Best bird feeders for cardinals

The Northern Cardinal is one of the most sought-after backyard bird due to its vibrant color, year-round residency (in the eastern United States), and beautiful song. To attract them, it's important to make them feel comfortable in your yard with the right bird feeders, their favorite seeds, and a safe feeding location.

cardinal in snow

What kind of bird feeder is best for cardinals?

Cardinals are fairly large songbirds. The best type of bird feeder for cardinals is one that provides enough space for them to perch and eat. A platform or tray bird feeder, hopper feeder, tube feeder, gazebo feeder or suction cup window feeder are all great options for attracting cardinals to your yard.

Platform or tray bird feeder

One of the best bird feeders for cardinals is a platform feeder with a perforated seed tray that allows for rain drainage. The open design of this feeder allows cardinals to easily access the seed and provides enough space for them to perch and feed.

cardinal on platform feeder

Pictured: Hanging Platform Feeder (Model# CWF3)

Hopper bird feeder

Another great option is a hopper feeder that has a large tray for perching. A hopper feeder has a seed chamber that provides great protection from the weather, keeping seed fresher longer. A vertical hopper feeder has an extended base tray to accommodate larger birds and can also have feeding ports and perches on either side to increase the number of birds feeding at one time.

cardinal on hopper feeder cardinal on vertical hopper feeder

Pictured: Left, 3 QT Hopper Feeder w/ 2 Suet Cages (Model# CWF28) | Right, Farmhouse Vertical Feeder (Model# WWLF1-DECO)

Window bird feeder

A window bird feeder can allow you to get up close and personal to your backyard cardinals like never before! Most birds are comfortable coming up close to buildings to feed. When selecting a window bird feeder, make sure it has an opening large enough for them to be comfortable feeding in as well as sturdy suctions cups that will accommodate the weight of cardinals. To give yourself the best viewing experience, choose a window feeder with side-mounted suction cups that gives you a full view of your bids!

Tube bird feeder

A tube feeder with large, strong perches can attract cardinals. Squirrel proof or gazebo bird feeders often have larger perches that can accommodate the size of a cardinals’ body.

cardinal on squirrel proof tube feeder

Pictured: Squirrel Shield Pro Tube Feeder (Model# SPTUB-2)

What do cardinals like to eat?

The Northern Cardinal's diet consists of seeds and fruit, supplementing these with insects when available. Cardinals preferred seed types are black oil sunflower and safflower seed. You can also offer berries, crushed peanuts, cracked corn, or even small chunks of suet.

What is the best place to put a cardinal bird feeder?

If you already own and are having success with other bird feeders, try placing the new feeder near the existing feeders. Place your feeder roughly 10 feet from a natural shelter such as trees or shrubs to offer a resting place for birds between feedings and quick refuge from any predators. Be careful not to put feeders much closer than 10 feet from trees or shrubs since it can increase the likelihood of squirrels. Remember, feeders should be hung or mounted closer than 3 feet from a window or farther than 15 feet from a window to help prevent fatal window collisions.

What time of day do cardinals feed?

Cardinals are known to be early risers. They are most active at feeders during dawn and dusk but will feed throughout the daylight hours as well.

Why aren’t cardinals coming to my bird feeder?

There are many factors that could be causing a bird to choose a different source of food. One thing to keep in mind is that birds are creatures of habit. It may also take some time for the birds to get used to a new landing pattern or learn the mechanics of getting out the seed from a new feeder. If you aren’t seeing any cardinals at your feeders in the first few weeks of having them out, try these suggestions to make sure you’re setting yourself up for success.




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