Cardinals are one of the most beautiful and beloved birds in North America. Having these vibrant red birds grace your backyard is a beautiful way to brighten your outdoor space and add extra beauty to your landscape. If you’re looking for how to attract cardinals to your yard, you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we’ll provide tips on how to make your backyard a cardinal-friendly environment, from providing the appropriate food sources to creating a safe nesting area.
What are cardinals?
Cardinals are a family of birds known for their vibrant color, solid beaks, and melodic songs. Known as the “royalty of backyard birds,” cardinals are one of North America’s most popularly recognized birds. With a range stretching from southern Canada to Mexico, these beautiful red-feathered friends can often visit suburban backyards throughout all four seasons.
Cardinals are primarily seed-eaters but enjoy suet and other bird feeders near wooded areas and hedgerows. While they prefer open woodlands with thick shrubs or trees, these perky birds will also visit gardens with plenty of brushy vegetation nearby, which helps them feel safe while searching for food.
Best Bird Seed to Attract Cardinals to Your Yard
Sunflower seeds are popular for backyard bird feeders and especially attract cardinals to your yard. Cardinals love sunflower seeds because they are high in fat and protein, making them a great energy source for birds. Sunflower seeds also have an outer husk that’s easy for cardinals to open up, which makes them an ideal food source. These seeds come in wide varieties – from striped or black-oil sunflower seeds to hulled and shelled options – to suit your needs and budget.
Two main types, black oil sunflower, and striped sunflower seeds, are both excellent food sources for cardinals. Sunflower seeds provide a variety of essential vitamins and minerals to birds. The fat content of the seed is also beneficial in providing the birds with extra energy during cold winter.
Black oil sunflower seeds are one of the most popular options for cardinals. This type of seed has a high kernel-to-shell ratio, making it easier for them to extract the nutrient-dense kernels from the shell. These smaller-sized kernels also make it easier for them to consume than larger, more challenging, shelled, striped sunflower seeds.
Striped sunflower seed shells are thicker than their black oil counterparts. However, they still offer plenty of nutrition, including fats and proteins, that cardinals need to stay healthy and active throughout all seasons.
Safflower seeds are high-energy, high-fat seeds that appeal to cardinals and other songbirds. Not only do these seeds attract cardinals to your yard with their nutritional contents, but their hard shell makes it difficult for squirrels and larger birds to devour them before the little guys get there. The seed’s outer coating is also bitter, which further deters animals from eating it. So you can rest assured knowing that when you put out safflower seed for the cardinals, they will get first dibs on it.
Debi Klein, the owner of Naturalist, an outdoor supply store specializing in bird feeders and seeds, was interviewed in 2013 about the increasing popularity of safflower seeds among cardinals. She reported that only a tiny percentage (5%) of the squirrels she had observed were eating safflower seeds. This is remarkable, considering the size and prevalence of squirrels in many areas across North America.
Klein believes it may be because safflower tastes quite different from other types of bird seed, like sunflower or corn kernels. Cardinals prefer this unique flavor, making them more likely to digest the necessary nutrients while avoiding unwelcome critters like squirrels or grackles.
What do Cardinals eat Besides Seeds?
The answer is that cardinals are omnivorous animals and enjoy eating various foods, including insects, fruits, nuts, grains, and even other small birds. Cardinals also benefit from bird feeders stocked with sunflower seeds or other seed mixes; these provide them with a reliable energy source and an opportunity to socialize with other birds in their area.
Cardinals will search for and consume different berries, such as juniper, dogwood, mountain ash, and elderberry during spring and summer. Cardinals can also enjoy cherries, grapes, and apples when these fruits become available in the fall season.
Nuts are an important part of the cardinal’s diet because they provide essential vitamins and minerals that help keep them healthy. Nuts contain high levels of protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids, which aid digestion while boosting energy.
Cardinals have an affinity for peanuts, walnuts, and almonds; however, they can also be seen eating other varieties, such as chestnuts and hazelnuts, during certain times of the year.
The benefit of offering cardinals nuts is that it can attract a wider variety of birds to your backyard or garden as different types flock to feed on the various sources available.
Suet is a high-energy food made from animal fat and seeds that provides an additional source of fat, vitamins, and minerals to supplement their diet.
Cardinals love suet because it contains essential nutrients like calcium and protein, which are missing in their typical seed diet. It also has a higher calorie content than regular birdseed, providing much-needed energy during cold weather or migration periods.
Suet feeders can easily be hung in your backyard, making it more likely for cardinals to visit your garden throughout the year. Not only will you enjoy seeing them up close, but they’ll also benefit from this nutritious treat!
Cardinals also enjoy a variety of insects like grasshoppers, caterpillars, beetles, and more. Insects provide essential vitamins and proteins that help cardinals stay healthy during cold winter when other food sources may be scarce.
Insects comprise a large portion of a cardinal’s diet during the summer when adult and larval forms are plentiful in gardens, lawns, and nearby meadows or fields. They may even use emerging adult moths or butterflies on warm summer evenings!
One such option is live mealworms. These tiny larvae provide a high-protein snack for cardinals, making them an excellent addition to any bird feeder or garden. Not only do mealworms add nutritional diversity to a cardinal’s diet, but they also satisfy the birds’ natural hunting instincts.
Watching cardinals hunt for these wriggling morsels can delight adults and children alike! When purchasing live mealworms, selecting those raised on a non-GMO feed from trusted vendors is essential. This will ensure your wild birds get the healthy snacks they deserve.
How to Attract Cardinals to Your Yard?
You can make your yard the perfect habitat for these lovely birds with simple steps.
Use Cardinal Feeders
One way to attract cardinals to your yard is by using cardinal-specific feeders. These bird feeders offer unique features that cater exclusively to their needs. For example, they include perches with different large diameters, allowing the larger feet of a cardinal to grip better than other seed feeders. The cardinal-specific seed also appeals as it provides a higher fat content, which they need during cold weather or raising young chicks during the spring mating season.
Offer them the Right Treats.
Another best way to attract cardinals is by offering bird feeders filled with black oil sunflower seeds. Cardinals are especially fond of this type of seed and flock in droves when they smell it nearby. Make sure you place the feeder near a shrub or tree so they have a safe place for cover once they come down for a snack.
Safflower seed is also excellent bird food for attracting these lovely birds, as it has less fat content than other types of seed, making it easier for cardinals to digest and enjoy.
Offer a water Source.
The key element to attract cardinals to your yard is offering a water source, preferably one that’s moving. This could be anything from a bird bath or fountain to a small pond or stream in your backyard.
Cardinals prefer their water supply to be moving or bubbling, such as in a fountain or bird bath with an aerator. Bird baths should have a shallow area where birds can quickly get to the water without making giant leaps or dives.
Place the Feeder in the Right Location
Placing a feeder in the right location is essential for seeing these beautiful birds up close. Cardinals prefer open areas with plenty of shrubbery and trees that offer protection from the elements. Therefore, placing a feeder near these areas and away from direct sunlight or strong winds is best.
Keep Your Feeders Full at All Times
It would help if you opted for a mix of sunflower and safflower seeds in larger seed feeders with plenty of open perches. Cardinals love sunflowers the most, so ensure this type of seed is included in the blend. Also, include some millet or cracked corn as an additional offering. Fill bird feeders regularly throughout the day with fresh seed so they always have enough food. Remember to clean and sanitize the feeders once a week to keep them healthy for birds and humans!
Encourage Ground-Feeding for Variety & Security
By offering various ground-feeding options, you’ll be able to attract cardinals to your yard since they feed on insects and seeds. Providing cover so they feel safe while feeding will increase their chances of staying in the area.
Providing the right seed can be a great way to attract cardinals to your yard. Not only will you enjoy these beautiful birds, but feeding them will also provide them with a source of nutrition to help them thrive. Selecting the correct type of seed and considering where it will be placed in your yard and how often it should be replenished is essential. Cardinals can flock to your backyard in no time with the right bird seed and patience.
How do you attract cardinals naturally?
Attracting cardinals naturally is a great way to enjoy the beauty of these birds in your backyard. The best way to attract cardinals is by providing them with a habitat that meets their needs. This includes planting native trees and shrubs that provide shelter and food, such as sunflower seeds, berries, and nuts. You can also create bird feeders designed for cardinals, filled with black oil sunflower or safflower seeds.