Cardinals 101

Jan 06, 2022

Cardinals are an iconic and easily recognizable bird in the eastern half of the United States. Their bright red vibrant plumage and beautiful songs that make them an attractive addition and perhaps the most desired of all backyard-visiting birds.

Northern Cardinals are non-migratory birds, meaning that when you begin to provide them with water and food they are likely to stay in your area year-round. Here in Missouri they are prevalent and very easy to attract. Continue reading to find the best ways to attract and make permanent homes for Cardinals in your yard this year and for years to come.

The first step in attracting any bird that we will talk about over the next month is supplying them with the food that they enjoy. Many birds have specific diets and enjoy different food types that we offer in our store. Cardinals have a thick and strong beak that allows them to easily open those larger seeds. Black oil sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, and white milo are the top Northern Cardinal options. Cardinals also enjoy eating crushed peanuts, cracked corn, and berries through foraging. When placing your feeders in your yard, be sure to keep them close to a hedge or a tree to give the cardinals somewhere to go should they need to escape. Try to fill up your feeders in the early morning and late evening when a lot of birds, including cardinals, prefer to eat.

 Cardinals are on the heavier side for a backyard bird. These red birds weigh on average as much as 9 U.S. nickels  or 1.5 ounces.  Lightweight birdfeeders are not going to be the best option for Cardinals, as they will sway when the birds go to land on them. For Cardinals, platform feeders or bird feeders with a built-in tray will provide enough room for the bird to perch and eat comfortably.  We offer some great options with our NO/NO Cardinal Feeder and our Perky Pet Wild Bird Feeder. Some platform suet feeders will also work well for Cardinals.

Unlike many other backyard birds in Missouri, Cardinals are not cavity nesters, this means that they will not choose one of your birdhouses to nest in. Cardinals enjoy dense plant life for shelter all year round and for nesting in the spring.They choose to build their nests in thick foliage areas where they feel protected. Planting grapevines, tall trees, and shrub thickets for Cardinal nesting in the spring/summer and then having evergreens for them to roost in for the winter months will help to make sure that Cardinals always feel like they have a safe place to hide.

Like all living things, Cardinals need a water source to survive. Cardinals enjoy water for both drinking and bathing. Providing a birdbath or a bird waterer is a great way to keep these birds living in your yard all year round. You should always be sure to change the water and clean the vessel frequently to prevent algae and dirt buildup. You should also consider adding a heater to your birdbath in the winter. Remember that Cardinals live in the same place all year, so they will still use their birdbath all winter long. Come out to Colonial Gardens to browse the selections of birdbaths that we have.

Here at Colonial Gardens we offer everything from nursery shrubs and trees, to feed and bird feeders, that you would need to keep your Cardinal families safe, comfortable, and fed all year round. Looking forward to seeing you soon!