8 BEST Bird Feeders to Attract Cardinals (2024)

What are the BEST bird feeders for cardinals?

types of northern cardinal bird feeders It’s a common question asked by both experienced and beginner bird watchers. But why? Well, I think it’s because the Northern Cardinal is one of the most stunning birds around. It’s arguably the most popular bird native to North America. And personally, cardinals have a VERY IMPORTANT role at our house.

They are my daughter’s favorite type of bird! (See video below)

EIGHT BEST bird feeders to attract cardinals.


#1. Absolute II Cardinal Bird Feeder

This is one of the best overall feeders in my backyard! Northern Cardinals feed on it daily and love landing on the perches to get some food.

Best Bird Feeders for cardinals

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Positives:

  • This large hopper bird feeder is the centerpiece of my backyard feeding area. It is where I put my general bird seed mix (sunflower, peanut pieces, safflower, and white millet) designed to attract as many species as possible, in addition to Northern Cardinals.
  • It holds a lot of seeds, up to 12 pounds (5.5 kg) if filled to the top!
  • Cardinals were feeding on this feeder within the first HOUR of hanging it up. Watch the video below from my backyard to see Northern Cardinals feeding on the Absolute II!

  • Very sturdy – the body is made of steel and should last a long time. There is also no chance that squirrels or raccoons will be able to chew through it. *I have owned my Absolute II for almost five years, and it’s still going strong.*
  • My Absolute II is hanging freely but can also be mounted to a pole. However, use a heavy-duty one because the feeder is heavy when full of seed!
  • It’s super easy to refill. The top lid unlatches easily to open.
  • The seed is well protected from the rain. I have had no problems with mold or seed clumping due to moisture or dampness.

#2. Droll Yankee Dorothy’s Cardinal Feeder

Best Cardinal Feeders

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Positives:

  • The dome over the feeding tray helps to keep rain and snow off the seed. And the water that does get onto the seeds will drain away through the small holes in the tray.
  • This cardinal feeder is constructed of sturdy and durable polycarbonate plastic. It is very tough, sturdy, and resistant to cracking or breaking. No worries if this accidentally falls to the ground.
  • Dorothy’s Cardinal Feeder is made by Droll Yankees, who have a fantastic reputation for quality bird products. Made in America (as are all their products!) and backed by their Lifetime Warranty, which covers any defective part or damage caused by squirrels.

Negatives:

  • Since it is made from clear plastic, this cardinal bird feeder is not the most decorative or aesthetically pleasing in my yard. However, this is not something that I care about because it works well and attracts cardinals.
  • The plastic tray doesn’t hold much food. I have to refill this feeder daily.

#3. Woodlink 3-in-1 Platform Feeder

tray feeder for northern cardinals

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Did you know that Northern Cardinals LOVE feeding on the ground? Because of this fact, I recommend giving them a place to eat below your feeders. I use a wooden tray feeder, and it is one of the best feeders for Northern Cardinals that I own!

Check out the LIVE view of my tray feeder for a chance to see a cardinal right now.

Positives:

  • This is an excellent, multi-purpose tray feeder and a favorite for cardinals. Just spread their favorite foods, like sunflower seeds, on top! I usually put treats and food on the tray for other birds, such as whole peanuts, corn kernels, fruit, and mealworms.
  • It’s solid and well constructed – made from cedar and screwed together well. Of course, you can buy much cheaper platform feeders, but you typically “ALWAYS get what you pay for!”
  • The metal screen bottom provides excellent drainage. Your birdseed and food will never be soaked in water.
  • The tray can be used in three ways. It can be placed on the ground, hung with a wire, or mounted to a pole. I have this feeder sitting on the ground underneath my feeders, as you can see in the video above.

I also have it mounted to my feeder pole to give birds a large area to feed!

best tray feeder

  • The metal screen bottom is removable and slides right out. This makes the feeder very easy to clean!
  • It’s big and can hold lots of birds at one time. (16.4 x 13.2 x 2.4 inches or 41.6 x 33.6 x 6.0 cm)

#4. Woodlink Hopper Bird Feeder

woodlink hopper

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  • This simple, open design allows many cardinals to feed comfortably at once and from both sides.
  • The bird feeder is easy to refill thanks to the hinged roof. It holds about 5.5 lbs (2.5 kg) of seed.
  • It’s made of 90% recycled plastic and will never rot or fall apart.
  • The feeder has a mesh screen bottom that provides excellent drainage.
  • It’s not flashy, but it works, which is why it’s one of the best cardinal bird feeders available!

#5. Brome Squirrel Buster Plus

brome squirrel buster for northern cardinals

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The Brome Squirrel Buster Plus is one of the BEST bird feeders for cardinals that DOESN’T let squirrels eat!

It’s weight-sensitive, allowing Northern Cardinals to feed, but it instantly closes with the weight of a squirrel. It features six seed ports, holds about 5 lbs (2.3 kg) of seed, and has one continuous perch around the entire base. Another thing that I like is that you can adjust the feeding ports to different weight sensitivities. This feature comes in handy if flocks of European Starlings or other large birds are taking over your feeding station. If too many of these birds land on the perch, it will close access to the food inside.

Here’s a great video of the Squirrel Buster Plus in action!


#6. Netvue Birdfy Feeder Camera

best bird feeder cameras - northern cardinals

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Have you ever wanted to put a camera next to your feeders to watch your cardinals up close?

Well, by using this bird feeder, this has never been easier! Netvue was the first company to manufacture an “out of the box” bird feeder with a camera built into the design! The camera is 1080p, giving incredibly clear video and pictures of the visiting birds!

What’s neat about the Birdfy Feeder Camera is that you can watch Northern Cardinals from your phone! The app makes it easy to record or capture interesting moments that can be shared quickly and easily. 

Also, please note that the bird feeder must be close enough to your house to connect to your Wifi to work.


#7. Aspects Tube Feeder

aspects tube bird feeder

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In general, tube feeders are not ideal for Northern Cardinals. They typically have difficulty turning their heads to reach the food while sitting on the perches. But, you can make one minor adjustment to a tube feeder to make it effective for attracting cardinals.aspects tube feeder and tray To transform this tube feeder into one that cardinals and other larger birds will use, you must buy a tray that attaches securely at the bottom.

  • 12-inch tray – Compatible with the Aspects hanging tube feeder featured above.

Here is a video clip of my bird feeding station. You can see a cardinal feeding from the tray of the tube feeder in the back.

Northern Cardinals enjoy landing and finding all the sunflower seeds spilled from the feeding ports above.

Whenever I fill up this tube feeder, I throw a handful of food directly on the tray so my cardinals have something to eat immediately. Between the six feeding ports and attached tray, this feeder is not only great for cardinals but, in general, is one of my favorite bird feeders and attracts a wide variety of species.

Lastly, it’s incredibly strong, durable, and holds a lot of bird food.

Highly recommended!


#8. Acrylic WINDOW Bird Feeder

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Putting a window bird feeder outside our kitchen was one of my best decisions. My kids love watching cardinals up close, and anyone who visits is immediately attracted to the back windows to see the action.

If I am quiet, I can easily get next to the window to observe each bird’s beautiful plumage or feeding habits.

This window bird feeder consistently has birds feeding on it and works as advertised. A removable tray sits inside the plastic housing that suctions to your window, making it easy to refill the seed and clean.

And don’t worry. The FOUR suction cups do a great job of keeping the feeder attached. I have NEVER had it fall from my window.

If you have never used a window bird feeder before, PLEASE BE PATIENT!

It can take the birds, especially Northern Cardinals, a while to find the new location and feel comfortable enough coming that close to your home.


You can see the bird feeders I’m using to attract Northern Cardinals RIGHT NOW.

Press PLAY below and watch the LIVE camera that streams my feeding station! Depending on the season or the birds’ preference, I’m always rotating feeders, so you never know which of my favorites you will see. 🙂


Conclusion – The Best Bird Feeders for Cardinals

Having your backyard bird feeders full of beautiful red Northern Cardinals should not be too complicated. Just follow the recommendations in this article:

1. Choose a proven cardinal bird feeder.

2. Use food that cardinals can’t resist: Sunflower, safflower, cracked corn, and peanuts.


What bird feeder do Northern Cardinals like best at your home?

Please leave a COMMENT below. 🙂

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34 Comments

  1. I’m looking for a bird feeder that won’t drop feed to the ground. I placed my feeder in my flier garden by inside window (great go watching my and I can see when feeder needs refilled). Is there such a feeder? Debbie

  2. Loved this article, I noticed that my cardinals came around and then just left. I am trying to get them back. The squirrels are a problem for me. Trying to solve that too. I’m going to try your suggestions and hopefully I can get them back in my yard.
    Thanks again,

  3. Thank you Scott for this information. I have just started with this hobby. I have so many morning doves now the cardinals are coming by. There are others but have know idea what they are just little ones like sparrows hope to be able to attract others. Again thank you this article really helps. Steve

  4. Since March I’ve been using a selective Cardinal feeder – ‘The Unique Cardinal Feeder’ – made and sold by Nature Expert (formerly the CCFA: Centre de Conservation de la Faune Ailée de Montreal) in Montreal. It uses a clever counter-balance lever and spring mechanism for opening and closing the feeding port so that only Cardinals and birds of similar size and weight (e.g. can access the seed. Safflower is the seed of choice. It definitely works and solved the problem with House Finches devouring and wasting seed on my old feeder. The only limitation is that it allows just one bird to feed at a time. Still, this makes for entertaining interactions.

    I’ve posted a number of videos on YouTube demonstrating the feeder, several of which are shown on Nature Expert’s product page also. Can’t share the URL links here, but the the video titles are:

    Northern Cardinals on ‘Unique Cardinal Feeder’ 3rd April 2022
    Northern Cardinals on the ‘Unique Cardinal Feeder’: A Compilation
    Male Cardinal feeding a juvenile on the ‘Unique Cardinal Feeder’
    Juvenile Cardinal on the ‘Unique Cardinal Feeder’ : Update
    Juvenile Cardinals On The ‘Unique Cardinal Feeder’: Update #2

  5. I have been remiss in keeping some rise bushes trimmed (yes, actual bushes, rather than the stalk style; prettier than holly bushes in front of the house), and a cardinal family has moved in.

    1. When will it be best to cut the monstrosities down? I assume very late summer or early winter after the chicks have grown.

    2. It’s next to my front porch, and I have a book for hanging plants in that side. What should I put out for them? Same as recommended above? Anything special for the chicks?

  6. Have you found a solution? I have the same problem! My 6 doves are fat as chickens! They take over the feeders!

  7. Wondering if anyone else have cardinals that peck on your patio door when they want food? This happened at our old house and it has started happening at our new house. My husband thinks our cardinals have followed us. It is usually the female that pecks on the patio door. My husband has named her Ruby. She only pecks when the food is gone.

  8. I left the (two) safflower cakes out anyway because the Chikadees seemed to like it – probably because my loose safflower seed feeder (which is hung under the deck pergoda in the winter) is constantly occupied by House Finches. Also, over time I saw more House Finches on the cakes, and catch tray placed under them, for the same reason. Suffice it to say, after two weeks both cakes were depleted. As for the two loose safflower feeder – what I’ve done since is change the existing plastic spill tray (a frisbee), which was attached directly to the base of the feeder, for one a bit larger and suspended it (with plastic ties) below the feeder so there’s enough room for the Cardinals and House Finches to comfortably get at all of the fallen seed underneath, whilst excluding larger birds (i.e. Doves). The cardinals seem happy with that arrangement, as long as there is seed to eat. Then, every couple of days, I’ll empty the contents into the larger catch tray that I put under the seed cakes out in the yard. That has started to attract Mourning Doves and House Sparrows, which I’m not particularly bothered about – except that today I saw a Coopers Hawk attack it and take a House Sparrow (I think it was) which it subdued in the hedge close by. Might be best to put a wire cage over it. Last thing I want is a hawk targeting the feeders. I was under the impression that they are less likely to attack feeders under canopies, but have just watched a video where one did, and frequently. That could also partly explain why the Cardinals have not been attracted to the Safflower cakes – too exposed out in the yard. I’ve seen hawks attacking birds in a wooded area at the end of the yard before. This is the first time I seen one attacking targeting a feeder close to the house.

  9. Its amazing the lengths we go to for our birds, making your seed cake is evidence of such dedication. Its true, what works for some doesn’t work for others. In our backyard safflower rules with our large population of cardinals, up to 18 at top sighting, but the small birds love it too. I now see the squirrels have also stepped in tho. Fortunately the blackbirds don’t/can’t eat it. Because of them we had to move to safflower and sunflower only, with a platform feeder of shelled and unshelled peanuts. This has completely reduced the blackbird numbers and we can once again enjoy our backyard. We’ve kept the woodpeckers and bluejays with the peanuts.

  10. Couldn’t find Striped Sunflower seed locally, so I thought I’d try Safflower ‘seed cake’ instead. Prepared my own, based on a recipe I found for seed cylinders (seed and gelatin only). I formed the cakes to fit in a standard square cage suet feeder which I hung vertically with an empty cage attached to the underside (and perpendicular to it) to serve as a perch-platform, on both sides. I also put a catch tray underneath. And I removed my normal safflower feeder meanwhile. The cake has been out for 5 days now and really the only birds I’ve seen spending any time on it, and managing to dislodge seed, are the chickadees. The House Finches are quick to pick-up any fallen seed in the catch tray – by the time the Cardinals come around the pickings are slim. I’ve only once seen a Cardinal extract a seed from the cake and it didn’t linger afterwards. Granted, it has been very cold the last few days (down to -22 °C), so I tried breaking the frozen hard cake into smaller fragments to expose more seed, and also compressing the seeds less when forming the cake – but it didn’t make any difference. Might work for some, but I’m going back to loose seed.

  11. Safflower on the preformed cylinders is ideal. Most any safflower eater can access it but the doves cannot, provided your base and/or perches are the correct size.

  12. Started back-yard birding last year. Have a dedicated feeder for safflower seed, with 2 ports and adequate perches. The cardinals love it, but so do the House Finches, and they occupy it for most of the time, leisurely selecting the ‘perfect’ seed and throwing out the rest. Tried putting a catch tray under the feeder, which helped save seed, and attracted grossbeaks in the process, but now in the winter the House Finches are depleting the safflower at a phenomenal rate. I’ve switched from Nyjer only to a Nyjer-Sunflower fine chip mix in the finch feeders (Tube and Mesh), which relieves some of the burden on the safflower feeder, but I’m thinking of switching to Striped Sunflower. Good quality safflower seeds are becoming increasingly difficult to source locally anyway. My usual bulk supplier went bust. Question is – can House Finches crack Striped Sunflower. Cheers.

  13. Add a tray feeder. Fill that feeder with safflower and fill the rest of the feeders with sunflower. The mourning doves will crowd out the tray feeder and leave the sunflower-filled feeders alone.

  14. I built a hanging tray feeder. It is currently inside for repair, but whenever I put it outside, the cardinals crowd it. I love the cardinals, but whenever the wind blows, the rubber bands holding up the tray give away. Then the feeder falls to the ground and the cardinals fly away. Any ideas to keep the rubber bands from giving away? Thanks!

  15. I find that Wagner’s hot pepper seed (Home Depot or PetSmart) attracts cardinals like crazy. Its a mixture of peanut, safflower seeds and other seed. I have too many squirrels to not use this formula. I could not believe the amount of cardinals, blue jays and of course the sparrows.

  16. The cowbirds are a Nuisance. There are also parasitical and I don’t want them at my feeders. I switched to just safflower seeds in order to discourage those horrible things. Any other hints or feeder advice to prevent them from feasting in my yard?

  17. My biggest problem are the deer. Although I love watching them on my property they empty out all of my feeders. Any tips? I do have a pair of Cardinals but just those two. I use the right food but I can’t seem to attract anymore Cardinals. Perhaps a new bird feeder will work.

  18. I’ve tried everything. Anywhere mourning doves can get a foothold, they monopolize the feeder.

  19. I have the exact one (looks like a big red barn) I can’t get ANY bird to eat from it. I’ve moved to multiple different locations, they won’t eat from it ????

  20. I bought the absolute feeder that holds twelve pounds when filled.
    Now, a pole about five foot came with it. Is that the best pole for it or should I invest in a different, taller one? If so, please recommend one
    Martha

  21. I have 3 bird feeders, all with the same seed mix, but the one that absolutely attracts the most cardinals (and almost exclusively so) is the one that looks like a big red barn!

  22. Having a terrible time with pigeons! They are eating everything. Do you know a good feeder that would keep my cute cardinal couple, but get rid of the pigeons? Thank you.

  23. I have several pairs of mourning doves but I find they prefer eating from the ground. They occasionally visit the hanging tray but it’s not their first choice. I have many, many cardinals and they eat from all my feeders but the one dedicated to the finches. My bluebirds eat from the hopper but their favorite is the fly-through feeder – it’s blue – maybe they prefer blue. The bluebirds are nesting. I wish I could make myself buy worms live instead of freeze-dried but I can’t stand the thought living worms in my fridge. Is there anything you know of that bluebirds really like besides mealworms?

  24. Every feeder the Cardinals like is taken over by Morning Doves, which crowd out all the other birds–and the voracious eaters love safflower. I can’t keep trays on the bottom of any of my feeders due to the dove problem. Any suggestions?