Cardinal Symbolism

Cardinal symbolism finds relevance in a world where symbolism is a reality. As a tree would symbolize life and vitality so would a running water symbolize progress. Human society sees certain objects, images or events as a sign for much bigger circumstances. They believe that in every situation, nature is trying to communicate spiritual matters to us or even remind us of what we’ve forgotten.


A cardinal bird is a songbird that comes from the cardinalidae family of passerine birds. This bird is also called the red bird because it is of a bright red color. When in captivity, red cardinals can live for up to 15 years. They are beautiful birds that always get attention.

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Cardinal birds are about 8 to 9 inches long and they weigh between 1.5 to 1.8 ounces. To crown it all, bright red cardinals are omnivorous animals that feed on both plants and animals. However, the cardinal bird is famous for the symbolism that surrounds it.

The word “Cardinal” originates from the Latin word “Cardo” which means “something important” or a “hinge”. These birds are even seen as spiritual messengers to man sent from God. Also, this red bird is known for the high level of commitment to its loved one as their pairs mate for life. Despite being beautiful red birds, they stick with their loved ones during mating season and are used to remind humans of the importance of faithfulness.

There is a general belief that when you see a cardinal, it serves as a communication to a loved one or even as a sign that you need to break free from restrictions in life. Cardinal symbolism revolves around the bright red color of the bird, the songs and the general features of the cardinal as a whole.

Read till the end to discover all that the cardinal bird symbolizes.

Biblical Meaning Of Cardinals

This animal has a biblical meaning that is associated with receiving a message from God.

Also, a large percentage of people believe that the red cardinal symbolizes the death of Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for mankind. Another meaning ascribed to it is that God tells people through the red cardinal to be hopeful even in trying times.

Cardinal symbolism

However, whenever you see the red cardinal bird, you might want to put your skeptical notions because it does mean something important. Throughout the bible, the bird has been used to send a message to mankind from God. This sign is a good one because God used birds to symbolize his love and care for humanity.

Also, the red cardinal is seen as a symbol for the Holy spirit especially with the cardinal red color that symbolizes the fire of this spirit. In the spirit world, it symbolizes the nature of Jesus that gives life to men.

The Roman Catholic Church also has high officials that wear bright red robes. These red robes are a sign that the cardinals are willing to shed their blood in service just like Christ did. This is a message that some people believe is part of the red cardinal symbolism.

Native American Symbolism

The North Americans believe that when you see a red cardinal, it is trying to let you know about a spiritual activity. They believe that an animal as graceful as this red bird has close ties to their ancestors. Therefore, whenever a window is open the spirit, their loved ones on the other side would send the cardinal bird as a messenger to them.

Also, the average native American sees cardinals as representation for devotion, commitment to your loved one and of course, monogamy. Native Americans also see cardinals as harbingers of rain, good fortune and sun with this red bird. They see cardinals as a symbol for healthy relationships as they sing duets for each at trying times and they stay with family throughout the year.

Cardinal symbolism

In addition, the native American folklore sees the cardinal as an animal that serves as a sign for romance, companionship and quality friendship. They believe that seeing cardinals means that you soon catch the attention of a loved one that would offer both love and meaning to your life.

Another symbolic aspect of this cardinal red color is that they usually lay 12 eggs and the native American believes that 12 is a number that represents good luck. Cardinals are also found 12 months in a year, they do not go into hibernation of hiding. Seeing cardinals according to them means that you would find good luck within either 12 hours, days including 12 midnight and 12 noon.

Cardinal As Power Animal

Many times, people know their areas of weaknesses and where they need help. This is why they use the cardinal as a power animal in times like these. On the day you want to travel or move to a new location, you can power from the male cardinal in the way they protect their territory. However, you might need to watch out for some windows.

Another area where you can channel from cardinals is if you are someone that easily has mood swings. The cardinal is a source of inspiration for those who find it hard to communicate with their partners or family. Based on the way they live their own lives, you can learn to be devoted to your own love partners taking the cardinal as a power animal.

A cardinal as a power animal represents responsibility, preparedness, clarity, uniqueness and most importantly, improved communication. If you know the cardinal as a power animal, you can learn from it and implement its wonderful features to work for yourself.

Cardinal As Totem Animal

Those who have cardinal as their totem animal maximize it any day when they are depressed or sad. Cardinals are known for their brightness that represents happiness.


Also, this animal is popular for their ability to stand through tough times. You would find cardinals in all seasons standing tall even in the most precarious times. They are known for their resilience and ability to stand out at every occasion. With the cardinal as your totem animal, you would exhibit these characteristics and also love your home.

Cardinal As Spirit Animal

A cardinal may also be seen as a spirit animal. Many people believe that seeing cardinals is a spiritual symbolism that love would soon find you. They believe that love would soon come into your life and that the experience would be as beautiful as cardinals. This is what the Spirit is trying to tell you with this animal.

As a spirit animal, another cardinal symbolism is that of finding comfort in being different and distinct from your peers. 

Cardinal symbolism

The red color is an easily noticeable one that is rare among birds, this means that every time you see one, you should remember to be true to yourself regardless of any pressure that might come with it. The cardinal represents a reminder that you should fight against every insecurity that you might have.  This is the one that your loved ones who are on the other side send their message to you so you may reach your many goals with determination.

What does it mean to see a cardinal?

When you see a cardinal, it can have many meanings. Seeing cardinals may represent a time for renewal, this is asserted by their bright red feathers in winter. It may mean that you are about to come into a new dimension of your life, it could be love, a time to experience good luck, a window for new opportunities.

However, seeing one of these animals may mean that you are about to build solid relationships like the cardinals who are known for their close family ties. You have to take note of the position that a cardinal takes because it says a lot about the meaning of their appearance.

Whether they are sitting or standing is one thing to take note of also you should pay attention to the areas where you find them. Seeing this spirit animal might mean you need to increase your level of creativity or make aggressive changes.

Is seeing a cardinal a good sign?

Most times, seeing a cardinal is a good sign. It can serve as a sign for good luck, pride, compassion, brilliance, magnificence, bold energy, hopefulness, nobility, self-respect and many others. People across history have identified the various ways cardinals if paid attention to, mostly represent a good sign.

However, like every other symbolic material in existence, the cardinal can also represent a bad omen. Many people believe that when a cardinal hits the window of your house that the spiritual meaning is always bad. You would recognize the bad omen right away because it would stand out like the bright red color of a cardinal.

Other people actually believe that finding a cardinal hitting itself on your window cannot cause death. They have come to the conclusion that the cardinal just saw its reflection on the window, thinking it was another bird, it started to attack itself by continually hitting itself on the window. Their belief is that when people die, it has nothing to do with cardinals.

Generally, the good meaning attributed with seeing cardinals far outweighs the bad. Although you might want to take finding this animal on your window seriously because they are spiritual messengers.


There are many meanings as to why God would send a cardinal to you in your dream. Since the beginning of time, God has been using dreams as a means to communicate with mankind, the experience with cardinals is no different. God uses dreams to send important and crucial messages to us just the way he sent it to Joseph in the bible.

However, there are symbolic meanings attached to finding a cardinal in your dream. These are the meanings that would be discussed to answer this question. One meaning is God is telling you at that time to follow your passions. The sign is that you should do away with fears, overthinking and insecurity but rather you should take big steps that would lead to your happiness.

Another meaning that can be ascribed to such situation is that the dream is a sign from a dead relative contacting you from the spirit world. However, many like to interpret the dream within the confines hope, love and following one’s passion. Also, when you dream of a cardinal, you may just be about to enter passionate episode of romance as bright as the color of a cardinal.

There are certain physical properties of a cardinal that you need to take into consideration in order for you to recognize it even in your dream. A cardinal has a large crest standing uprightly on its head, so you should be on the look out for this feature. Another thing to take note of is their thick bill that is very heavy.

Male cardinals are entirely red in color while their females are somewhat grayish or brown, however their tails and feathers are red color. Also, you would know a cardinal in your dream by the large mask that it has over the face and throat. The bill of a cardinal is shaped like a cone.

When your dream is filled with a bird that fits these descriptions, you should know that you have just dreamt about a cardinal. The next step for you is to clearly analyze the dream in order to decipher the message that is in it.

Cardinals like to chirp for various reasons, they do this both to communicate to their fellow birds that predators or humans who can harm them are around. Based on their love and concern for family, they alert them and fly away to safety. This is one of the reasons why they chirp.

Another reason is that a cardinal is a songbird, telling it not to chirp would be almost like telling it not to fly. This singing is what both males and females do for their mates that is why a cardinal is easily classified as a noisy bird.

In mating season, a cardinal chirps or sings in order to attract a mating partner. They do this meaning to find a bird to mate and brood with. Once the female is satisfied with the male singing, they go on to mate. Cardinals are popular for the major and active role they play when their young ones are born. Both the male and female members of the family are involved.

There is a general notion that when you see a cardinal, an angel is near. The belief is that the cardinal is there to remind you of a departed loved one.

People believe that a cardinal in your yard means that you have gotten a visitor from heaven. Whenever people see this bird, they think of the ones they’ve lost and imagine if there is a way to leave a reply to the spiritual message that was sent to them. This quote that “when cardinals appear angels are near” is a popular one used to remember the dead.


Symbolism is a major part of human history that has formed superstitions, beliefs and cultural identity for people globally. The cardinal is yet another bird that fits into this symbolic aspect of life that gives hope to the living that their loved ones who are dead can actually communicate with them.

Also, the cardinal bird helps the human society to believe that there is more to life beyond what the eye meets. It allows us to look deeper into things and situations surrounding us for a deeper meaning that would shape our perspectives about life.

As a bird, the cardinal can easily be classified as attractive as it is unique among other birds especially with its bright red color. The cardinal symbolism serves as an inspiration for humans to imbibe quality values in life which includes building quality and passionate relationships. By looking at cardinals, you are reminded of aspects of life that are important to your general existence like family, commitment and relationships as a whole.

Over the space of many years, different areas have ascribed their personal meaning to the cardinal both in religion and culture. Cardinals have emerged in community folklores as formidable characters that help humans find loving relationships and romance.

Also, cardinals are animals teach the human community to follow the signs in most occurrences and ways that God uses his creatures to pass across messages. Generally, the vibrant and bright color of this bird reminds humans to make the most of their lives to the state where they fulfil their goals, dreams and aspirations in life. Overall, cardinal symbolism allows you to have f in something bigger than yourself which is the spiritual realm rather than just the physical.

Author Profile

Gabriel Tackett
Double major in Engineering and Geology at the University of Minnesota. Experienced shooter & hunter for over 15 years. Certified NRA officer for over 10 years working as a writer at .

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