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8 Best Tips to Attract Cardinals to Your Yard

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

Cardinals are amazing birds! The males are the most beautiful with their distinctive crests and bright red plumage. The females are pretty in their own right, with their bright orange beaks and reddish-brown coloring, though not nearly as striking as the males. You may have heard that many mate for life! Although they will find a new mate if their partner dies.

two cardinal birds kissing on a tree

Some believe Cardinal sightings are angels of deceased loved ones visiting to look over them. I’m in! I

can definitely use more angels watching over me!

Their red coloring is striking with a white snow background! Although shy, they are some of the most

gentle, graceful birds, and are wonderful to have as regular visitors.

Northern Cardinals are found up and down the East Coast and most of the South and Midwest. Since don’t migrate like many other species, you can enjoy their brightly colored blessings year-round. Range Map.

So what are the best ways to attract Cardinals to your yard?? Here are some tips to invite and entice them to visit your backyard.

1) Buy a good bird feeder(s)

When you are buying a quality bird feeder make sure and find one that is easy to clean and will last multiple seasons. Consider buying a window bird feeder to see Cardinals’ vibrant colors up close! Select a feeder with holes big enough to serve up sunflower seeds- their favorite food.

cardinal enjoying a meal on a window bird feeder

ClearView Window Bird Feeder is dishwasher safe, so it makes a great choice to attract Cardinals and protect them also. Keep your window feeder supplied year-round to encourage them to brighten your window even during cold winter months.

2) Stock your feeder with food Cardinals like.

cardinal holding a sunflower seed

Cardinals have strong beaks that can break through the toughest seed husks. They love safflower and black-oil sunflower seeds! Even the larger and harder to open striped sunflower seeds are no issue for them. There are seed mixes available specifically to attract cardinals. They also like high fat calorie suet during cold weather.

If seed debris is an issue (like on a busy patio or deck), try “waste-free” seed. Waste-free means that it contains the seed hearts without the husks, so there will be less debris. Other birds like seed hearts as well, so there may be more competition at the feeder. Cardinals also like some nuts and mealworms, which can be a welcomed but more expensive alternative. Perhaps use a mix (keep the seed and mealworms separate) to attract a wider variety of insect-loving birds as well like Bluebirds, and Wrens.

cardinal with their wings flared

3) Cardinals are early birds!

Make your feeder ready by the crack of dawn or you will miss their prime feeding time! They also come at dusk.

4) Place your feeder in a location safe from predators.

Make sure to put your feeder in a place that is safe from predators like cats and hawks. Think like a predator! Is this a good place for an ambush?

5) Provide a clean water source.

This is critical for birds, as they don’t always have access to sanitary alternatives. Birds need water, too! Find a feeder that keeps water separated from the seed and/or purchase a bird bath and regularly clean/replace the water to keep it sanitary. For colder climates during winter consider a bird bath heater to keep water from freezing or a window mounted feeder will receive residual heat from your window, so they have access to liquid water year-round. Click this link for more info on why clean water is important.

6) Clean and sanitize your feeder(s) regularly.

Your feathered friends are counting on you to provide the safest feeding environment possible. Many people are unaware that thousands of birds die annually primarily due to infections from poorly maintained bird feeder and bird baths. Use a 9:1 water to bleach solution on a weekly or bi-weekly basis to prevent bird-borne diseases, or better yet, find a feeder you can easily clean and sanitize in your dishwasher. Find tips for cleaning/sanitizing your feeder(s) here. YouTube video: How to clean your bird feeder.

Remember to wash your hands thoroughly after handling any bird feeder.

cardinal on a tree branch in the winter

7) Stock your feeder in the winter months.

During the winter food can be scarce for Cardinals. They will likely nest near reliable food and clean water sources.

8) Be patient.

It may take multiple weeks for Cardinals to feel comfortable and safe after

discovering a new food and water source (especially if you’re trying to attract them to a window feeder), but if they are around, they will find you if you are consistent!

In the meantime, other bird species will settle in with a new, reliable food and water source, but the Cardinals will be the brightest of them all! Enjoy!

For more information on the first and only window bird feeder designed from the ground up with birds’ health in mind, click here.

(Here are a few pictures taken from my own back yard!) ClearView Deluxe Window Bird Birder

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1 Comment

Why do the cardinals fly into my window daily. One flew 20x the other day.

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