‘Pelican of the wilderness’ and ‘owl of the desert’: Here are 29 birds mentioned in the Bible

In Psalm 102:6, a pelican resting its bill on its chest may represent feelings of melancholy.

My family and I were studying Come, Follow Me recently when a verse in the book of Psalms stood out to me. It reads, “I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert” (Psalm 102:6).

Pelicans? Owls? This was news to me—sure, I’d heard of other birds mentioned in scripture before, but there were few species that I could easily name off the top of my head. Of course, I’d long heard the story of Noah releasing a dove to see if the flood waters had abated and how it had returned with an olive leaf. I also knew about the sign of a dove at Christ’s baptism, and that Isaiah had referenced eagles.

But a pelican and an owl? I had no recollection of them being mentioned in scripture. I was intrigued and through some research found that the pelican, with its bill resting on its chest, may represent feelings of melancholy. And the owl, which is naturally solitary as it flies in the desert, may represent failure and defeat.

What other birds were mentioned in the Bible, and how many of them did I not know about? Turns out there are quite a few, and the reasons for them being mentioned are varied. Some are simply noted because they’re under the Mosaic law as being unclean birds that should not be eaten. Others are part of miraculous stories, like the quail that God sent Israel when they were in the wilderness. And yet others are used metaphorically, as with the crane in Isaiah that describes a lament or cry of anguish.

Here's a look at some of the birds mentioned in the Bible along with a scripture reference for each. See which ones are familiar to you and which ones you may have never heard of before.

Note: Some birds in this list are mentioned in multiple places in the Bible. Only one reference is cited here. Birds and fowls are also often written about in the Bible in general terms. Interestingly, the bat was also listed in Leviticus 11:19 among other birds, but as it is now classified as a mammal, it isn’t included in this list. Learn more about birds in the Bible at If you know of other birds in the Bible not mentioned in this list, please reach out to us at

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on in October 2022.

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