Cardinals are hard to miss and enchanting birds. They are fairly easy to attract to a multitude of different bird feeders. Use our easy guide below to help you choose the right one, but first take a minute to review the basics and make sure your yard is ready.
Like all other wild birds, Cardinals need more than just food to thrive. When you are choosing a feeder, it’s a good idea to review your garden and make sure you are also providing adequate water, shelter and nesting areas.
Cardinals will enjoy a bird bath both for drinking and keeping their wings clean. Keep in mind that they are a bit larger than most songbirds. This means they will want a deeper bath, typically two-three inches versus one. Think about adding an agitation device and a heater (if you live up north) as well. That way your bird bath is winter ready too!
Although Cardinals are larger birds with bright plumage, they are fairly shy and need secluded spots to hide away. Providing plenty of dense plantlife–shrubs and small trees work best–will help them feel more secure spending time in your yard.
If you have the space, plant blueberries or grapevines and you’ll see cardinals even more often. Their vines double as food sources and shelter sources.
Cardinals will not nest in birdhouses, but that doesn’t mean they won’t raise a brood in your yard. Plant dogwood and other thick-growing foliage that provides low coverage. Leave out twigs and pine needles or grass clippings to be used as nesting materials. If you’ve planted your yard properly and provide a feeder, Cardinals will often raise three or four broods in your yard each year.
Best bird feeders for Cardinals
Cardinals will use tray, hopper, suet and tube feeders. The type of feeder isn’t nearly as important as the sturdiness of it and the type of bird food you put in it. Follow these steps for feeding Cardinals:
- Fill platform feeders with sunflower seed, suet and berries. These are the preferred food for Cardinals and will be enjoyed year-round by these range-loyal birds. Fill the feeders early in the morning and late at night, as these vibrant birds are often the earliest and latest visitors.
- Make sure the feeder is heavy and sturdy enough for these larger songbirds. Cardinals will also stay away from feeders that sway too much when they land, so consider using a pole-mounted feeder.
- Try providing secondary trays. Many backyard bird watchers have found that having a lower-hanging secondary tray for large birds works well. Just make sure the branch you’re hanging them from is sturdy enough to carry the load.
Follow the tips above and you can enjoy cardinals in your backyard all year long!