Cardinals are one of the most wonderful songbird species in the world. They come up with their bright red color that attracts many enthusiast birders’ attention. They can also be a welcome sight for northerners, cheering constantly to brighten up their dull morning.
Unfortunately, you may not encounter enough cardinals if you are an easterner in the United States. However, the guide on how to attract cardinals can help you a lot to invite many cardinals to your yard. Here are some tips and tricks you can follow.
- Provide cardinals with the right food.
- Hang cardinal-friendly feeders.
- Set the feeders in the right place.
- Always keep your feeders full.
- Clean your feeders before the next refill.
- Plant berry-bearing trees for winter.
- Give water to drink and bathe.
- Keep water from freezing.
- Offer protective shelter.
- Allow nesting in your yard………….. and more.
If you’re willing to know the tips and tricks in detail, you’ll need to read the entire post until the end. We’ve also answered some frequently asked questions that many birders usually enquire of. So, without further ado, let’s get into the topic.
How Do You Attract Cardinals?
We’ve gathered a dozen of useful ideas that can help you a lot to attract your favorite cardinals, especially the Northern Cardinals mostly found in the USA and Canada. To get the best results, try to implement each technique we suggest.
01. Provide Cardinals with the Right Food
You can attract cardinals to feed them their favorite foods, such as sunflower, safflower, peanuts, cracked corn, cardinal blends, and various fruits. If you regularly provide these delicious foods to cardinals, why wouldn’t they come to your yard over and over again?
#Sunflower: Northern Cardinals really love sunflower seeds. Their strong beaks are best designed to hull these seeds. Before providing sunflower seeds to cardinals, you need to know there are 3 different sunflowers available.
- Black Oil Sunflower: Black oil sunflower seeds are favorites for not only cardinals but also many bird species. To attract cardinals to your yard, provide them with these seeds. You can buy ‘Black Oil Sunflower’ in local pet stores or online from Amazon.
- Striped Sunflower: Striped sunflower seeds are larger and harder to crack than black oil sunflower seeds. However, cardinals don’t face any problem in husking and hulling the seeds.
- Shelled Sunflower: Cardinals also love shelled sunflower seeds, called sunflower kernels/chips. Unfortunately, many other birds also love to eat sunflower chips. If you offer cardinals these chips, they may find themselves in the competition.
#Safflower: Cardinals enjoy eating safflower, a white seed that many other birds ignore. For example, grackles and starlings don’t usually eat the seed. Even squirrels don’t come to the feeder full of safflower seeds. Cardinals like white milo as well.
#Cardinal Blend: To attract cardinals, you can provide them with a mix of black oil sunflower and safflower seeds, also called cardinal blends. You can make cardinal blends by yourself or purchase Wagner’s Cardinal Blend from Amazon.
#Peanut: Cardinals love to eat shelled or unshelled peanuts. If you provide them with shelled peanuts, they don’t feel any problem in husking and hulling the shell due to their sturdy beaks that can leverage hard peanut husks.
#Corn: Like many other birds like jays, cranes, doves, and crows, cardinals love corn either shelled or cracked. If you’re willing to offer them with corn, make sure to provide a fairly small amount at once on tray feeders.
#Fruits: Cardinals enjoy a lot of fruits, such as apples, chopped grapes, bananas, cherries, blueberries, and watermelon. If you want to attract them to your yard, you should offer them these fruits. Make sure to offer cardinals fresh fruits in warm summer months.
02. Hang Cardinal-Friendly Feeders
Cardinals use medium-sized feeders that allow them to sit, perch, and eat their food comfortably. These birds cannot twist their body enough to reach the tube feeder feeding ports. That’s why they prefer hopper feeders to tube feeders.
As all bird feeders are not designed to meet the demands of cardinals, if you offer them their favorite foods in inappropriate feeders, they won’t show any interest. Oftentimes, you can see northern cardinals enjoying their treats on the ground.
03. Set the Feeders at the Right Place
When it comes to attracting cardinals, appropriate feeder placement is what you shouldn’t overlook. Once you’ve filled cardinal feeders with their favorite foods, place them near trees and shrubs so that they can hide from predators.
Make sure to hang the feeders at a place that provides a safe perch and greater protection from birds of prey. As cardinals prefer eating seeds from the ground, you should set the feeders considering ground-feeding locations.
04. Always Keep Your Feeders Full
Not all North American birds migrate in winter, and cardinals are one of them. The good news is you can attract cardinals to your yard all year round no matter what the weather is in your region.
So, always keep your feeders full of seeds, nuts, and fruits even on the coldest winter nights. When cardinals get a well-stocked, reliable food source from you, they keep coming to your yard again and again.
05. Clean Your Feeder before the Next Refill
To attract cardinals, you always have to make sure that the feeders are clean. After each breeding season, remove the mold, mildew, or anything dusty things from the feeder. If you don’t keep the feeders clean, they can be the storehouse of bacteria and various diseases.
You should clean the feeders once every two weeks, and even more during poor conditions. Use a mixture of hot water and mild soap or a solution of water and bleach following a 1:9 ratio. Dry the feeders properly before refilling them with the next batch of food.
06. Plant Berry-Bearing Trees for Winter
In winter when seeds, nuts, and insects are not abundant in the wild, cardinals love to eat a wide variety of berries. As they are non-migratory birds, they need to seek fruits and berries throughout the winter to survive.
If you want to attract cardinals in winter, you should plant berry-bearing trees around your house. You can try northern bayberry, hackberry, dogwood, serviceberry, and various fruit trees if possible.
07. Give Water to Drink and Bathe
Attracting cardinals requires a water source to drink and bathe, which many birders overlook. Like most birds, cardinals need to drink and bathe. If you provide a reliable water source to them, they can be quite attractive to your yard.
Make sure to place a 2-3 inches deep ground birdbath (like the Wildlife World Shenstone Theatre Bird Bath at Amazon) suitable for cardinals. Always keep the birdbath clean to avoid bacteria and discourage mosquitoes to lay eggs. If possible, set a dripper like this.
08. Keep Water from Freezing
During colder months, keeping the birdbath water from freezing is pretty difficult. To solve the issue, you can place a heated birdbath that prevents water from freezing. There are two styles of heated birdbaths: immersion and basin. Both can provide liquid water in winter.
Are you willing to purchase a heated birdbath? We suggest picking the K&H Pet Products Grounded Birdbath, which is suitable for cardinals. This UV-resistant plastic birdbath can be used as both heated and unheated modes, perfect for every season.
09. Offer Protective Shelter
Cardinals are very shy birds. They prefer private areas, like dense trees and shrubs. You can offer protective shelter to these birds by planting trees and bushes in your yard. Cedar bushes are attractive to cardinals, which provide dense greenery during the winter months.
You can also mount a nesting box for cardinals, which can be the best protective shelter for them. Buy a cardinal-friendly nesting box from a local pet store or online. Nature’s Way Cedar Box House from Amazon is highly recommended.
10. Allow Nesting in Your Yard
You should know that cardinals, particularly Northern Cardinals, hardly use nesting boxes. They prefer dense trees and shrubs. If you want to attract them, you have to allow them to nest in your yard. So, plant thick greenery in your yard as much as possible.
With planting trees and bushes, offer them a variety of nesting materials, including string, yarn, dog fur, leftover hair, and an empty suet cage. As cardinals don’t use the same nest per year, offering nesting materials can entice them to come to your yard all year round.
11. Try to Avoid Predators
Cardinals are very shy, particularly the Northern Cardinals. They can be quite scared due to any unexpected movement. That’s why avoid scattering seed near low shrubs and bushes, although these places give them enough protection.
Predators can hide inside low shrubs and bushes and easily attack the cardinals. Besides, keep your cat inside your house or at least away from feeding areas. In North America, cats have already killed billions of birds in recent years.
12. Don’t Use Harmful Chemicals
Stop using deadly chemicals and poisons, like insecticides, pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers, in your feeders and nesting boxes. These lethal substances can pollute water and contaminate the food cardinals have.
However, cardinals can fly into your glass windows, considering that there is nothing in their flight, which causes serious injury or death. If you want to learn how to protect cardinals from window collisions, read our article about stopping birds from flying into windows.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What color feeder attracts cardinals?
Cardinals and many songbirds, like bluebirds, are attracted to red feeders. Since they love to eat different berries, they will also be attracted to black, yellow, and blue feeders.
2. What kind of feeder attracts cardinals?
Typically, cardinals love to eat seeds and nuts from the ground. However, if they need to eat from feeders, they prefer hopper or platform feeders. They also feel safe consuming their food from squirrel-proof feeders.
3. What colors are cardinals attracted to?
Cardinals are attracted to bright red and white contrasts. Black, yellow, and green also entice them. If you want to attract them to your yard, make sure to plant flower plants that produce red, black, yellow flowers.
Now that you know how to attract cardinals, you can entice them to your backyard following the suitable techniques mentioned above. If you always try to help cardinals, they will come to your yard over and over again.
Anyway, we hope this article has already been able to enhance your knowledge about attracting cardinals. If you have any experience in attracting these songbirds to your yard, let us share with us and our potential readers.