Cardinal Spirit Animal Symbolism & Meaning

northern cardinal pair on tree branch
© Cathy Keifer/

Written by Niccoy Walker

Updated: June 7, 2023

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Cardinals are vibrant red birds who fiercely defend their territories. They are amazing songsters and invoke emotional and spiritual responses in those who spot one. Cardinals are spirited creatures who reflect your unique personality and help you live up to your full potential. Learn all about the cardinal spirit animal, including what it symbolizes and what messages it brings.

Cardinal Spirit Animal

cardinal on birdfeeder


as your spirit animal means you have confident, active, and seize opportunities that come your way.


We do not choose our spirit animals, but rather, they choose us. Does the cardinal keep appearing in real life, dreams, or visions? It may be your spirit animal! Cardinals can appear in our lives at the onset of new relationships, at the beginning of a pregnancy, or when we need a little extra confidence and self-empowerment. This bird acts as a guardian and can help you decide whether to stand firm or take flight. It also empowers you to stay true to yourself and find your voice. Red cardinals can also symbolize loved ones who have crossed over.

What Does a Cardinal Symbolize?

Northern Cardinal in flight

The cardinal symbolizes home, family, friendship, devotion, and self-confidence.

©Rob Palmer Photography/

The cardinal symbolizes friendship, love, devotion, self-confidence, assertiveness, family, home, protection, and angel messages. Thanks to its bright colors and confidence in its abilities, the cardinal represents self-confidence and inner strength, always encouraging you to assert yourself and embrace your talents. Its red feathers also represent passion and courage, and its monogamous reproduction relationships signify fidelity and strong family bonds. If the cardinal is your spirit animal, you are most likely an active person who is decisive and seizes opportunities. 

Cardinal Meanings and Messages

Cardinals can be messengers from the spirit world, connecting you with loved ones who have passed over.

Find out what the cardinal spirit animal says about who you are and your direction in life.

  • Friendship: You must put yourself out there and get to know people. Cardinals are social creatures who like to be seen and heard. 
  • Confidence: No matter what you do, do it with style and be true to yourself. Don’t shy away from opportunities, and always give your best effort.
  • Stability: Cardinals are all about home and family. And this spirit animal reminds you to keep your home life stable and secure, so your family can thrive.
  • Devotion/commitment: If you are in a relationship, cardinals are a sign to renew your commitment to each other. If you are single, this bird reminds you never to settle for anything less than you deserve.
  • Angel Messages: Cardinals can be messengers from the spirit world, connecting you with loved ones who have passed over.

When a cardinal enters your life, they remind you to stay grounded in what’s important: family and friends. But they also want you to soar high and accomplish your dreams and goals. You must stand up for yourself and what you want in life while staying responsible and focused. Finally, be fearless. Venture outside your comfort zone to grow and become a better person.

How to Interpret a Cardinal Dream?

Male and female Northern Cardinals

If a cardinal enters your dreams, it may be telling you to reconnect or build a relationship with someone special.

©Bonnie Taylor Barry/

If a cardinal enters your dreams, it is to help you understand something important in your life. Its presence in your dream signifies that you are going through an active and essential time in your life right now. It’s time to “buckle down” and put all your effort into this project or life event; the cardinal promises you great success. If there are two cardinals in your dream, they represent shared love. You either need to reconnect with your partner and renew your commitment or build a relationship with someone special. If there is only one red cardinal in the dream, it’s encouraging you to stick to the plan you’ve set in motion.

Are Cardinals a Good Omen?

cardinal perched on a bird feeder

The omen of a cardinal is always a good one.


Spotting a cardinal is always a good omen. In Native American culture, cardinals are a sign of good luck and positivity. Its bright red plumage signifies energy, wealth, and prosperity. If you are motivated and seize opportunities (which the cardinal reminds you to do), your plans will succeed, and your dreams will come true. The cardinal messenger can also reconnect you with loved ones who have passed away. You can rest easy knowing they are in a better place and at peace.

Positive Characteristics of the Cardinal Spirit Animal

  • You are active, decisive, and ready to capitalize on the best opportunities. Your inner motivation is an inspiration for others.
  • You are incredibly generous and appreciate the needs of others. You are always ready to give a helping hand.
  • You have the ability to lead and motivate others, bringing them closer to success. 
  • You are creative and expressive. Be sure to pick a career where you can freely express yourself.
  • The cardinal personality trait has a strong desire to learn and be open-minded. You may become quickly dissatisfied with any situation that doesn’t allow you to acquire knowledge.
  • You are a positive, family-oriented person who believes in beauty and love.
  • You need freedom. Being tied down makes you feel claustrophobic. But you can easily change careers and environments without fear.

Negative Characteristics of the Cardinal Spirit Animal

  • While a great leader, you can come off as arrogant to others. The cardinal personality type is overly assertive and proud and tends to be “bossy.”
  • You have a strong sense of self that can make others feel inferior. You also like to show off your intelligence and accomplishments, furthering your arrogance and superiority complex.

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About the Author

Niccoy is a professional writer for A-Z Animals, and her primary focus is on birds, travel, and interesting facts of all kinds. Niccoy has been writing and researching about travel, nature, wildlife, and business for several years and holds a business degree from Metropolitan State University in Denver. A resident of Florida, Niccoy enjoys hiking, cooking, reading, and spending time at the beach.

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