What is the spirit animal meaning of the Nighthawk?


Animal Totem for Creative People

Howard Flying Nighthawk watercolor paintingIn an international study conducted by Adobe, slightly over 50% of U.S. respondents, and 39% overall, considered themselves to be creative people. What’s more, the overwhelming majority viewed creativity as being valuable to society and a key driver of economic growth.

However, when the same people were asked if they thought they were living up to their creative potential, the story changed. Only one out of four felt that they were.

How about you? Do you feel your creative self could use a boost? Perhaps it’s time to pay a visit to Nighthawk.

Meet the Nighthawk

Nighthawk is a wonderful spirit animal for creatives of any type – healers, artists, musicians, writers, entrepreneurs, or anybody who uses their intuition. I’ll explain why in a moment. First, though, let me introduce you to this bird.

The Nighthawk is not actually a hawk. It’s a member of the nightjar family, which is related to the whippoorwill. With its long wings, stubby body and round head, it looks a bit like a bat. In fact, Nighthawks have a lot in common with bats. They, too, are a crepuscular animal, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk. Like bats (and unlike hawks), they feed primarily on small winged insects.

If you live in Nighthawk territory and spend much time outside, you’ve probably experienced them passing overhead on many occasions. They are more common than many people realize. Nighthawks are often mistaken for bats, because they swoop around in a very similar manner to those flying mammals.

Nighthawks spend a lot of time on the wing. They have big eyes and very small bills, but don’t let the small size of the beak fool you. A Nighthawk’s mouth is incredibly wide, and that is its secret to success. With its massive mouth open wide, it flies through the air and catches insects for its dinner.

At first, the Nighthawk may strike you as a drab-looking creature. With its unpretentious, mottled brown and gray coloration, it rarely gets chosen for posters and calendars. However, if you ever get the chance to see one up close you will appreciate the utilitarian beauty of its plumage. Because it nests on the ground, it has beautiful barred feathers which blend in perfectly with fallen leaves, dry grass and gravel. On its underside, though, it does sport white patches that show up when it takes wing. These include a white “V” on the throat and white bars across the tail and wings. The wing patches sometimes create a flashing effect as it flies.

Like many creative people, the Nighthawk is quite adaptable. It’s capable of thriving in many different habitats, although it prefers open areas. You’ll even find Nighthawks in the city, where flat urban rooftops provide safe places for them to lay and incubate their eggs.

Nighthawk as Spirit Animal

The Nighthawk is a spectacular spirit animal for creative people and anyone interested in accessing their intuition or searching for higher truth. That is because it represents a bridge between the spirit and the mundane.

This is reflected in the time of day when it is active –neither night nor day but both. It takes flight during those magical ‘between’ times when our intuition tends to be a little stronger. Most traditions align the darkness with more of a feminine energy, and the light with masculine energy. Crepuscular animals like the nighthawk combine both. That is a very powerful thing. (In fact, psychological testing has repeatedly shown that highly creative people tend towards being “psychologically androgynous” – incorporating more of the psychological characteristics of the opposite gender than average.)

Staying Grounded While on the Wing

Even though the Nighthawk spends a lot of time on the wing, it nests on the ground. Like all creatures that fly on the wing, it can be a helpful guide when we are undertaking in higher purpose, spiritual work. But because it is a ground-nesting bird, the Nighthawk offers that down-to-earth connection, too.

Sometimes it’s hard for people who are interested in expanding their spirituality to ground themselves and to relate to and function well in the physical world. If you are having a hard time feeling grounded, if you feel like you’re walking 2 feet above the ground, or if people accuse you of being spacy, the Nighthawk is a wonderful spirit animal to spend some time with. It can help you ground yourself without leaving that wonderful ‘upper realm’ kind of space.

On the other hand, this bird doesn’t actually build a nest on the ground; it just lays its eggs directly on the ground and sits on them. If Nighthawk appears to you, it may be a sign to pay attention to your ‘nest egg.’ Are you tending to your savings and your retirement plans the way you should?

Opening to Inspiration and Abundance

Another wonderful lesson Nighthawk offers to creative people can be learned by observing its feeding habits. The Nighthawk actively sights and chases down its prey, which represents clarity of vision and the willingness to take action. Its fluid swoops and dives as it moves through the dusk are heart-stoppingly beautiful; like a sort of aerial ballet. At the same time, this bird totally opens itself to receiving. With that big, wide-open mouth, it effortlessly opens up and lets the nourishment come in. It is very, very open to abundance.

Often very creative or spiritual people have a hard time learning to receive. That image of being totally open to taking what you need in order to do your calling in the world is a wonderful one to keep in mind if you struggle with abundance. It can relate to both material and creative abundance. Remember the white bars on the Nighthawk’s wings? You can think of those as the flashes of insight that come to you when you put yourself in motion in the practice of your art. In other words, if you find yourself struggling with creative blocks, imagine yourself as a Nighthawk. Relax into the physical process of doing your work. Enjoy the flight – the process of your creative work. Trust that Spirit will provide the insight you need. The outcome will take care of itself.

In short, the Nighthawk symbolizes remaining open to Spirit and being willing to receive what Spirit sends your way. That’s where your creative inspiration or healing work comes from, after all, isn’t it?

Did you enjoy this post? Christie

If you did, you will enjoy my newsletter, too. I share positive affirmations, uplifting artwork, and spiritual insights for awakening souls. You will also get a free guided meditation to help you meet your Spirit Animal! Just go to the "Cool Stuff" tab in the menu up top and click on "Newsletter" to subscribe.

Author: Christie

If you did, you will enjoy my newsletter, too. I share positive affirmations, uplifting artwork, and spiritual insights for awakening souls. You will also get a free guided meditation to help you meet your Spirit Animal! Just go to the "Cool Stuff" tab in the menu up top and click on "Newsletter" to subscribe.

16 thoughts on “What is the spirit animal meaning of the Nighthawk?”

  1. Very well-written and insightful! Thank you! I got up very early this week and saw a funny looking bird outside sitting on the sidewalk….just looking around for about 20 minutes. I went out on the porch and he/she just glanced over at me and seemed unafraid. Later, when I went out again to drive off, he/she was gone. Because the little bird was not afraid or hurt, I took it as a spiritual sign. As an author/writer, I am very mindful about what I put out there for my readers, and now I feel more inspired to keep writing meaningful books because of your article! Have a blessed day!

  2. Ohh this was such a great read!!! I live in the Tucson Mountains in picture rocks Az. I was swimming in my pool and the Nighthawk kept of swooping at my head circling me!!! I understand the bird was probably getting bugs but i didnt see any. So felt like he was trying to get my attention since he was five ft from my head.
    Im new to the area (new Jersey). so this a whole new experience.
    Perhaps he may be my spitit animal. the vulture is my wifes.
    Thank you for spending the time to put this together it ment the world to me

    1. What a beautiful experience, Jason! He may well be your spirit animal. Keep spending time with him. Don’t be afraid to ask him what he has to say to you. Take care, and thank you for your kind words! 🙂

  3. This was an amazing read for me! I’ve been in a bit of a rut lately and recently heard this song called “King and Cross” by Ásgeir, and a lyric referencing “Nighthawk” stood out to me. I instantly downloaded the song and listened to it over and over again for about a week. After figuring out the lyrics, the song is very powerful and has given me inspiration to work harder, as well as an idea of why I am who I am, but the Nighthawk part still remained a bit of a mystery to me…I had to figure out why. Today I read your article above, and I’ve never felt more understood in my life. A fire has been lit. Thank you so very much for your insight!

    1. You’re very welcome, Julio. Glad you enjoyed the post! And thank you for stopping by. The timing of your comment was actually perfect on my end, too, in calling my attention back to this wonderful spirit guide! 🙂

  4. The best Nightjar treatise I’ve seen.

    Returning to my kneeling body from Spiritual Enlightenment, in the same area Carlos Castaneda set his Don Juan books, I found myself at the center of a circle of twelve Nightjars, sitting spaced like the hours of a clock dial, facing inwards towards me. Dusk was not far off, the air warm and still, my eyes wide in wonder at what had just taken place.
    No better welcome-home committee has ever been arrayed.

    Is Spiritual Enlightenment of interest to you?
    Drop by and visit: http://www.crowfeather.net


  5. I wemt camping last week and a nighthawk was chirping at 3am turned out it was chirping to warn me of the 4 grizzly bears that were circling in on our camp site , each time he or she chirped the bear would kinda growl so i was able to know each grizzlies location , after i chased away the bears with gun shots and fire , the night hawk kinda dive bombed me to say hello , now i hear a nighthawk outside my house , my spirit animal ??

  6. I am so glad to have read this. I work with spirit and yesterday to my confusion stood at my back door in complete daylight were 2 Night Jars. I did not even know what they were. (Thanks to my Dad ) they were identified as Night Jars. They stood literally 2 inches from my door. Stood on and in my Dogs bed (just outside the door) walked around etc. They were totally confident and did not leave even when I went outside to give them water. They were with me for a good hour or so .I was a little worried of the message/ prediction but hope now further to reading your article that it was just spirit telling me to be a little grounded but open and keep trying to learn. I have photos of them if anyone wants to see them .
    If anyone has prediction other than what I have discussed I would love to hear from you xxx

    1. Hi Elizabeth, how cool is that? I’d love to see your nighthawk photos – I just enabled comment attachment so if you’d like feel free to post them here. 🙂

  7. I had a dream last night in which a nighthawk looked directly at me and opened its mouth. Other people in the dream also saw the bird but didn’t know what it was, but I immediately knew — even though I have never seen one in real life! I hardly ever look up dream info or spirit animal info, but this one really stuck with me, so here I am. The description of being open to what happens in the “between” times, staying grounded while on the wing, and willingness to take action as well as receive are 100% applicable to my current path in life right now. Thank you for this clarity.

  8. Hello my friend thanks so much for this wonderful expression as I have been so worried about this bird always appearing and disappearing during my drive way. what this really means?

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