Heraldic Birds | What is Heraldry


Heraldic Birds

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Birds have been used in Heraldry for centuries with a variety of meanings. Here are a few Heraldic Birds and their meanings.

The Pelican in Heraldry

Pelicans have long been associated with Christian art and self sacrifice.

pelican in heraldry, heraldic birds

The legend of the Pelican that drew its own blood to feed its starving children has been a popular story for hundreds of years. The early form of this story saw the bird raising its children from the dead, a resurrection fable told by Saint Jerome, giving the bird a sacred status. The bird its self does have a red tip to its bill, which looks like blood, helping to further develop the story. But over the centuries this meaning has been watered down to something less dramatic and now using a Pelican in your heraldry represents charity and someone of a tender heart.

The Peacock in Heraldry

From early times the Peacock was associated with resurrection largely because the Peacock sheds its splendid features and then grows them back again.

peacock in heraldry, heraldic birds

In it was also confused with the phoenix, a bird of myth which also represented resurrection. But as the use of the Peacock evolved it became more a symbol of splendor and in the east this was expanded to include dignity and high degree. Yet during the middle ages the use of the Peacock in Heraldry also came to represent vanity and the use of a peacock eye was seen as menacing and evil.

The Dove in Heraldry

dove in heraldry, heraldic doves

Because of its nature and colour the Dove has always symbolized peace and purity, something of beauty and has been depicted in Heraldry in a conventional form. The Dove appears in many stories but perhaps one of the earliest is the Old Testament story of the ending of the flood when a Dove returns with the olive branch. The use of a dove, holding an olive branch, in your heraldry therefore symbolizes deliverance, forgiveness and salvation and that these might be things you could promise.

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