What feeder is best at attracting cardinals.?
April 11, 2009 5:11 PM   Subscribe

In your experience, what is the best feeder for attracting cardinals?

I've got two feeders, one that attracts finches and another one that attracts a variety of little birds. I'll see a cardinal or two every once in a while eating the stray sunflower seeds that have fallen onto the porch, but I want to attract more. The feeder also needs to be squirrel resistant. Lastly, do cardinals like sunflower seeds the best?
posted by MaryDellamorte to Pets & Animals (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've had good luck with sunflower seeds and one of those little house-feeders put near a tree on the edge of a more wooded area. Cardinals like tray feeders pretty well too but they're tough to keep out of the elements. You *may* be able to put one on the top of a big post but I think squirrel-proof is next to impossible so I'm not the best person to give you squirrel proofing advice.
posted by jessamyn at 5:24 PM on April 11, 2009

In my limited bird feeding experience, I noticed that cardinals would land and sift through all the seeds to eat the sunflower seeds (the all black ones). When I switched to a seed mix with more sunflower seeds, my feeder became more popular with the cardinals (and blue jays).
posted by rancidchickn at 5:27 PM on April 11, 2009

In my experience cardinals prefer to feed from a platform or flat area rather than a perch, which may be why they pick up the seeds on the porch. I have several that visit my back yard and one pair that nests there. They do like sunflower seeds (so do squirrels). I had good luck just putting a songbird seed mix out on a stepping stone at the base of a tree and letting the birds and squirrels eat together. This worked because there were no cats around.
posted by lazydog at 5:27 PM on April 11, 2009

I live in the city and I hang my other two feeders from hooks on the ceiling of my front porch. The feeder in question would also have to hang in the same fashion. Those tray feeders look neat, but there is this squirrel that lives nearby that would destroy the feed put in them.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 5:29 PM on April 11, 2009

What is the best feeder for attracting cardinals?

Cubs pitching.

When I lived in cardinal-land, sunflower seeds were definitely the favorites. The birdies also ate sesame seeds, which the squirrels etc. seemed to ignore for some reason. Less fun to crack?
posted by rokusan at 5:35 PM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Cardinals LOVE sunflower seeds.
Interesting fact: the males are territorial and will dive-bomb their reflections in a window.
I've never tried these, but some feeders will toss squirrels off them.
posted by twistofrhyme at 5:49 PM on April 11, 2009

I say sunflower seeds too and I toss the seeds out on my deck.
posted by beccaj at 6:02 PM on April 11, 2009

Cardinals will eat from almost any type of feeder, though they seem to enjoy being able to face their food. They LOVE sunflower seeds. They also appreciate a water source, as well as viney or bushy trees/shrubs for nesting. I had cardinals nest in my hedge one year, just 5 feet off the ground so I could look in and see the babies. It was very interesting.

Squirrels are tough. You can hang your feeders from a thin but strong wire to thwart the bushy-tailed little rodents. I believe that they can jump about 5 feet, so the feeders would have to be located at least 5 ft above the ground and 5 ft from any tree. This may work. A lot of the squirrel-proof feeders that are enclosed in wire cages are not suitable for cardinals because the spaces between the wires are too small for a bigger bird such as a cardinal to enter.
posted by Ostara at 6:10 PM on April 11, 2009

Sunflower seeds are the way to go. That's all we put in our feeder and its not uncommon for us to have 6-10 cardinals at a time.
posted by blaneyphoto at 7:22 PM on April 11, 2009

according to my book...."cardinals prefer to feed early morning or late in the afternoon. They especially love sunflower seeds as well as seed mix, blackberries, blueberries, wild cherries,dogwood, wild grapes, elderberries, and tulip tree fruit."

In the wintertime oil sunflower seed is best as it contains more oil then the regular kind and helps birds cope better during the cold temperatures. But they will eat the regular kind (with the thin white stripe) if thats all that is available.

They will also eat some nuts ( thus the strong beak), grains and sometimes insects. They are highly territorial as has been mentioned above. I have seen them "attacking" the car mirror across the street for well over a half an hour, back and forth... back and forth. They sometimes will feed on the ground.

But they do prefer eating alone or in pairs. They are for all intents and purposes, loners.
posted by Taurid at 7:28 PM on April 11, 2009

We use safflower seeds - which the cardinals, bluebirds, mourning doves, blue jays, and a variety of finches seem to love. The squirrels don't seem to be big fans of it as we've seen a definite drop off in squirrels since we switched to safflower in the feeder. We were using sunflower hearts but they got ridiculously expensive this winter.
posted by COD at 7:38 PM on April 11, 2009

Nthing black oil sunflower seeds, and on a flat surface. They never eat from my feeders, but if I throw a handful of seed on the roof, they'll eat them up (assuming the mourning doves haven't been by yet to hog them all).

The other good thing about the black sunflower seeds, for me, is that pigeons don't seem to like them.
posted by bink at 8:36 PM on April 11, 2009

Heh. My mother was just over at my house and saw a cardinal and swore by sunflower seeds (in shell so they can see the black from a distance, not the pre-hulled kind you can get now). Just put them in your regular feeders and they will have their turn.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:43 PM on April 11, 2009

I have a lot of cardinals. They like black oilers (the sunflower seeds) and safflower seeds (the squirrels don't like them as much). The hulls of the sunflower seeds will kill almost any plants around them, so you have to either rake them up or expect to have bare ground where the hulls fall. I have one feeder that the squirrels haven't been able to defeat yet - it's a fly-through feeder, a feeder with a flat tray and a roof over it to keep the rain & snow out. It's on a 4x4 post with a baffle on it. Neither the squirrels nor the raccoons have figured out a way to climb it. It needs to be at least 10 ft. from any higher perch they could leap from.

The squirrels can defeat the spinning feeders, the ones with the levers, and the ones that drop their perches. They're not worth the extra money.

I use hull-less sunflower seeds mixed with shelled peanuts. No mess. It all gets eaten. It's more expensive, though.

The best answer, if you can stand the hulls and don't mind feeding the squirrels, is to toss the black oilers on the ground. That's the way to have the most cardinals.
posted by clarkstonian at 9:33 PM on April 11, 2009

Black oil striped sunflower seeds. Cardinals love them, as well as most other birds. With these in our feeder we get an awful lot of Cardinals, especially in the colder months.
posted by caddis at 10:10 PM on April 11, 2009

Black and striped sunflower seeds plus cracked corn.

Remember that "Good Cheer! Good Cheer!" is the least likely translation for a Cardinal's song possible, so there's a practical limit on the number you're going to get.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:48 PM on April 11, 2009

Heh, would have never guessed. We feed walnuts to both squirrels and cardinals (aka. red birds). Gramps started it with hard corn in the tree for the squirrels and a quick toss of a nut in the general direction of the animal. It's not uncommon for a cardinal to sit outside and chirp "gimme a nut *******" or fly up and land on your knee sitting on the porch, same with the squirrels. Give squirrels a couple of ears of hard corn (gramps put a big nail through a tree limb and stuck the corn on the pointy end.) and they'll leave bird feeders alone. Toss bits of walnut and say "Come on..." and squirrels and cardinals will come and sit on your knee waiting for it, and bark or chirp to get you to come feed them.
posted by zengargoyle at 6:20 AM on April 12, 2009

You can squirrel-proof a pole feeder by mounting 1 or 2 2-liter soda bottles with the bottoms cut off and the necks up, at about the middle of the pole. I used a conical squirrel baffle that came with the feeder pole and one soda bottle above it. The collar wasn't effective by itself, but they can't get a grip on the plastic bottle and it's too tall for them to make the reach. An automotive hose clamp around the pole will hold the soda bottle at the height you choose. As others have said, keep it away from anything the squirrels can jump from.
posted by TruncatedTiller at 8:11 AM on April 12, 2009

The OP states that the feeder must be hung from the ceiling on her front porch so many of these suggestions won't work for her (mount on a post, keep 5 ft. from anything a squirrel can jump from, etc.).

So, with this in mind, I would suggest (somewhat reluctantly, but probably your best option) one of the "squirrel-proof" feeders such as this one, with one of these kinds of baffles over it. Eventually, the squirrels may figure it out but they will certainly be deterred, saving seed. Here's a video that shows how that particular feeder "works" and it even shows some cardinals on it to get an idea of its size. About 3 minutes into the video, it shows how it attempts to thwart the squirrels. The baffle would help even more.

A mixture of black-oil sunflower seeds and safflower seeds works really well in attracting cardinals. During courtship, it isn't uncommon for the male cardinal to take a seed and feed it to the female. Never fails to elicit an "Awww" among the lucky viewers.

Good luck as they are truly a joy to watch.
posted by ourroute at 8:07 PM on April 12, 2009

Nth-ing sunflower seeds. But I've tried various "mixes", and always seem to attract the same birds most of the time - mourning doves, grackles, robins, sparrows. And squirrel-proofing is difficult. Especially if the squirrels are within leaping distance. But that squirrel-buster looks pretty good. Hmm...
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 9:46 AM on April 13, 2009

« Older What would you wear if you were a Coke bottle?   |   how to tumble? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.