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Origami Northern Cardinal

This delightful and easy-to-make origami cardinal, designed by Román Díaz, makes for a lovely gift or  as a Christmas ornament.

Cardinals are non-migratory birds identified by a bright and distinctive red appearance. They are found from south-eastern Canada all the way south to Mexico and Northern Guatemala. In the northern latitudes. Cardinals are easily spotted during the winter on snowy branches, and they have long been associated with the Christmas season.

Here is a video with instructions on how to fold the Cardinal. Made with permission from Román Díaz.

If you can’t see the video on this page, click here to see it on YouTube.
Diagrams for this cardinal were published in The Paper, the magazine of Origami USA  (Issue 105 -Autumn 2010)

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28 thoughts on “Origami Northern Cardinal”

  1. I made this cardinal today and it turned out really well! It wasn’t easy, considering I am new to Origami but the bird in your picture was so beautiful that I was thinking about it so often and I just HAD to make it. I replayed some parts, especially shaping the beak a lot of times but finally got it right! Thank you so much for the colouring tips video I found on your site! I was able to colour an office paper red and black for this bird and it turned out to be so so beautiful. Thank you so much for your wonderful website and your calm and precise voice over the videos encourages me to keep going even when I get stuck in some folds. Your water colour tutorial is really good too! Keep up the good work! So glad I found your site!

    • Dear Vidhya,
      Welcome to Origami Spirit!
      I am so happy that you find creative inspiration in what you find here.
      The cardinal video is one of my earliest ones, imperfect as such, but I am glad that you had the patience to follow it. Big applause!
      I hope you can join our private Origami Spirit Facebook group where you can post what you fold so we can see.
      Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/origamispiritfans
      Thank you for writing!

  2. These are simply beautiful! I made 100 of them as a surprise for my Great Aunt’s 100th birthday. Her Senior Living Facility displayed them perched in a lovely decorative tree in the activity room so that everyone could enjoy them during their long lockdown (shielding from Covid 19). Thank you so much for sharing your wonderfully detailed videos. You’ve made isolation a lot more enjoyable for several hundred seniors!

  3. I tried over and over, rewatching the video, but it was really hard to see which way I was supposed to fold anything after about two minutes. It may be easier if it were a bit slower paced because I had to keep pausing the video and replaying it, especially when I had to repeat the folds on the other side. I did not succeed and got frustrated.

    • Hi Hanna, thank you for your feedback. Sorry you were not able to fold this bird. This was one of the earliest video tutorials I made. I’ll keep your thoughts in mind for a possible remake in the future.

  4. I made one, it looks pretty good! I had a little trouble with the tail thinning step, but I figured it out and now my mom has the first little bird that will be on our Christmas tree this year!

  5. i really like the cardinal but being not able to fold it is quite disappointing since i wanted to fold it for my school’s YED (youth environmental day) charity sale this year. but not a bad design, if you ask me… B-E-A-utiful !

    • Sorry about your not being able to finish the cardenal. Congratulations for trying it anyway. I understand your disappointment. Sometimes we need to grow our skills before we are able to make certain origami figures. You might want to try your hand at folding some easier models.

      But do go back to this bird and try again in the future. Our minds are elastic and work in mysterious ways. When we try more than once, relax into the process, take it slowly, we are rewarded with a successful ending. Give yourself some time.

  6. The instructions were very hard to follow. It was hard to see what you were supposed to do. Once I reached the more intricate folds I became very confused, and was not able to complete the project.

    • Hi Anny,
      I congratulate you for having tried it! Sorry about your difficulties. This was one of my earlier videos, so perhaps was not done at a pace you can easily follow.
      I invite you to fold some other simpler origami and come back to the cardinal later. Our minds always stretch with practice and like to take on challenges and solve puzzles.
      Origami teaches patience also, and if you can come back to it with a calm mind, you will get further along. Thank you for sharing about your experience.

  7. i tried for hours, but i never managed to succeed. past the point of the “foot” at wich point i was always missing a triangle, no matter how many times i re-did it, or watched the video. extremely dissapointing.

    • I’m sorry about your disappointment Laurence, and totally understand how you feel at not being able to finish the origami cardinal. Not being able to finish a figure at our first or second attempt is quite normal. But at least you tried. Congratulations!

      I suggest you put the cardinal away and come back to it in a few days, weeks or months if necessary. In the mean time, work on other simpler origami figures. Our brains have ways to stretch and solve puzzles in an unconscious way. Be patient, don’t give up!

      DO come back to the cardinal. I’ll bet you will be able to make it in the future!

      Thank you for your visit and sharing your feelings about your folding experience.

  8. I wouldn’t. Scrapbooking paper is eipxnseve because it is acid free. Don’t know why that is more eipxnseve to make than ordinary paper, but hey. Since your origami doesn’t need to be acid free, you can use cheap paper.


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