In the Native American culture, symbols that carry birds or animals in them basically carry the meaning and essence of spiritual helpers or guides. The entire meaning obviously varies amongst the different symbols or animals but the root meaning remains the same.
The owl symbol, in particular, is a sign of a bad omen. A bad omen means something unlucky which can be a sign of a forthcoming problem which might be faced by someone. According to some of the legends and myths which are present in the Native American Culture, the owl symbol is considered to be the symbol of death. If we look at the owl, it is a creature of the night and is not witnessed in the day; the Native American Indians associated it with the supernatural. Another belief linked to the owl is that the circles around the eyes of the owl are believed to be caused by the fingernails of ghosts.
The owls were also believed to be messengers from beyond the grave who would basically deliver a warning to the people who had undergone broken tribal taboos. Even if an owl was heard hooting, that too was considered to be a bad omen. Many tribes such as the Pueblo People, including the Hopi tribe linked owls with their belief in witches. This belief further has the association with the feathers of the owls keeping a very sinister significance.
Each symbol of the Native American Indians carried a very deep meaning to them as it was the only communication means from one generation to next to pass on the messages and cultures of their basic beliefs. The portrayal of celestial bodies and animals had a different meaning to them regarding the association of its characteristics further giving birth to many tales and legends liked to them.