If You See a Cardinal, Here’s What It Means

Cardinals are beloved birds for their beauty and bold colors. But do you know the symbolism and meaning of cardinals that visit your backyard?

cardinal meaning and symbolismCourtesy Ava Huffman

Cardinal Meaning and Symbolism

For many bird lovers, the sight of a cardinal holds special meaning, sometimes evoking emotional or spiritual feelings. They say the vibrant red bird is an uplifting, happy sign that those we have lost will live forever, so long as we keep their memory alive in our hearts. As cardinals sing their pleasant song, people may recall cherished memories of better times. The beautiful birds are a reminder that  loved ones will never truly be forgotten. Do cardinals mate for life?

“Ever since I was little, my mom always told me ‘when cardinals are here, angels are near.’ My grandfather recently passed away, and it’s been very difficult for our family. But we have kept up with our belief that those who have passed on are thinking of us in a much better place. Seeing a female cardinal in my yard reminded me how much my grandfather loves all of us,” says Ava Huffman.

To other people, spotting a cheerful red cardinal means that their family member or friend is safe and happy, even if they are far away. Cardinals also offer a bright spot of color in the winter; they’re a symbol of hope and joy, particularly near the Christmas season. “The cardinals bring life and color, and give us hope to help us pass the cold days,” says Candy Thompson.

Follow these 6 proven ways to attract cardinals.

Special Encounters With Cardinals

cardinal meaning and symbolismCourtesy Erin Calamusso

“I shot this photo during summer at Sunken Meadow State Park in Long Island, New York. It was four days after my dad passed away from Covid-19. I asked for a sign on my walk to clear my head, and this handsome cardinal landed nearby,” says Erin Calamusso.

cardinal meaning and symbolismCourtesy Rebecca Granger / Country magazine

“I just love cardinals in the bright fresh snow. This beautiful male cardinal came and landed on the feeders that I put together each winter. I just lost my father three weeks ago. Every time I see a cardinal, it’s a visitor from heaven,” says Rebecca Granger.

cardinal meaning and symbolismCourtesy Kelsey Borntrager / Country magazine

“We woke up this fall morning with the first snow dusted across the ground. After church, I enjoying a cup of coffee and helping my child with a Christmas list. We both looked out the patio door to see this beauty eating beneath the feeder. I have a special place in my heart for cardinals. I have no doubt in my mind there was a reason my son and I were paid a visit by this bird, as we have a few close loved ones gone too soon,” says Kelsey Borntrager.

Next, check out the best cardinal gifts for redbird lovers.

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Lori Vanover
Lori Vanover is the senior digital editor for Birds & Blooms. She enjoys growing vegetables in containers and raised beds and watching for birds in her backyard.