Is a Woodpecker a Sign of Death?

is the woodpecker a symbol of death

Is a woodpecker a sign of death? Yes, it is but this does not necessarily mean the death of the body. This death that the woodpecker symbolizes can be the death of the old self, bad habits, negative beliefs, a phase in your life or even death of the ego.

In some cultures, seeing a woodpecker would almost certainly ‘foretell’ someone’s death. This used to make people very nervous about these birds.

In many other cultures, the woodpecker is a herald of good news and symbolizes a natural connection, fertility, and a sign of progress and abundance.

Ancient Romans saw the woodpecker as a very prosperous sign of fertility and believed it to be a sign of a plentiful season ahead.

The negative symbolism attached to woodpeckers comes mostly from the mythology that believes them to be cursed by God and condemned to a life of destruction.

The burning question is this: is the woodpecker a symbol of death? Let’s find out!

Woodpeckers And Their Meaning Through History

Woodpeckers have found their way into many ancient stories and legends through the centuries.

In European countries, it was thought that woodpeckers were fortune tellers that can foretell a turn of events, whereas Ancient Babylonians and Romans associated the bird with abundance and fertility (not just in bearing children but in bearing abundant crops).

Both ancient Greek and ancient Roman mythologies contained stories of deities that transformed into woodpeckers as they passed on from this life..

Some believe that woodpeckers were once carpenters and beekeepers who worked on the Sabbath – the day of rest as declared by God.

As punishment for their restlessness, God turned them into woodpeckers so that they could never stop working on wood.

In Slavic tradition, woodpeckers are somewhat dark and mysterious. Eastern Slavic folklore considers woodpeckers to be associated with death and misfortune.

They believe that wood that has been touched by these birds is unfit to use for building houses and other infrastructure – though it could be used to light huge fires.

A black woodpecker, in particular, was said to be a premonition for illness, death, and bad luck.

Some believe that woodpeckers possess a type of magical grass that opens all doors, including the gates to the underworld.

Is a woodpecker a sign of death in these cultures? Yes, but even worse as they represent a descent into the underworld beyond death – that what most people call hell.

Facts About Woodpeckers

In order to fully understand some of the symbolic associations to woodpeckers, there are a few facts about them worth noting.

Though they don’t make vocal harmonies, they can chirp and produce alarm calls for other birds but unlike other birds they don’t ‘sing’.

Their drumming motion is also a form of communication. Male woodpeckers use this motion to attract mates and establish their territory.

Woodpeckers are constantly hammering away and many believe that they are cursed. Unlike most birds who are freely flying and roaming the skies, this poor bird is just hammering away at tree trunks.

A woodpecker’s skull is highly cushioned to protect their brains from their persistent drumming.

They can take a lot of ‘knocks’ and are quite resilient in this regard.

They are generally exposed to many more dangers than many other birds – not just dangers from their wood pecking but also from predators stalking them while they are not paying attention.

Woodpecker Symbolisms – The Meaning Associated To Woodpeckers

Is seeing a woodpecker a sign of death? Yes, it could be but it is only one of many possible meanings of having an encounter with this mysterious bird.

Becoming aware of the symbols manifesting around you will help you make better decisions.

We have to be present and aware of what’s happening around us. A woodpecker’s rhythmic knocking signifies a forward march – it could be fate beckoning you forward in pursuit of your goals.

For instance, a woodpecker’s constant or timely appearance may hint that a change is coming your way.

A woodpecker and its characteristic pecking motions represents new opportunities that may come knocking on our (figurative) doors.

Seeing a woodpecker’s most common meaning and association is to indicate progress and opportunity in your life.

It could also mean that something needs your immediate attention, and communication is needed to attract and manifest what you truly want.

The persistent knocking could also be interpreted as a warning in some cases.

This is why so many people believe that seeing a woodpecker is a sign of death. This can be a sign of your own death, that of someone close to you or even just an acquaintance.

The meaning of seeing a woodpecker goes much deeper than that though.

It can also mean the death of…

  • the death your old self – you need to reinvent yourself
  • the death of habits and beliefs that are holding you back
  • the death (or end) of a relationship
  • the death (or end) of a phase in your life
  • the death of your ego to be more spiritual

The upper part of these noble creatures’ heads is covered in red feathers, which is why some cultures associate it to fire.

Some go as far as to say that woodpeckers are heralds of fire. Perhaps this is why the wood they’ve munched on makes for such terrific firewood.

An encounter with a woodpecker in nature can symbolize the need for you to connect with others again.

If you’ve been withdrawn and removed yourself socially and/or emotionally from friendships and relationships then seeing a woodpecker encourages you to reconnect.

The woodpecker is associated with such deep connections with the natural world, so it’s only practical to believe that the universe is sending you signals to enjoy life with other living beings.

The universe is rarely wrong, but sometimes you could misread the signs that it’s giving you.

The Woodpecker – More Than an Omen

Apart from being a harbinger of death, the noble woodpecker also symbolizes more positive notions such as the search for knowledge.

It is believed that their constant knocking and foraging can be likened to a scientist’s persistent search for the truth.

Widely considered a clever bird, the woodpecker represents intelligence, resourcefulness, and wisdom.

Like a beating heart, the drumming motion of a busy woodpecker is also associated with the spiritual rhythmic energy of life.

The steady pace at which they move embodies the will of the spirit – be it human, animal, and every other kind of spirit. It represents the will to live, to create, to prosper, and to discover.

Does Dreaming of a Woodpecker Foretell Death?

Dreams of a woodpecker can be unsettling for some people. Though the steady drumming sound they make may be peaceful for some, they can cause anxiety in others.

People with already troubled minds may associate the drumming sound with the insistent nagging of their problems.

What others perceive as calming music may be heard as a warning noise for some.

Instead of dismissing the woodpecker as a symbol of death and misfortune, it should be taken as a sign to step back and review your surroundings.

The persistent pecking noise can indicate that the mind is too full and might implode from stress.

Thus, you have to take a break from the beat and just let your mind rest. Once you do so, you will find that the woodpecker’s motions no longer come across as annoying or insistent.

Cultural Meanings and Symbolisms of Woodpeckers

Native American symbolism portrays woodpeckers as protectors of their surroundings and their family. Their energy and perseverance indicate their will to preserve the dignity of their natural habitat.

Native Americans also believe that woodpeckers symbolize mother nature’s heartbeat and that adorning a woodpecker feather allows them to communicate with supernatural forces on earth.

In Christianity, the uncanny anatomy of the woodpecker is thought to be proof of an all-knowing, amazing God.

Early Christians believed that only God could design a creature so unique and resilient and that its presence here on earth should serve as a testimony to God’s greatness.

A woodpecker in one’s dreams could mean a financial loss in early Christian circles. This is similar to other cultures’ beliefs about a woodpecker’s appearance indicating misfortune is a sign of death.

Death: The Meaning of Seeing a Woodpecker

Is the woodpecker a sign of death? In some cases it certainly is and many cultures believe that to be true.

There are however many potential meanings.

Being astute as to how your decisions affect you will help you decide which of these meanings to give to a woodpecker dream.

You know yourself better than anyone, so you are more than equipped to act on what you think is best.

Trust your intuition to guide you on what meaning is most relevant to you.

All in all, the appearance of a woodpecker or lack thereof can be interpreted as a guide on how to push forward.

If you wholeheartedly feel that the good bird is leading you to prosperity, take it as a “go signal” for your goals.

However, if the woodpecker you see is a sign of death, you have to take precautions and heed it as a warning.

Consider it an insurance plan from the universe where they send you somewhat confusing signals before you make a life-changing decision so that you’ll be more than sure to make the right call.

Lastly, I want to point out that no sign can lead to your (or anyone’s) death. The spiritual meanings of seeing spirit animals are often symbolic and there to guide you.

Seeing these signs are usually there to help and guide you and to help steer you on a certain path through life.

The universe has countless means and ways to send you messages and to guide and direct you.


With a passion for spirituality, self discovery, and understanding this life, Neod spends his time musing about what is, what could be and what might come about. After writing for 20 years he's still growing, learning, exploring and sharing with love, joy and compassion.

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