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How to Attract Cardinals to Your Backyard

How to Attract Cardinals to Your Backyard

By Duncraft
Photographs courtesy of Duncraft

Cardinals are a welcome sight for northerners: There is seldom a more welcome sight on a blustery winter day than the flashy red male cardinal and his attractive mate. Even their call, an exuberant “cheer, cheer, cheer” brightens up a dreary day.

Cardinals are frequent visitors to the Northeast, but the Northern Cardinal was not always a northern bird — it was originally a bird of the southeast. As early settlers moved west and northward along the Mississippi River, they cleared the land of dense forests and the cardinal followed, preferring the more open terrain.

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By the early 1900’s, cardinals had reached southernmost Canada and by the 1940’s and 50’s had expanded northeastward to New England. And it’s very likely that the popularity of bird feeding also contributed to the cardinal’s expansion. Cardinals can now be seen as far west as Kansas and down into Texas with local populations in New Mexico and Arizona.

It’s easy to attract beautiful cardinals to your yard. They enjoy a diet of seeds, fruits, berries and insects and there are a lot of birdseed choices that will appeal to them. As with most backyard birds, cardinals love black oil sunflower seed. And they’re one of the few birds that enjoy safflower seeds.

Try offering them Duncraft’s special blend, Cardinals’ Delight, with sunflower seeds, sunflower hearts and chips and safflower seeds. Mixes with dried fruit are also readily accepted by cardinals. They love the Fruit Berry Nut Blend, which includes dried cranberries and raisins.

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In summer, you can offer cardinals fresh fruit, too. They like chopped grapes and apples and you can even try putting out some banana or watermelon. Replace the fruit if it becomes moldy. Cardinals love insects. They will love a treat of live, dried, or canned mealworms.

Cardinals are big birds that can’t cling to mesh feeders, and sometimes avoid feeders with small perches. They won’t use a feeder that sways in the wind or one that they have to balance on. Because they usually prefer eating from the ground, a ground platform feeder, such as the Ground Feeder with a roof is perfect for them. The roof is nice because it keeps rain and snow off the food.

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The advantage to platform feeders is that you can feed seeds, fruit and mealworms all on one feeder. Cardinals will also come to an elevated platform feeder with or without a roof, such as the Large Fly-Through Feeder (shown here). And large hopper feeders with ample perching room, such as the Absolute Feeder, are ideal for cardinals as well.

Cardinals are non-migratory and spend their lives within an eight square mile area. So if you do attract cardinals, you’ll be seeing the same individuals all year round. And with the right feeder, some black oil sunflower seed and treats of fruit and mealworms, you’ll be enjoying beautiful cardinals in no time! Shop today for bird feeders, seed, and more. Happy Birding!

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