Red Cardinal Meaning and Symbolism
February 01, 2024 10 min read

Red Cardinal Meaning and Symbolism

By Lady Saoirse

When you see a red cardinal, you might think it’s a special message from the powers that be. Of course, sometimes, a cardinal just happens to cross your path, but is that the only cardinal bird meaning there is? Join Spiritual Blossom to learn what cardinals are, what they represent, what dreams about cardinals mean, and red bird meaning when it’s a different bird than a cardinal. Read on to learn all about the spiritual meaning of cardinals and what it means when they appear.

When you see a cardinal, its beautiful red feathers and sharp dark eyes might make you think this is a celestial creature that brings messages from beyond. While some people try to lure them to their gardens so they can enjoy their beauty, others hope the cardinal chooses to visit them because it is believed the cardinal brings blessings. Find out what a cardinal is, and whether males or females are the ones with those brilliant colors. Besides what a cardinal is, what do they represent spiritually? What is the meaning of seeing cardinals and what do cardinals in dreams mean? You can even learn about what it means if cardinals are your spirit animal. Read on to find out!

What’s a Cardinal?

What’s a Cardinal?

Cardinals are songbirds that are native to Canada and the Americas. Some experts say there are 53 kinds, and others say there are only three “true” cardinals, and other species of birds are simply referred to as cardinals. Cardinals are members of the finch family of birds and are generally about 9 inches long with a 12-inch wingspan. They can live anywhere from about 3 to 15 years, they like to mate for life, and they don’t like to be alone, so when a mate dies, they find another one. They stay by each other’s sides during mating season, and outside of mating season, hunt and live apart more often, but it’s still not a breakup! To read about breakups see here: Breakups with Each of the Signs

Their signature red feathers are more prominent in male cardinals than females. Interestingly, yellow cardinals are rare, but they exist. It’s a mutation some experts say is caused by them eating more yellow foods than they would usually eat. One rare half yellow, half red cardinal was even spotted that turned out to be a half male and half female bird. Males have brighter red plumage, and females have some red feathers and some gray, tan, or brown. Maybe some people think they are not as pretty as males, but male cardinals do. As a matter of fact, they are so crazy about female cardinals, they impress them during mating by putting seeds directly into their beaks! They can inspire us to want to fly. To read about the significance of flying in dreams, see here: Soaring to new heights: Unveiling the Spiritual Significance of Flying in Dreams

What Do Cardinals Represent?

What does a cardinal represent? It depends on who you ask, but usually, a cardinal is believed to be a good omen. They represent celestial spirits and messages from beyond. They also represent love and fidelity, and all good things in general.



“Cardinals appear when angels are near” is a famous saying. A lot of people believe this. Some people believe that cardinals are angels in disguise and other people believe they bring messages from the angels to us. Some people believe they bring messages from other spirits, our ancestors. It is believed that cardinals are a form our ancestors, most especially the recently deceased, take to watch over us. It is also believed that sometimes, they appear right after their deaths to let us know they are okay and have not forgotten about us. To read about special messages from angels in numbers 555, read here: Your 555 Angel Number Meaning


While cardinals are not the only creatures that mate for life, they are so well known for how they lovingly attend to one another, they represent fidelity. Surprisingly though, some cardinal couples have been known to “divorce” and find new mates. They do like to have mates, but sometimes they decide they want another one, so after mating season, they split, and find new mates when they want to. To read what the Minor Arcana says about love, see here: Minor Arcana Cards for Love

Good Things

Some people believe that cardinals represent good luck and all good things in general. The Cherokee have a myth that the cardinal is the child of the Sun. So for them, when cardinals fly to them, it’s good luck. Cardinals are one kind of bird that don’t migrate to warmer places in winter, and they survive no matter how cold the weather gets. This is why the cardinal is seen as an omen of tenacity and strength by some people, and other people see it as a symbol of hope. Because cardinals adapt to different weather conditions, they are seen as symbols of adaptability, and when they appear, some people believe changes are coming. To see what the Tarot Cards have to say about your future, good and bad, read our quick guide to Tarot meanings: A Quick Guide to Tarot Cards and their Meanings

What Does it Mean When You See a Cardinal?

Sometimes, you see a cardinal because they happen to cross your path, but other times, seeing a cardinal is spiritually meaningful. Sometimes, they bring messages from the dead and other times they tell you that love is on the way. Sometimes, they have especially good news, and that is that bad times and sorrows are ending, and things are about to get better again. 

Messages from the Dead

When cardinals appear, if you feel they bring a message, take a moment to reach out to your ancestors. Chances are they have something to tell you. Has somebody you love recently died? Is it near the death date or birth date of a loved one who passed? Is it right at a special anniversary or has the cardinal appeared to you in a place that was special to somebody you loved who died? The way to discover what the cardinal is trying to tell you if the message isn’t immediately clear is to stop right where you are and say a quick prayer. Say something like “Ancestors, hear me. I see your cardinal bringing messages, but I don’t understand. Please tell me clearly what it is you want me to know. Thank you for visiting me. I love you.” To read about a holiday that honors the dead, see here: All About Samhain

Love is on the Way

Love is on the Way

When cardinals appear, it’s great news about love. No matter what is going on in your love life, cardinals bring messages of love and it’s all good. If you are in a happy relationship, the cardinals are telling you that this is going to be a long-term relationship, and you can count on your loved one’s fidelity. If you are in a troubled relationship, the cardinals are telling you that it is okay to break things off. They find new mates when the time is right, and you are allowed to also. If you are single when cardinals appear, they are telling you that true love is on the way and to open yourself up to the possibility of new love. To read about spiritual love, see here: What is the Spiritual Meaning of Love?

Sorrows are Ending

Sorrows are Ending

If you have been going through bad times, have a broken heart, or are dealing with disappointments in life, cardinals appear with excellent news. They arrive to tell you that bad times are ending and everything is about to get better. So, take heart and get ready for better times, happier days, and kiss your sorrows goodbye. Make sure to leave a gift of thanks to the cardinals for bringing you all this good news. They like suet cakes, seed mixes, and peanuts. If you want to give an especially notable gift of thanks to cardinals, plant a tree or flowers for them. They love dogwood and crabapple trees, and they love sunflowers, purple coneflower, and honeysuckles. To read about zodiac flowers for Libras, see here: What is the Best Libra Flower?

What Does it Mean When You See a Red Bird?

What does it mean when you see a red bird and it’s not a cardinal? Some people believe that red birds in general symbolize the passion of romantic love, but other people believe that each bird has its own meaning. Scarlet tanagers are not to be crossed. In some folklore, they are called “bloodbirds”, and they will bring misfortune upon anybody who harms them. Red parrots are believed to be mediums who communicate with both the living and the spirit realm, and when they appear, it is believed they bring messages from the powers that be, so pay attention because they have important things to say! The scarlet ibis is associated with both courage and the afterlife. So, when you see a scarlet ibis, it is urging you to be brave and to think of what advice your bravest ancestors would give. To read more about blessings done with feathers, see here: What is Smudging? A Beginner’s Smudging Guide

Dreams About Cardinals

What do dreams about cardinals mean? A dream with a cardinal can mean any of the things cardinals traditionally symbolize, but it all depends on what is happening in your dream.

Cardinals Flying Away in a Dream

When you dream of cardinals flying away, it’s a sign that it’s time to move on from a situation. Think of cardinals. They are birds, and birds fly. They have freedom to move through land and sky because of this. You have a lot of personal freedom too, but you have been choosing to tie yourself down instead of moving forward. Take the advice of the beautiful cardinal, and “fly” into your future, and away from your past! One zodiac sign that values its freedom is Sagittarius and you can read about them here: Sagittarius Traits and Love Compatibility

Cardinals Nesting in a Dream

Cardinals Nesting in a Dream

When you dream of cardinals building nests or settling into nests, it means it is time for you to think about setting your own roots down and settling into someplace. Think of what makes someplace feel like home to you and start bringing those things into your personal space. If a job is trying to transfer you out of town and you don’t want to, the dream of nesting cardinals tells you to stay right where you are. Jobs can be replaced. If your cardinal is settling into a nest with another cardinal, and you are single, the dream is telling you that somebody who you can settle down with is coming your way soon! One sign that is serious about home and hearth is Taurus and you can read about them here: Taurus Zodiac Traits and Love Compatibility

Winter Cardinals in a Dream

Cardinals are one type of bird that adapts to all four seasons. They know how to survive heat, cold, rain, and even snow. They forage all four seasons and seem to thrive despite whatever is going on around them. This dream is telling you to adapt and learn to thrive no matter what is going on. If you are going through a spiritually bleak time, change your viewpoint, if you have had an income reduction, look for a different job. If you find yourself alone in a new place, reach out and meet new people. Like the cardinal thrives in winter, you can thrive in tough times if you adapt. One of the toughest signs is Scorpio, and you can read about them here: Scorpio Traits and Love Compatibility

Cardinals Singing in a Dream

When you hear cardinals singing in your dreams, they are sharing happiness with you. Have things been tough or disappointing? Have you worked hard and you want a break but can’t seem to get one? The cardinals are singing in your dreams to tell you to look for happiness in unconventional places. Even when all seems lost, when cardinals sing to you in your dreams, it’s a good omen. There is joy to be found and all you have to do is open yourself to it. That’s great news. One sign known for their love of beauty and happiness is Leo and you can read about them here: Leo Traits and Love Compatibility

Red Cardinal Spirit Animals

Some people believe in spirit animals. They are not pets, but animals who spiritually guide us. Some people go on spiritual journeys to discover what animal is their spirit animal and others believe that they are regularly surrounded by their spirit animal. When cardinals are your spirit animals, they will teach you their strength and spiritual gifts. Their gifts are adaptability and being able to thrive no matter what. They communicate with spirits and ancestors, and they find happiness all around them, even in difficult times. When the red cardinal is your spirit animal, they will help you to excel at these things. Another little creature that might be your spirit animal is the black cat and it can be read about here: The Magic and Superstitions of Black Cats

When cardinals appear, they have special messages for you. They may appear in nature or in dreams, but they bring messages from spirits and ancestors, guidance to adapt, and messages of love and joy. When cardinals appear, they bring luck and blessings, and any day you see a cardinal is a good day!

Would you like to know more about the spiritual meaning of different animals? We have special psychics who can tell you all about it, so get a reading started with a Spiritual Blossom psychic today. Make sure to read all of our articles to learn more about psychic abilities, folklore, magic, astrology, and love.

About the Author: Lady Saoirse has studied magic and lore for most of her life but started walking her own Magical Path after being spiritually reborn in the desert. Today she is a High Priestess for The Temple of the Goddess, she is a psychic advisor and spiritual counselor, she shares her gifts as a Psychic and Content Writer for Spiritual Blossom. She has written for Mysticsense and PaganPagesOrg emag.