How to Attract Cardinals

 

Date: October 1st, 2013


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The Cardinal is a stunningly vibrant bird that most backyard birders are very familiar with. Fortunately for both novice and experienced backyard birders, cardinals can easily be attracted to your feeders, bird baths and nesting areas.

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Cardinal sitting in tree

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With their distinguished red plumage, the Northern Cardinal is easily seen and recognized.  Due to the fact that Cardinals don’t migrate, you can attract this bird to your feeders all year long.

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How to Attract Cardinals

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Food: Large seeds such as Black Oil Sunflower and Safflower seed are perfectly suited for Cardinal’s strong, thick bill. Cracked corn, peanut pieces, berries, apple chunks and suet will also entice Cardinals. Premium seed mixes that contain these seeds will also work - Feathered Friend Cardinal's Choice contains black oil sunflower, safflower and sunflower kernels.

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Place the seed in large feeders that allow for enough room for Cardinals to easily feed. Small tube feeders won’t do – that is unless they have a large seed tray at the bottom or large perches. Platform feeders are also suitable for this larger songbird.

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Cardinals are often the first and last bird to visit the feeders each day so keep the feeders stocked all day long. Due to Cardinals non-migratory status, a well-stocked feeder can bring back the same Cardinal week after week.

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Water: Cardinals frequently visit bird baths for both bathing and drinking. Due to Cardinals large songbird stature, use a birdbath that is 2-3 inches deep.


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A bird bath dripper, mister or water-wiggler has been proven to catch Cardinal’s attention. In the winter months, a heated bird bath is essential.

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Shelter: Cardinals prefer secluded areas for shelter. Thickets of dense vines and shrubs provide hiding areas that Cardinals like.

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Cardinal in Winter Snow

Cardinal Facts

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  • Have you ever seen a Cardinal attack its own reflection in a window or car mirror? This typically happens in spring and early summer when they are supremely focused on defending their breeding territory against any intruders. Some Cardinals have been observed “fighting” their reflection for weeks!

  • The oldest recorded Northern Cardinal was 15 years and 9 months old

  • The Northern Cardinal is the state bird of 7 different states

  • The average Cardinal is 8 to 9 inches



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