Cardinal Animal Symbolism and Meaning

Cardinal Totem

One of my favorite animal totems is the cardinal. The cardinal medicine includes:

  • Courtship
  • Fatherhood.
  • Realizing the power of the wind.
  • Discovering the song of your being.
  • Renewed Vitality through Recognizing Self-Importance.
  • Cycle of Power: Year-Round (often with rhythm of 12-hours, days, months, and years).

I love it when the cardinal visits with their distinctive and loud chirping. The hawk is also one of my totem animals and introductions were made by two cardinals, a male and female. How? Loud persistent chirping of the two cardinals that did not stop until I stepped out on my back porch. I was trying to write until I realized they had been both chirping for a very long time and so loud it sounded like they were right outside by back door. Once on my back porch the cardinals immediately stopped chripping and just sat silently starring at me and before I could think anything of it I saw the hawk sitting on an adjacent part of the fence. I immediately felt my heart chakra speed up. I had that morning asked God for a sign of something that had been on my mind. Once I spotted the hawk the cardinals job seemed to be done an they flew off and left me and the hawk alone…me frozen in awe never having seen a hawk that close up before and feeling so blessed in that moment.

But now doesn’t that all make sense since the cardinal is known for their loud whistle, a whistle that penetrates the air with sharp distinct tones. They demand our attention, urging us to hear what is carried through the air. So when the cardinal appear in your life it is time to pay attention for starters.

And what about the male cardinal versus the female cardinal? The male is the almost all red brightly beautiful of the two. Often whistling together this reflects the need to integrate our male and female characteristics into our day to day life. Feminine energy is linked to intuition; Male energy to perseverance. If both are operating within our life, our intuitive knowledge has the perseverance and strength necessary to manifest our goals and dreams. So you need to also note whether you are receiving a visit from the male cardinal, female cardinal, or both.

What I find most interesting about the female cardinal is that her eggs hatch 12 days after they are laid. This, along with the cardinal’s year-round residency, reflects the rhythm of the number twelve. The number twelve often has important significance for those with this totem. It can indicate a turn of events or a life changing situation. When the cardinal flies into your life expect a change to occur within 12 days, 12 weeks, 12 months or at the hour of 12. Because this bird is a year-round resident, its medicine is available at all times and should be used by those with this totem whenever a need arises.

Also note the cardinals eating habits. They eat decaying weeds and injurious insects. So the cardinal appearing to you could also be a clue to check your eating habits. Is there a reason to receive this type of warning? Past life ties to overindulgence or the consumption of poisonous substances is often linked to cardinal medicine people. Extra care should be given to the blood and circulatory system and that ties into the bright red blood color of the cardinal which is very symbolic.

Red represents the blood or life force of the Mystic Christ. In yoga circles this vital force is known as the kundalini. The kundalini lies dormant within us until activated by a disciplined spiritual practice. Once activated spiritual power can be attained. The cardinal offers safe passage into the world of personal power for those who ask for its help.

Cardinals are named for the cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church with their bright red robes. A great love or a strong dislike for religion and churches is common amongst cardinal medicine people and can indicate a past life connection with one or both.

Cardinals brighten the environment. They catch the eye and add color to our lives. When they appear as a totem, they do so to remind us to become like them. Add color to your life, and remember that everything you do is of importance.


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  1. Hi! I have a female cardinal that has been flying into my mothers old bedroom window since the day she died. This has been consistenly happening for the last 8 months
    Can u tell me what the meaning is?? Thank u

  2. Megan says:

    Is there any meaning to red cardinals flying in front of my car? happened frequently for weeks, then slowed down…..then occasionally over time it now happens…..makes me smile :-)

  3. My husband said the last two nights a female cardinal keeps tapping
    on the kitchen window while cooking dinner
    tonight i wintnessed this beautiful. bird and male cardinal wad
    on the porch when she was done tapping she flew to the male
    he got a bug a fed it to her
    it was the most amazing site
    what is the message here?

  4. Sherry Andrea says:

    You have more symbols than just the cardinal to interpret. If you told me this, without you telling me what is going on in your life I would tell you that you are going through a spiritual transformation and you are consciously aware of it. Of course I know now that you are consciously aware of it because you told me that you went to a spiritual workshop so what is going on with you is not something you are totally unaware of. Where did I get that info from? The cardinal respresent often something spiritual. It was dead and the meaning of death is about cycles and often interpreted as the end of something and the beginning of something (transformation) and then it was on your porch…front porch? I would interpret as being out front and in the open o r back porch I would say mean something about being subconscious, secret or hidden…like being unaware of it.

    The key is to interpret all the symbols 1)the bird the cardinal 2)is it male or female because that can add to the interpretation 3) front or back porch/location 4) what is it doing, dead, alive, chirping up a storm trying to get your attention, etc?

    So as you can see there is more than just the type of bird itself to be interpreted.


  5. Okay I see different meanings from everyone about a Cardinal. I had a dead cardinal on my porch this morning after a particularly powerful spiritual workshop. I see different meanings for a live cardinal – does a dead one mean the opposite? Not sure what to think of it.

  6. Marishka says:

    They are pretty but way too noisy.They are loud and obnoxious.I do not like them at all.They poop all over our cars in our driveway.How do I get rid of them nicely?

  7. Sherry Andrea says:

    Okay, I am passing it on however be careful because this is not always true for everyone and too many times I have seen people freak out or be worried because they saw something they translate as bad or dark. I am the example of that…for me the cardinal does not bring a message of death, the crow does and that is because for me the cardinal does not mean death and so spirit knows that if they want to send me a warning that death is imminent would they use a symbol that for me they know means something else. Ahhhh so that is why I say be careful thinking a symbol is universal, across the board, for everyone…otherwise psychic and mediums would not take so many years to become skilled learning to translate the symbols they sense.

  8. Wildflower says:

    Okay. SInce this has been proven to me time and time again, I am going to pass it on to all of you seeking out the “message” of Cardinal. They are messengers, usually of death I have found. When they are bickering outside, it could relate to your relationship or someone else’s in close proximity to you. I have found the sighting of Cardinal to be a bad omen, a direct warning that someone is in grave danger. If Cardinal stares at you without anything to say, they are telling you that someone or something has died. It creeps me out every time I see one. Example: when those two Cardinals were bickering relentlessly outside my veranda for four days non-stop. When I checked to see if they were around, they were in a tree under my veranda staring at me in complete silence with fear in their eyes. My neighbor that day had been “shot” the word was self-inflicted yet she shot herself through a pillow to muffle the sound…? And her ‘boyfriend’ never cried- Second incident my dear friend was describing how still this Cardinal was one day outside his window, it said nothing and stared at him. I warned him that it was an Omen, that someone had died. I told him of the two Cardinals that were bickering then the woman in my building was found dead that day when they were silent. How yellow police tape surrounded our building steps. He called me 20 minutes after I left his house frantic. He said after I left he went outside to get the mail and there he saw the yellow tape around the stairs just as I had experienced and sure enough they found a man dead in his apartment who had been there for a few days. Please, please be very careful when Cardinal comes to you. There is a serious message they are delivering and it is about a death.

  9. angelina says:

    i was walking outside to check the mail im always checking it at 2:30 to see if my fiance has wrote me a letter from ft benning, anyways as i was walking back into the house i stopped to see a cardinal chasing after a smaller bird. i thought it was pretty cool, i think ive heard that if some one sees a cardinal it may or may not mean something…does it?

  10. Tand B says:

    I have a Beautiful Red bird that sits on a wire right outside my bedroom window, in the morning and in the late evening and sings. I believe in some times you are sent signs for maybe some reason. Mine has always been butterflies. One time as I was having my daily walk I always had my devotional and prayer while I walked I was encircled by butterflies. This was about 15 years ago. Now I have this bird every day. Would love to know what it means if anything….Any thoughts?

  11. Karin says:

    After my dad died in August, a male Cardinal started landing on my windowsill and tapping on it until I looked up and acknowledged him. He continues to do this on a regular basis. I like to think it’s either my dad or that my dad sent him, since my dad had red hair. Today happens to be my wedding anniversary and the Cardinal came to visit me again. I looked out the window and in the tree outside my window, I saw not just the male cardinal, but the female Cardinal as well. Maybe my mom and dad wishing me a happy anniversary? :) (And strangely enough, it’s our 21st anniversary – could the 21 be a backwards 12?)

  12. A Cardinal literally flew into my driver side window when I parked at work today. He then flew safely and pirched on a fence in front of my car. I had been feeling really down this morning, missing my “happy-go-lucky” self. I have also started a yoga, so i am very excited to see what the Cardinal has in store for me. Hopefully nothing bad. Last time I had a morning dove come into my life, and I lost my beloved dog companion of 17 years. I am expecting changes for the better! Plus in 12 days my daughter turns 6, and in even less days than that, we will welcome 2012! I am claiming this year as my year for change for the better!

  13. Thank you for such a beautiful description of Cardinal symbolism. I’ve always believed in the connectivity of all species and have researched various animal symbolism in the past. I recently searched cardinals because I’ve had multiple cardinals playing dare-devil with me. On numerous occasions within the past two weeks a male cardinal has flown in front of my car, appearing to either be racing me or playing with me. I’m not sure what this meaning is as it seems cardinal symbolism can mean a variety of things. Nonetheless, it always gets my attention and makes me giggle every time. Maybe that is the reason? I have noticed that I’ve been happier, more energetic, and have been more positive about my goals lately. Thank you again.

  14. Heather says:

    I noticed a month or two ago a pair of cardinals. They were so beautiful. A couple days later I saw another pair. A couple weeks later I saw another. I am not sure if it is the same pair or not. The sitings were spread out over a couple of miles at least. I kept thinking to myself that I should look up their significance. Today I did, and found your site.

    I find it interesting that I have been struggling with my Food my whole life. I have tried every diet and even attended Overeaters Anonymous meetings in the past. Last year I went through lap band surgery, and I am still struggling with my weight. Last week a flyer for an OA weekend retreat appeared at my work. I could not afford the retreat, but I felt compelled to go. The following day, and aunt I never speak to, called me. She asked if I still went to OA meetings (having seen me at one over a year ago). I explained that I had not been to them in a while. She told me of the OA retreat that weekend, and how she could not make it. She offered me her spot (paying my full tuition for the weekend).

    Today is day 4 of Abstinence in the OA program, the two cardinals popped into my head, I found your site… and to quote…

    “Also note the cardinals eating habits. They eat decaying weeds and injurious insects. So the cardinal appearing to you could also be a clue to check your eating habits. Is there a reason to receive this type of warning? Past life ties to overindulgence or the consumption of poisonous substances is often linked to cardinal medicine people. Extra care should be given to the blood and circulatory system and that ties into the bright red blood color of the cardinal which is very symbolic.”

    Thank you!

  15. Todd Eversen says:

    I have had cardinals flocking around me for the past year, everyday in the morning, pairs that seem to be there more to bring me into the day then to give me direction. My brother and guide is the Red Tailed Hawk and the introspective medicine is stronger than I have ever experienced. In the past they have always come as mated pairs but today there was only a male.
    I ended a relationship yesterday placing the feather of its innocence In the East on my wheel of life. In walking with the other person I honored her spirit in song to Grandmother Moon. At the end of the song the world became still and a pair of Brown Hawks flew low out of the East calling to one another. They separated, the male flying West the female sitting in the North.
    This is a long winter night lodge story but wanted to take the time to let you know your spirit is appreciated and want others to know the power in the respect of all things. I am able to stand before Creation today in honor and in integrity and see now that it will be a path that will require me to perceiver. Thank You

  16. Sherry says:

    Your Welcome! That must be a beautiful site to see. Real attention getting. Obviously someone thinks just a couple of cardinals would not have gotten your attention. Sherry

  17. Devorah says:

    I just moved into a new home & notice that several cardinals were landing in my yard outside my kitchen window & immediately asked myself what does this mean? It was more males than females & I knew there was something I needed to know. I haven’t really figured out why they keep showing up, but your site has given me insight. Thank you

  18. Yes — a male cardinal was knocking on my office window. I just started working there for the third time in ten years but in a new position. Any way — I kept hearing knocking at the window, looked out and saw a cardinal in a tree. It came back to the window and knocked again and again. I thought it was going to kill itself trying to fight the window. He left after a couple of minutes and did not return.

    The episode unnerved me a little bit. The next morning I dreamed that Sharon Stone died. This may be because I was watching a show concerning death, I really don’t know. I looked up Sharon Stone, cardinal and death and there was no real correlation.

    Eventually I came to your site. Reading the symbolism of the cardinal helps. It was a male so I think I have some clue why he was trying to get my attention until I turned around and watched him.

    Thanks much for your site!

  19. What a great resource!



  21. I’ve noticed your website a while ago, just recently did i start noticing it more and more. Very useful information, thank you and keep it coming.

  22. Very nice site!

  23. Sherry says:


    Awesome! Thank you for sharing and I am always excited to hear what someone is paying attention to the signs and symbols.


  24. Laura Pennino says:

    I looked up the symbolic meaning of the Cardinal today after a male and femail were flying very close to me on Saturday at the same time a male friend called to say that he had been thinking of me and was concerned that something ws going on in my life to cause him to feel such a strong urge to call me. He was reading my spirit correctly: I was very disappointed about a change in a very important relationship with a special man. Today, a male Cardinal was loudly tapping on my window. I love that the part about blending masculine and feminine energy to manifest our dreams. I am focused on making all of my important dreams a reality – this year or soon thereafter so the Cardinal’s appearance was especially timely.


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