Last Updated on May 7, 2022


The cardinal is considered one of the most beautiful orange birds of north America. Learning how to attract cardinals to your yard is fairly simple. All you need is the right type of bird feeder and food and you’ll have your yard full of cardinals in no time. Other ways to encourage these birds to come around more often can include adding a water feature to your yard, planting berry bushes, and giving them places to hide and rest during the day. If you’re searching for new and innovative ways to encourage these beautiful birds to hang around your yard, then read on to learn about some great tips that seasoned birders recommend.

Bird Feeders for Cardinals

Cardinal on the ground

When you’re shopping for a bird feeder for this particular species (such as a bee-proof oriole feeder), you’ll need to ensure that the model you buy is strong and sturdy and comes equipped with a place for them to perch while they eat. Tube feeders and smaller bird feeders are not a great choice for this large bird. The cardinal is very heavy compared to most backyard birds, so you’ll want to look for a model that’s specifically designed for this species. Most cardinals will do well with a platform feeder or a hopper feeder. These birds can also often be found eating any food that has been dropped on the ground from a smaller bird feeder that’s designed for wrens or sparrows.

If you’ve purchased a bird feeder that’s squirrel-proof, then ensure that the feeder’s spring is not placed on a setting that prevents the cardinal from using it.

The feeder should also be hung at a height that’s easy for you to access, so you can always ensure that they’re full and ready for any visitors. If you allow a feeder to remain empty for too long, a cardinal will stop visiting and checking if there is a food source available.

Bird Food

Cardinals are not exactly picky eaters. These birds tend to consume a variety of birdseed types, even those that include fruits and nuts. Whether you decide to provide them with safflower seeds, sunflower seeds, broken up peanuts, or suet, keeping your feeder ready and stocked year-round is a surefire way to attract more of these birds to your yard.

These birds will also consume mealworms, which are normally used to attract other types of large backyard birds, such as bluebirds. Feeding mealworms to birds is a real treat and a guarantee that you’ll have repeat visitors.

These birds also love fruit, including fresh berries and apple slices. Some birders even recommend placing fresh fruit or jelly out by bird feeders in order to attract larger birds such as the northern cardinal.

Another option is to add some plants that can help to attract more of these birds. Cardinals love berry-producing bushes, shrubs, and trees. Try blueberry bushes and mulberry trees to start.

To learn more, click here to read my guide on homemade bird food recipes.


Female cardinal bird

In many parts of the country, the cardinal will not migrate and will stay around through the entire winter. Their presence makes a beautiful burst of color, while their beautiful songs are also a welcome sound in the morning. Consider making shelters for these birds to live in during the winter months. Keep your bird feeders stocked all winter long, and add a water feature to your backyard. If your part of the country experiences harsh winter conditions, then check the water feature regularly to ensure that it hasn’t frozen over.

When it comes to shelter preferences, the cardinal is a very private bird. These birds will usually look for areas that are dense with growth, such as thick shrubs, or evergreen trees. Because of their bright color, this type of coverage can help to provide them with protection from predators. These birds will very rarely use a birdhouse, which is why most manufacturers do not produce cardinal specific models.

If you want to give these birds an appropriate shelter during the winter months, consider planting shrubs and trees. If you want to attract more birds, consider planting thicker bushes and shrubs that can be used as a nesting spot in the spring and summer months.

Also, include natural nesting material, which may be complicated for some. Place lightweight materials out such as cotton, yarn, and even dog fur. You can use an empty suet feeder to hang these nesting materials and allow them to remain in plain sight so these birds will have an easier time spotting them. Remember, these birds prefer to make their own homes and will not take up residence in a manmade birdhouse.

Bath Time

As I mentioned earlier, make sure you keep fresh water available in the yard at all times. Cardinals, like all birds, love water. They will bathe in it, drink it, and love to splash around in it. If you have one or more birdbaths in your yard, then you’ll be more likely to see cardinals sticking close by.

If you want to provide them with more security in the water, try adding some small sticks to your birdbath, which will give them a comfortable place to rest after a bath or while they drink. This type of small touch can do wonders to encourage these birds to hang around your yard.

Final Thoughts

Both the female and male cardinals sing, which is one of the reasons many birders try so desperately to keep these birds hanging around their yard. While these birds tend to be more vocal during the breeding season, you can still hear them singing year-round, even in freezing temperatures. Now that you know how to attract cardinals to your yard, make sure you take the proper steps to encourage these birds to visit your yard several times a day. This includes buying bird feeders that are specifically designed to handle heavier birds, using their favorite foods, planting berry bushes and trees, and adding a water feature and foliage.