Cardinals eat a variety of foods: sunflower seed, safflower seed, cracked corn, peanut chips, peanuts and nutmeats of all kinds. Try Cardinal’s Delight, a seed Duncraft formulated especially for these birds. They also like melon seeds, pieces of raisins and banana and even cornbread and other baked goods.
If you want to set up a feeder for just cardinals and maybe some small birds such as chickadees, try setting your feeder in the midst of a bush or shrub. Cardinals nest in bushes and they love to eat in a secluded place. Replicating a cardinal’s preferred habitat by your feeding set-up is one way to keep them coming back and also discourages other large birds, such as doves and pigeons. These birds are too large to use a feeder that’s located in the middle of a lot of branches!
Water also plays a very important part in attracting cardinals and other birds, both in summer and winter. So be sure to have a bird bath filled with fresh water if there isn’t a natural water source nearby.
If you are lucky enough to have more than one pair of cardinals at your feeding station, you may see one or two males trying to keep all the others from the feeding tray. This is very common among finches – the family of birds to which the cardinal belongs. However, sooner or later every one gets its turn. Even the male cardinal who won’t let his mate eat with him all winter eventually relents. When spring comes he begins to regard his mate in a new light. Instead of chasing her from the feeding tray, he now begins to offer her shucked sunflower seeds and other choice tidbits. When the cardinals have their young they will bring them to the feeder and teach them how to feed themselves.
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