What Is the Symbolism of Sparrows?

Given the social nature of sparrows, the sight of a lone sparrow is, in the Bible, a symbol for great loneliness and isolation. In fact, sparrows are frequently mentioned in the Bible, often as a catch-all term for a number of different bird species. In Luke 12:4-7, for example, Jesus uses the sparrow as a symbol of apparent insignificance, explaining that God cares deeply about all of creation, even the fate of this tiny creature.

In Greek mythology, the sparrow was associated with Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, love and joy. In the second century Roman text, "The Golden Ass," which was written by Apuleius, a flock of chattering sparrows serves, among other birds, as an escort for the goddess' chariot.

Before the People's Republic of China selected the red-crowned crane as its national bird, the sparrow was considered an option. For many, the fact that this species of bird would rather starve itself to death than be bred in captivity shows great spirit. Sparrows are also perceived as a symbol of humility, their feathers being simple and unadorned compared with those of many other birds. Together with their symbolic associations of strength, vitality and perseverance, it was thought that this would make the sparrow an appropriate symbol of the Chinese people — despite the fact that Mao Zedong attempted to eradicate these birds in the 1950s.