Animal Symbolism—Cardinal

Animal Symbolism—Cardinal

A red cardinal is a glorious sight to behold, especially against the backdrop of newly fallen snow, so it was a shock to find this beautiful bird on the kitchen floor of my friend Priscilla’s house instead of perched on her bird feeder. Buzz, her tabby cat, had proudly delivered it to us. Priscilla had invited me and few other good friends over for a brunch when we discovered the dead cardinal.

As a symbol, the bright red color of the bird’s plumage reflects its confident and bold nature. A male cardinal will defend its territory with fierce courage. It is also a good parent, taking care of the female and sharing egg incubation duties. As a totem animal it reminds us to step into our own natural confidence.

Their ruby red color can remind us of our own importance as individuals on the wheel of life. It is a sign to value your gifts, talents and abilities and yourself as a human being.

It can also be a sign to “keep the faith” through difficulties that might appear hopeless.

Micheline happened to have an applique of a red cardinal on her shirt (what a synchronicity huh?) She was at the stove cooking some French toast when she noticed the cardinal. Micheline is an animal lover like myself, as well as an up and coming Spiritual Healer and Medium. It was also a favorite bird of her departed and much loved mother.

As we huddled around the bird trying to figure out what kind of message Mr. Cardinal wanted to impart to all of us, Micheline and I gave the bird some Reiki. I tuned into the Spirit of the dead animal beneath my hands and saw/felt that he was already missing his mate. (I found out later there was a Mrs. C on the bird feeder when Buzz went hunting).

Something that I really dislike about the animal messages that I receive is the delivery method that is used at certain times. Do they really have to die for us to get a message?

The cardinal is very energetic, lively and helpful to others. Where can you inject the same kind of energy into your own life? Color therapy is an excellent way to change your mood, so why not wear some red to uplift your spirits or give yourself an added boost today?

Red also is the color of the root chakra, which grounds us and gives us vitality and energy. A study of this chakra will give you further insights into the cardinal as a totem. I wrote a post about finding a Red Feather that will give you deeper understanding of the color red.

For the past decade I have been keenly aware of my diet and the role that it plays in my overall health. I’ve made many changes since then, and I am always reading or trying something new but I learned that not everything I put in my body is beneficial. I recently discovered that too much of a good thing can actually be bad for me.

Did you know that the cardinal can be a sign to be more careful about what you are eating, as it could be harmful or injurious to your health? I’m certainly taking note of this timely message!

When a cardinal appears in your life, they come with the message to increase the bright colors in your life and remember just how important you really are! Be of good cheer and do something that will bring the bounce back in your step.

Has a cardinal shown up in your own life in some unusual way? What do you think the message could be? Do you like the color red and why? Has there been a recent synchronicity or symbol that you would like to share?



Reconnect to the Incredible Power of Spirit Animals!

Learn how to meet your own Spirit Animal in Discover Your Spirit Animal by Shelley Shayner


Shelley Shayner

Also known as the Artistic Mystic, Shelley is a published author, an award-winning artist, and an intuitive. She has written and illustrated children’s books, adult non-fiction books, and journals. She has a B.A. in Illustration and there is always a painting in progress on her easel; her favorite subject matter is animals, nature, or some kind of fantasy. Shelley is also a spiritual advisor, a Reiki master, and a dream expert. She teaches workshops on Spirit Animals, Dreams, and Art.

  • Jennifer Janssen
    Posted at 14:50h, 16 June Reply

    I always feed my birds on my apartment deck. This morning at around 4 am, I went to the deck and switched on the light as it was dark and went to the food container to get out birdseed. I turn around and I hear a little squeak, It’s a Cardinal right near my short outdoor table. I believe it was a female and I didn’t want to spook it, So I quickly put the seed out and turned around to put the seed away and she flew off. I went inside and told my fiance and I told him I hope she is ok I am so worried. I always tell the birds when I see them that this is their home too the deck is their safe place and they can come anytime. If they need anything to peck on the window/door and they can come in. I say this as I want them to know we will always help them. We are moving in about a month and a half and I have been very upset about leaving the birds. I went to the gym this morning as I left I looked at the lower level to see if the Cardinal was wandering around near the apartment garage. I did not see her so I figured she was ok. I get home pull up in the parking lot and get my things out of the car. Begin to walk up to the sidewalk of the apartment building and in the drive there is a female cardinal laying on her side. Dead. She was stiff and I picked her up and was talking to her trying to get a response unfortunately she had passed. I swear when I pulled up the parking lot she wasn’t there. I carried her upstairs and grabbed a small towel and box. I called my fiance as I was hysterical. I wanted to bury her but we don’t have tools to do so. So he told me to place her out behind the building in the kind of wooded area. I feel horrible I didn’t bury her, and I could not place her in a plastic bag as a wildlife rescue page said. Because they worry about disease spreading. She looked old and thin. And her beak looked a bit strange. I felt bad too because I placed her on a place with leaves and grass but the other birds were singing and the squirrels were talking and a chipmunk came by when I was doing this so I hope they approved. I just came across your website today. Thank you for allowing me to vent. I have been in tears all morning. I wish I could have helped her early this morning I feel so guilty.

  • Rhonda mills
    Posted at 15:17h, 01 May Reply

    My kitty has been missing for 8 days. I was praying to the goddess that I knew she would bring Simba home. I walked into kitchen just now and looked out at shepherd hook that holds a hummingbird feeder. A beautiful red cardinal was on top of the pole just 30 seconds after I prayed to goddess. What do you think of this?

    • Shelley Shayner
      Posted at 20:48h, 04 June Reply

      I’d say it was a message. Did you find your kitty?

  • Nick Vander
    Posted at 18:58h, 20 February Reply

    Hello Shelly,

    I write you from Mexico

    This I was eworking in my house and some point I walk out the house and find a red cardinal dead right in the middle of the step door. I freaked out, thought somebody put it there, was so perfect, harmonious…

    I googled it to find a meaning…

    I spent so special time in Louisville, Kentucky, I have a big flags of cardinal in my studio because that reminds me many good and positivie experiencies and people…

    Im confuse

    Hope you can give some advice

    Love your web


    • Shelley Shayner
      Posted at 16:26h, 28 March Reply

      Hi Nick,
      Thank you for the compliment! My gut feeling is that cardinal is a totem animal of yours. I would sit and meditate and ask it for a message …or you can ask for a message in your dreams 🙂

  • Angela Shepherd
    Posted at 22:00h, 21 November Reply

    I Walked Out To Our Shed To Get Down Our Christmas Lights From The Loft, To See If Any Still Worked Or If We Need New Ones This Year! I Didn’t Notice As Go Into Shed, But , Once I Got Everything Out I Was Looking For, Locked Up Doors. At The Bottom Of The Ramp, , Laying On The Groud Was A Huge Very Red Cardinal Laying Dead On It’s Back. It Made Me Feel Broken Hearted and So Sad! What Could This Mean? If There Is Any Meaning From It, To Be Known?

    • Shelley Shayner
      Posted at 03:53h, 23 December Reply

      It could be a message from a deceased loved one.

  • Renee
    Posted at 23:37h, 11 August Reply

    Can a cardinal come around after the passing of a Pet? I saw one a couple days after putting our 15 1/2 year old dog down.

  • Nicolle
    Posted at 21:36h, 29 July Reply

    Hi Shelly! Earlier today I hit a Cardinal and it got trapped under my car and died. I read your article and understand that a cardinal is a good sign, but to kill it…that cant be good, right? What do you take out of this ?

    • Shelley Shayner
      Posted at 02:13h, 28 August Reply

      I don’t feel it’s a bad omen. Sometimes animals come to us in this way to get our attention, unfortunately!

  • Dorothy
    Posted at 16:56h, 22 July Reply

    I saw a cardinal in the road the other day. It was not dead, but had been hit by a car, and it was flailing its wings and spinning around. I’m wondering about the meaning.

    • Shelley Shayner
      Posted at 12:52h, 24 July Reply

      Hi Dorothy,
      I’m sorry to hear about the poor cardinal! (I sent prayers). The cardinal could mean a lot of things; change of diet, issues about security and survival, or increasing your energy, so I suggest you meditate or pray. Usually, the first thing that comes to you is the right answer.

  • Tim Goff
    Posted at 05:17h, 25 April Reply

    I found a beautiful dead Cardinal in front of a dumpster while taking out the trash. A few weeks ago I found a dead a dead sparrow in my yard that was moved 3 times on the consecutive days until I buried it. Is there a message in all of this that I may be missing? I plan to bury the Cardinal tomorrow when I return to work!

    • Shelley Shayner
      Posted at 14:30h, 26 April Reply

      Hi, The combination of the cardinal and sparrow could mean that this is a very productive time for you and your energy could be increasing. It could also mean that you are opening your heart more.

  • Brenda Venice
    Posted at 19:08h, 07 December Reply

    My brother passed away in April of this year and he was sick for a month before passing. While is was sick I notice a red cardinal in my tree in my yard. Even when he passed a pass away I saw the red cardinal in the morning in the tree, Well today I was heading out to work and found a red cardinal dead near by car door. Any idea what this means?

    • Shelley Shayner
      Posted at 18:00h, 11 December Reply

      Hi Brenda,
      I’m sorry for your loss. I think the message of the cardinal is the same as what I wrote in the article, that it is/was a sign from your dearly departed brother.

  • vickie
    Posted at 15:05h, 25 June Reply

    i went outside this morning and found a dead dry cardinal between my car and my friends car. what does that mean?

    • Shelley Shayner
      Posted at 16:12h, 26 June Reply

      Hi, this could mean many things, but first, take a look at what is going on with your friendship. The cardinal is very energetic, lively and helpful to others. Where can you inject the same kind of energy into your own life or that of the friendship?
      I hope that helps!

  • Alexis Garcia
    Posted at 17:20h, 17 May Reply

    I have never seen cardinals as much as I do now that I am growing spiritually and starting to expand my spirituality. My boyfriend and I were having some issues and first it started with a white rabbit visiting me everyday for a week. Then I started praying more and asking god for guidance and answers and wasn’t no sure what to do or what to feel or believe. Then I started to see 333 everywhere…. then he started sending me cardinals. And I see them every single day. When before, I had never really seen them ever. Now, they’re everywhere! I see 333 and cardinals everywhere I go. And I had read that cardinals can symbolize renewing of relationships and love. So several weeks pass and I am now starting to study the law of attraction. Well, the other day I was having a fabulous, happy day and two cardinals flew into my path and just landed on the street ahead of me. Directly in front of me. I had no time to stop so as I slow down trying to dodge them or hoping they’d fly away, I ended up running one over and it was the saddest thing ever. I honestly have became so connected to cardinals and birds and I felt like a part of me had died. I was a wreck. I felt terrible. :(((( I have been really feeling like great things are coming my way and that everything I desire is almost here and then that happened…. not sure what to think. I also have great intuition that I’ve been trying to sharpen as well. Someone help

  • Lisa
    Posted at 00:45h, 26 January Reply

    The other day my soon to be husband and I along with two neighbors, was in the garage, we had the big door open. We was standing towards the back wall talking and a male cardinal flew in, did 2 complete circles right over my husband’s head and then flew away. What does this mean?

    • Shelley Shayner
      Posted at 02:02h, 07 March Reply

      It feels like it was someone in Spirit sending him a message, or saying hello.

  • Marlene
    Posted at 12:22h, 30 August Reply

    I found an upside down dead red cardinal that must have gotten trapped in netting around our blueberry bushes. It’s freaking me out.

  • Verriffica
    Posted at 16:25h, 29 July Reply

    When I see a Red Cardinal, I always think it is my Mother saying ” hello”
    When I hear or see a Blue Jay, I think it’s my Dad saying ” hello”

    what does a Blue Jay mean ?
    I love your drawings 🙂

    • Shelley Shayner
      Posted at 22:10h, 28 October Reply

      Hi Verriffica,
      Thanks for stopping by! A bluejay symbol according to Ted Andrews can reflect lessons in using your won power properly. It can also reflect lesson in not allowing yourself to be placed in a position in which power is misused against you.
      p.s. Thank you for the compliment on my drawings!

  • Lori kilbourne
    Posted at 17:10h, 25 November Reply

    Saturday night one of my oldest fur babies was hit in front of my home. I was on my way to Cynthianna with my team, and unable to go home when my neighbor called. I buried her Monday with a blanky next to my other love. I have 3 black cats left, and 2 dogs, and 2 rabbits. I know, a lot. I love my animals, they are my children, as well as my 3 children. Last night I made sure all 3 kitties were in, for their safety and my sanity. This morning, I find a deceased male cardinal at my front door. Remind you, all mine are inside. I rarely see any other cats near my home, because of my kitties. I have been feeling very guilty.

  • Kathy
    Posted at 04:37h, 15 October Reply

    On 11/13 9:00am I parked my car in a lot to go into a court house to watch my son be sentenced to three years in prison for mail fraud. As I parked the car a cardinal came to the window and tried to get in the car and then flew away. I get out put my drink in a trash can, get back in the car and the bird is back doing the same thing. I wait until he leaves and I go in.
    11/14 9:00am I go out back of my house to find a cardinal dead on the sidewalk.
    10/15 about a week ago my son got out of prison and came to live with me. Two wrens flew into my home threw an open door. One went to my bedroom and one to my sons bedroom. He got them out of the house. I was not at home. But when he told me I remembered the first two birds. Do you or can you give me any understanding of this?

    • Shelley Szajner
      Posted at 17:14h, 04 November Reply

      I’d say it was a good omen and a sign that Spirit Guides were supporting you in your time of need. Wrens are a blessing in the home.

  • Victoria Marie Lees
    Posted at 13:38h, 09 March Reply

    I’m wearing a red silk blouse today, Shelley. I love red. I always make a wish when I see a beautiful male cardinal in nature. This is a beautiful, poetic post. Thanks for sharing.

    • Shelley Szajner
      Posted at 15:20h, 09 March Reply

      Thank you Victoria! I love red too, and wear it to help balance my blue aura 🙂
      Blessings to you now and always,

Post A Comment