Symbolism of the Heron or Egret

The Heron or Egret is symbolic in many cultures. Here are a few highlights about the symbolism of the heron.

In Egypt the Heron is honored as the creator of light.  A double headed Heron in Egypt is symbolic of prosperity.

As a Chinese symbol the Heron represents strength, purity, patience and long life.

In Africa, the Heron was thought to communicate with the Gods.

Most Native American tribes took note of the heron’s inquisitiveness, curiosity and determination.  As such this set the heron as a symbol of wisdom in that this creature seemed to have good judgement skills.

Specifically, the Iroquois tribe held the blue heron as a very good omen, a very lucky sign.  They recongnized the heron as an expert fisher/hunter.  As such, they believed that sighting a heron before a hunt was a sign that the hunt would be a good one.

As a water creature the heron is also a symbol of going with the flow, and working with the elements of Mother nature rather than struggling against her.

The heron is a beautiful creature, exhibiting grace, and noble stature. It’s no wonder the Native Indians and ancients honored the heron throughout the centuries.

This is just a brief post – get a lot more information on the symbolic meaning of the heron on the website here.

More thoughts on animal symbolism can be found here.

63 Comments on “Symbolism of the Heron or Egret”

  1. To me, the great blue heron is a marker for the Goddess. Usually when I see one more than once, it means I am where I am because SHE put me there. Very cool stuff.


  2. My husband and I awoke in our new home after sleeping here for the first time. We came downstairs, and there on our patio was a white heron, just standing there in the morning sun. After several seconds, she flew away. We’ve been here 4 months now, and haven’t seen her since. What a beautiful welcome!

  3. hi there recently i have visited a place called Cardross in Scotland; it is situated on the River Clyde estuary near Glasgow; the first time i went to the beach there i saw 5 heron in the space of about 15mins; the second time i saw two and i was there yesterday with a friend and there were none when we arrived but by the time we left there were 7; is this a sign? i write about herons quite a lot in my poetry as do many well known poets like Kenneth White who has a heron on the front of his collected works; i feel this bird represents speech wether written down or spoken; can u tell me a little bit about its symbolism; thanks Graham

  4. On our way to Lake George and also coming home, I noticed several herons flying over us throughout the trip. That’s why I sought out this site- to find out what it could mean. I’m so excited that while driving through Iroquois territory, a bird held in such high esteem presented itself so often, as if relaying a message to us. Very very interesting.

  5. I live in Waltham, Massachussetts in an apartment complex that has a large creek that feeds into a large pond.

    I love to go out to the pond and watch all of the water foul and other beautiful wildlife (turtles, dragonflies, fish). My two favorite sightings have been a Grey Heron and a Green Heron.

    The Green Heron I see infrequently, as it is small (for a heron), however the Grey Heron I see more often than not when I go out to observe the pond.

    Recently, I’ve started to notice that very same heron (or at least a very similar looking one of the same type) flying over head as I walk around the property. Once I was even on Main Street in Waltham (at least a mile from the pond) and I even saw it flying overhead way over there!!

    It just recently hit me how often I see that heron, and now that I see it flying overhead with some frequency, I too started to wonder what it meant symbolically.

    Thank you for this post! It was very helpful… and it was also very nice to see the comments from other heron appreciators! I think I’m the only person in Waltham who appreciates the herons I’ve seen (grey and green).

  6. Found this site after walking up suburban driveway between two close homes(mine and neighbors) to see grey heron standing on driveway and gracefully flying away after I approached. I was awed even though I often see white egrets and grey herons on my run near neighborhood lakes. But btwn our driveways is most awkward and it made me look up the perhaps spiritual meaning. I know feel eased from a stressful day at new job. I do hope that grace implies a graceful ending to my life and or week.

  7. Thank you for putting these together. I work at a hospital in Seattle, and I just saw a grey heron on my 10 minute walk outside. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one before, and this one was as interested in me as I was in it. It walked toward me until it was about 15 feet away. Magical moment.

  8. My very good friends and neighbors have recently had their 15 year old son missing in Sherwood. It is considered a runaway situation and has been gone missing for 3 days now. I was visiting outside with another neighbor when he mentioned that there was a blue heron that circled about three times and landed on the roof of my friends seeking their son. He said he wasn’t sure if it had meaning, but it just seemed comforting to me. I thought at first that I was just grasping on to something that felt like someone watching over their family, so I decided to do some research and found this site. I am so glad I did. Thank you, I am going to share with my friend.
    All thoughts and prayers are appreciated.

  9. I see blue herons on a regular basis. Each time I see them they “tell” me something. Don’t know how to explain this communication. However, if you are like me, and tend to see them on a regular basis, please take the time to sit, breath and listen, they will tell you what you need to hear at that moment. They are a window to the spirit world, they are here to guide and to watch and to protect.

  10. I feed them fish sometimes. They are patient and persistant. Sometimes they talk to me. They say “grawk” or something like it and yawn with their lizard tongue hanging out. They just don’t get along with each other and constantly chase other herons. Not like egrets who can tolerate each other better.

  11. Today, January 1, 2009, my husband glanced in our yard beside the fence and saw this beautiful blue heron standing on one leg. It stayed for a couple of minutes (not long enough to get a picture), then flew away. I have only seen egrets at the coast, never blue herons. We live in the center of North Carolina, and our high today was in the low 40’s, most likely too cold for this awesome bird. By this site, it will mean good luck. We hope so, the last 2 years have been difficult for many reasons. Have a Happy New Year.

  12. New Year’s Day 2009, about 6:00PM as our family was departing for their home we noticed a Great Blue Heron on top of our chimney. We have a watercolor of a Great Blue in our dinning room.
    Our home is one story located in the Dallas, TX area. We took digital photos and we left before the Great Blue departed.
    Can not help but think this was an auspicious sign.
    Happy New Year to all! Enjoy your website.

  13. I had a dream last night in which a ten foot purple heron with a yellow crest was walking towards me. I got scared and ran away – even cursed it.
    I realized later that it was my higher spiritual self coming towards me.
    Shouldn’t have closed it off.

  14. @Patrick…Fascinating. I love the imagery here…the higher self in such an ornate and impressive vessel. Excellent. Can you go back? In the dream? Sometimes I’m allowed this ability (sometimes not)…to slip back into a dream the next night and re-encounter something profound to my understanding. Will you try?

  15. I work at an Inn and the other day some quests asked what they should do. I told them one of my favorites things was to kayak up the river to observe some beautiful wild life. They did & told me they saw a beautiful blue heron. I told them I heard it meant a blessing. the next morning a friend stopped by my house & there was a blue heron on my fence. after she left my daughter & granddaughter were taking a hot tub & the blue heron flew over us and landed on a redwood tree and continued to watch us without any alarm. It showed up for 3 more days & sat in the exact same spot. I feel totally blessed!!

  16. There is a great blue heron that has been visiting our home recently. He walks on the edge of the lawn. My husband has tried to get a picture, but he flies away. There is a sculpture garden nearby that I like to visit. Recently when I was walking there a heron stood nearby me and just watched me. I’ve been wondering the symbolism. It’s just too unusual not to have some meaning.

  17. Herons are solitary creatures. Imagine my surprise while driving to work yesterday, I saw a pair flying together, side by side! I see heron all time but never two together! I know this has meaning and can only be a blessing…but for what area of my life??

  18. it was interesting finding this website. My husband and I were recently in Florida on vacation, we were sitting on our balcony when an egret landed on it, and spent 15 minutes with us, it was so close, gentle and just stood between the two of us, within less than a foot, looking at us before flying away. The experience was incredibly powerful, peaceful and hard to explain but we felt blessed by the experience.

  19. I was visiting my dad at his resting place and i found myself saying to myself “haven’t seen you in a long time dad” and not one second later a blue heron poked his head out of the bushes in front of me…came walking out, then stood behind another bush for a minute of two, the seemed to vanish past some other bushes to the right, i spotted him again and follwed him for a bit, got a few pictures…truly amazing stuff…

  20. Earlier today, i was walking through a stream, towards where me and my friends had built a fort. suddenly, i started to think about how a blue heron would look so pretty near it, with the trees as a backdrop. then i rolized such a large bird would have to much difficulty flying in the thick pine trees that surrounded the stream. But, i looked up to see one flying towards me, just having taken off. it landed IN the pine tree above my head and sat there watching me. i told her to have a nice day (im weird like that) and thanked her for making my day more special with her presence. after i said that, she flew away. i was amazed. ive always felt a connection with blue herons, mostly becase i love the water. but since i felt her before i saw her, i know theres something even more amazing about them than i evver thought before.

  21. A Blue Heron sold my house. On April 1st this year, a Blue Heron landed in my backyard around breakfast and proceeded to play “catch and release” with a huge fish. I got some great pictures and left them on the counter for some prospective buyers. After the showing that afternoon, several days passed. The Heron returned the following Wednesday, and we received an offer later that day. The new owners are the couple who first saw the home on the day the pictures were laid out on the counter with a caption reading, “Breakfast Today”. On the drive into our new state two weeks after selling our house, another blue heron appeared. I consider her my totem.

  22. I am surprised this has not been mentioned already, many of you who have posted here will read this with interest no doubt.

    In the ancient Egyptian book of the dead you will notice several grey herons amongst the imagery and hieroglyphs, as clear as day. The reason? The heron was their phoenix, symbolic of spiritual rebirth.

    I believe as an omen the standing heron as it waits for hours like a statue is symbolic of a person’s current state: they are waiting for something very important, they are in a state of stasis, and nothing in the world will bring them what they need apart from waiting for the passage of time to deliver it.

    As a bird in flight, large and white with an impressive wingspan, the heron is an obvious symbol of spiritual rebirth, uplifting, and journey in a positive light.

  23. Hiya,
    I just thought I’d share this with you all…
    Up until April this year I had only ever seen 1 heron, however in April my husband and I went for a walk and saw a heron fly by. This was the day before my Grandma died. After this I saw a heron almost every day for two weeks, until the day before her funeral. One day a saw a heron 3 times, once at work, once at my mums and once at my husbands house. Each time the heron was flying by apart from once when it was in a pond before flying away. I thought it was strange that my whole life I had only seen one once and then everyday for 2 weeks, so I called the heron Grandma! About a week later I was sitting in the living room and I saw the Heron fly by and since then I haven’t seen it at all.
    I was curious if this is symbolic and I love the thoughts that each of you all have, I’ve found comfort from seeing this heron – I know that sounds silly!
    Thanks everyone

  24. my best friend’s mother (Connie)just passed away, and for a few days before, Connie and her husband would have a heron land in their yard. Today their was a white egret flying over Connie’s house. Just wondering what this could mean?

  25. For what it’s worth I was so affected by my personal experiences I have a tattoo of a heron in flight on my shoulder with the word “Resurrection” written in calligraphy underneath it.

  26. There are two heron chicks in the tree in fron of my front door. Unfortunately, there were three. I found the third dead on the ground. dog may have gotten it. Any idea here? I would attach a picture, but can not…

  27. while driving home late august afternoon, past a small roadside lake, i saw 14 blue heron standing knee deep in the warm water while the sun set. i was stunned. also met one on a turn one day as it lifted up before my eyes. blessed for sure.

  28. i have been noticing blue herons in my west houston neighborhood lately. tonite, one appeared in my backyard. i only see them at nighttime, but they’re obviously nesting nearby. i’ve been trying to get pictures, but it’s always too dark to see the bird clearly. i wasn’t sure what type of bird it was until i began researching online and found pictures and this wonderful post about the bird. i’m grateful for it’s visitation and will look forward to welcoming it back often.

  29. lovely to hear more of these experiences, after my last visit here, I still hadn’t seen another heron since around the time of my grandma’s death. Anyway, Sunday was my birthday and guess what flew by… yes a heron! I like to think it was from grandma – wishing me happy birthday! x

  30. Glad to find this site that confirms the special meaning of Blue Heron sightings. I had to make myself take my daily long walk as I was feeling depressed. Near the end of my walk I said, “Universe, I need a shot in the arm–this walk just has not helped me feel better today.” In the next few steps I saw a Heron about 30 feet away, walking on the shore. Took pictures…it flew away, and I came across it again in a couple minutes. My mood was greatly improved. Yay!

  31. Hi,

    I just started looking into the symbolism of the blue heron because one flew on the scene at my wedding. I was curious to find out what the symbolism of the beautiful bird, to see if it boded well for my marriage. So far, it seems to be the perfect symbol for my husband & I. Thanks for the info!

  32. I had the experience of a life time. A gray heron landed in the tiny pond blow my porch. We watched it for about 15 min as it hunted in the water. My dog got out and chased it to the other side of the pond. The dog ran around the pond and it flew back to the other side.
    I went out side to catch my dog and she had chased it into a marshy spot. The heron was standing its ground squawking and screeching at my dog at taking stabs at her with its beak. I asked my husband to hold the dog back. The dog never touched the bird as it was much bigger than she.
    I walked right up to the heron and put a small stick to its beak to see if it would attack it. The heron did nothing. I reached over and grabbed the heron by the neck up close to its head. It didnt struggle. So I picked up the bird under my arm.
    The bird was calm and it was an amazing experience. I gently let it go. The heron flew off after a bit. I felt it was a sign that I was able to connect with that bird…..

  33. When my husband died, we – my kids and I – were terribly sad, and we wanted, after the funeral, to have a special personal and private family ceremony. So we took his ashes up to the Noosa River, where we had holidayed as a family and where he had taught the kids to fish and simply to enjoy being, and we scattered them in the river. A blue heron stood quietly by, just watching … and since then, at this spot, we have often seen one. It’s our private symbol of hope and peace. Whenever we see a heron, here or anywhere else, we feel D is there, watching over us.

  34. i recently read a book that had a blue heron in it and the characters believed it was their guardian and would always protect them because it stayed for years at the pond in their backyard. Just recently this past summer there have been these beautiful white dove that continue to appear in my driveway and my mother and i started saying it was my grandfather showing his presence and i literally call one of them papa. Well, a few days ago I was pulling in my driveway from work and my parking spot looks into my back yard and the was a blue heron standing right on my back deck and when i went inside to talk to my boyfriend n tell him what was there he was like yea it’s been standing there forever….it’s so weird because his father passed away last year and it’s almost like the heron is around everytime he is…and that one day it just stared at him for so long and appeared again this morning when we woke up. When it flies away it often has flown down to our side door which is to our basement which is where my boyfriend and i live right now in my parents house and it will just look from the woods at the door. It makes me feel so honored to see something like that and he just brushes it off n makes fun of me but i totally believe this is some sort of sign. I loved finding this sight with all the others who feel the same!

  35. Hi. Today I bought a pair of pink herons from the Op Shop. They are both standing with their heads facing backwards as though they are looking behind them…Do you know what this means? One has round eyes, the other has slanted eyes. Thankyou. They look lovely .

  36. I was recently gifted the great blue heron as my second animal totem. I have always been blessed with sighting heron, but never really put much thought into it. I always found them majestic and beautiful, and a good sign. My meditation coach tasked me to find out more about the heron and my research brought me here. I am smirking as I write this since I am Iroquois (Oneida to be specific) and this blog mentions how special the heron is to the Iroquois people. It is amazing how things pop up in your life and you feel as though you should have always known this. I am really happy to have the heron as my second animal totem, and elated to have found your site. I know it will be of great value in my spiritual journey.

  37. This is really weird. I looked up Blue Herons- their symbolism or meaning because of my experience yesterday and found your site first. I’ve seen the blue herons on the shores of ponds standing there. I never saw one flying before, especially not over a busy main highway in Salem, NH. I was in between running errands and a bit down over still not finding another teaching job in over a year and as I rode, I wondered what that strange bird was a little ahead of me with the legs hanging straight down. It was spooky how it just seemd to wait for me to come towards it and it came right over towards my SUV and looked down in at me. I felt blessed, like this was not the place these beautiful birds fly. They belong near water. But, I knew instantly it had come out there for me to make me feel happy and it did! I truly believe in birds getting in touch with us because it did happen to my husband and I when our first cat had to be put to sleep. We were out on the deck that day or the next, crying our eyes out, when three baltimore orioles came along on a branch leaning over the deck. The male was yelling at the two females to come down lower to us and they did, to tell us our Freddie was okay and was with them in animal heaven not far away. I truly believe that’s why they came. Also, someone mentioned the blue heron as being a totem of the Iroqois. I know the turtle is their totem, or at least one of them. My special saint, who hasn’t made it to sainthood, yet, but is “blessed”, Kateri Tekakwitha, is an Iroquois Indian from Upstate New York and into Canada. She has helped me and blessed me in many ways, and strange that one of you had mentioned- the heron selling your home. She worked her magic with selling our old home. I don’t want to bore people here with the details, but would write to that person who spoke about the home sale and the other one about the Iroquois, if they wanted their e-mail addresses made known. Thanks for this site! I couldn’t help but read all the letters because there are other people out there as fascinated as I am with animals and how they know us and read us. My two Ragdoll kitties do me. I would love to hear from you if you get the chance to write.

  38. I had a lil baby boy on jan 26th 2010 he passed away 23 days later. My mother passed away on april 16th 2010. The next day we were coming out of the house she flew over our house. I knew then that, that was my mom and she was watching down on us. Ever since then she keeps letting herself be know. I see her on the way to my sons swimming lessons. My church gave me a book about greif, I started reading it but soon put it away. Then my mom passed and I thought I really need to finish that book. So I picked it up and there she was on the front cover of the book. I started crying. My mom shows up when I need her most. I know she is watching over me and she is taking care of my son. Thank you for your web site.

  39. Today my son and I disturbed a heron that was sitting in the scrub on the side of our forest, Platbos – located at the foot of Africa. As it rose gracefully into the air we saw a single feather fall and waft slowly into the bushes. I stopped the car and we went to try to find the feather. We found it – a snow-white feather. I have been reading up about the symbolism of both a white feather (a message from Spirit / Angel) and the Heron … what a beautiful and potent combination. A blessing I think for the work that we do here at the forest. Thanks for a wonderful and informative website.

  40. A great blue heron landed on me while looking for refuge in the dark. I had all the lights on on my boat so that my husband could find his way back in the dinghy. I think it was the only safe landing spot he/she could find and I just happened to be in the way. I still feel the pressure of it on my back and shoulders–it is very large and intimidating. It stayed on the bow of the boat for a long time. I felt very blessed by its presence and thought I would look up its meaning–really lovely site–thank-you

  41. really? i’ve always heard that they’re a harbinger of death. we sight them a lot on our farm, and recently one was scared up out of a pond…..we heard a screeching….well, not exactly screeching….it sounded like something was getting killed….and then up overhead out of the pond and woods came this blue heron. which is why i told my friend about the harbinger of death thing …. which is how we landed on your website.

  42. I saw a Great Blue Heron (GBH) on my walk today. The GBH was standing on a grassy hill and caught a mouse or gopher as I passed by. It then flew over to the adjacent small creek and dropped its prey in the water for a second then picked it up and swallowed it whole. I didn’t know drowning prey was part of how they hunt until I did a Google search.

  43. My neighbor’s husband, a retired ship pilot, died after a two year struggle with cancer. Within an hour of the coroner removing his body from their home, a great white egret appeared across the street from their home. When I let my neighbor know what I saw she told me that she and her sons were walking on the beach at the time and a blue heron swooped really low above their heads as they walked. Amazing…this must be the spirit transitioning.. Giving loved ones a message that they are ok.

  44. My husband and our family just closed on our first home05/05/17. In Saturday 05/27 we left our home in the suburbs to see a GBH standing on our roof. We tried reaching for our phones to take a picture and it flew away with its huge wings. My feelings from that moment was a sign from God and a symbol of our Guardian Angel

  45. Myself and my partner lost our baby boy ciaràn when she was 19 weeks pregnant and her waters broke. About 7 days before this and when we were full of excitment i dreamed that a grey heron was aggressively flying into my kitchen window trying to attack my partner. The morning little ciaràn was born i realised that dream that i had half forgotten about was a sign.
    Have not seen another heron on my farm or anywhere until a few weeks ago when my partner and myself saw one driving to town, 3 days short of a year since my dream. Then another sighting a week later when we were holidaying beside a lake for a night. Nothing unsual there but the following friday we didn’t receive the best of news from our fertility doctor who said he he will try iui but said we more than likely need egg donation to get pregnant.
    I asked ciaràn to send us a sign that night in bed and the next day i saw two heron standing in a field by road and when i pulled over jeep to take a photo to send my partner they flew away back into my fields. Have not seen anything since.
    Found it very uplifting and a thinking its a sign of twins!!!.

  46. A Heron is NOT an Egret and they mean two total different animal totems. I look to your website for insight and this is incorrect insight. Please correct it. They are not the same bird nor do they hold the same meaning.

  47. My name is Edret I wanted to know the meaning of this name when I came across this site . I’m thrilled that

  48. This evening, my doorbell rang. I wasn’t expecting anyone, but I opened the door and looked around. Unsurprisingly, no one was there. However, as I looked across the pond just in front of my door; I spotted a snowy white egret that visits the pond this time of year to feed off its fish. The bird wasn’t on the pond but on a nearby path, standing with its back to me. Suddenly it turned around and took flight, heading almost directly to me. It stopped about two feet away from me and then, to my amazement, dematerialized right before my eyes.

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