How to Attract Cardinals to Your Backyard: Tips and Tricks

Do you love the sight of cardinals perched in your backyard, filling the air with their beautiful song? If you want to attract these lovely birds to your yard, there are a few things you need to know. Cardinals are attracted to yards that have food, water, and shelter.

In this article, we will discuss how to attract cardinals to your backyard, as well as some tips on what to avoid so they feel comfortable and stay for a while!

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Where are Cardinals Found in the US?

Northern cardinals are one of the most popular birds in the United States, and they can be found in nearly every state. While they are most common in the eastern and midwestern states, cardinals can also be found in the southwest, as well as some parts of the west coast.

In general, cardinals prefer habitats with dense vegetation, such as forests or wetlands. However, they can also often be seen in urban areas, including parks and gardens. So, if you’re hoping to see a cardinal, keep your eyes peeled next time you’re out for a walk in nature – or even in your own backyard! In fact, let’s get right to the task of discovering how to attract and keep these beautiful birds coming to your backyard.

Northern Cardinals Are Year-round Visitors

You may have noticed that cardinals don’t fly south for the winter like some other birds do. That’s because they are what we call “resident” or non migratory birds, which means they live in the same place all year long. In fact, cardinals will usually stay within a mile of the location of their birth.

Cardinals are well-adapted to the cold weather and can find enough food to last them through even the harshest winters. So, when you see a cardinal at your birdfeeder on a frosty winter morning, you can be sure it’s not just passing through – it’s right at home.

And that’s where your care and attention to their needs becomes even more essential!

6 Tips for Attracting Cardinals to Your Yard

how to attract cardinals to your backyard

Cardinals are one of the most popular backyard birds because of their brilliant red plumage. If you’re hoping to attract cardinals to your yard, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances. We’ll take a quick peek and then provide more detail on each below.

First, include the proper food and feeder for the birds. Northern cardinals are mainly seed-eaters, so offer a high-quality seed mix in a feeder that’s designed for small birds. You might also include some fresh fruits and berries.

Second, provide a water source. A birdbath or shallow dish of water is ideal. Just be sure to keep it clean and free of debris.

Third, offer protective shelter. Cardinals like to nest in dense shrubs or evergreens, so planting these types of trees and shrubs in your yard will help attract them.

Fourth, avoid using pesticides and herbicides, as these can be harmful to birds.

Fifth, provide nesting materials such as twigs, string, and feathers. And finally, make sure your yard is quiet and safe from predators such as cats and dogs. By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to attracting cardinals to your backyard sanctuary.

1 | The best food for Northern cardinals

Sunflower seeds, safflower, mealworms, and fruit are all great food options for northern cardinals. Black oil sunflower seeds, striped sunflower seeds, and safflower seeds are especially high in fat and protein, which is perfect for cardinals during the colder months.

Mealworms are also a good option and can be easily found at your local pet store. Fruit is a great choice for summertime feeding, as it provides essential hydration for cardinals in the heat.

If you want to attract cardinals to your yard, plant bushes and trees that provide food and shelter. Cardinals eat mainly insects and seeds, so plants that produce plenty of berries or seeds are especially attractive to them.

Consider putting out some fresh fruit, like berries, sliced apples, or even some grape jelly.

In addition, cardinals like to nest in dense shrubs or evergreens, so planting a variety of these will also help to attract them. Some good bushes and trees to plant include dogwoods, junipers, crabapples, and pines.

By providing food and shelter, you can create an inviting habitat for cardinals and enjoy the beauty of these red birds all year long.

Feeders that cardinals will use

Cardinals are a type of bird that is attracted to hopper, tray, and platform feeders. If you are looking to attract cardinals to your backyard, it is best to choose a bird feeder that meets their feeding needs.

Hopper bird feeders are a good option as they provide a large opening for the birds to access the seeds. Tray bird feeders also work well for attracting cardinals as they offer a flat surface for the birds to perch on while they eat.

Platform bird feeders are another option that can be used to attract cardinals. These feeders provide a large surface area for the birds to eat from and also offer plenty of perching space.

It’s best to avoid tube feeders or hanging feeders when attracting northern cardinals to your yard.

Cardinals will visit as they offer an open area for the birds to eat from. When choosing a bird feeder, it is important to consider the needs of the birds you are hoping to attract. With a little research, you can find the perfect bird feeder to bring cardinals into your backyard.

Spread some love for the cardinals on the ground, too

When you include some ground seed for the wild birds it gives them another safe, secure option for feeding. It might also signal other cardinals that this is a yard they want to visit!

2 | Provide a water source for the cardinals

Cardinals need to drink every day, and they will also bathe in a water source if one is available. This helps them to keep their feathers clean and healthy. If you have cardinals visiting your yard, it is helpful to provide a water source for them.

A bird bath is an ideal option, but you can also use a shallow dish or bowl. Be sure to clean the water dish regularly, as dirty water can harbor harmful bacteria. By providing a clean water source, you can help the cardinals in your yard stay healthy and happy.

3 | Protective shelter

Northern cardinals are very private birds that like secluded areas. To provide protective shelter for cardinals in your backyard, plant trees such as evergreen trees, and shrubs of varying heights. The taller plants will provide perches for the cardinals, while the shorter plants and ground cover will give them a place to hide from predators.

By providing a variety of shelters, you can attract northern cardinals to your yard and give them a safe place to nest and raise their young.

4 | Avoid pesticides

You may be surprised to learn that one of the best things you can do to attract cardinals to your backyard is to avoid using pesticides. Cardinals are insectivores, and they will search for areas where there is an abundance of insects to eat.

If you use pesticides in your yard, you will kill the insects and make the area less attractive to cardinals. In addition, many pesticides are toxic to birds, and even exposure to small amounts can cause health problems.

So, if you want to create a backyard haven for cardinals, skip the pesticides and let nature take its course. The cardinals will thank you for it!

5 | Provide nesting materials

You can put yarn, dog or other pet fur, yarn, string, etc, in an empty suet cage in your yard to encourage cardinals to nest nearby. Cardinals, similar to hummingbirds, are nesting birds, which means they build their nests out of materials they find in their environment. They don’t use birdhouses.

By putting these materials in your yard, you’ll be providing them with the resources they need to build a comfortable and safe nest. In addition, you’ll be making your yard more attractive to these beautiful birds.

6 | Safe from predators

Cardinals are beautiful birds that are fun to watch as they feed. However, it is important to keep predators like cats and dogs away from their feeding stations. Cardinals are quite shy birds, and cats and dogs can scare them off, making it more difficult for them to find food as well as a place to nest.

Therefore, it is important to take steps to protect the cardinals in your backyard. By keeping their predators away, you will help ensure that the cardinals can continue to thrive.

A Couple More Tips for Attracting Cardinals to Your Backyard

tips for attracting cardinals to your yard and keep them coming back

Keep the birdfeeders clean:

Birds rely on birdfeeders for a vital source of food, so it’s important to keep them clean. If birdfeeders are not cleaned regularly, mold, mildew, and bacteria can build up, posing a serious threat to the health of birds.

In addition, dirty birdfeeders can attract rodents and other pests. By taking just a few minutes to clean your birdfeeder on a regular basis, you can help ensure that birds have a safe and reliable food source.

Remove reflective surfaces:

Cardinals are territorial birds who defend their territory by attacking anything that they perceive as a threat. This includes their own reflection. If cardinals see their reflection in a window, they will fly at the glass in an attempt to drive away the intruding bird.

This can result in serious injuries or even death. In order to protect cardinals, it is important to remove any reflective surfaces from your property. This will help to keep these beautiful birds safe.


What type of feeder do cardinals like?

Cardinals like tray feeders, hopper feeders, and platform feeders. They also like to eat from the ground, so a ground-feeding station can be a great way to attract them to your yard.

What type of food do cardinals like?

Cardinals like black oil sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, and Nyjer seed. They also like to eat insects, so providing a variety of foods will attract more cardinals to your yard.

What kind of birdhouses do cardinals like?

Cardinals do not use birdhouses. They build their nests out of materials they find in their environment, so providing nesting materials like yarn, string, or dog fur will help them to build a comfortable nest.

Conclusion: How to Attract Cardinals to Your Backyard

By following these simple tips, you can create a backyard haven for cardinals. By providing food, water, and shelter, you can help these beautiful birds to thrive.

In addition, by taking steps to protect them from predators, you can help ensure that they are safe and have a place to call home.