The Best Cardinal Bird Feeders and Birdseed

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Cardinals are beloved backyard birds. To attract more redbirds, fill these cardinal bird feeders with their favorite types of birdseed.

It’s hard to miss a male Northern cardinal and his bold red feathers, black face mask and spiked crest. Although the female is more subdued, she is no less adored. Despite being fairly common, the birds can be a bit elusive. Cardinals often come to feeders as the sun is setting, when their red feathers are muted under low light conditions. Here’s how to choose the best cardinal bird feeders, birdseed and habitat.

Tube bird feederVia
Tube bird feeders are good for cardinals

Best Cardinal Bird Feeders

Triple Tube Feeder

Begin with a tube feeder to welcome cardinals, finches, chickadees and titmice almost immediately. Those species seem to recognize the shape of the feeder, and their presence attracts other birds. Set out this Perky-Pet Triple Tube bird feeder (above) to provide multiple birds a spot to perch and eat.

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Audubon Tube FeederVia Merchant

Metal Tube Feeder

The Woodlink Audubon metal tube feeder is another good choice for cardinals and other backyard birds like finches and chickadees.

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red cardinal feederVia

Red Cardinal Feeder

Or try this circular mesh Red Cardinal Feeder (above), which holds 2.5 pounds of sunflower seed!

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Cardinal Tray FeederVia

Platform Bird Feeder

Cardinals also like to eat from platform or tray feeders. Try the Woodlink 3 in 1 Platform Bird Feeder, which you can hang or mount to a pole.

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Bird feeder that looks like a red barnVia

Squirrel-Be-Gone Feeder

If squirrels are an issue, try this Squirrel-Be-Gone Country House feeder with a weight-sensitive perch. It even has a cute redbird perched on top of the feeder!

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cardinal eating sunflower seedCourtesy Sarah Geiger
Northern cardinal eating sunflower seeds

Best Birdseed for Cardinals

“I’ll sprinkle seeds directly on the ground or the sidewalk to give cardinals easy access to a meal,” says Mike Havlik, a naturalist for the Dallas County Conservation Board in central Iowa.

At feeders, cardinals prefer to eat sunflower seeds and safflower seeds and often roasted, unsalted peanuts. Seeds and nuts are no match for their hefty pink beaks. Cracked corn is worth setting out, too. “I recommend safflower seed because the squirrels leave it alone, but cardinals, woodpeckers, chickadees, titmice and grosbeaks love it,” says Susan Perry of Edgewater, Florida. Here’s even more proven ways to attract cardinals.

Habitat for Cardinals

Northern cardinals are abundant in the East, Midwest and Southwest. These birds thrive in towns and suburbs and generally stay in the same area. This helps get a jump-start on nesting, with some laying eggs by February. This long breeding season allows for multiple broods each year and ensures the survival of at least a few offspring. Do cardinals mate for life?

Cardinals aren’t too particular when it comes to nest location, and this generalist approach makes them susceptible to predation. Thick cover provides good habitat for cardinals throughout the seasons. Hedgerows, shrubby stands, overgrown fields and forest edges all make suitable winter roosts. Learn more interesting facts about cardinals.

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Ken Keffer
Professional naturalist and award-winning environmental educator and author Ken Keffer has penned seven books connecting kids and the outdoors. Ken is currently on the Outdoor Writers Association of America Board of Directors. Ken was born and raised in Wyoming. He's done a little bit of everything, from monitoring small mammals in Grand Teton National Park to researching flying squirrels in southeast Alaska. Ken enjoys birding, floating on lazy rivers, fly fishing, and walking his dog.