What's The Best Northern Cardinal Feeder? Plus How & What To Feed Them In This Review

It is no surprise you are trying to attract cardinals to your backyard.

Why not?

They are beautifully colored birds and arguably the funniest in North America. You might occasionally catch one picking a fight with its reflection from a side mirror.

What I really like about them is their Mohawk-shaped crest and “cheer” or “birdie” songs.

But the thing is, you need to get the best bird feeder for cardinals to be attracted to your backyard.

This simply means that asides their favorite seeds, you need to have a feeder that fits their size and style of eating.

Sound like a hard task?

I’ve saved you all the stress by compiling a list of the best bird feeders for cardinals. The feeders in this guide are sure to attract cardinals and other bird species.

At the end of the review, you’ll find how you can attract even more cardinals to your backyard.

Quick Picks:

  1. Best Overall: Woodlink Absolute II Bird Feeder
  2. Easy Cleaning & Refilling: Perky-Pet Red Cardinal Bird Feeder
  3. Best Adjustable Openings: Droll Yankees Dorothy’s Cardinal Bird Feeder
  4. Most Environmentally Friendly: Woodlink Going Green Platform Feeder
  5. Best Squirrel Proof: Brome Squirrel Buster Plus Bird Feeder

The 5 Best Cardinal Feeders Reviewed

1. Best Overall - Woodlink Absolute II Bird Feeder

Woodlink Absolute II Bird Feeder

Absolute II Hopper Style Feeder is my overall best cardinal feeder because it ticks all the necessary boxes to look for in a feeder.

It is very easy to refill and clean, stores lots of seeds for a long time, durable - and of course - fit for cardinals.

The feeder is also squirrel resistant but can be infiltrated by cunning and persistent critters after some weeks.

It is made of durable steel and coated with baked-on powder finish which withstands elements and the teeth of squirrels. Plus, it is engineered with weight adjustable perches to fend off bully birds and squirrels.

Its 12-pound seed capacity is great for birders who feed a lot of birds or perhaps don’t like refilling often. The double-sided perch area accommodates more birds to join the feast.

Plus, the seed saver baffle prevents wastage of seeds.

Also, the roof does a good job keeping the seeds from molding or clumping with its roof protection from rain.

Apparently, it also opens up using a latch which makes refilling and cleaning easy.

To give you a choice, you can either mount the feeder on its 5ft pole or hang it. A 5ft pole mount is a great option since Cardinals like feeding close to the ground.

It is an attraction for not only Northern Cardinals but many other seed-loving birds.

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2. Easiest to Clean & Refill - Perky-Pet Red Cardinal Bird Feeder

Perky-Pet Red Cardinal Bird Feeder

The Perky-Pet feeder is versatile and can be used to attract the enchanting perching birds like Cardinals on its 360-degree seed tray as well as clinging birds like Woodpeckers and Nuthatches with its mesh design.

The wide perch area makes it a good choice to attract cardinals.

Like the Absolute II feeder above, it has a sturdy metal build that can last decades and is immune to squirrel bites.

But that’s not the best part.

This feeder protects the seeds from rain and shades the birds while they enjoy their seeds. Plus, for further drainage, the seed reservoir is perforated to prevent the seeds from mold or waterlogging.

Even at that, cleaning and refilling is made easy in the case of a storm. All you have to do is open the lid and you get enough space to clean and fill the feeder without leaving a mess.

One thing with the feeder is that it might take a while for the Northern Cardinals to come in, but surely they’d come around. When they start coming, it can feed up to 15 birds at a time, but not all cardinals because they are shy birds.

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3. Best Adjustable Openings - Droll Yankees Dorothy’s Cardinal Bird Feeder

Droll Yankees Dorothy’s Cardinal Bird Feeder

This is a great bird feeder for cardinals. The design is suitable for a variety of seeds, fruits, and even mealworms. This gives you the chance to experiment with the treats that attract more Cardinals to your feeder.

Like all the feeders in this guide, it is sturdy and lasts long. Even though it looks like something that might break from a fall, it is made from polycarbonate plastic which is resistant to squirrel damage.

One feature I like best with this feeder is its adjustable dome. This allows you to set the height short enough to fit the Cardinals and keep the Grackles out.

Plus, the platform and dome is clear, which allows sight of the birds while eating

The 13” feed platform gives Cardinals all the space they like. The platform has small drainage holes along with the overhead dome to keep the feed fresh. Though, it might not do a good job of actually keeping rain out in the first place.

If you are looking to attract Cardinals and clinging birds, this feeder is a great choice.

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4. Most Green - Woodlink Going Green Platform Feeder

Woodlink Going Green Platform Feeder

The Woodlink Going Green Tray Feeder is one for typically all sorts of birds. It can be hung, mounted, and in my personal opinion, put on the ground.

Guess what?

That’s not even an issue.

Going Green tray feeder is made of recycled plastic which is sturdy and a plus for nature lovers. More importantly, it lasts longer than wood feeders because it doesn’t absorb water. Plus, the parts are well screwed together.

Even better, it has a mesh screen which is a great drainage system.

Also, it makes cleaning easy, as you can just put a hose through the screen or turn the remnant seeds over. It’s in this same way that filling is easy.

However, this feeder is open to squirrels as it is open to other birds. But, in the case the squirrels come by too much, it supports a 16-18” baffle which slows them down. This is also good for protection from the elements.

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5. Best Squirrel-Proof - Brome Squirrel Buster Plus Bird Feeder

Brome Squirrel Buster Plus Bird Feeder

The Brome Squirrel Buster Plus is one most bird lovers fantasize about. It is squirrel proof and filters out the larger bully birds. And, it is one of the few cardinal-friendly tube feeders you can find.

It uses a closing mechanism that shuts access to the seeds once a squirrel or large bird places its weight on it. If the squirrels become frustrated and gnaw at it, it's chew proof. But, you have to make sure it is placed where there is enough clearance from where squirrels can find foothold support.

A cardinal ring is provided which gives room for Cardinals to perch and feed.

Better still, this feeder is heavy-duty and sturdy. In fact, it has a lifetime warranty. It doesn’t sway much when the birds are feeding and withstands strong wind.

The seed capacity – 5 pounds – can last several days with 6 feeding ports for the birds to enjoy from. It does a good job of keeping the seeds fresh even if you don’t use the Plus Weather Guard.

The issue with this feeder is that Cardinals may not use it often if you have more open feeders like a platform type.

But in all, it is suitable for Cardinals and is well worth its price.

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Tips To Attract Cardinals To Your Feeders

#1 Place The Feeders Near Cover

If you didn’t know, Cardinals are fairly shy, and wouldn’t do well where you are very close to the feeder or spend a lot of time.

Most times, they like to stay hidden near a feeder before coming out to dine.

That said, you have to station your feeders at areas that are close to shrubs or trees instead. For even better results, you can plant vines. This offers them food and shelter which makes them comfortable at your feeders.

#2 Provide A Water Source

Cardinals enjoy using birdbaths to drink and bathe. So, it would do a great deal in attracting them to your feeders if you have one in your backyard. Besides, it’s just as fun as watching them eat.

Try having a heated bird bath to keep the water liquid in the winter. This is even a better way to attract them because it would be a lot of work to drink or bath at other water sources during cold weather.

But if you are providing a birdbath, you need to keep these in mind:

  • Don’t make it too deep - A birdbath with a depth of 1-2 inches is just fine
  • Clean regularly - This prevents water-borne diseases that can spread quickly. Cleaning and refilling 2-3 times a week is ideal.

two cardinals perched on tree branch

#3 Provide Nesting Materials

Once the Northern Cardinals are attracted to your feeder, you can even take things up a notch. Although they won’t nest in a birdhouse, they sure can, but in a more secluded place in your yard.

Try following the tip given earlier which is to plant thick-growing shrubs, in case you’ve forgotten. Also, you should leave nesting materials around, like twigs or grass clippings. If you do all these and fill the feeders regularly, you can get up to four (4) broods of Cardinals each year.  

#4 Keep Distractions Away From The Feeder

Asides keeping the feeder away from the where there is less human activities, it should also be away from other pets, like cats and dogs. Likewise, reflecting objects like mirrors and windows.

It won’t be strange to find a Cardinal picking a fight with its reflection on a window. As hilarious as the sight of this might seem, it is dangerous to the bird.

The easy way is to just move the feeder from any reflective object or cover the screen. For example, a side mirror bag to cover a side mirror.


Feeding Cardinals The Right Way

Let’s set things straight, if you don’t feed Cardinals the right way, they wouldn’t use your feeder regardless of its design or price.

What’s the right way to feed Cardinals, you ask?

Follow these tips to know better.

#1 Feed Them Seeds They Can’t Resist

Northern Cardinals eat a lot of things from seeds to insects to fruits, like their Oriole cousins. But of all these items, there are some they can’t resist and won’t find easily in the wild.

Here are seeds Cardinals love eating:

  • Sunflower Seed: Put some black oil sunflower to attract Cardinals and a variety of other birds. Also, you can feed them gray/black sunflower seed to filter out other birds that can’t crack it open.
  • Safflower Seed: This seed is not just a good treat for Cardinals, but it’s also a great way to hold squirrels and blackbirds that hate it at bay. At first, the birds may not eat because it’s new to them. A simple trick is to mix it with sunflower seed.
  • Shelled Peanuts: It’s a good source of protein and fat during winter. Plus, it’s a good substitute for suet if you can’t handle the stress. But, a lot of birds also like this feed.

large male cardinal in tree

#2 Bait Them To The Feeder

Cardinals are naturally ground eaters, so it might some time for them to use your seeders. However, if notice they are hiding in the shrubs, you can sprinkle some in there, and close to the feeder.

    #3 Fill The Feeders Both Early and Late

    Cardinals are “punctual” birds. Among other birds using a feeder, they are usually the first to arrive and last to visit.

    So, you should keep the feeders filled early in the morning and just before sunset to keep them coming.

    #4 Place Feeder Close To The Ground

    Since Northern Cardinals are ground eaters, it not only makes sense to put their feeders at low altitudes, but it works. The feeder should be mounted or hung 5-6 feet from the ground.

    This height is the best not just for the birds, but also to prevent squirrels from raiding the stash. But, that’s as long as there is enough clearance from a supporting object.


    Conclusion

    That’s a wrap on the best Cardinal bird feeders review. Now, you can make an informed purchase with the review and tips given in the article.

    Just as a reminder, my best all-around Cardinal feeder is the Woodlink Absolute II and it should work well for you too.

    It is exceptionally durable, has large seed capacity and has enough room for my Cardinals and other beautiful birds.