Attracting Northern Cardinals to Your Backyard with Sunflower and Safflower Seeds

If you’re looking to attract the vibrant beauty of Northern Cardinals to your backyard, sunflower and safflower seeds are the way to go. These medium-sized songbirds, native to the eastern and southwestern United States, have a particular fondness for suburban yards. A well-rounded diet consisting of insects, fruits, seeds, and more keeps them satisfied. To entice them to your feeders, opt for platform or hopper feeders with ample ledges or trays for them to stand on. And don’t forget about water – Cardinals love to bathe and drink from bird baths. Keep an eye out for their vibrant red plumage, as they are most active in the early morning and late evening.

Attracting Northern Cardinals to Your Backyard

Do you love the vibrant red plumage and beautiful song of the Northern Cardinals? If so, you may be wondering how to attract these delightful birds to your backyard. With a few simple steps, you can create an inviting space that will be irresistible to Northern Cardinals. In this article, we will explore the habitat preferences of these birds and discuss the best ways to attract them to your yard.

Understanding Northern Cardinals

Northern Cardinals, scientifically known as Cardinalis cardinalis, are medium-sized songbirds that can be found in the eastern and southwestern regions of the United States. These birds are especially fond of suburban yards where they can find a variety of food sources and suitable nesting sites.

Cardinals have a diverse diet, which includes insects, wild fruits and berries, seeds, nuts, waste grains, flower blossoms, and buds. By understanding their feeding preferences, we can provide the most suitable foods to attract them to our backyard feeders.

Cardinals’ Habitat Preferences

To attract Northern Cardinals, it is important to create an environment that mimics their natural habitat. Cardinals prefer areas with dense shrubs and trees that provide cover and nesting sites. They are often seen in woodlands, forests, and edges of fields.

In your backyard, consider planting native shrubs and trees that will provide both food and shelter for the birds. Some recommended plants include dogwood, viburnum, and red cedar. These plants will not only attract Northern Cardinals but also other species of songbirds.

Provide the Right Feeders

Once you have created a suitable habitat, it is time to provide the right feeders to attract Northern Cardinals. Cardinals prefer platform feeders and hopper feeders that have ample ledges or trays for them to stand on. These types of feeders mimic their natural feeding behavior and allow them to feed comfortably.

Platform Feeders

Platform feeders are a favorite of Northern Cardinals. They are shallow trays or flat surfaces where you can place a variety of bird seeds. Cardinals will happily perch on the edges of these feeders and enjoy their meal. Make sure to keep the feeder filled and clean to keep attracting Cardinals.

Hopper Feeders

Another great option for attracting Cardinals is hopper feeders. These feeders have a container that holds the seeds and dispenses them as birds eat. Cardinals can easily land on the perches of hopper feeders and enjoy their feast. Hopper feeders also have the advantage of keeping the seeds dry and protected from the elements.

Attracting Northern Cardinals to Your Backyard with Sunflower and Safflower Seeds

Fill the Feeders with Sunflower and Safflower Seeds

Now that you have the right feeders in place, it is time to fill them with the right seeds to attract Northern Cardinals. Cardinals are particularly fond of sunflower and safflower seeds, which are both readily available at most bird supply stores.

Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds are a staple in many bird feeders, and Northern Cardinals are no exception. These nutritious seeds are high in healthy fats and proteins, making them an excellent food source for birds. Cardinals will eagerly devour the black oil sunflower seeds, so be sure to keep your feeder stocked.

Safflower Seeds

Another seed that Cardinals find irresistible is safflower seeds. These white seeds have a mild flavor and are slightly smaller than sunflower seeds. Cardinals are known to prefer safflower seeds over other types, so consider adding these to your feeder to attract even more of these beautiful birds.

Additional Attraction Techniques

In addition to providing the right feeders and seeds, there are a few other techniques you can use to attract Northern Cardinals to your backyard.

Create a Bird-Friendly Environment

To make your backyard more appealing to Cardinals, consider creating a bird-friendly environment. This can be achieved by planting native plants, providing nesting boxes, and avoiding the use of chemicals in your yard. Cardinals will feel more at home in a natural, pesticide-free environment.

Add Water Sources

Cardinals love water, and adding a bird bath or a small pond to your backyard can work wonders in attracting them. Make sure the water source is shallow enough for them to bathe and drink from comfortably. Keep the water fresh and clean, changing it regularly to prevent the spread of disease.

Attracting Northern Cardinals to Your Backyard with Sunflower and Safflower Seeds

Best Feeding Times

To catch a glimpse of Northern Cardinals at your feeder, it is important to know their activity patterns and feeding times. Cardinals are most active during the early morning and late evening hours. They tend to feed during these times, so make sure your feeders are well-stocked in the early morning and before dusk.

Common Cardinal Threats

While attracting Northern Cardinals to your backyard is a rewarding experience, it is important to be aware of common threats that they may face.


Northern Cardinals have a few natural predators, including cats, hawks, and snakes. To protect them, consider placing your feeders near dense shrubs or trees where the birds can seek cover if they feel threatened. Keep an eye out for any potential predators and take measures to keep them at bay.


Like all birds, Northern Cardinals are susceptible to various diseases. It is important to keep your feeders clean and sanitized to prevent the spread of any potential diseases. Regularly clean your feeders with a mild solution of bleach and water, and remove any moldy or spoiled seeds.

Attracting Northern Cardinals to Your Backyard with Sunflower and Safflower Seeds


Attracting Northern Cardinals to your backyard can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. By understanding their habitat preferences, providing the right feeders and seeds, and creating a bird-friendly environment, you can increase your chances of attracting these beautiful birds. Remember to be mindful of their feeding times, potential threats, and to always maintain clean and well-stocked feeders. With a little effort and patience, you can create a backyard haven that will be irresistible to Northern Cardinals. Happy bird-watching!

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