The Northern Cardinal is a very popular bird found throughout most of the eastern and central states, the entire south, and much of the southwestern United States. They can be in lawns, gardens, woodlands, even deserts and have considerably increased their breeding range over the past 80 years. The Northern Cardinal does not migrate in the winter, therefore, granting shelter, proper food, and freshwater will tempt them to visit your yard with passion and continue to do so throughout the year.
Northern Cardinals favor dense shrubby areas such as forest borders, overgrown fields, hedgerows, backyards, wet thickets, mesquite, and beautiful landscaping. Cardinals retreat in dense foliage at heights ranging from 3 to 12 feet off the ground in many kinds of trees and hedges. You will find them nesting in dogwood trees, honeysuckle vines, grapevines, red cedar trees, spruce trees, rose bushes, blackberry brambles, elm trees, sugar maple trees, and box elders. They do not nest in birdhouses or nesting boxes.
The diet of these beautiful red birds consists essentially of seed and fruit for the adults and the nestlings are fed mostly bugs. Cardinals eat many kinds of birdseed. The Northern Cardinal’s strong thick bill is ideal for large seeds. Black sunflower seeds, striped sunflower seeds, and safflower seeds are three of their picks. Other foods cardinals prefer include cracked corn, peanut pieces, raw berries, apple chunks, and small pieces of suet. Giving a mix of these in wide feeders with space for them to perch will bring them to you. Do not use small tube feeders unless they have a large tray at the bottom. Platform feeders and fly-through feeders are also a good choice. Since Cardinals are ground feeders the food source you supply should be kept at ground level or below about 5 feet.
Open-air cedar bird feeders installed on a post are an exceptional option. It is also vital to note that due to their bright color it is safer for the Northern Cardinal to feed very early in the morning or very late in the evening. They will usually be the first to feed in the morning and the last bird at your feeder at night.
Cardinals like all animals require fresh water. Provide water in a birdbath a few yards away from the feeder. Clean the birdbath at least once a week and add fresh water to keep it engaging to the birds.
Don’t cage birds. Let them fly. Feed them in your backyard and they will be happy as ever.