The 5 BEST Bird Feeders For Cardinals (That Work in 2022)
What are the BEST bird feeders for cardinals?
It’s a common question asked by both experienced and beginner bird watchers.
Well, in my opinion, it’s because the Northern Cardinal is one of the most stunning birds you will find in your yard. In addition, it’s arguably the most popular bird native to North America.
- RELATED: Watch the two LIVE cameras in my backyard! (You may see a Northern Cardinal right now)
And personally, cardinals have a VERY IMPORTANT role at our house.
They are my daughter’s favorite birds! (See video below)
Today, I am going to share FIVE bird feeders that attract cardinals the best in my yard.
Then at the end, I will provide FIVE tips for feeding Northern Cardinals! (Click the link to jump straight there)
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.
- 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) that is 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 to see Northern Cardinals feeding on the Absolute II!
- It is “squirrel resistant.” The feeder is designed to close if there is too much weight on the feeding perches (such as a squirrel). So far, it’s working, and the squirrels have not figured it out.
- Very sturdy – the body is made of steel, and it 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 it can also be mounted to a pole. However, make sure to use a heavy-duty one because the feeder is heavy when full of seed!
- 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.
- This feeder is versatile and has many purposes in my backyard. Northern Cardinals love it because it provides them with a big, open area to land and feed. The large tray gives them plenty of space to feel comfortable.
- 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 though 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.
- The 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 any damage caused by squirrels.
- 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.
Did you know that Northern Cardinals also enjoy 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.
- 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 sitting in standing 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. Currently, 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 land and feed!
- 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)
- 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, so it 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!
In general, tube feeders are not ideal for Northern Cardinals. They typically have a hard time using the perches because they are too small and they have a tough time turning their heads to reach the food ports.
To transform this tube feeder into one that cardinals and other larger birds will use, you are going to need to 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 that have spilled from the feeding ports above. Whenever I fill up this tube feeder, I typically 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.
5 Tips for Feeding Cardinals At Your Feeders!
Tip #1. Fill your feeders with their favorite foods.
The bird feeder is irrelevant if cardinals hate the food inside. Imagine that you are a vegetarian and the best steakhouse on the planet is next to your house, your still never going to go!
So what types of food should you put in your cardinal feeders?
Cardinals LOVE sunflower seeds and will readily eat the three different varieties that you usually see in the store.
Black oil sunflower seed: These are smaller sunflower seeds with a black shell. It’s a favorite seed to use in your feeders for cardinals due to its inexpensive price and appeal to a wide variety of bird species.
Gray/Black striped sunflower seed: These are large sunflower seeds that humans also eat. Since the shells are larger than black oil sunflower, not as many birds can crack the seeds open. But cardinals have no problem! A good choice if you want to discriminate against other birds.
Sunflower kernels/chips: This sunflower seed has had the shell removed, and just the kernel is left. Sunflower kernels attract the most extensive variety of birds to your cardinal feeder because many birds love sunflower seeds but can’t crack the shell. However, kernels and chips are much more expensive than black oil sunflower and striped sunflower seed.
Grown from the annual safflower plant, safflower seed is a popular addition to many types of birdseed mixes. It’s a great food to use because cardinals like it and eat the stuff up!
But here’s the best part!
Many other birds don’t like safflower seeds and will leave them alone in your feeder. Specifically, blackbirds (European Starlings!) and squirrels usually don’t eat safflower, who are two of the most prominent bullies that show up at backyard feeders.
So if your goal is to attract as many cardinals as possible and limit the number of other bird species, then safflower is an excellent choice.
Cardinals are also attracted to peanuts, as long as they are already out of their shell.
Peanuts are an excellent source of protein and fat and can help cardinals get some extra nutrition during a hard winter.
But like sunflower, many other birds LOVE shelled peanuts too – Jays, crows, woodpeckers, nuthatches, blackbirds, titmice, chickadees, doves, juncos, and more!
Tip #2. Even though cardinals are common, they are shy.
Try to keep your cardinal bird feeders away from windows with a lot of movement. I’ve noticed the farther my feeders get from my house; the more cardinals seem to arrive!
Find a quiet spot in your yard to place your feeders, preferably with trees and brush nearby for them to land and hide. Many times, cardinals will hang out near a feeder but stay hidden until they are ready to eat. This is especially apparent after fresh snow. We have counted as many as 15 cardinals within close proximity to our feeders!
Tip #3. Cardinals enjoy feeding on the ground.
Isn’t this ironic? I’m writing an article talking about different cardinal bird feeders but these birds also love feeding on the ground.
When I fill my feeders, I usually throw a handful of black oil sunflower seed on the ground too. I hope that spreading sunflower seeds on the ground will attract even the shyest cardinals to my yard.
Tip #4. The early Northern Cardinal gets the sunflower seeds!
Make sure your feeders are full every morning before sunrise. Cardinals are early risers and will be among the first birds to visit every day (and some of the last to leave in the evening).
Tip #5. Don’t panic if the cardinals don’t eat safflower seed right away.
If you try to fill a feeder with ONLY safflower seed, your cardinals may not touch it at first. It’s not that they don’t like it, but they probably have never had it before.
My recommendation is to mix safflower into sunflower seed. Cardinals will inevitably eat some safflower and realize that it’s tasty and edible and should soon visit a bird feeder just full of safflower.
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, and peanuts.
3. Review the other tips provided to optimize your backyard for Northern Cardinals.
If this article was valuable, please consider doing one of the following three things:
1. If you decide to purchase one of the cardinal bird feeders listed above, please use one of the affiliate links provided. At no cost to you, I would receive a small percentage from that retailer. This lets me know that you found this article helpful and covers the costs to run Bird Watching HQ. I would also be forever grateful. 🙂
2. Share this article! I don’t care what social network you prefer, pass it around!
3. Use the comments below to keep the conversation going. I would love to hear your thoughts and responses:
What bird feeders for cardinals have you had the most success using?
Please share your best tips and tricks for feeding Northern Cardinals!