Cardinal comes from Latin ‘cardinalis’, which means ‘principal, essential, foremost’. But it’s also a noun, meaning ‘that guy who wears red in the church’, or ‘that bird who wears red in a tree’. Being that they’re both bright red, one is clearly named after the other. Which came first?
The answer is— ding, ding— the liturgical meaning. The bird, being a New World animal, was named so around 1670, presumably when some smallpox-infested weirdo exclaimed, “fuck, does that bird look Catholic!”