Cardinals are amazingly beautiful birds that any new birder would want in their garden.
You can see this amazing creatures year round with their magnificent color. They also have beautiful songs that match their attractive plumage. That along with their friendly demeanor make the cardinal a very desirable bard to have in your garden!
If you're attracting them to your home, keep a good 8x42 pair of binoculars handy to observe them any time of the day.
Fortunately, attracting cardinals to your garden is easy, if you take the right steps and use the right bird feeders.
About the Northern Cardinal
The northern cardinal's bill is thick and strong. So, it is perfect for large seeds such as black oil sunflower or safflower seeds. Here is more some basic information about these birds.
Make sure you feed cardinals in wide bird feeders that are on the larger side. They love to have plenty of room to perch. Small tube bird feeders are not suitable for cardinals unless that have a nice and large tray.
Hopper feeders that are large along with platform feeders are perfect choices. Try to avoid narrow perch platform bird feeders.
Cardinals prefer discreet areas of shelter that are also secluded. Dense vines and shrubs are a good source of cover which make them feel secure and safe.
They love Sumac, Mulberry, and Blueberry. These all provide shelter as well as a good source of food.
Make sure you are planting in layers that provide thick cover at variable heights up to 20 ft. They also like evergreen trees and shrubs for the winter.
The Northern Cardinal love to visit birdbaths to drink and bath.
They prefer deeper bird baths that are 2″-3″ at their deepest point.
If you add a mister or dripper to it, it will attract Cardinals to the bird bath.
Northern Cardinals remain year-round, so a heated bird bath may be a consideration for winter water.
Also, these birds forage on the ground, so putting a ground level bird bath is a great idea as well.
Just as they prefer thick shelter, cardinals also prefer thick cover for nesting. Best choices:
- Shrub Thickets
Providing nesting material is a great idea to get them to nest nearby. You can also make sure things such as twigs, pine needles, and grass clippings are available.
They will not use a birdhouse and nests are not reused. But, a cardinal pair may raise several broods each year. So, provide several areas of dense cover to help ensure they will keep coming back and stay nearby.
Choosing the Best Bird Feeder
Choosing the right bird feeder for cardinals is not an easy task. As we mentioned above, they prefer food sources that are low, wide, and open. Unfortunately, this is also a perfect food source for squirrels.
So, this will leave us with wide tray hanging bird feeders, or window mounted wide trough bird feeders. While both have their pros or cons, these will be the preference for the cardinal.
The other key consideration is to make sure you stock plenty of food that these birds love to start attracting them.
Now that we have our criteria, let's dive into the best bird feeders for Cardinals.
No/No Red Cardinal Bird Feeder
The No/No Red Cardinal Bird Feeder is an all around great choice and it's a solid bird feeder choice for Cardinals.
Durable Metal Construction
This bird feeder is made with no plastic and no wood, hence the name no/no.
Most feeders are made from either plastic which breaks or chips especially after a year or two in the sun. Wood bird feeders age and splinter or even rot where water pools.
Metal can be cleaned by running it under the hose and repainted after a few years to keep it looking fresh.
It's also great against the destructive nature of squirrels.
This cardinal feeder can be filled with 2.5+ pounds of bird feed. The decent capacity means you won't have to be out there every day filling it up.
While we love watching birds, we don't love yard work. Anything we can do to save some time is great. A large bird feeder capacity is a must.
Wide Feeding Tray
As we mentioned before, the northern cardinal loves wide and open feeding areas.
This bird feeder can accommodate up to 20 birds at a time, which is perfect for the red cardinal to feed because there is plenty of space.
Plus, plenty of other birds will be attracted as well, so it's a win-win.
The feeding area is also perfect for birds that wish to hang or perch when feeding.
Pros of The No/No Red Cardinal Bird Feeder
- Very wide and can accommodate up to 20 birds at one time.
- Cover helps protect food from the weather.
- Large feed hopper so you don't have to refill it constantly.
- Metal construction - durable against squirrels and the weather.
We love the metal construction. If you had squirrels destroy other bird feeders, you shouldn't have to worry about this one.
Cons of This Cardinal Bird Feeder
- Tight Screen wires make it difficult for larger seeds to pass through (cardinals favorites).
Squirrel Buster Plus With Cardinal Ring by Brome
This is a perfect bird feeder for cardinals. Here are some of it's features.
It's not called the "squirrel buster" for nothing. This bird feeder is designed to protect your bird feeder and bird seed from the destructive nature of hungry squirrels.
It is weight activated. So, when birds perch to eat, they get access to the seed. But, when a squirrels gets on it, it forces the shroud down which closes off the feeding ports. This prevents squirrels from eating all of the seed.
Additionally, this bird feeder is adjustable to fit the specific birds you have. Some feeders allow larger birds to eat all of the seed, leaving smaller birds with nothing.
You can simply twist the dial that will adjust the weight required to close off the feeding ports. This will allow smaller birds to use the feeder while larger birds have to go elsewhere.
This feeder holds up to 5.2 lbs of bird seed, which is amazing! The large capacity of the hopper is coupled with Brome's patented seed ventilation system which allows hot and humid air to escape and keeps bird seed fresh longer.
All squirrel accessible parts are non-chewable and made out of metal. This allows the bird feeder to last longer.
Additionally, you gain their life-time service warranty. So, if there is something going on with your feeder, Brome guarantees to service it for free.
Because of the ventilation system, this bird feeder isn't always waterproof. That's why we recommend getting the bird feeder + accessory kit which includes a weather guard to keep your seed totally dry
Pros of The Squirrel Buster Plus Bird Feeder
- Huge hopper holds 5+ lbs of bird seed.
- Prevents our mortal enemies (squirrels) from accessing the bird seed.
- Adjustable to protect against large birds as well.
- Metal surfaces prevent squirrels from chewing
We love the metal construction and huge bird seed hopper.
Cons of This Cardinal Bird Feeder
- Not entirely waterproof, so it requires the purchase of the weather guard.
Perky-Pet 2-Tier Panorama Bird Feeder (325S)
The large circular perches are perfect for cardinals and other perching birds to feed. it's copper color is sleek and timeless and looks great in your garden.This is a great bird feeder, so, here are some of it's features.
This is a dual layer bird feeder with 8 seed ports that gives extra access. Their "evenseed" system allows various chambers to get seed at variable rates, so seed won't accumulate on one side if a bird eats on the other side.
It also has a wire for sturdy hanging in your garden or near your house. Additionally, it's cap is locked in place to keep squirrels out.
This has a 4.5 pound capacity with a super easy to use setup. You can fill the hoppers with different types of seed to attract a larger variety of birds, or just fill it with one.
Pros of The Perky-Pet Panorama Bird Feeder
- Clear plastic keeps it cleaner than other models.
- Easy to use cap also locks in place to keep squirrels out.
- Large hoppers can hold two types of seed.
- Sturdy wire hanger
We love how you can attract a wider variety of birds with two different bird feeds in one feeder.
Cons of This Cardinal Bird Feeder
- Wire hangers are not great in windy environments
- Sometimes the seed can get clogged up in their evenseed system
Enjoy Watching Cardinals at Your Bird Feeder
Cardinals are absolutely beautiful birds that are friendly and have a beautiful song.
These cardinal bird feeders will help you attract these birds to your yard and let you start enjoying bird watching.
You don't want to miss seeing the extreme detail in their feathers their scaly legs, or even seeing their skin when the wind rustles their feathers. The only way to do that is with a quality pair of binoculars.
Don't forget to check out the guide on bird watching binoculars which will help you pick your first pair of binoculars.
If you need more help, read our ultimate binoculars buying guide.