Cardinals are beautiful songbirds that can be found across the United States. Attracting them to your yard is not all that difficult if they are native to the area. Plus, cardinals do not migrate, so once you bring them in, they will stay for the year-round. What follows are a few tips to help you attract cardinals to your yard.
How to attract cardinals to your yard?
Cardinals consume a wide variety of seeds, fruits, and other small foods. You should purchase a good, sturdy bird feeding tray that offers sufficient space for the birds to perch. Avoid tube feeders as their beaks are usually too big to grasp the food. The most common types of food that the cardinals consume includes the following;
- Safflower seeds
- Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
- Cracked Corn & Peanut pieces
- Fresh Berries & Apple chunks
- Suet in small pieces or crumbles
Get a bird feeding tray, fill it with one or more of the aforementioned foods, and watch the cardinals start to flock to your backyard. You’ll want to set up the platform feeders or large hoppers in a secure place that is off the ground to help protect the cardinals from potential predators. Along with the food, cardinals will need water to drink.
A low elevation bird baths is the best as it offers enough space for them to bathe and drink. You’ll want to set the water in the bath so that it is two to three inches deep. This is because cardinals are large enough to bathe in waters that deep, but it’s not so deep that they feel uncomfortable.
The next step is setting the birdbath out in the open so that the cardinals will see it as they fly over your yard. A good open space will do and not very far from the food source. Keep in mind that cardinals may still not see the bath, so you might want to add a dripper that creates ripples in the water which will attract their attention.
The birdbath should also be on the ground as cardinals will often forage in the grass for their food. During the winter months, adding a heater to the birdbath will keep the water from freezing which means that you can enjoy the company of cardinals the year-round. Once you have set up the food and water, it is time to provide the cardinals with some suitable shelter.
Running water is an enticing prospect for any Cardinal. They can bathe and drink from it but more importantly they seek out your yard using the sound of running water. This is why I’d always advise to get one of these solar powered fountain pump that turn your bird bath into a running water fountain with only the power of the sun.
Cardinals like to nest in well-protected areas such as the thickets of shrubs, hawthorn, grapevines, chematis, and dogwood. The cardinals will use pine needles, small twigs, and even clippings of grass to construct their nest. Keep in mind that cardinals will not use birdhouses, so do not bother to build or buy one if you want to attract cardinals.
It may seem a little odd that a bird with such bright, colorful plumage prefers to shelter in discreet places, but that is the nature of the cardinal. Shrubs and dense vines are well suited for cardinals, especially during inclement weather conditions. However, you’ll want to have some taller shrubs and evergreen trees such as pines as part of your yard as well.
Shrubs that include blueberry, mulberry, and sumac are also good as they provide a food source for the cardinals as they seek out shelter. The height of the shelter can vary from close to the ground up to 20 feet in height, so you’ll want to put some variety of shrubs, vines, and evergreen trees. Of course, you should only add what is suitable to your yard.
Remember that the cardinals will have to be native to your region of the country. Even with all the added attractions of food, water, nesting places, and shelter, if the cardinals are not native to your community, then you probably will not see any.
How to keep Cardinals in your yard?
This is especially true for feeders, but generally speaking cardinals like to perch on items that do not sway in the wind. While some birds do not care, the cardinal is rather picky when it comes to where they prefer to perch, especially when eating. Be sure to place feeders in an area that is protected from the wind. Plus, secure the feeder so that it does not sway or move, even if the cardinals are feeding.
During the cold months of winter is when the cardinals will need the most food. So, be sure to check the feeder daily and refill it when needed. Plus, you will see more cardinals gather as they can rely on this steady source of food when they need it the most.
Consider using higher fat content feed like Suet in the winter as this extra nutrition will go a long way to keeping the Cardinals healthy over the tough months of winter.
3. Seeds on the Ground
In addition to providing feeders, you should allow them to spill out the seeds on the ground. It is in a cardinal’s nature to hunt on the ground for seeds, so any that should happen to spill from the feeder will soon be consumed. You can also toss some seeds on the ground from time to time.
4. Don’t Prune All Bare Branches
Those tall, bare branches that are unsightly and stick out near the tops of trees are the perfect perching place for cardinals that sing. Spring is the mating season, and this is when they will sing the most from places where they can be seen. Plus, you can see them as well, which means that you should leave a few in place so the cardinals have a place to express themselves through song.
Finally, cover any reflective surface such as mirrors, chrome parts, or windows that glare in the sunlight. Such reflective surfaces can distract cardinals and even cause them to attack their own reflections. So, if you have reflective surfaces around the yard, do what you can to cover or at least dull them to reduce their reflectivity.
What is the best time of year to attract cardinals to your yard?
Cardinals can be truly beautiful birds. We’re not talking about the famed papal council, but rather the energetic, charismatic and iconic red bird.
Whilst cardinals might not be considered ‘rare’, they’re certainly one of the prettiest back-yard birds that might frequent your yard; it makes sense that you’d like to encourage them to return every year!
The best time for you to try an attract cardinals is throughout the spring and summer; they migrate during the winter months, so will be harder to entice!
For the best results, make sure that you have an abundance of food, water and hiding places. Make your yard avi-friendly, and you’ll see results in no time.
Cardinal Fun Facts
We are avid bird-watchers who recently retired, allowing us more time to travel the world. Fortunately, we have managed to visit numerous countries around Europe, Asia, and America. Watching and photographing birds has been a passion for many years and we are making the most of the extra time on our hands!