What Does It Mean When You See A Red Cardinal? Symbolism & Meaning Explained

Last Updated on January 13, 2021

A Cardinal is a Passerine bird from the family Cardinalidae that is scientifically called Cardinalis Cardinalis, they are also called Cardinal-Grosbeaks and Cardinal-Buntings sometimes.

They are 8-9 inches long and weigh 1.5-1.8 ounces. Cardinals live up to 15 years in the wild and can be found in both North and South America.

Seeing a cardinal meaning, the sight of a cardinal in a time of hardship or celebration may not be really true for some, but if it brings good vibes or lifts your spirit in a certain way, then maybe it helps to believe. 

So you might be wondering…

What does it really mean when you see a Cardinal?

Well, there are numerous meanings, interpretations, and beliefs linked to it and here are some of them:

Cardinal Angels

Well, there can be a lot of different meanings... Some intricate, some vague, and some can even be unbelievable. Say like, a sight of a red cardinal meaning a visit from one of the Archangels can be quite unbelievable to non-believers. 

But here’s for those who believe:

Out of the seven Archangels; four of them which are Uriel, Gabriel, Raphael and Michael are Cardinal Angels.

Each of these angels rules over an element and influence and encourage cultures and nations. These angels are also messengers - the Spirit brings us guidance, supervision, and protection through them.

A visit from a red cardinal is often interpreted as a visit from one of those four archangels that offer us inspiration and direction in times of need. 

Since each Archangel rules over an element, their concern may be that you need to be more aware of that certain element being present in your life. 

The element Fire symbolizes productivity, inspiration, a challenge, and initiative. Air symbolizes your plans, objectives, strategies, and the development of your intellect. Earth is a symbol of your responsibilities such as finances and your daily duty towards the world and the environment. And lastly, water symbolizes your emotions, your dreams, creativity, and instinct.

And since you can’t distinguish which Archangel is represented by that cardinal at your window, their location or where you see them might help. 

It is possible that where the cardinal was perched is an indication of one of the elements. An example would be seeing a cardinal near firewood which can mean it is representing the element of fire. 

cardinal on a window sill

Spiritual Messengers

Aside from them being sent by one of the Archangels, here’s what the spiritual meaning of seeing a cardinal is:

Since multiple cultures believe that animals can be spiritual messengers, some believe that red cardinals are messengers of importance. 

Its name comes from the word Cardo which means hinge in Latin, and because of that, Cardinals are believed to be the hinge on the doorway in between the earth and Spirit. 

This can also mean that the cardinals are the hinge that holds everything, even the barrier together. 

That is why cardinals are believed to be messengers. They carry such messages back and forth assisting you with guidance. So a cardinal sighting may also mean that you should reconnect to the spirit and commit once again, in prayer.  

Seeing a cardinal can mean that you need to slow down and better your spiritual health. 

This can be used in a situation where you are trying to maximize and manage your time. You may be gaining and being productive, but you should also mind whether you are gaining spiritually, too. 

You can also try to remember or think to yourself if you asked for guidance or sign from the Spirit. If you did, then that might just be it. If not, try to remember who came to your mind upon seeing the cardinal or who you were thinking of before seeing it. 

After seeing a cardinal and finding out what it means, it is best to have peace and assurance in your heart. It is also a time to remember that the Spirit is listening to you and that it always protects you. A cardinal’s visit may be a reminder that you are not alone, and that the Spirit is supporting you in your hardships.

Balance Within The Family

Another thing that Cardinals represent is balance. They are birds who live a very well and balanced life together and are also known to be a strong representation of a family and its love for numerous reasons. 

Cardinals are the only species where the young are nurtured and cared for by their fathers, while sometimes the mother bird takes her turn too; not the other way around. 

They are remarkable parents who work hard to protect, feed, and never leave their offspring in the nest alone. Both parents work together to assure their young’s health and welfare which leads to raising joyful and healthy birds. 

Northern Cardinal eggs in a nest

So, seeing one might be a way to remind you to assure your life’s balance. We often face challenges in balancing our career, our family and leisure life, so it might also be the right time to slow down and analyze things carefully. 

Cardinals are also often associated with winter holidays where we decorate, cook, give gifts and celebrate together with our family. So its sighting can also mean that you need to reconnect and spend more time with your family... perhaps, a vacation?

A Visit From A Loved One In Heaven

Aside from Cardinal Angels, what else do cardinals represent?

Winged creatures often get most of our attention. That is why a cardinal; because of its beautiful plumage, is also believed to be a representation or a messenger sent by your loved one in heaven. 

The cardinal bird meaning to be sent by your loved one in heaven can surely spark some strength and inspiration in you. They were sent to watch over you and remind you that you are not alone.

The cardinals were sent to comfort you in your time of hardships and to remind you that even though they are already in heaven, they are still here to support us. 

The ones we miss may also want to help us in searching for answers, making an effort to help us decide properly, and find the right path.


A cardinal sighting can also be a message about your relationships with others and yourself. 

It can be a recognition that you are walking on the right path - that you are truthful, loving, and kind. It is pretty much an encouragement to remain that way. 

There are also possibilities that your sighting may mean that someone in your life isn't true to you or isn't as sincere as you thought. This can be a warning that maybe you need to reassure yourself in terms of your relationships. 

But… This could also mean that the person who isn’t so truthful could be you!

Which may mean that you need to analyze your own actions more. It could also mean that you need to start being honest to yourself, know who you really are, and figure out if that's who you’ve been lately. 

You may or may not notice that you are beginning to become someone you’re not, so seeing one of these red birds is clearly an indication that you need to stop pretending and love who you are. 

Seeing Two Cardinals

If seeing one Cardinal means a lot of things, then you might be wondering what seeing two of them means.

male and female cardinals

Whether it's in your dream, or in real life, it only means one thing: 

You need to pay more attention to the world.

Most superstitions say that seeing two red cardinals means you haven’t been paying attention to the world. This could mean that you need to appreciate the wonderful world you’re living in, or that you need to notice it more.

This also includes the people in our lives and even those who are no longer here with us. It can be a message about your relationship with your family, friends, and even those you barely know. 

Dreaming Of A Cardinal 

A dream of a cardinal can simply be a reminder or a warning. 

That dream can mean that you are on your way towards an immensely heavy schedule.

Right now, you may be busy with your job, studies, or responsibilities, so it’s best to start managing your time and prepare by setting your schedule and knowing your priorities beforehand.

Cardinal At The Window

The meaning of seeing a red cardinal at a window means that you are about to receive good news or this is a sign of good luck.

Native Americans always believed that number 12 is lucky. And since cardinals often lay 12 eggs in their nests and are year-round birds seen during all 12 months, cardinals are believed to be a sign of luck too. 

So if you’ve seen one, expect to receive good luck or such news within 12 hours or days of its sighting. There is also a possibility that the luck occurs the soonest that the clock strikes 12. 

Aside from it being a good omen, seeing this bird tapping its beak on your window can be a cardinal symbolism that means someone in your life may pass away in a short period of time.

But for now, let's move a bit away from the meanings and take a minute or two to enjoy the beauty of cardinals in this short video clip:

By the way, if you welcome these thoughts; like having to see cardinals more often and try to interpret the meaning & symbolism of their appearances, one way to do that is to have the best bird feeder for cardinals.

Have you ever wondered what do cardinals eat, by the way? Have it ready and for sure, they'll visit you more often. 😉

And Lastly...

For whichever way it turns for you, please remember that these are only superstitious beliefs with no proof at all. So remain calm and do not panic if you see a cardinal and its "supposed" meaning based on this is not too favorable.

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