Feathers are no longer just for the birds. Holding a wide variety of meanings and symbolism, a feather tattoo can represent everything from independence and freedom to commemorating a vital relationship. Part of this versatility stems from the different traits and symbolism associated with the birds that wear the plumage. 

Whether on the forearm or behind the ear, a striking full sleeve, or a subtle piece on the ankle, feather tattoos can be customized to perfectly capture the wearer’s personality and style. As the ink in this collection proves, there is a feather for every cap when it comes to men’s tattoos.

1. Classic Feather Tattoo

Clean and crisp, classic feather tattoos work great as elements in larger designs or as standalone pieces. Open to interpretation, these designs could equally represent the wearer’s carefree attitude or their love of birds, among other thoughts.

Classic Feather Tattoo
@shahab_ta2 / Instagram

2. Peacock Feather Tattoo

Sporting some of the most dazzling plumage in the bird kingdom, peacocks are regal symbols of honor, rejuvenation, and integrity. This makes peacock feather tattoos a great choice for the man looking to add a bit of royal flair to his style.

Peacock Feather Tattoo
@finkface / Instagram

3. Small Feather Tattoo

Feathers come in all shapes and sizes — and so do feather tattoo designs. Small feather tattoos are a great way to add a little bit of ink while keeping an overall refined and sophisticated look.

Small Feather Tattoo
@wyldishbambino / Instagram

4. Native American Feather Tattoo

Native American feather tattoos can make for some truly striking pieces, especially those who want to show pride in their indigenous heritage. Depending on the tribe you’re descended from, there are a number of types of feathers to choose from.  

Native American Feather Tattoo
@jcinktensity / Instagram

5. Eagle Feather Tattoo

Eagles, an enduring symbol of independence and strength, have been regularly featured in tattoos for decades. Their unique markings mean that eagle feather tattoos can be just as powerful imagery as the fierce birds of prey themselves.

Eagle Feather Tattoo
@downztattoos34 / Instagram

6. Turkey Feather Tattoo

With a striped pattern that is difficult to mistake for another bird, turkey feather tattoos are a great choice for the avid fowl hunter or anyone with a special affinity for these clever and social birds. Or maybe you just like to eat lots of turkey — we don’t judge. 

Turkey Feather Tattoo
@tattoochicken888 / Instagram

7. Feather Arrow Tattoo

Traditionally used as fletching on arrows, it makes sense that people associate feathers with these ancient tools. Whether a small, simple piece with a bit of script or a larger, more realistic bolt, feather arrow tattoos are versatile enough for just about everyone’s style and taste.

Feather Arrow Tattoo
@contraste_tattoo / Instagram

8. Feather with Birds Tattoo

Without birds, there wouldn’t be feathers, so incorporating birds into a feather tattoo just makes sense. A theme that has gotten popular over the last few years, feathers with bird tattoos, makes a great tribute to the wearer’s care-free existence. 

Feather with Birds Tattoo
@flashinktattooart / Instagram

9. Crown and Feather Tattoo

There’s no mistaking the symbolism of a crown tattoo: power, strength, loyalty. These regal connotations become even more striking when incorporated together — particularly with peacock feathers.

Crown and Feather Tattoo
@hilaryrandle / Instagram

10. Watercolor Feather Tattoo

Using splashes of ink to recreate the painting experience we all enjoyed as kids, watercolor feather tattoos can make for some eye-catching designs that provide plenty of opportunity for creative compositions. 

Watercolor Feather Tattoo
@yourstylewitch / Instagram

11. Phoenix Feather Tattoo

Symbolizing baptism by fire, rejuvenation, and new beginnings, the phoenix is a globally recognized mythological creature, making phoenix feather tattoos a great way to commemorate major life changes. Plus, they just look cool.

Phoenix Feather Tattoo
@trxtattoos / Instagram

12. Tribal Feather Tattoo

Incorporating a tribal motif with swirling lines and layered patterns is a great way to add depth and complexity to a piece. These design elements work particularly well in tribal feather tattoos and take a common tattoo to the next level.

Tribal Feather Tattoo
@southeastustattoos / Instagram

13. Owl Feather Tattoo

The wise old sage of the bird world, owls have been associated with knowledge and judgment for millennia. When incorporated into an owl feather tattoo, these nocturnal raptors can make for some unique and meaningful pieces.

Owl Feather Tattoo
@eskimo_cori26 / Instagram

14. Cardinal Feather Tattoo

Cardinals are powerful symbols of devotion, courtship, and monogamy with their unmistakable crimson plumage. If you want to commemorate love and marriage on your body’s canvas, getting a cardinal feather tattoo just makes sense. Some happy couples even seal the deal with matching ink.

Cardinal Feather Tattoo
@royaltytattoo / Instagram

15. Black Peacock Feather Tattoo

While they are known for their vibrant colors, peacock feathers are hard to miss, even in a monochromatic color scheme. For someone that wants their ink to represent the regal nature of the birds without all the colors, black peacock feather tattoos are perfect.

Black Peacock Feather Tattoo
@mr_dpx_tattoo_artist_07 / Instagram

16. Crow Feather Tattoo

Crows have been symbols of everything from trickster gods to gatekeepers of the underworld, making crow feather tattoos a great choice for someone that wants to show the world their mischievous side. 

Crow Feather Tattoo
@awakentattoo / Instagram

17. Hawk Feather Tattoo

Fiercely independent and impressive hunters, hawks have represented strength for centuries — and continue to do so today. Hawk feather tattoos are a unique and visually striking option for someone who stands out from the pack.

Hawk Feather Tattoo
@rjtattoo / Instagram

18. Raven Feather Tattoo

The crows’ larger cousin, ravens, are often associated with ill-fortune thanks to their jet-black appearance and tendency to scavenge corpses. But these unique birds are also powerful symbols of insight, meaning raven feather tattoos can be just as complex as these surprisingly clever birds.

Raven Feather Tattoo
@dan_roberts96 / Instagram

19. Dream Catcher Feather Tattoo

Some people believe dream catchers can ward off nightmares and catch good dreams. For this reason, dream catcher feather tattoos are a popular way to bring these good vibes wherever you go.

Dream Catcher Feather Tattoo
@intheskinfullerton / Instagram

20. Simple Feather Tattoo

Not all ink has to be large and complex; sometimes, less is more. This approach, expertly executed in black and grey with a single needle, perfectly suits the elegant shape of simple feather tattoos.

Simple Feather Tattoo
@beccambtattoo / Instagram

21. Angel Feather Tattoo

Some angels hold different characteristics and represent different aspects of human nature in the Bible. Whether a fierce warrior or a peaceful protector, angel feather tattoos are a great choice for those folks that want to keep an angel on their shoulder.

Angel Feather Tattoo
@wandodiastattoo / Instagram

22. Blue Jay Feather Tattoo

Loyalty, devotion, and understanding are the traits most often associated with these azure birds, making blue jay feather tattoos a popular choice for ink that commemorates important relationships.

Blue Jay Feather Tattoo
@altierink / Instagram

23. Realistic Feather Tattoo

Some folks want their ink to recreate the subject as accurately as possible. Realistic feather tattoos provide talented artists with plenty of opportunities to capture every tiny detail and are sure to turn heads.

Realistic Feather Tattoo
@pennyboy_tattooartist / Instagram

24. Feather and Butterfly Tattoo

While not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “manly tattoos,” for a guy that isn’t afraid to embrace the more delicate things in life, feather and butterfly tattoos can make for some unique designs that will impress.

Feather and Butterfly Tattoo
@luigizafarana83 / Instagram

25. Feather Pen Tattoo

Quills are some of the earliest writing tools used to tell stories and record history for centuries. This makes feather pen tattoos a great choice for any man that has a passion for language and the written word.

Feather Pen Tattoo
@jessikaelo_tattoo / Instagram

26. Rose and Feather Tattoo

Symbols of love and devotion, roses tattoos have been inked onto skin for ages and can be successfully incorporated into just about any style. This makes rose and feather tattoos a great way to bring old-school flavor to any design.

Rose and Feather Tattoo
@dcairns_tattoo / Instagram

27. Feather Tattoo with Name

With their swooping lines and simple shape, adding script to a feather design is a great choice. This makes a feather tattoo with names a good way to remember a wife, child, or personal creed.

Feather with Name Tattoo
@arterotattooparlour / Instagram

28. Feather Sleeve Tattoo

A large canvas full of natural and dynamic lines, the arms are great for big complex designs. With their layered patterns, feather sleeve tattoos can make exciting designs that surely can’t be missed.

Feather Tattoo
@shadowofcomforttattoo / Instagram

29. Wrist Feather Tattoo

The wrist is a great location for a bit of ink that still can pique the interest of a passerby. When wrist feather tattoos peek out from beneath your cuff, those who can surely want to catch a glimpse. 

Wrist Feather Tattoo
@jmagtattoo / Instagram

30. Feather Tattoo Forearm

Whether a standalone piece or a half sleeve, feather forearm tattoos can make for some unique designs in the hands of a talented artist.

Feather Tattoo Forearm
@mashatattoo / Instagram

31. Feather Tattoo Behind Ear

One location that has gotten popular in recent years is just behind the ear. Easier to hide than a neck tattoo but still prominent enough to turn heads, a feather tattoo behind the ear can kick your style up a notch.

Feather Tattoo Behind Ear
@dvminiquex / Instagram

32. Feather Neck Tattoo

There’s no hiding these feather neck tattoos, ideal for those folks with a powerful connection to these avian designs. make sure you’re not shy about showing them off. 

Feather Neck Tattoo
@survivor_307 / Instagram

33. Feather Hand Tattoo

Usually saved for last, ink on the hands isn’t for everyone. But feather hand tattoos can be surprisingly appealing, thanks to the natural lines of the hand that can be utilized in the composition. 

Feather Hand Tattoo
@alycia.burgess / Instagram

34. Feather Thigh Tattoo

One of the larger canvases on the body, the upper leg, is a great choice for big ink that needs room to breathe. This makes feather thigh tattoos a great alternative to the chest or back for large designs.

Feather Thigh Tattoo
@imogenstokes_tattoo / Instagram

35. Shoulder Feather Tattoo

Big, bold and unique, shoulder feather tattoos can show the world that you’re not afraid of spreading your wings and soaring to new heights.

Shoulder Feather Tattoo
@salvatore_design / Instagram

Feather Tattoo FAQ:

What does a feather tattoo mean?

A feather tattoo can mean a host of different things depending on the person’s life experience and cultural background. However, a few common themes run through most feather tattoos are freedom, independence, and courage. 

What does a peacock tattoo mean?

One of the most visually impressive birds globally, the shimmering plumage of peacocks has made them popular subjects in art for centuries. These kaleidoscopic birds represent royalty, harmony, and hope. 

What looks good with a feather tattoo?

One of the great things about a feather tattoo is that it can successfully incorporate a variety of other design elements. Flowers, animals, and script pieces all look good with a feather tattoo, but the sky’s the limit when designing your ink.

Which body part works best for a feather tattoo?

Luckily, feather tattoos can look great just about anywhere on the body, but there are a few placements that stand out. A feather tattoo can utilize the natural lines of the upper and lower arm, creating a dynamic composition that draws the eye up and down the length of the design. Likewise, a feather tattoo on the ankles can call to mind the winged sandals of Hermes and symbolize the wearer’s independence and freedom.