How to Attract Cardinals? (13 Proven Ways)

Last Updated on March 22, 2023 by Lily Aldrin

Cardinals at the feeder are a favorite sight for many people. Cardinals are both gorgeous and entertaining to watch, but attracting them to your yard might be more difficult than you think.

A male red cardinal swooping across your yard is difficult to forget. One of the most colorful songbirds you could lure in is this one.

With her unique crest and vivid orange beak, even the female, who is a more subdued brown with red highlights, is attractive. Cardinals are mostly found in the eastern region of the United States. Thus, not everyone can attract them.

If you’re in the cardinal territory, though, there are a few methods you may attempt to improve your chances of attracting this renowned bird.

Check it out!

How to Attract Cardinals?

The following are some suggestions for attracting cardinals to your yard:

1. Use Feeders Designed for Cardinals

bird feeder

Even if it includes their favorite meal, cardinals will not use just any feeder. Because they are medium-sized birds, they require feeders that are large and sturdy enough for them to sit in and, more importantly, eat forward.

This is why they prefer hoppers over tube feeders, where they can’t twist their bodies sufficiently to get to the meal, and the pegs may not be strong enough to hold them.

Set out a range of feeders to see which ones you’re Cardinals prefer, but be sure to also include crawlers, platters, and tower feeders, all of which should be loaded with the proper food.

2. Tempt With Appetizing Treats


But how can you get Cardinals to come to you? With the proper goodies! Cardinals from the north will consume a wide range of fruits, nuts, and sometimes even flowers. Their beak is tough and robust, making it ideal for husking or hulling seeds like sunflower and safflower.

Another alternative is striped sunflower, which is larger than black oil and has a tougher husk, yet Cardinal has no issue with it.

Cardinals prefer safflower, a white seed that is typically overlooked by other birds and squirrels. Safflower seeds may be blended with sunflower seeds to produce a Cardinal-specific mixture. Cardinals also enjoy maize and shelled peanuts, thanks to their strong beaks.

3. Place the Feeder at the Appropriate Location

bird feeder window

The location of your feeders can frequently determine whether or not Cardinals visit your yard. These birds, which have an almost flirting timidity, require a protective layer and will frequently choose a feeder that gives them more shelter.

Food supplies should be placed near trees and shrubs to attract Cardinals, giving them a safe perch from which to survey the area before entering. Provide a variety of feeders at varying heights and close proximity to attract Cardinals to your yard.

Make sure they have plenty of places to hide and seek refuge, as well as locations where they may feed on the ground.

4. Provide Access to Water

water for cardinal

A water source is another crucial element in attracting Cardinals. Cardinals and other birds rely on water supplies, which are frequently ignored.

Northern Cardinals, like other animals and birds, require daily water, and providing a consistent water supply is just another method to improve the appearance of your yard. The easiest strategy to prevent bacteria and algal blooms, as well as mosquito eggs, is to keep them clean and replace them frequently.

Slightly deeper bird baths are best for them because of their size. An airflow control or mister is a terrific method to draw attention, and ground-level bird baths provide ideal protection for the timid Cardinal.

5. Keep Your Feeders Stocked at all times

Cardinals are great since they don’t fly and stay throughout the year, so they’ll eat from your feeders any time of year and in any weather.

If you want to learn how to attract Cardinals, keep your feeders full even on the coldest winter days to provide your birds with a regular food source, which will attract much more birds to the feeder.

A well-stocked, reliable food supply, which is often the first and final visit to your feeder each and every day, might attract a group of cardinals known as brilliance or Vatican.

6. Encourage the use of ground-feeding for safety

ground feed bird

Give your Cardinals plenty of opportunities for ground feeding in addition to strong feeders. It not only gives them a sense of safety, especially if there are bushes and shrubs nearby but putting dropped seeds on the floor for several days can also attract other Northern Cardinals.

To allow Cardinals more area to feed, install a tray, netting net, and perch underneath hung feeders. Feeders with narrow perches are inadequate for medium-sized Cardinals, as previously noted; instead, add a tray to the bottom of tube feeders to offer a landing and eating area for Cardinals.

7. Providing a Haven for Refugees

Cardinals are usually solitary birds that like peaceful environments with plenty of trees and plants. For these songbirds, planting trees and bushes of varying heights will offer a safe and secure environment.

Cardinals like cedar bushes and trees because they give rich foliage and cover during the winter months when food is scarce.

 Include the six fundamental layers to provide the most cover for your birds: big trees, tree branches, shrubbery, young plants, wildflowers, and leaf litter. You’ll not only be giving much-needed cover and nesting material, but you’ll also be offering seclusion and protection.

8. Provide Materials for Nesting

suet cage

Northern Cardinals seldom use birdhouses (but always use nest ledges), choosing instead to nest in heavy shrubbery and greenery, which is another good reason to consider growing thick foliage for them to use.

Providing a variety of nesting supplies to breeding birds is a great way to get them to come to your yard. You may easily accomplish this by using twine, string, or even dog fur to suspend an empty suet cage near your feeders.

Any lighter substance would suffice, like the hair of the brush. Every year, Cardinals can have several broods, although they seldom returned to the same nest. Giving hatching supplies is a small gesture that might bring Cardinals to your yard throughout the year.

9. Avoid Frozen Water

Heated bird baths are vital for giving winter water throughout the colder months. Still, to avoid freezing, water should be refilled often, or even a heated birdbath could be used on even the harshest of days.

Heated baths are typically available in two designs, both of which are beneficial for giving liquid water to backyard birds.

10. Remove Reflective Surfaces

Northern Cardinals are aggressive birds that, when their aggressive hormones are at their highest, may defend their territory for hours against intruders.

If they feel threatened, they will attack their personal image in a window or a bright bumper. While these conflicts are seldom lethal, they can persist for hours or days and cause beak damage or excessive stress.

Avoid reflecting surfaces like mirrors or gazing balls, and use strategies to reduce agitation on those that can’t be avoided, such as wide windows.

Birds assaulting windows can be prevented using the same procedures used to avoid bird-window collisions. Covering an automobile mirror with anything transparent (like a Ziploc bag) and using netting or graphics on glass are two examples.

11. Predator-Accessible Feeding Areas Should Be Avoided

Northern Cardinals are wary birds, and any sudden movement might startle them. If at all possible, keep outdoor pets far from feeding places.

Despite the fact that low shrubs and bushes provide enough protection, do not distribute seeds or place feeders near these plants. They also provide the ideal hiding spot for predators, allowing them to readily assault your birds.

12. Maintain the Feeders

One of the essential things you can do to attract Cardinals to the feeder is to make it as safe as possible for them to dine.

This involves keeping your feeder clean and free of mold, mildew, and other collected debris. Feeders may easily become filthy and, if not cleaned on a regular basis, breeding grounds for illness and germs.

For avoiding the spread of avian illnesses, feeders should be cleaned every two weeks or more frequently if extensive use or bad conditions are present.

Because wild birds rely on consistent food sources, avoid filling your feeder and then leaving it empty for lengthy periods of time.

13. Planting Evergreens

evergreen plant

One of the most efficient ways to give shelter is to plant evergreens. Evergreens acquire its name from the fact that they are green all year. This is fantastic for you, and it’s also lovely for your surroundings.

It’s also beneficial to birds, as evergreens provide nesting sites in the spring and summer. They also provide superb weather protection in the fall and winter. Adding evergreens to your yard is always a good idea.

If you have the room, do some study to see which the best option for your location is? You’re automatically developing a wildlife-friendly yard when you create a butterfly-friendly yard.


Northern Cardinals are generally non-migratory birds, which means that once they’ve found your yard, they’ll likely, stay there all year. This also implies that if Cardinals are really not native to your region, you won’t be able to attract them to the backyard in any way.

Cardinals may be found as far north as Maine and as far south as areas of Canada. They stretch from Central America to the Gulf Coast in the south.  

Cardinals have indeed been imported to Hawaii, southern Mexico, as well as Bermuda, in addition to the natural range. So remember the above-mentioned advice from us if you want to attract cardinals to your yard.


What are the best feeders for the Cardinals?

Cardinals are drawn to feeders containing their preferred meals, including rapeseed or sunflower seed, almonds, or even crushed maize. Suet is a preferred winter meal for cardinals.

Do the Blue Jays frighten the Cardinals away? 

Yes. Many bird species, especially cardinals, consider blue jays to be bullies. Blue Jays are larger and noisier than almost any other bird, and their presence, especially at the feeder, causes many birds to flee.

When do cardinals eat, and when do they eat?

In the mornings, they’re the first ones to come to the feeder, as well as they’re the last to leave in the evenings. Cardinals appear to have lots of opportunities for humming throughout the day while other birds are grazing since they eat so early in the morning and so late in the evening.

Are cardinals likely to inhabit a birdhouse?

Cardinals, unlike some other backyard birds, do not use nesting boxes or tree houses. They prefer thick plant growth for both refuge and nesting, as well as for food.

When a blue jay or cardinals are seen together, what would it presume?

Blue jays & cardinal birds are considered both mystical birds, but seeing them surrounding you implies that you are surrounded by nature. Although it is uncommon to see both birds flying about together, their diets are identical. They’re a kind of forest bird native to eastern North America.

About Lily Aldrin

I am Lily Aldrin. I attended Cornell University, where I obtained my degree to become an Ornithologist so I could pursue my love of these magnificent creatures in and out of their natural habitats.

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