As a bird of elegant, yet rare flight; a bird that is mostly silent, yet whose voice, once released, resounds deeply, the owl holds the rightful throne as the monarh of the night. Often thought of as the very vessel of wisdom, this fascinating bird breathes a real presence when seen. It is therefore not at all strange that more and more men opt for a tattoo depicting these proud creatures. Given the popularity of such tattoos, and given the fact that they, when properly done, have a rich array of symbolism, let’s go through some of it and explore their vast appeal.

Owl tattoo ideas

Thinking Of Getting An Owl Tattoo?

We already mentioned one of owls’ main symbolic values – the wisdom. These birds, having a distinctly stealthy flight and being exclusively noticed by night, are often linked with the knowledge not easily gained, knowledge that requires a certain exertion on the part of the pursuer. You may also recall the image of the Greek Goddess of wisdom, Athena, who is in ancient art often shown as holding an owl. She could, the Ancient Greeks believed, transform into this bird and directly take part in the human affairs.

Now imagine a sprawling tattoo of a wisdom-radiating owl on your back or indeed your arm. Tantalizing, isn’t it?

Prepare For Some Magic

Another symbolic meaning attached to owls is that of magic. Not the petty children party magic, but the profound, mysterious one. This meaning, coming also from the bird’s association with the night, takes on two radically different forms: it on one hand empowers the owls with the ability to connect with the unknown, and, on a more material level, gives many ancient books of spells an owl decoration.

Herald Of The Other Side

The owls are often wrongfully limited as being the symbols of death. This is largely due to that misleading nickname of theirs – the angels of death. But, if the owl is not only the death symbol, what is it then?

While it is true that some cultures saw the owls as an omen of imminent death, other saw their connection to death in a different, more lucid light. These cultures believed that owls had the ability to freely move between the two worlds, this one, and the one of afterlife. As such, the owls were thought as having an important task: to protect and safely lead the souls to another realm.

Echo Of The Ages

The owl is strikingly universal as a symbol. Whichever culture had any contact with these birds, it invariably gave them a symbolic meaning. Besides the mentioned Ancient Greek, owl played the part in the Egyptian, Roman, Hindu, and Celtic myth as well. Even the Native Americans (or some would say, especially them) held the owl in high regard. They often turned to owls for the reasons of prophecy, but mainly thought of them as the carriers of sacred ancient knowledge.

Having this universality in mind, let’s for a moment pause and consider one more reason that makes the owl tattoos so appealing to men. Namely, whenever they get an owl tattoo, they may consider themselves to be a part of a long and important tradition, the tradition established by east and west alike.

Check out the gallery of the best owl tattoos for men


This tattoo is done in black-and-grey, with ornamental details achieved by straight and curved lines alike. The air of solidity makes it one of the great tattoo ideas for men. The owl is depicted perching on a branch, with a keyhole placed in its heart, clenching the corresponding key with its talon.


This is a pastel representation of a rather bashful-looking owl where colors lend all the expressiveness possible, though done in a rather soft manner. Indeed, there are no distinguishable lines, only the black mellow finishes, but the watercolor effect is exactly what makes this owl tattoo special.


The tattoo begins on the back only to end on the shoulder, which provides quite some space. There is a fluffy feel to the owl, since the feathers are achieved by soft transitions. The bird is perching on a cherry tree, the blossoms complementing the entire image.


This is a black-and-grey tattoo spanning the entire forearm, with an extensive use of lines and shading. The feathers on the head are done in great detail, whereas the rest of the body is incorporated into an embellished assortment of leaves.


This black-and-grey tiny tattoo is a stylized representation of an owl gazing at the moon, as owls are often associated with night, while perching on the branch with two solitary leaves. The owl can here be seen as our wise guide, telling us to never lose hope.


This is a tattoo of a Jewish owl done with blue details. The owl has a traditional Kippah on, one of the best-known Jewish symbols. The owl seems to be holding an ornamented skull with the Egyptian Ankh etched on it, which represents a concept of eternal life.


This is an entirely artistic take on the owl, with a realistic base done with swift moves in black ink which are splashed by seemingly random bits of color, which contributes to a slightly macabre look. Its casual style makes it a great choice for owl tattoos for guys.


The tattoo presents us with a small, but effective image of an owl. Lines are dominant in this representation, but the colors are what makes it so exceptional. With the hues of purple and blue, the aura of mystery surrounds the owl.

More owl tattoos for men on the next page…