One of the most desired backyard birds in North America; it might surprise you that the Northern Cardinal is actually quite easy to attract to your backyard feeders, bird baths, and nesting areas.
Easily recognized with their beautiful red plumage, large beaks, and harmonious songs, the Cardinal also stays put for the winter months allowing for year-round viewing of these striking birds.
Here are a few tips you can use to create a backyard haven for these handsome devils:
Providing Cardinals with their favorite dish is a pretty safe way to keep these easy-to-please birds happy. Equipped with a strong, thick bill, large seeds are some of their favorites to snack on. Think black oil sunflower seeds and safflower seed along with fresh berries, steel-cut corn and chunks of suet to keep their bellies full and happy. We at Gilligallou Bird also carry a Cardinal Blend Seed, specifically formulated for the Northern Cardinal. These birds are usually your first and last customers of the day, be sure to have your feeders filled both morning and night.
Typically, Cardinals are ground feeders, but they will feed on a flat surface as well. The Cardinal likes a good steady surface, so choosing larger heavier feeders that will not sway or a feeder on a sturdy pole gives this bird more stability when feeding. This being said, it’s obvious that small tube feeders are quite unsuitable for Cardinals unless they are equipped with a large tray at the bottom. Wood hopper, fly through and open platform feeders are your best choice in allowing the Cardinal a comfortable place to feed.
Northern Cardinals love water and will visit your bird baths regularly if kept up. Given the size of the bird, we find a 2-3inch depth in a birdbath to be ideal for Cardinals. Adding a dripper or mister will aid in attracting the attention of Cardinals to your water source, and because this is a non-migratory bird, a heated birdbath would be an essential visit for the cold winter months.
Shelter & Nesting Sites
For such a bright colored and attention-grabbing bird, the Cardinal prefers a very discreet and secluded area for both shelter and nesting purposes. Grapevines, clematis, hawthorn, and dogwood plants are their top choices for nesting sites, while dense sumac, mulberry and blueberry vines, and shrubs are their favorite shelter habitats, and also provide a natural food source for the bird.
As we stated earlier, the Northern Cardinal is not traditionally a difficult bird to court, sift through these tips, and apply them to your backyard, and these beautiful birds should offer year-round enjoyment.