7 Proven Ways To Attract Cardinals To Your BackYard

cardinals sitting on fence

The Northern Cardinal is a delight to not only bird watchers but just about everyone. Their deep red plumage is vibrant and eye-catching.

So, how to attract cardinals to your backyard? You can attract cardinals to your backyard using

  • Correct Kind of Feeders
  • Food They Favor
  • Proper Water Source
  • Hanging Feeders in the Right Spot
  • Creating Extra Shelter
  • Preventing Water Source From Freezing
  • Creating Nesting Sites

Cardinals can be found throughout the majority of North America. They can be seen as far as northern Maine and the southern tip of Canada.

In the southern regions, they extend through Texas and into Central America. They are common in the northwest as well, in places like South Dakota. 

Whenever a cardinal is spotted at my feeders, I love to watch them. Thankfully, attracting Cardinals to your own bird feeder is not that hard. 

With a few easy changes to your backyard setup, I can almost guarantee that you will attract these stunning birds. And because they are non-migratory birds, once you entice them to your yard, they are likely to stay nearby all year.

However, if the Cardinal is not native to your area, there won’t be anything you can do to draw them in. 

How Can You Attract Cardinals To Your Backyard?

Attracting cardinals is easy and since they don’t really migrate like hummingbirds, you can keep them calling into your backyard by using my 7 proven tips to attract them and learning what do cardinals like to eat!

Go through the entire post to learn all my ways to attract cardinals and have fun!

1. Use the Correct Kind of Feeders

cardinal on feeder

Birds can be picky, so you want to be sure you have the right kind of table setting for the Cardinal. They need to be sturdy enough to support these portly little birds. The Cardinal definitely falls under the heavy category of birds when it comes to weight. 

A lightweight feeder may easily sway under the bird’s weight. Feeders that have build-in trays or platform feeders are ideal. Because the Cardinal is a full-breasted bird, she needs a fair amount of space when she sits down to dinner. 

2. Use Food They Favor

food for cardinal

Along with a proper feeder, having the right food for the Cardinal is critical. These birds have a strong beak that can easily handle larger seeds. White milo, safflower, and black oil sunflower seeds are among the Cardinal’s favorite.

They also enjoy cracked corn, crushed peanuts, and berries. If you live in colder climates, suet is an excellent choice for the Cardinals. The fat in suet helps the birds to keep weight on during the cold months.

 It’s also a good idea to check regularly that your feeders are full as these birds go through food quickly!

Also, try to avoid using yard chemicals or poisons in the areas where you hang your feeders. Herbicides and insecticides can heavily contaminate your food and water areas. And often, these chemicals can be fatal to birds. 

3. Have a Proper Water Source

water for cardinal

All birds need access to drinking water and bathing water. Having a bird feeder or bird waterer is a wonderful way to do this. Because Cardinals are bigger birds, a birdbath with a depth of about 2-3 inches is ideal. 

Adding a dripper to the water is an excellent way to keep it flowing but always clean out your birdbaths to prevent algae and dirt. 

4. Hang Your Feeders in the Right Spot

feeders in backyard

Correct placement of your feeders is also essential in attracting the Cardinal. These birds prefer a protective cover while eating as it makes them feel less vulnerable. 

Placing feeders near trees and shrubbery in your yard should do the trick. If you don’t seem to have a squirrel problem, simply scattering seed on the group works well. 

Avoid placing your feeds near any reflective surfaces. Cardinals will attack their own elections, and this can cause death, stress, and beak damage. (Check our post Male vs Female Cardinal to know the differences between them and how you could find out this!)

By eliminating the reflection of windows or mirrors near the feeding area, you can reduce the chance of an accident happening. 

Another thing to remember is that all birds are prey for other animals, such as house cats. If you have cats in the area, try to keep your feeding areas in places that may be inaccessible to them.

Perhaps hanging feeders higher up will deter cats as well as other preditors. No one wants to see a dead Cardinal in a cat’s mouth.

5. Create Extra Shelter

extra shelter for cardinals

Because Cardinals enjoy being secluded, why not plant some thick bushes or trees in various heights. Doing so will help these beautiful songbirds to feel protected.

The evergreen tree is a wonderful idea as it will provide excellent coverage during the cold months. And who knows, you may be lucky enough to have a nest in one of your shrubs. 

6. Try to Prevent Water Sources from Freezing

bird bath frozen in winter

This is obviously easier said than done, especially if you are in Northern New England. Changing out the birdbath every day will at least give some time with water that isn’t frozen.

You can also install a heated birdbath, which will attract Cardinals because who doesn’t like a warm bath?

7. Create Nesting Sites

bird nest with eggs

If you are eager to have a Cardinal take up residence in your yard, creating, a desirable nesting site can help.

Cardinals does not use a birdhouse or a nesting box. They prefer trees, thickets, and grapevines to raise their families in. 

Having nesting materials readily available will also entice Cardinals to consider a permanent stay.

If your yard has plentiful of twigs and grass clippings, as well as pine needles, you have a better chance of a Cardinal building her nest nearby. 


Cardinals add a touch of glorious color to our world, and who would not want that? Especially in the drab winter! Having the proper set up for them ensure that these bright crimson birds stick around. By following these easy tips, I hope that you can attract the Northern Cardinal to your yard.

Source – cwf-fcf.org

Donald Bergeson

I have always been fascinated by the skill, strength, and beauty of birds.They help in maintaining a balance of ecological environment. At Best Bird Guide, I share all of my experiences and discoveries that I have got so far and inspire more devoted fans.

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