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| Last Updated:: 13/05/2014

Sacred birds of India


No. Birds Name Religious role  
  Common Scientific In mythology    
1 Eagle (Crested Serpent Eagle) Spilornis cheela Garuda

Garuda is associate of Indra and Sun.

Also a vehicle of  Vishnu.

Garuda by Raja Ravi Varma

(Source : Wikipedia)

2 Kite (brahminy Kite) Haliastur indus Garuda

Also Consider as a Garuda.

(but the Eagle is the more probable bird)


3 Vulture Gyps bengalensis Jatayu & Sampati

Jatayu fought with Ravana to save Sita.

His brother Sampati Confirmed Sita’s abduction to Lanka and her imprisonment in the forest of ashoka trees.



1) Sampati meeting with  Vanaras painted by Balasaheb Pandit Pant Pratinidhi 

2) Ravana cuts Jatayu's wings, by Ravi Varma

(Source : Wikipedia)

4 Owl (Brown Wood Owl) Strix leptogrammica  

Vehicle of Chamunda, a form of Durga.

Vehicle of Goddess Lakshmi in Bengal.

Uluka – The Owl as Vahana or Vehicle of Goddess Lakshmi




5 Crane (Sarus Crane) Grus antigone  

The crane is a symbol of love, fidelity, long life and marital bliss.

Valmiki curses the hunter that killed the Kruncha (Sarus crane)


6 Crow (House Crow) Corvus splendens  

It is usually identified with departed souls or ancestors.

The bird is the vehicle of Shani (Saturn).

In Buddhism, the Dharmapala Mahakala is represented by a crow in one of his physical/earthly forms.

It is believed that crows heralded the birth of the First, Seventh, Eighth, Twelfth and Fourteenth Lamas.

Shani with his vahana - the Crow



7 Dove/ Pigeon   Kapoteshvara and Kapoteshvari

It is said that, Shiva and Parvati live in the form of a male and female dove called Kapoteshvara and Kapoteshvari respectively in the Amarnath Cave.

8 Parakeet (Indian Rose-ringed Parakeet) Psittacula krameri  

It is Associated with Andal (Alvar or Saint of Tamil Vaishnavism).

The parakeet is sacred to Goddess Meenakshi.

Srivilliputtur Andal


9 Peacock Pavo cristatus  

Whenever Indra, lord of the heavens, transformed himself into an animal, he is believed to have become a peacock.

Peacock named Paravani is the vehicle of Lord Karttikeya (also known as Skanda or Muruga).

The bird is sometimes associated with Goddess Saraswati, as a vehicle.

The crown of Lord Krishna is usually adorned with a peacock feather.

The Mori clan of the Bhil tribe of Central India worships the peacock as a totem.

Similarly, the peacock is the sacred totem of the Jat community.

The bird is sacred to Ahir and Khand tribes.

The Warli tribe of Maharashtra fix peacock feather in a pot to represent their god Hirva.

There is a belief that Sita was born from the egg of a Peahen.

According to popular legend, Parvati manifested herself in the form of peahen in the ancient village of Mylapore.

Murugan or Skanda seated on a peacock, painting by Raja Ravi Varma.

(Source : Wikipedia

10 Pheasant (blood Pheasant) Ithaginis cruentus  

It is sacred to the Lepchas who are the aboriginal inhabitants of Sikkim.


(for mythological Story behind it, check the following link

9/11078/1/IJTK%2010(1)%20173-182.pdf )

The Lepchas regard the blood pheasant as a sacred bird

(Source : Wikipedia)

11 Rooster Gallus gallus  

The bird heralds the rising sun and is hence a symbol of the sun.

In Tamil tradition, it was taken as the symbol on flag by Lord Muruga.

It is associated with Goddess Kamakhya of Assam.

Lord Murugan


12 Swan (Mute Swan) Cygnus olor Hamsa

It is Vehicle of lord Brahma and Goddess Sarasvati.

It is sacred to the Buddist.

Goddess Sarasvati with Swan


Source of information:  Krishna, N. (2008) Sacred Animals of India: C.P.R. Environmental Education Centre, Chennai, 244 pages