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How to Attract Cardinals

Updated on September 19, 2014

How to Attract Cardinals

Since the Cardinal is not migratory, it will make itself at home in or near your backyard. And since they mate for life, having Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal and their two to three broods per year calling your backyard their home is educational and entertaining!

The Cardinal is certainly one of the most beloved backyard wild birds. And it's no wonder! They easily adapt to us, adorn the trees with their beauty, and really don't seem to ask for much ~ they easily become our red-feathered friends.

Here are a few tips to attract cardinals to your backyard ~ the fun and enjoyment of having them as backyard guests is worth making them feel at home.

All photographs by Bev Lemley ~ all rights reserved. Thank you!

Add minutes to your day... - ...in a lovely way!

There is always something interesting - Going on!

Visit The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and hear the

Song of the Cardinal

What, a Bluebird? - Well, if you attract cardinals...


...you're bound to get a few other friends!

Here is a great video ~ True Love!

Cardinals need some trees

Better yet, some dense thickets

Water Every Day - Fresh is Best!

Aww ~ How Tweet!

Great News!


Hear what Cardinals really want to eat and what their eating habits are ~ good news for those with bugs outside!

Do you feed the birds?

Feeding the birds can be a hassle!

Do you enjoy feeding the birds?

See results

How to Attract Cardinals

Here is a list of things that will attract cardinals to your yard:

  1. Cardinals are not migratory, so you will start to recognize your red-feathered friends for their sometimes unique personalities. You don't have to do too much to encourage them to stay ~ and get ready to enjoy the lovely birds year round!
  2. Cardinals prefer dense shrubbery and bushes, honeysuckle and other type thickets, for roosting and nesting.
  3. They will eat berries, such as mulberry, dogwood, nandina, pyracanthia, blueberry, holly, and virtually any other kind of berry!
  4. Cardinals will eat bugs, which are great for going through your gutters and window sills, looking for water bugs and spiders, they will eat weed seeds ~ you didn't want those anyway, did you? They will love to munch on your fruit trees (one for you, one for them)!
  5. Cardinals favorites, aside from nature's buffet, are split peanuts and sunflower seed hearts, followed by black oil sunflower seeds. They will eat safflower seed, which some folks feed to help keep down squirrels, but it may take them awhile to get accustomed to it.
  6. Provide a fresh supply of water and they will thank you with happy tweets!
  7. Cardinals prefer square to round pegs when looking for feeders. I've found that a stick through a feeder or suet holder works well to amend the feeder to a more natural feel. Also, the platform feeders or gazebo type feeders are preferred.
  8. Make sure to buy a feeder that has a good solid top to keep rain out, and good drainage holes. Keeping the food dry is paramount for the health of wild birds that visit feeder stations.
  9. Don't be surprised if the cardinals raise a fuss if they run out of food! They will come up to the windows and peek in ~ I'm not joking!
  10. Don't trim your hedges in the early spring, when birds are nesting! I've accidentally upset a cardinal nest in this way, and the parents will abandon it. Do your pruning earlier in the year!

For more tips...

Visit Doctors Foster and Smith for great info on Cardinals.

Here are some facts from their website:

Did you know that cardinals mate for life, will feed the female while courting and nesting, they will raise two to three broods per year, and after the eggs hatch, the male tends to the chicks while the female incubates her next brood. I think they're red for LOVE!

If you love birds...

...and surely you must! ~ Please read this article, which offers a solution to the hundreds of thousands of birds that are killed by wind farm turbines and the effects they are having on the environment. There is a petition for ensuring wind farms will be created with considerations for the wild birds ~ please read their proposals and consider supporting their efforts. Thank you!

Wild Bird Protection

Watching wild birds and taking care of the critters that live nearby is a special blessing. Learning their habits and seeing the Cardinal's bright red color in the evergreen azalea bushes at Christmas is prettier than the decorated Christmas tree inside!

Drop a note and let me know how cardinals or wild birds make your day just a little bit brighter!

Thanks for stopping by!

Leave your thoughts and ideas ~ pass them along to others!

Please sign my guestbook ~ Thank you for stopping by!

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    • BLemley profile image
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      Beverly Lemley 4 years ago from Raleigh, NC

      @paperfacets: Thank you, very much, Paperfacets! That's terrific support from the MASTER of tea bag folding! I love your work! Thank you so much for your very kind words! And thank you for stopping by! B : )

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 4 years ago from La Verne, CA

      Isn't the cardinal one of the most striking birds? Your webpages are so striking as well. Your picture taking, photography, has a certain touch that goes beyond what is normally seen. You captures of color is very notable to me. I have to work on clarity in my photos and you have it mastered.

    • BLemley profile image
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      Beverly Lemley 4 years ago from Raleigh, NC

      @Boomer1952: I'm glad you like the cardinal, too, JacMac! Thanks so much for stopping by! B : )

    • Boomer1952 profile image

      Boomer1952 4 years ago

      These are great pictures of one of my favorite birds. Great job!

    • BLemley profile image
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      Beverly Lemley 4 years ago from Raleigh, NC

      @JoshK47: So nice to see you, Josh! Thanks for stopping by! I'm thrilled you get to see and appreciate these birds, too! Thank you for the blessing, My Friend! B : )

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      JoshK47 4 years ago

      Such beautiful birds - I see them occasionally on my morning walks! Blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • BLemley profile image
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      Beverly Lemley 4 years ago from Raleigh, NC

      @Sunwarrior: Smart Cardinals! Thanks for the laugh ~ I can definitely see that happening! I hope you have some cardinals you can enjoy at your new place ~ I'm sure you miss them if you don't have any. Thanks for stopping by! B : )

    • Sunwarrior profile image

      Sunwarrior 4 years ago

      For the 8 years that I lived in my previous house, there was always a cardinal present. They would go in and out of our dogs kennel and occasionally grab dog food kernels.

    • BLemley profile image
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      Beverly Lemley 4 years ago from Raleigh, NC

      @MarcellaCarlton: I love the Redwing Blackbird ~ though we don't have many of them here. I'll have to look up how their song is. Maybe you can get a pict of the strange bird ~ it could be a rare sighting! We've had robins a few weeks, I love seeing them return, too. Yes, a few hummingbirds would be terrific! Sigh, a few more months for us! That was a cool video about the baby cardinals ~ amazing they grow up so fast and are out of the nest ~ gee! Thanks for stopping by! As a side note, I've enjoyed your lenses ~ you have a lot of great info! B : )

    • BLemley profile image
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      Beverly Lemley 4 years ago from Raleigh, NC

      @aesta1: Thank you, Aesta 1! I appreciate your kind support! As a side note, I hope you were able to visit Malta on your latest journeys ~ I am looking forward to visiting through your lens! Thank you for stopping by! B : )

    • BLemley profile image
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      Beverly Lemley 4 years ago from Raleigh, NC

      @RestlessKnights: Thanks, Marion! I checked out your Iceland lens ~ what amazing picts! I FB'd it as well, hoping to share all the beauty you have. Wow, northern lights and those amazing sunsets! Too bad you don't have red cardinals to go with it, but maybe someday those trees that are starting to grow just may..!

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      MarcellaCarlton 4 years ago

      I live in the Pacific Northwest and we don't have cardinals here, but we do have plenty of wildlife. Yesterday I heard the Red Wing Blackbird singing and I saw a strange bird in my yard climbing up the trumpet vine. Can't wait for the hummingbirds to return. I've already seen my first robin of spring. That video of the baby cardinals was wonderful!

    • RestlessKnights profile image

      RestlessKnights 4 years ago

      The bird's red color is really beautiful.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Your pictures are really beautiful. I see cardinals once in a while but very seldom. They are really beautiful.

    • BLemley profile image
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      Beverly Lemley 4 years ago from Raleigh, NC

      @Alessandro Zambon: Thank you for your too kind words, my friend! I appreciate the support and I hope you get to see a cardinal or two in the near future! Thank you so much! B : )

    • choosehappy profile image

      Vikki 4 years ago from US

      We have two cardinals that pretty much hang out around our pool all morning. Then I have a couple that like my front yard tree too. I've always been drawn to those birds. So beautiful.

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      ohcaroline 4 years ago

      Great photos and feeding information.

    • agagata lm profile image

      agagata lm 4 years ago

      They are so beautiful! I wish they would live in the UK...

    • BLemley profile image
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      Beverly Lemley 4 years ago from Raleigh, NC

      @anonymous: I'm glad you have at least a few! I know you have some beautiful other songbirds that I would love to see! Thank you so much for stopping by ~ and thank you for your nice comments! B : )

    • BLemley profile image
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      Beverly Lemley 4 years ago from Raleigh, NC

      @anonymous: Awesome, Tipi! Thank you, My Squid Friend! B : )

    • BLemley profile image
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      Beverly Lemley 4 years ago from Raleigh, NC

      @anonymous: Thanks, Tipi! Yes, the ground features are simply pliable plastic chip bowls that were on clearance. I liked the color, kind of nestled them into the ground and there you go! They are easy to break the ice out of in the winter (turn over like an ice cube tray and pop out), and fill with water from the house; a gallon jug will fill them both up. I have one in the front yard and one in the back. I have two other above ground bird baths, too, but they are cute when they try to take a bath in the smaller ones on the ground. It is awesome that they will come around and make a fuss when they want something ~ they can be demanding! They've trained me well...I refill the stations every morning. I can't leave enough food in overnight, as the raccoons and opossums and other critters will ransack and eat everything in sight! Right now I'm dealing with a suet thief ~ it's very clever! Thanks for stopping by, Tipi, always a joy to read your comments! B : )

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 4 years ago from Vermont

      I love to feed and watch cardinals in my garden. We have them at both our Vermont and Pennsylvania homes all year long.

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      Torrs13 4 years ago

      I love cardinals! When I lived in Iowa, I once saw two cardinals, a Baltimore Oriole, a red breasted grossbeak, and a yellow finch all it once. It was amazing!

    • Makster01 profile image

      Makster01 4 years ago

      I love cardinals, they are such beautiful birds! I wish I had a nice garden to attract these birds to.

    • Rosetta Slone profile image

      Rosetta Slone 4 years ago from Under a coconut tree

      We have plenty of bright red cardinals in our garden. They are absolutely beautiful & your lens represents this so well.

    • pheonix76 profile image

      pheonix76 4 years ago from WNY

      Watching birds is truly a rewarding experience, thanks for sharing this information about attracting northern cardinals. :) Nice lens!

    • KarenHC profile image

      Karen 4 years ago from U.S.

      Stopping back again to "bless" this lens :-) (I have new Squid angel wings...appropriate for good bird lenses, don't you think?)

    • maryseena profile image

      maryseena 4 years ago

      These birds are so unbelievably red! And such sweethearts too!!

    • ChrisLdn profile image

      ChrisLdn 4 years ago

      I love Cardinals but unfortunately don't see many around my yard. There are quite a few Blue Jays around though, which makes me happy!

    • Alessandro Zambon profile image

      Alessandro Zamboni 4 years ago from Italy

      This is one of the best lens I've ever seen on birds in general, also if it was completely about Cardinals, birds I never had the luck to see in my life. Now I learned a lot of cool things about their living, their nesting and what they eat. My compliments for a so good job!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thank you for a beautiful lens and lovely pictures. We have our fair share of song birds here in SW Florida; only on occasion do we see cardinals.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Also FB liked.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      The cardinal is one bird that everyone wants to make their yard their home for sure and with your tips, more will have success. Your pictures are awesome and paint a thousand words of your yard being made up just right for these special guests and what a thrill to have name come looking for you a meal time....guess that would make them "peeping" Toms! I notice you have a water feature on the ground. One year during a drought, my sister put little ponds out for the birds at ground level and her bird population shot way up and the birds still choose the little ponds over raised bird baths. This is wondrous and beautifully done....congratulations on home page honors!

    • BLemley profile image
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      Beverly Lemley 4 years ago from Raleigh, NC

      @Lee Hansen: Ahh, I know they love it there! There's just something about a cardnal! Thanks, Pastiche, for stopping by! B : )

    • BLemley profile image
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      Beverly Lemley 4 years ago from Raleigh, NC

      @sybil watson: Thanks, Sybil! I really enjoyed watching many of the eye opening documentaries on your lens ~ Wow! A cardinal in a palm Tree has a ring to it! I hope you can catch one, maybe with a telephoto lens! Thank you for stopping by! B : )

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      sybil watson 4 years ago

      We even have cardinals where I live in Hawaii and for years I've tried to get a picture of a male in a palm tree for Christmas-no luck yet! This is such a beautiful and informative lens!

    • BLemley profile image
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      Beverly Lemley 4 years ago from Raleigh, NC

      @knitstricken: WOW! What a gorgeous bird! Too bad it's explained as being a dietary deficiency, but what a beautiful color. So a cardinal looks great in any color, with that black mask and all. Thanks, knitstricken, for informing others of the picture. I have liked it to my facebook page, and hope folks will look up the site you state and see for themselves. Truly amazing! Thank you so much for stopping by! B : )

    • knitstricken profile image

      knitstricken 4 years ago

      The Cleveland (Ohio) Metroparks recently posted a YELLOW cardinal on its Facebook Page. Apparently a genetic aberration. Have you ever seen one? Interesting! Thanks for this lens. We have some cardinals on our property and there so lovely to observe in the winter. I learned a few new things about cardinals from your lens!

    • BLemley profile image
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      Beverly Lemley 4 years ago from Raleigh, NC

      @LadyDuck: I'm sorry you don't have cardinals in your neighborhood. I wonder what kind you have ~ probably something I wish I could see every day! Thanks for stopping by! B : )

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      LadyDuck 4 years ago

      Cardinal are nice little birds, unfortunately they do not exist at my latitude. In my garden I have 4 feeders for all the nice birds that like to come to see me.