What Does It Mean When You See a Cardinal? [Symbolism & Meaning]

what does it mean when you see a cardinal

Nature and spiritualism go together. There are may superstitions and meanings for many animals and birds, including cardinals. For some the cardinal is a symbol of romance, while others believe it to be a messenger from a departed loved one.  One thing we do know is that seeing a cardinal always fills you with joy as they are beautiful birds.


Where You Can Find Cardinals

If you live in Mid USA to Eastern USA then there’s a good chance you will see cardinals, with the Northern Cardinal being the most common. They are so popular that they are the state bird for 7 states including Illinois, Kentucky and Ohio, and you will find them on greetings cards.

Both Greek and Cherokee mythology associate the cardinal with the sun, and this represents rejuvenation and strength. According to spiritualism, cardinals can signify a number of things and all of them are positive.

The Meaning of Cardinals

  • Messengers

For many, the cardinal represents that a loved one who has departed this life is trying to send you a message. They are letting you know that that person is still watching over you to give you a sense of security and well-being.

  • Love

Red is the color of passion and of love and Cardinals are very loyal to each other. They are monogamous and spend a lot of time with their partner. Seeing a cardinal may mean you will find true love shortly, or if you are in a relationship, it signifies a deeper attachment or new commitment with your current partner.

  • Luck

Native Americans associate the number 12 with luck, and cardinals are linked with this number. This significance of the number 12 comes from the fact that cardinals often lay 12 eggs, and they can be seen for 12 months of the year. This link is so strong, that it is believed you will see good luck within 12 hours of seeing a cardinal.

  • Seeing 2 cardinals

If you see two cardinals together, you will probably take notice as they really are a lovely sight, and this is exactly what they represent. They are encouraging you to pay more attention to the world around you, to appreciate everything you have in your life.

  • Dreams

If you see a cardinal in your dreams, this represents a positive outlook. They are often connected with communication and good luck, and dreaming about one means that nothing can hold you back. It is a signal to follow your dreams.

  • Totem animal

Native Americans often have cardinals as a totem animal. They represent a love of life, happiness and energy and show that you love your home. If someone is going through a difficult time of life, calling on the cardinal totem animal helps to lift them and improve their outlook on life.

  • Bad omens

While seeing cardinals is mostly a positive symbol, there are things to be wary of. If, for example, you see a cardinal hitting a window or tapping its beak on it, that can represent the death of someone in the house or of a loved one.

cardinal feeding

Attracting Cardinals

Cardinals not only represent good fortune, but are also beautiful birds to look at. They brighten up any yard, not just with their bright colors, but with their song too. Cardinals don’t migrate and are found in both northern and southern America.

There are some simple things you can do to attract cardinals in to your garden.

  • Feeders

Placing feeders around your garden with food that cardinals love, is a great way to encourage them to come and visit you. They love sunflower and safflower seeds and also enjoy crushed peanuts and berries. Cardinals are often the first to visit feeders in the morning and the last to feed at night, so make sure your feeders are full for the morning, and in the evening.

When choosing a feeder, make sure that it is suitable for a cardinal. They like to feel secure so they need a platform or a large perch to stand on.

  • Shelter

Cardinals like lots of bushes and trees where they can hide. This makes them feel safe. If you don’t have space for trees, you can still plant bushes and shrubs to give them somewhere to nest and feel safe.

  • Water

All birds need water, both to drink and to keep themselves clean. Bird baths are the best way to provide this, but you will need one close to the ground. Cardinals prefer to drink on the ground and are unlikely to use one which is raised. Make sure the water and the bath itself are kept clean or they may stop using it.

Once you have encouraged them to come and visit, you may well be rewarded by them staying in your garden for life.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is there any significance to where you see a cardinal?

Yes, there is. Many people believe that cardinals are associated with the four elements, so where you see them can have great significance.

  • If you see a cardinal near water, then it’s time for you to be more creative and to find a way to follow your dreams.
  • Cardinals landing on power lines or firewood, mean you need to take the initiative and make changes in your life wherever they need to be made.
  • Cardinals on the ground, represent the earth, and this signifies tackling down to earth issues, such as your finances or property.
  • Cardinals in the air indicate you should start to make plans and find ways to develop yourself intellectually.

Do male and female cardinals have different significance?

Both male and female cardinals represent positivity and good luck. There is no difference to the message depending on the sex of the bird.

Does it make a difference what time of year I see a cardinal?

As cardinals do not migrate, their message is the same all year round. For many, the vibrant colors of the cardinal stand out during winter months and help you appreciate the beauty of nature all around you.

cardinal symbolism

If you have cardinals in your garden, you should feel uplifted, not just by the message they bring, but by their wonderful color and beautiful song. Their presence nearly always signifies that something good is going to happen to you or a loved one, so they are a welcome addition to any yard.

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