Calling all Cardinals

Cardinals are big, lively and can easily be the star of the show. No, we’re not talking about Mark McGuire, Albert Pujols, or the pro baseball team (Go Cards!) — instead, we’re covering ways to attract our fine feathered-friends, whose bright colors often set them apart from the rest of the backyard birds. The vibrant red feathers of the cardinal are stunning and pop off the landscape year-round. For this reason, and a handful of others, backyard birders thoroughly enjoy a Cardinal parties at their feeders.

These backyard birds love to sing and are one of the most desirable birds in the U.S. Both male and female cardinals sing for most of the year, which is unusual for most birds. Cardinals are easy to spot; males sport bright red feathers from head to toe as opposed to their female counterparts who are predominately brown and gray with hints of red and orange.

Want your backyard buzzing with Cardinals? Follow these tips:

  1. They like swanky digs. Cardinals prefer large, wide feeders with plenty of space to perch. A platform or large hopper feeder is a valid choice but ensure the feeder will not swing or sway under the birds’ weight. Cardinal bird feeders with a short perch will not accommodate the size and needs of the birds – try offering a tube feeder with a large tray or an open platform feeder. Because Cardinals like easily-accessible seeds, we recommend using a Droll Yankee squirrel-proof feeder or take preventative measures to ensure the feed and birds are protected from predators.
  2. Cardinals prefer opulent bird baths. In addition to a snazzy backyard bird feeder, a 2-3” bird bath is ideal for Cardinals. They frequent bird baths. And don’t forget – Cardinals remain in Northern areas year-round so a heated bird bath is the way to go for the birders living in cooler climates. Make sure there is some depth to the bird bath as our red-feathered friends like to splash and rehydrate with one another. A good bath can keep birds’ precious feathers in the best condition possible.
  3. They’re not picky about food.Cardinals will happily try everything from seeds to fruit – these birds enjoy all kinds of food. Northern cardinals have strong, thick bills that are perfect for large seeds; black oil sunflower seeds and safflower seeds are a few of their favorites. They also snack on insects and bugs which can be used to feed their nestlings (aww). Keep your feeders full of sunflower seeds and try planting fruit-bearing plants such as sumac, hackberry or dogwood to attract Cardinals to your backyard bird feeders. Despite being primarily known as ground feeders, Cardinals can adapt comfortably to feeders.