Do Cardinals Eat Suet From Bird Feeders?

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.

Lori Vanover
Lori has 20 years of experience writing and editing home, garden, birding and lifestyle content for several publishers. As Birds & Blooms senior digital editor, she leads a team of writers and editors sharing birding tips and expert gardening advice. Since joining Trusted Media Brands 13 years ago, she has held roles in digital and print, editing magazines and books, curating special interest publications, managing social media accounts, creating digital content and newsletters, and working with the Field Editors—Birds & Blooms network of more than 50 backyard birders. Passionate about animals and nature, Lori has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural and Environmental Communications from the University of Illinois. In 2023, she became certified as a Wisconsin Extension Master Gardener, and she is a member of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology and sits on the organization's Publications Advisory Committee. She frequently checks on her bird feeders while working from home and tests new varieties of perennials, herbs and vegetable plants in her ever-growing backyard gardens.