General Question

Bbuckner's avatar

Are red cardinals a symbol of death?

Asked by Bbuckner (5points) June 5th, 2012 from iPhone
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

26 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Are you talking about the bird, the baseball team or the members of the Catholic hierarchy?

Are there non-red cardinals?

chyna's avatar

I think ravens are.

Mariah's avatar

Oddly enough, another jelly has wondered the same thing, although outside of Fluther I’ve never heard cardinals associated with death in any symbolic way.

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Patton's avatar

No. That is a superstition of the lunatic fringe.

Trillian's avatar

Here. Indulge yourself. Turn your volume down before you click on the second one. Yeesh.

lillycoyote's avatar

How could anything as beautiful as a male cardinal, the red ones, perched on a snow covered branch in winter be a symbol of death? When you are having a snowy winter, they are sometimes the only color you see. How could that not bring you anything but joy?

And @Trillian LOL

I think this one is my favorite: A lark averting its gaze from a sick person. How would you even know? :-) Who would notice such a thing?

syz's avatar

Actually, several jellies apparently wonder.

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Response moderated (Unhelpful)
Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Welcome to Fluther!

Cardinals as a symbol of death may exist in the mind of those that are superstitious. I have never seen or read anything to support this theory. This comes from someone who is a bird-watcher and grew up with cardinals.

After reading through the older thread that @Mariah shared, my guess is that some people attribute cardinals as a symbol of death because they can be easily identified and spotted all year long in certain locations. Male cardinals are aggressive in protecting their territory, and when they see their reflection in a window, they often attempt to attack it. It’s disturbing to hear the sharp wrap of their thick beak on a glass pane. Combine that with a household, hospital or hospice where someone is about to or suddenly dies, and it makes sense that the superstitious people might make this assumption.

The bottom line is that there is no fact to substantiate this theory.

Berserker's avatar

I looked it up online, and a lot of what I saw is that cardinals represent rebirth, renewal, warmth and hope. Most likely due to the bright red colors that make it stick out during the Winter, and Winter is cold and dreary.

Apparently they can represent death, as accounts tell of cardinals appearing before or after a death. I’m not sure how to back that up though. Prolly people just make the relation with a dying loved one, or themselves, when seeing a cardinal. Technically this could be done with any bird that stands out. Like ravens representing death, probably on the account that they eat carrion, among other things. It isn’t something that I would personally take too seriously.


josie's avatar

No. Only human beings create symbols. Mother Nature created the cardinal. Back to the drawing board….

gailcalled's avatar

If you have ever had the good fortune, in the spring, to watch the male cardinal woo the female by proffering her a sunflower seed in his beak, you will think only of wooing, courtship, babies, love and affirmation of life.

The female stands there and thinks about the issue at hand; after a short while she accepts the seed in her beak and it’s Love in Bloom.

zenvelo's avatar

Watched The Birds this morning, not a single cardinal in the whole movie.

lillycoyote's avatar

@zenvelo LOL. Now I am trying to imagine what The Birds might have been like if Hitchcock had decided to go with cardinals, or penguins and chickadees and
baby albatrosses or whatever these cute little things are instead of ravens, crows, gulls, etc.

So yes, it seems that cardinals if were really a symbol of death, in most people’s minds, a few of them would have been in there somewhere; in Hitchcock’s The Birds.

And this is a great article on the making of the movie, if you’re interested.

gailcalled's avatar

@lillycoyote:Some very good points, but your “chickadee” is really a tufted titmouse, also adorable.

Here’s the black-capped chickadee.

The winter wren is another candidate.

lillycoyote's avatar

Thanks @gailcalled. I was thinking I might have been wrong about that one. I know what they are, sort of… I mean I did at one time, just not tonight, apparently. I get them in my yard and I was thinking… what are those damn cute little bluish, tufted-headed things called again? I’m half senile at this point; I’m glad you have my back. :-)

And since you’re weighing in, do you have any idea what those adorable little white birds in the last photo I posted might be? On the thread where I got the image one person was speculating that they might be warblers of some kind and another person was speculating that they might be photoshopped… and everyone else just commented on how cute they were… possible habitat: Japan, if that helps.

gailcalled's avatar

@lillycoyotoe:The adorable little white birds come from no birds I am familiar with. Unless their parents lay eggs on the snow or tundra, babies are twig or stick-colored, to protect them from predators.

Photoshopped or simply animated is my guess. White birds like the snowy owl or the snow bunting also have speckled babies. However, here’s an immature snowy egret.

Mariah's avatar

@lillycoyote Maybe a long tailed tit, just very puffed up and with their tails hidden behind them?

gailcalled's avatar

The long-tailed tit is pretty cute; here’s a video of one in motion. There are the usual speckles; would three on a branch use the same pose and posture? I am open to being persuaded, however.

@Mariah; Good find.

sixteenarmsbill's avatar

ravens and crows are the symbol of death and murder i do believe

queen3's avatar

My sons senior year in high school he began seeing a red cardinal outside his bedroom window, when he graduated and went to college he would see the red cardinal and so much so that he started calling it his guardian angel. I will also see the red cardinal and if I ever saw it when my son wasn’t around I would call him to make sure everything was alright. Well my son was murdered this summer the last day of school for summer break. He was completing his sophomore year in college. I found this forum because today as I opened my blinds two cardinals landed on my porch which was unusual when we have only seen one in the past. My son has been gone almost 6 months and I am wondering what this means.

wilma's avatar

Hello @queen3 I am so sorry for the loss of your son. I have no answers for you about the Cardinals, but Welcome to Fluther.

BethB's avatar

For three years I have had a male cardinal chirp on my bedroom windowsill and peck. Each time he appears something bad happens in a couple of days. Car wreck, termination from long time job, suicide of a loved one, break up of a long term relationship….Can this all be just a coincidence? He woke me up this morning at 6:30, I opened the window and he actually flew inside and back out. Looking for answers…

Carolina777's avatar

I have read the Cardinal Experience, and there are many myths and superstitions. It said one was..if a cardinal flew into your house it meant that you were going to hear good news..if it couldn’t find it’s way was bad luck. If you see a cardinal in the winter will prosper in Spring. There are many people who do believe it is linked to some sort of afterlife/death.

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