104:17; Isa 34:15; Mat 8:20
(4) The Singing of Psa 104:12; Eccl 12:4; Song 2:12
(5) Names of :
  • Cormorants Lev 11:17; Deut 14:17; Isa 34:11; Zeph 2:14
  • Doves, a type of purity, offered in sacrifice  Psa 68:13; Song 6:9; Mat 3:16; Mat 10:16
  • Eagles, a type of swiftness Exo 19:4; 2Sa 1:23; Job 9:26; Prov 23:5; Isa 40:31
  • Hawks Lev 11:16; Deut 14:15; Job 39:26
  • Ostriches Job 39:13; Lam 4:3
  • Owls Lev 11:16; Deut 14:16; Isa 34:14
  • Peacocks 1Ki 10:22; Job 39:13
  • Pelicans Lev 11:18; Deut 14:17; Psa 102:6
  • Pigeons, offered in sacrifice Gen 15:9; Lev 1:14; 5:7; 12:8; 14:22; Luke 2:24
  • Quails Exo 16:13; Num 11:31; Psa 105:40
  • Ravens Gen 8:7; Deut 14:14; 1Ki 17:4; Psa 147:9; Prov 30:17; Luke 12:24
  • Sparrows Psa 84:3; 102:7; Mat 10:29; Luke 12:6
  • Storks Lev 11:19; Psa 104:17; Jer 8:7; Zec 5:9
  • Swallows Psa 84:3; Isa 38:14; Jer 8:7
  • Turtle Doves, offered in sacrifice Gen 15:9; Lev 1:14; Num 6:10; Luke 2:24
  • Vultures Lev 11:14; Deut 14:13; Job 28:7; Isa 34:15


  • Creation of, on the fifth creative day Gen 1:20-30
  • Man’s dominion over Gen 1:26, 28; 9:2-3; Ps 8:5-8; Jer 27:6; Dan 2:38; Jas 3:7
  • Appointed for food Gen 9:2-3; Deut 14:11-20
  • What species were unclean Lev 11:13-20; Deut 14:12-19
  • Used for sacrifice  (see Dove, Turtle; Pigeon)
  • Divine care of Job 38:41; Ps 147:9; Matt 10:29; Luke 12:6; Luke 12:24
  • Songs of, at the break of day Ps 104:12; Eccl 12:4; Song 2:12
  • Domesticated Job 41:5; Jas 3:7
  • Solomon’s proverbs of 1Kgs 4:33
  • Nests of Ps 104:17; Matt 8:20; Matt 13:32
  • Instincts of Prov 1:17
  • Habits of Job 39:13-18; Job 39:26-30
  • Migrate Jer 8:7
  • Mosaic law protected the mother from being taken with the young Deut 22:6-7
  • Cages of Jer 5:27; Rev 18:2 Snare
  • Figurative Isa 16:2; Isa 46:11; Jer 12:9; Ezek 39:4
  • Symbolic Dan 7:6

See Bittern; Chickens; Cormorant; Crane; Cuckoo; Dove, Turtle; Eagle; Falcon; Glede; Hawk; Hen, Figurative; Heron; Kite; Lapwing; Night Hawk; Osprey; Ossifrage; Ostriches; Owl; Partridge; Peacock; Pelican; Pigeon; Quail; Raven; Sparrow; Stork; Swallow; Swan; Vulture

Concise Bible Dictionary

These are employed as symbols of evil agents: as, in the dream of Pharaoh’s baker, the birds ate the bakemeats he was carrying on his head, Ge 40:17 ; and in the parable of the Sower the fowls or birds which devoured the seed by the wayside are interpreted by Christ to signify ‘the wicked one.’ Mt 13:4,19. In the parable of the Mustard Seed the kingdom of heaven becomes a great system with roots in the earth, under the protection of which the birds of the air find shelter. Mt 13:31,32. The Greek is πετεινον, the same in the two parables.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary

Many of the birds mentioned in the Bible were large birds of prey, of which there were many species inPalestine. They fed on small animals that they killed themselves and on the carcasses of larger animals that had either died or been killed by wild beasts. They even fed on the bodies of dead soldiers that lay scattered over the battlefield after war. Among these birds were vultures, eagles, hawks, falcons, ravens, owls and kites. The law of Moses did not allow Israelites to use any of these birds as food (Lev 11:13-19; Job 9:26; 28:7; 39:26; Psa 79:2; Isa 34:15; Jer 49:16; Eze 39:4; Mat 24:28). The ostrich, though not a bird of prey, was considered a wild and fearsome bird, living in desolate or deserted places (Isa 13:21; 34:13; Jer 50:39).

There were many migratory birds inPalestine, and almost every month some departed and others arrived. The most common among these birds were the cormorant, ibis, crane, pelican, stork, seagull and heron. Israelite law again prohibited the use of these as food (Lev 11:13-19; Jer 8:7). It did not prohibit the eating of quails (Exo 16:13; Num 11:31-32; Psa 105:40).

Birds that were commonly seen around towns and villages were sparrows, swallows, doves and pigeons. Since these were allowable as food, people often caught them in traps, and then cooked and sold them (Lev 5:7; Psa 84:3; 91:3; Prov 26:2; Eccles 9:12; Amos 3:5; Mat 10:29). Israelites also kept chickens, both for their meat and for their eggs (1Ki 4:23; Mat 23:37; 26:34).


Birds, like other animals, were divided by Moses into clean and unclean; the former might be eaten, the latter not. The general ground of distinction is, that those which feed on grain or seeds are clean; while those which devour flesh, fish, or carrion, are unclean. Turtledoves, young pigeons, and perhaps some other kinds of birds, were prescribed in the Mosaic law as offerings, Lev 5:7-10; 14:4-7; Luke 2:24.

There is great difficulty in accurately determining the different species of birds prohibited in Lev 11:13-19 Deut 14:11-20, and the proper version of the Hebrew names. The information we have respecting them may be found under the names by which they are translated in our Bible.

Moses, to inculcate humanity on the Israelites, ordered them, if they found a bird’s nest, not to take the dam with the young, but to suffer the old one to fly away, and to take the young only, Deut 22:6, 7.

Cages for singing birds are alluded to in Jer 5:27; and snares in Pr 7:23; Ec 9:12. Birds of prey are emblems of destroying hosts, Isa 46:11 Jer 12:9; Eze 32:4; Rev 19:17-19; and the Lord comes to the defense of his people with the swiftness of the eagle, Isa 31:5


bûrds (עיט, ‛ayiṭ; Greek variously τὰ πετεινά, tá peteiná (Mat 13:4) τὰ ὄρνεα τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, tá órnea toú ouranoú (Rev 19:17) ὄρνις, órnis (Mat 23:37; Luk 13:34) Latin, avis; Old English “brid”):

I. Meaning of the Word

All authorities agree that the exact origin of the word bird, as we apply it to feathered creatures, is unknown.

1. In Early Hebrew

The Hebrew ‛ayiṭ means to “tear and scratch the face,” and in its original form undoubtedly applied to birds of prey. It is probable that no spot of equal size on the face of the globe ever collected such numbers of vultures, eagles and hawks as ancientPalestine. The land was so luxuriant that flocks and herds fed from the face of Nature. In cities, villages, and among tent-dwellers incessant slaughter went on for food, while the heavens must almost have been obscured by the ascending smoke from the burning of sacrificed animals and birds, required by law of every man and woman. From all these slain creatures the offal was thrown to the birds. There were no guns; the arrows of bowmen or “throw sticks” were the only protection against them, and these arms made no noise to frighten feathered creatures, and did small damage. So it easily can be seen that the birds would increase in large numbers and become so bold that men were often in actual conflict with them, and no doubt their faces and hands were torn and scratched.

2. In Later Usage

Later, as birds of song and those useful for food came into their lives, the word was stretched to cover all feathered creatures. In the King James Version ‛ayiṭ is translated “fowl,” and occurs several times: “And when the fowls came down upon the carcasses, Abram drove them away” (Gen 15:11). “They shall be left together unto the fowls of the mountains, and to the beasts of the earth; and the fowls shall summer upon them, and all the beasts of the earth shall winter upon them” (Isa 18:6). “There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen” (Job 28:7). The American Standard Revised Version changes these and all other references to feathered creatures to “birds,” making a long list. The Hebrew ‛ayiṭ in its final acceptance was used inPalestineas “bird” is with us.

3. In Old English

Our earliest known form of the word is the Old English “brid,” but they applied the term to the young of any creature. Later its meaning was narrowed to young produced from eggs, and the form changed to “bird.”

II. Natural History of Birds

The first known traces of birds appear in the formation of the Triassic period, and are found in the shape of footprints on the red sandstone of theConnecticutvalley.

1. Earliest Traces and Specimens

This must have been an ancient sea bed over which stalked large birds, leaving deeply imprinted impressions of their feet. These impressions baked in the sun, and were drifted full of fine wind-driven sand before the return of the tide. Thus were preserved to us the traces of 33 species of birds all of which are proven by their footprints to have been much larger than our birds of today. The largest impressions ever found measured15 inchesin length by10 inwidth, and were set from 4 to6 ft. apart. This evidence would form the basis for an estimate of a bird at least four times as large as an ostrich. That a bird of this size ever existed was not given credence until the finding of the remains of the dinornis inNew Zealand. The largest specimen of this bird stood 10 1/2 ft. in height. The first complete skeleton of a bird was found in the limestone of the Jurassic period inSolenhofen,Bavaria. This bird had 13 teeth above and 3 below, each set in a separate socket, wings ending in three-fingered claws much longer than the claws of the feet, and a tail of 20 vertebrae, as long as the body, having a row of long feathers down each side of it, the specimen close to the size of a crow. The first preserved likeness of a bird was found frescoed on the inside of a tomb of Maydoon, and is supposed to antedate the time of Moses 3,000 years. It is now carefully preserved in themuseumofCairo. The painting represents six geese, four of which can be recognized readily as the ancestors of two species known today. Scientists now admit that Moses was right in assigning the origin of birds to the water, as their structure is closer reptilian than mammalian, and they reproduce by eggs. To us it seems a long stretch between the reptile with a frame most nearly bird-like and a feathered creature, but there is a possibility that forms making closer connection yet will be found.

2. Structural Formation

The trunk of a bird is compact and in almost all instances boat-shaped. Without doubt prehistoric man conceived his idea of navigation and fashioned his vessel from the body of a water bird, and then noticed that a soaring bird steered its course with its tail and so added the rudder. The structural formation of a bird is so arranged as to give powerful flight and perfect respiration. In the case of a few birds that do not fly, the wings are beaten to assist in attaining speed in running, as the ostrich, or to help in swimming under the water, as the auk. The skull of a young bird is made up of parts, as is that of man or animal; but with age these parts join so evenly that they appear in a seamless formation. The jaws extend beyond the face, forming a bill that varies in length and shape with species, and it is used in securing food, in defense, feather dressing, nest building – in fact it is a combination of the mouth and hand of man. The spine is practically immovable, because of the ribs attached to the upper half and the bony structure supporting the pelvic joints of the lower. In sharp contrast with this the neck is formed of from 10 to 23 vertebrae, and is so flexible that a bird can turn its head completely around, a thing impossible to man or beast. The breast bone is large, strong, and provided with a ridge in the middle, largest in birds of strong flight, smallest in swimmers, and lacking only in birds that do not fly, as the ostrich. The wings correspond to the arms of man, and are now used in flight and swimming only. Such skeletons as the Archeopteryx prove that the bones now combined in the tip of the wing were once claws. This shows that as birds spread over land and developed wing power in searching longer distances for food or when driven by varying conditions of climate, the wings were used more in flight, and the claws gradually joined in a tip and were given covering that grew feathers, while the bill became the instrument for taking food and for defense. At the same time the long tail proving an encumbrance, it gradually wore away and contracted to the present form. Studied in detail of bony structure, muscle, and complicated arrangement of feathers of differing sizes, the wing of a bird proves one of Nature’s marvels. The legs are used in walking or swimming, the thigh joint being so enveloped in the body that the true leg is often mistaken for it. This makes the knee of a man correspond to the heel of a bird, and in young birds of prey especially, the shank or tarsus is used in walking, until the bones harden and the birds are enabled to bear their weight on the feet and straighten the shank. The toes vary with species. Pliny classified birds by them: “The first and principal difference and distinction in birds is taken from their feet; for they have either hooked talons, as Hawkes, or long round claws as Hens, or else they be broad, flat and whole-footed as Geese.” Flight is only possible to a bird when both wings are so nearly full-feathered that it balances perfectly. In sleep almost every bird places its head under its wing and stands on one foot. The arrangement by which this is accomplished, without tiring the bird in the least, is little short of miraculous and can be the result only of slow ages of evolution. In the most finished degree this provision for the comfort of the bird is found among cranes and other long-legged water birds. The bone of one part of the leg fits into the bone of the part above, so that it is practically locked into place with no exertion on the part of the bird. At the same time the muscles that work the claws, cross the joints of the leg so that they are stretched by the weight of the bird, and with no effort, it stands on earth or perches on a branch. This explains the question so frequently asked as to why the feet of a perching bird do not become so cramped and tired that it falls.

3. Birds’ Food, Blood, Etc.

Birds feed according to their nature, some on prey taken alive, some on the carrion of dead bodies, some on fish and vegetable products of the water, some on fruit seed, insects and worms of the land. Almost every bird indulges in a combination of differing foods. Their blood is from 12 degrees to 16 degrees warmer than that of the rest of the animal kingdom, and they exhibit a corresponding exhilaration of spirits. Some indulge in hours of sailing and soaring, some in bubbling notes of song, while others dart near earth in playful dashes of flight. Birds are supposed to be rather deficient in the senses of taste and touch, and to have unusually keen vision. They reproduce by eggs that they deposit in a previously selected and prepared spot, and brood for a length of time varying with the species. The young of birds of prey, song birds, and some water birds, remain in the nests for differing lengths of time and are fed by the old birds; while others of the water birds and most of the game birds leave the nest as soon as the down is dry, and find food as they are taught by their elders, being sheltered at night so long as needful.

III. Birds of the Bible

The birds of the Bible were the same species and form as exist inPalestinetoday. Because of their wonderful coloring, powerful flight, joyous song, and their similarity to humanity in home-making and the business of raising their young, birds have been given much attention, and have held conspicuous place since the dawn of history. When the brain of man was young and more credulous than today he saw omens, signs and miracles in the characteristic acts of birds, and attributed to them various marvelous powers: some were considered of good omen and a blessing, and some were bad and a curse.

1. Earliest Mention

The historians of the Bible frequently used birds in comparison, simile, and metaphor. They are first mentioned in Gen 7:14-15, “They, and every beast after its kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after its kind, and every bird after its kind, every bird of every sort.” This is the enumeration of the feathered creatures taken into the ark to be preserved for the perpetuation of species after the flood abated. They are next found in the description of the sacrifice of Abram, where it was specified that he was to use, with the animals slaughtered, a turtle dove and a young pigeon, the birds not to be divided. It is also recorded that the birds of prey were attracted by the carcasses as described in Gen 15:9-11, “And he said unto him, Take me a heifer three years old, and a she-goat three years old, and a ram three years old, and a turtle-dove, and a young pigeon. And he took him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each half over against the other: but the birds divided he not. And the birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.”Palestineabounded in several varieties of “doves” (which see) and their devotion to each other, and tender, gentle characteristics had marked them as a loved possession of the land; while the clay cotes of pigeons were reckoned in establishing an estimate of a man’s wealth.

2. Used in Sacrifice

In an abandon of gratitude to God these people offered of their best-loved and most prized possessions as sacrifice; and so it is not surprising to find the history of burnt offerings frequently mentioning these birds which were loved and prized above all others. Their use is first commanded in Lev 1:14-17, “And if his oblation to Yahweh be a burnt-offering of birds, then he shall offer his oblation of turtle-doves, or of young pigeons. And the priest shall bring it unto the altar, and wring off its head , and burn it on the altar; and the blood thereof shall be drained out on the side of the altar; and he shall take away its crop with the filth thereof, and cast it beside the altar on the east part, in the place of the ashes.” Again in Lev 5:7-10, we read: “And if his means suffice not for a lamb, then he shall bring his trespass-offering for that wherein he hath sinned, two turtle-doves, or two young pigeons, unto Yahweh; one for a sin-offering, and the other for a burnt-offering.” Throughout the Bible these birds figure in the history of sacrifice (Lev 12:8; 14:4-8; Num 6:10, etc.).

3. Other References

The custom of weaving cages of willow wands, in which to confine birds for pets, seems to be referred to when Job asks (Job 41:5): “Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? Or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens?”

See Job 12:7 : “But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; And the birds of the heavens, and they shall tell thee.”

David was thinking of the swift homeward flight of an eagle when he wrote: “In Yahweh do I take refuge: How say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?” (Psa 11:1).

His early days guarding the flocks of his father no doubt suggested to him the statement found in Psa 50:11 : “I know all the birds of the mountains; And the wild beasts of the field are mine” (the Revised Version margin, “in my mind”).

In describingLebanon, the Psalmist wrote of its waters: “By them the birds of the heavens have their habitation; They sing among the branches” (Psa 104:12).

He mentioned its trees: “Where the birds make their nests: As for the stork, the fir-trees are her house” (Psa 104:17).

See also Psa 78:27; 148:10.

The origin of the oft-quoted phrase, “A little bird told me,” can be found in Ecc 10:20 : “Revile not the king, no, not in thy thought; and revile not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the heavens shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.” In a poetical description of spring in the Song of Solomon, we read: “The flowers appear on the earth; The time of the singing of birds is come, And the voice of the turtle-dove is heard in our land” (Son 2:12).

In his prophecy concerning Ethiopia, Isaiah wrote, “They shall be left together unto the ravenous birds of the mountains, and to the beasts of the earth; and the ravenous birds shall summer upon them, and all the beasts of the earth shall winter upon them” (Isa 18:6). In foretelling God’s judgment upon Babylon, Isaiah (Isa 46:11) refers to Cyrus as “a ravenous bird (called) from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country”; “probably in allusion to the fact that the griffon was the emblem of Persia; and embroidered on its standard” (HDB, I, 632); (see EAGLE). Jer 4:25 describes the habit of birds, which invariably seek shelter before an approaching storm. In His denunciation ofIsrael, Yahweh questions, in Jer 12:9, “Is my heritage unto me as a speckled bird of prey? are the birds of prey against her round about?” When Jeremiah threatened the destruction ofJerusalem, he wrote that Yahweh would “cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies, and by the hand of them that seek their life: and their dead bodies will I give to be food for the birds of the heavens” (Jer 19:7): that is, He would leave them for the carrion eaters. Ezekiel threatens the same fate to the inhabitants of Gog (Eze 39:4, Eze 39:17). Hosea (Hos 9:11) prophesies of Ephraim, “Their glory shall fly away like a bird.” In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus mentions the birds, as recorded by Mat 6:26 : “Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value than they?” In the sermon from the boat where He spoke the parable of the Sower He again mentioned the birds: “As he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the birds came and devoured them” (Mat 13:4). Mark describes the same sermon in Mar 4:4, and Mar 4:32 quotes the parable of the Mustard Seed: “Yet when it is sown, (it) groweth up, and becometh greater than all the herbs, and putteth out great branches; so that the birds of the heaven can lodge under the shadow thereof.” In Luk 8:5, Luke gives his version of the parable of the Sower, and in Luk 13:19 of the Mustard Seed. See also Rev 19:17, Rev 19:21. These constitute all the important references to birds in the Bible, with the exception of a few that seem to belong properly under such subjects as TRAP; NET; CAGE, etc..

Cheyne Encyclopedia Biblica

References to birds generally are very frequent in O.T. and N.T.

1. Kinds referred to.

The following terms (translated in EV ‘bird’ or ‘fowl’)  are used to denote the members of the family alves collectively:

Eccl 10:20; Isa 16:2; Hos 9:11; Gen 7:14; Lev 14:6, 51; Prov 1:17; and birds of prey Gen 15:11; Isa 18:6; 4:11; Jer 12:9; Ezek 39:4; Job 28:7. πετεινα and τα πετειωα  Mt 8:20; 13:32; Job 28:7, Rom 1:23; Jas 3./; 1Co 15:39; and Rev 18:2; 19:17,21.

Birds of the smaller kinds are not so often distinguished as the larger; but special reference is made to several species, both large and small. Mentions seems to be made, for example, of the Bittern, Buzzard (see also Glede), Blue Thrush (see Sparrow), Cormorant, Crane, Dove, Egyptian Vulture (See Gier Eagle), Griffon (See Eagle, Hawk, Heron, Hoopoe, Sacred Ibis (see Swan), Kite, Night Hawk, Osprey, Ossierage, Ostrich Owl, Pigeon (see Dove), partridge, Peacock, Pelican, Quail, Raven, Stork, Swallow, Tern (See Cuckow), Black Vulture (See Vulture), and the domestic fowl (see Cock), Details and discussions concerning all of which will be found in the special articles. Sparrow occurs occasional in EV … which denoted any small passerine bird.

2. Use.

That feathered animals abounded in Palestine is clear from the many reference s to them in OT and NT, and lapse of time has produced no change in this respect. Naturally the eggs and the birds themselves were used for food (Exo 16:12; Num 11:32; Job 6:6; Neh 5:18; Psa 78:27; Luke 11:12; Acts 10:12; 11:6; See Fowls… The Torah divides them into clean and unclean (Lev 11:13; Deut 14:20). Many contrivances for capturing birds were in common use (Psa 91:3; 124:7; Prov 1:17; 6:5; 7:23; Amos 3:5; Ecc 9:12; Jer 5:27; Hos 7:12; 9:8; Ecclus. 11:30). The Torah protects them against cruelty (Deu 22:6). Sometimes the captives were tamed and treated as pets (Job 41.5; 40:29), Bar 3:17; Ecclus. 27:19; James 3:7). Only in cases of extreme poverty does the Torah allow birds to be used for sacrifice. Naturally, common small birds, on account of their abundance, were of little value; they were probably so numerous as to prove a nuisance (Mat 10:29, 31; Luke 12:6). To what extent –if any– birds were studied for omens in Israel as in Babylonia… it is difficult to determine (See Lev 19.26; Deut 18:10; 2Ki 21:6; 2Ch 33:6; 1Ki 4:33, 5:13; and compare with Divination.

3. Literary and popular allusions.

Allusions to their habits in metaphors, similes, and proverbial expressions prove how prominent they were in the life and thought of the people… They were evidently observed with the keenest interest as being links between earth and heaven, and regarded with a certain awe (Job 12:7; 28:21; 35:11; Eccles 10:20). It was noticed how they cared for and protected their young (Deut 32:11; Exo 19:4; Isa 31:5; Mat 23:37); how and where they made their nests (Psa 104:12, 17; Ezek 31:6) sometimes (according to the a pleasing byt very doubtful interpretation) in the very temple itself (Psa 84:3). in what sad plight they wandered about when cast out of the nest (Prov 27:8; Isa 16:2; 31:5; Mt 23:37); how swiftly they flew away when scared (Hos 9:11; Psa 11:1); how eagerly they returned to their nest (Hos 11:11); how free from care they are (Mt 6:26); how regularly they migrated (Jer 8:7; Prov 26:2); how voracious they were (Gen 40:17; Mt 13:4; Mark 4:4; Luke 8:5); how they descended from the clouds in a bevy (Ecclus. 43:17), and with what delight they gathered in a leafy tree (Dan 4:9, 12) Ecllus. 27:9; Mt 13:32; Luke 13:19). How sweetly they warbled (Eccles. 12:4; Wisd. 17:18; Cant 2:12; Psa 104:12); how God recognises and protects them; and how they praise and reverence him (Psa 14:8, 10; Eze 38:20). Further, Israel’s enemy is often pictured as a rapacious bird that sights its prey afar off and swoops down upon it (Isa 46:11; Jer 12:9; Deut 28:49; Rev 19:17, 21). Thus, ‘to destroy’ is to give a man’s flesh to the birds of the air for meat (Gen 30:19; Deut 28:26; 1Sam 17:44, 46; 16:4; 21:24; Psa 79:2; Jer 7:33; 16:4; 19:7; 34:20; Ezek 29:5). A place is desolate when its only inhabitants are the birds of the air (Ezek 31:13; 32:4; Isa 18:6), and an utter desolation when even these too have perished (Jer 4:25; 12:4; Hos 4:3; Zeph 1:3). The saying in Mat 8:20 where Jesus contrasts himself with the birds which have nests, has not yet been made perfectly clear.


pigeonAlthough many Bible dictionaries consider a pigeon and a dove to be the same things, I would consider them slightly different. A dove is more of a calm animal. A pigeon is more of a busy bird that goes about seeking food, looking for fallen seeds. Doves do the same, but they seem to me as being less “busy” and more “quiet”. To me that is their principle differences.


In general, a pigeon is more of a pest than anything else. They are not associated with peace and quiet, but with business and activity. They themselves would cause confusion. Doves are a symbol of the Holy Spirit, and in this, they are quiet, peaceful, causing or enjoying rest. Pigeons_ don’t have these traits. Continue reading



The owl is mentioned several times in the Bible (Lev. 11:16-17; Ps. 102:6; Jer. 50:39; Mic. 1:8). The largest species native to Palestine is the great owl, sometimes called an eagle owl. Several varieties of smaller owls are also common. Among them are screech owls, whose calls and whistles bring an eerie feeling in the night.

Other varieties of owls mentioned by different translations of the Bible include the short-eared owl (Lev. 11:16), (NKJV, NEB); long-eared owl (Lev. 11:16), (NEB); horned owl (Lev. 11:16), (NIV); little owl (Lev. 11:17), (KJV, NIV, NASB); tawny owl (Lev. 11:17), (NEB); fisher owl (Lev. 11:17), (NKJV); desert owl (Lev. 11:18), (NIV); and white owl (Lev. 11:18), (NKJV, NIV, NASB).

The owl is no wiser than any other bird, but his facial features give him a thoughtful and solemn look. Owls have round faces with a circle of feathers around their heads, framing and highlighting their large eyes. These feathers also serve as a sound collector for the ears. An owl’s fluffy feathers make him appear larger than he actually is. They also enable him to fly silently, since the edges of the feathers pierce the air with little wind resistance.

Owls have good night vision, which enables them to stalk their prey at night. Unlike other birds, whose eyes are set on opposite sides of their head, the owl looks directly ahead. He navigates in the dark mostly by sound. Alerted by a noise, he plunges in toward his prey with his claws spread for the kill.

Owls serve a useful agricultural purpose, since they feed on rats, mice, and other rodents. But the Hebrew people considered the owl an unclean bird and often associated it with scenes of desolation. The scops owl may be the satyr of such verses as (Isaiah 13:21) and (34:14) (night creature, NKJV). It has a horned look and does a hop-like dance much like a goat.

Source: [Anon-Animals]



Several Scripture passages that refer to owls in the KJV are rendered ostrich in the RSV. This strange bird was a common sight in the deserts of Israel and Sinai in Bible times. Earth’s largest living bird, the ostrich may stand about 2.5 meters (eight feet) tall. While it cannot fly, this unusual animal with its long steps, which can cover 15 feet per stride at top speed, can outrun a horse. Sometimes an ostrich will use its wings as a sail to achieve even greater speed. An adult ostrich fears only man and lions, and it may live as long as 70 years.

The popular belief that ostriches hide their heads in the sand is not true. However, when a young ostrich senses danger, it will crouch near the ground and stretch out its long neck to lessen the possibility of being seen.

This enormous bird has only a walnut-sized brain. But God has given it certain helpful instincts, along with its great physical stamina. Like a camel, the ostrich is fitted for desert life. It eats coarse food and can go for a long time without water. Its head, neck, and powerful legs have no feathers. This helps to keep the bird cool in the hot desert climate. Its huge eyes enable it to spot danger from a great distance, and its long eyelashes protect its eyes from dust and sand. The male ostrich has a cry that is similar to a lion’s roar.

Unlike most other birds, the ostrich does not build a nest to protect its young. The female ostrich deposits her eggs on the desert floor and covers them with sand. These eggs are generally left unattended during the day, since the desert sun serves as a natural incubator. Job compared these habits unfavorably with the more traditional nesting instincts of the stork (Job 39:13-18).

Source: [Anon-Animals]

The Ostrich.

The ostrich is sometimes called the “camel-bird,” because it is so very large, because it can go a long time without water, and because it lives in desert and sandy places, as the camel does. It is often taller than the tallest man you ever saw, and it neck alone is more than a yard in length.

Each of the wings is a yard long when the feathers are spread out; but although the wings are so large, the bird cannot fly at all. One reason of this is, because it is so very heavy, and another is that its wings are not of the right sort for flying. They are made of what we call ostrich-plumes, and if you have ever noticed these beautiful feathers, you will remember that they are very different from others that you have seen. If you take a quill from the wing of a goose, you will find that the parts of the feather lie close together, so that you cannot very easily separate them; but in an ostrich plume they are all loose and open, and would not support the bird at all in flying. The feathers are generally either white or black. There are none under the wings, or on the sides of the body, and only a few small ones on the lower part of the neck. The upper part of the neck, as well as the head, is covered with hair.

Its feet are curious, and different from those of most birds. They are somewhat like the foot of the camel, having a soft pad or cushion underneath, and only two toes. The largest toe is about seven inches long, and has a broad claw at the end; the other is about four inches long, and has no claw.

Although this bird cannot fly, it can run faster than the swiftest horse. If it would keep on in a straight line no animal could overtake it; but it is sometimes so foolish as to run around in a circle, and then, after a long chase, it may perhaps be caught. A traveller speaking of the ostrich, says, “She sets off at a hard gallop; but she afterwards spreads her wings as if to catch the wind, and goes so rapidly that she seems not to touch the ground.” This explains what is meant by the verse, “When she lifteth up herself on high she scorneth the horse and his rider.”

The ostrich has but little to eat in the desert places where it lives: only some coarse grass, or rough, thorny plants, with a kind of snail which is sometimes found upon them; and perhaps it sometimes eats lizards and serpents.

The voice of the ostrich is very mournful, especially when heard at night in a lonely desert. It is said to be like the crying of a hoarse child. It is on this account that the prophet Micah says, “I will make a mourning like the ostrich.”

In the 39th chapter of Job we read, “Gavest thou wings and feathers unto the ostrich ? which leaveth her eggs in the earth, and warmeth them in the dust, and forgetteth that the foot may crush them, or that the wild beast may break them. She is hardened against her young ones as though they were not hers.” See how well this agrees with the accounts given by travellers. They say that the ostrich is frightened by the least noise, and runs away from her nest, leaving the eggs or young ones without any protection; and very often she does not return for a long time, perhaps not until the young birds have died of hunger. The eggs are cream-colored, and large enough to hold about a quart of water. The shell is very hard, and as smooth as ivory. It is often made into a drinking-cup, with a rim of gold or silver.

[Cook, Scripture Alphabet of Animals]

Little Owl

A night bird of prey, unfit for food. Several species are found in Palestine, and are mentioned in the Bible; as in Le 11:17 De 14:16 Isa 14:23; 34:15; Zep 2:14. One of the words, however, translated “owl,” probably means “OSTRICH,” (which see;) and another, Le 11:17 De 14:16 Isa 34:11, the ibis or night heron.


(1.) Heb. bath-haya’anah, “daughter of greediness” or of “shouting.” In the list of unclean birds (Lev. 11:16; Deut. 14:15); also mentioned in Job 30:29; Isa. 13:21; 34:13; 43:20; Jer. 50:39; Micah 1:8. In all these passages the Revised Version translates “ostrich” (q.v.), which is the correct rendering.

(2.) Heb. yanshuph, rendered “great owl” in Lev. 11:17; Deut. 14:16, and “owl” in Isa. 34:11. This is supposed to be the Egyptian eagle-owl (Bubo ascalaphus), which takes the place of the eagle-owl (Bubo maximus) found in Southern Europe. It is found frequenting the ruins of Egypt and also of the Holy Land. “Its cry is a loud, prolonged, and very powerful hoot. I know nothing which more vividly brought to my mind the sense of desolation and loneliness than the re-echoing hoot of two or three of these great owls as I stood at midnight among the ruined temples of Baalbek” (Tristram).

The LXX. and Vulgate render this word by “ibis”, i.e., the Egyptian heron.

(3.) Heb. kos, rendered “little owl” in Lev. 11:17; Deut. 14:16, and “owl” in Ps. 102:6. The Arabs call this bird “the mother of ruins.” It is by far the most common of all the owls of Palestine. It is the Athene persica, the bird of Minerva, the symbol of ancient Athens.

(4.) Heb. kippoz, the “great owl” (Isa. 34:15); Revised Version, “arrow-snake;” LXX. and Vulgate, “hedgehog,” reading in the text, kippod, instead of kippoz. There is no reason to doubt the correctness of the rendering of the Authorized Version. Tristram says: “The word [i.e., kippoz] is very possibly an imitation of the cry of the scops owl (Scops giu), which is very common among ruins, caves, and old walls of towns…It is a migrant, returning to Palestine in spring.”

(5.) Heb. lilith, “screech owl” (Isa. 34:14, marg. and R.V., “night monster”). The Hebrew word is from a root signifying “night.” Some species of the owl is obviously intended by this word. It may be the hooting or tawny owl (Syrnium aluco), which is common in Egypt and in many parts of Palestine. This verse in Isaiah is “descriptive of utter and perpetual desolation, of a land that should be full of ruins, and inhabited by the animals that usually make such ruins their abode.”


Ostrich, the true rendering of bath hayanah. (See OSTRICH) Yanshowph; Lev 11:17, “the great owl.” From a root, “twilight” (Bochart), or to puff the breath (Knobel). Deu 14:16; Isa 34:11. The horned owl, Bubo maximus, not as Septuagint the ibis, the sacred bird of Egypt. Maurer thinks the heron or crane, from nashaf “to blow,” as it utters a sound like blowing a horn (Rev 18:2). Chaldee and Syriac support “owl.” Kos; Lev 11:17, “the little owl.” Athene meridionalis on coins of Athens: emblem of Minerva, common in Syria; grave, but not heavy. Psa 102:6, “I am like an owl in a ruin” (Syriac and Arabic versions), expressing his loneliness, surrounded by foes, with none to befriend. The Arabs call the owl “mother of ruins,” um elcharab.
The Hebrew means a “cup”, perhaps alluding to its concave face, the eye at the bottom, the feathers radiating on each side of the beak outward; this appears especially in the Otus vulgaris, the “long-cared owl”. Kippoz. Isa 34:15, “the great owl.” But Gesenius “the arrow snake,” or “the darting tree serpent”; related to the Arabic kipphaz. The context favors “owl”; for “gather under her shadow” applies best to a mother bird fostering her young under her wings. The Septuagint, Chaldee, Arabic, Syriac, Vulgate read kippod, “hedgehog.” The great eagle owl is one of the largest birds of prey; with dark plumage, and enormous head, from which glare out two great eyes. Lilith. Isa 34:14, “screech owl”; from layil “the night.” Irby and Mangles state as to Petra of Edom “the screaming of hawks, eagles, and owls, soaring above our heads, annoyed at anyone approaching their lonely habitation, added much to the singularity of the scene.” The Strix flammea, “the barn owl”; shrieking in the quietude of the night, it appalls the startled hearer with its unearthly sounds.


oul (bath ha-ya`anah; Latin Ulula): The name of every nocturnal bird of prey of the Natural Order Striges. These birds range from the great horned owl of 2 feet in length, through many subdivisions to the little screech-owl of 5 inches. All are characterized by very large heads, many have ear tufts, all have large eyes surrounded by a disk of tiny, stiff, radiating feathers. The remainder of the plumage has no aftershaft. So these birds make the softest flight of any creature traveling on wing. A volume could be written on the eye of the owl, perhaps its most wonderful feature being in the power of the bird to enlarge the iris if it wishes more distinct vision. There is material for another on the prominent and peculiar auditory parts. With almost all owls the feet are so arranged that two toes can be turned forward and two back, thus reinforcing the grip of the bird by an extra toe and giving it unusual strength of foot. All are night-hunters, taking prey to be found at that time, of size according to the strength. The owl was very numerous in the caves, ruined temples and cities, and even in the fertile valleys of Palestine. It is given place in the Bible because it was considered unfit for food and because people dreaded the cries of every branch of the numerous family. It appeared often, as most birds, in the early versions of the Bible; later translators seem to feel that it was used in several places where the ostrich really was intended (see OSTRICH). It would appear to a natural historian that the right bird could be selected by the location, where the text is confusing. The ostrich had a voice that was even more terrifying, when raised in the night, than that of the owl. But it was a bird of the desert, of wide range and traveled only by day. This would confine its habitat to the desert and the greenery where it joined fertile land, but would not bring it in very close touch with civilization. The owl is a bird of ruins, that lay mostly in the heart of rich farming lands, where prosperous cities had been built and then destroyed by enemies. Near these locations the ostrich would be pursued for its plumage, and its nesting conditions did not prevail. The location was strictly the owl’s chosen haunt, and it had the voice to fit all the requirements of the text. In the lists of abominations, the original Hebrew yanshuph, derived from a root meaning twilight, is translated “great owl” (see Le 11:17 and De 14:16). It is probable that this was a bird about 2 ft. in length, called the eagle-owl. In the same lists the word koc (nuktikorax) refers to ruins, and the bird indicated is specified as the “little owl,” that is, smaller than the great owl–about the size of our barn owl. This bird is referred to as the “mother of ruins,” and the translations that place it in deserted temples and cities are beyond all doubt correct. Qippoz (echinos) occurs once (Isa 34:15), and is translated “great owl” in former versions; lately (in the American Standard Revised Version) it is changed to “dart-snake” (the English Revised Version “arrowsnake”). In this same description lilith (onokentauros), “a specter of night,” was formerly screech-owl, now it reads “night monster,” which is more confusing and less suggestive. The owls in the lists of abominations (Lev 11:17; Lev 11:18; Deut 14:16) are the little owl, the great owl and the horned owl. The only other owl of all those that produced such impressions of desolation in the Books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Job, and Micah is referred to in Ps 102:6:

“I am like a pelican of the wilderness;

I am become as an owl of the waste places.”

Here it would appear that the bird habitual to the wilderness and the waste places, that certainly would be desert, would be the ostrich–while in any quotation referring to ruins, the owl would be the bird indicated by natural conditions.

Gene Stratton-Porter



In the passages that speak of the unclean birds “the owl . . . . the little owl . . . . and the great owl,” are enumerated. Lev. 11:16, 17; Deut. 14:15, 16. The Hebrew for the first is bath yaanah. (See OSTRICH.) The second is kos: it occurs in the above two passages and in Ps. 102:6; and doubtless refers to the owl. The third, yanshuph, occurs also in Isa. 34:11. This in the LXX and Vulgate is the ‘ibis,’ and has been supposed by some to refer to the Ibis religiosa, a sacred bird of Egypt. There is also lilith in Isa. 34:14 only, translated ‘screech owl,’ (margin and R.V. ‘night-monster’): its reference is doubtful. Also qippoz in Isa. 34:15 only, ‘great owl,’ (R.V. ‘arrowsnake;’ LXX and Vulgate ‘hedgehog,’ reading perhaps qippod with six Hebrew MSS.) There are several well-known species of the owl, but to which of them these various words refer cannot be specified with certainty. The Athene meridionalis is the owl most common in Palestine; the Strix flammea is the white owl.


• A carnivorous bird.

• Unclean
Lev 11:16-17; Deut 14:16

• Sometimes translated »ostrich«
Lev 11:16; Deut 14:15; Job 30:29; Isa 13:21; Isa 34:11; Isa 34:13; Isa 43:20; Jer 50:39; Mic 1:8




Little Owl (see Owl).

Source: [Anon-Animals]