Do Cardinals Eat Suet From Bird Feeders?

Updated: Jun. 05, 2023

Cardinals are frequent visitors to backyard bird feeders. But will your cardinals eat suet? Find out what the birding experts say.

Do Suet Feeders Attract Cardinals?

do cardinals eat suetCourtesy Melody Randolph
Northern cardinal eating suet at a backyard feeding station

If you want to feed redbirds in your backyard, you may have wondered do cardinals eat suet? Find out what our birding experts have to say about this question.

“A male northern cardinal loves to eat our hanging suet. We thought cardinals were ground feeders. Is this normal?” asks Birds & Blooms reader Bill Roberts of Hudson, New Hampshire.

Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman: While dangling cardinals aren’t all that common, we do see this happen from time to time. There are several possible explanations. Cardinals show a strong affinity for sunflower seeds and safflower seeds. If your suet has seeds mixed in, it could be enough for your cardinal to turn into a daredevil.

What do cardinals eat? Learn how to attract cardinals.

Some individual birds also have a more adventurous streak, and this cardinal may have tried the suet after watching other birds feed that way. It might also be happening because of the time of year, since birds have an instinct to consume more protein during the breeding season.

Meet the 3 types of cardinals in North America.

278088725 1 Penny Rice Bnb Byc 2021Courtesy Penny Rice
A flock of songbirds, including a bright red cardinal, eats suet from a log feeder

Did You Know? Cardinals aren’t picky eaters. They eat fruit, seeds, peanuts, cracked corn, insects and yes, even suet. You can help support your local bird population by offering this high-calorie snack at your feeders during the cold winter months.

“I took this photo (above) during a rare winter storm in north Mississippi. I had made the feeder a few days before and filled it with homemade suet. Once it started snowing, the birds flocked to it, often fighting for a spot to sit and eat. The cardinals, sparrows, juncos, pine warblers, and house finches kept me busy filling the feeder multiple times each day,” says reader Penny Rice.

Next, check out the best cardinal bird feeders and birdseed.