Update! Here is an excerpt I found:
Tattoo Design Directory, Vince Hemingson
The swallow heralds the coming of spring and happiness, and is thus a symbol of hope. For some it is a symbol of fertility and renewal, a harbinger of good and a symbol of transformation. For the pilgrim to Mecca, the swallow is the symbol of constancy and faith. Swallows mate for life and therefore represent fidelity and loyalty, but in Japan they can also represent betrayal. In China the swallow symbolizes daring, danger and a change for good in the future. For more than a century, the swallow has been a favorite tattoo motif for sailors because a swallow at sea is usually a sign that land is near. A swallow with a dagger through its heart is a memorial for friends lost at sea.
1 March 2009:
As I said in a recent post, I'm leaning towards a tattoo of a bird (likely a sparrow) more so than that of a butterfly. Here are some images I like:
I don't care for the feather edges in the wings, but other than that, I like this one.
These ones have "broad shoulders," if you will, but they're okay. I like the flock idea, but won't be getting more than one to start with.
I haven't decided on whether I want to get a full silhouette or have some outlining as these ones have. Hmm... I'm leaning towards full silhouette.
Although, these ones are really cool. Having some outlining allows for some more detail. The detail might not be feasible if the size of the tattoo I want is too small.
For an outlined tattoo I like this one the best. The shape of the bird isn't awkward like in some of the above, I like just the fringe of the wings being detailed, and most of the tattoo is silhouetted.
If I clipped out the one bird I liked most, then the image would be too small. The one I like is the dark brown bird on tan paper; it's identical to the tan bird on white paper. It's my favorite of the full silhouettes.