It’s probably the most common question we get asked in both of our Ottawa locations as well as on our social media networks:  how to attract more cardinals.

These stunning yet reclusive birds are one of the most recognizable birds here in North America and not much is as dramatic a sight as a male cardinal on a fresh blanket of snow.  Their fire engine red plumage is perhaps what attracts most of us to these magnetic birds, who believe it or not, were not present on the Ontario landscape until the 1960’s.

Since re-emerging on the landscape here in eastern Ontario, an interesting trend that we have certainly made note of is how the cardinal has actually transformed into an urban bird.  As many of us will immediately think of pigeons and the like when we mention urban birds, many urban birders are enjoying local cardinals on a regular basis.

 

The reason for this is simple; these shy and secretive birds seek out protective environments and build their nests low to the ground as opposed to up high in the tree tops like other species.  As backyard development continues, the hedges and shrubbery found in urban environments make for perfect cardinal habitat.  Match that with the right food and you might just have inadvertently created the perfect cardinal habitat.

While the males do seem to garner a bulk of the adoration, their female counterparts are equally as beautiful.  Perhaps the best part about these species is that they will often travel in pairs, giving onlookers a chance to spot both sexes in one viewing.

There is much we can do to increase your odds of attracting and experiencing the beauty of the northern cardinal, here are a few best bets:

Food

We’ll say it again, the type and quality of seed you offer to your backyard birds truly does make all the difference.  Our blends do a fine job of attracting a variety of species to your yard, including cardinals.  Containing attractive ingredients such as steel-cut corn and dried cranberry, our blends contain everything cardinals need, specially formulated for geographical locations as well as seasonal adjustments.

In addition to our seed blends, black oil sunflower or safflower seed is also a great addition to your seed offering.

Feeders

A common misconception about not just cardinals, but birds, in general, is that all species are able to successfully perch on any feeder and enjoy the seed you are offering them.  The reality is, feeders equipped with small perches are not well suited to several species and cardinals is one of them.

Ground feeders by nature, these birds can often be found below hanging bird feeders collecting seed from the ground.  There is, however, ways to get them up a little higher and that is by instituting either a fly-through feeder or a platform feeder.  With large seed basins, these types of feeders allow ground-feeding birds such as cardinals the space they need to comfortably perch while feeding.