Cardinals are frequent visitors to bird feeders, but they have their preferences. Having the right bird feeder and food that they like can attract more of them to your yard. The best bird feeders for cardinals can come in a variety of different styles, but all of them have plenty of space for these beautiful birds and come in different materials to suit your needs. When you’re looking to make your backyard a place cardinals love hanging out, complete with a bird bath, adding one of the best bird feeders for cardinals can help.
- BEST OVERALL: Brome Squirrel Buster Plus Bird Feeder Cardinal Ring
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Perky-Pet 8lb Squirrel-Be-Gone II Feeder Home
- BEST FOR WINDOWS: Nature’s Hangout Window Bird Feeder with Suction Cups
- BEST SMALL: Perky-Pet C00322 Red Cardinal Bird Feeder
- BEST TWO-TIER: BOLITE 18040 Bird Feeder
- BEST POLE-MOUNTED: Woodlink Deluxe Cedar Bird Feeder
- BEST WOOD: Nature’s Way Bird Products CWF3 Cedar Platform Tray
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Bird Feeders for Cardinals
There are a few key features to keep in mind when looking for the best bird feeders for cardinals. Since cardinals have certain feeding preferences and are medium-size birds, finding the right feeder to accommodate them is important.
There are several different types of bird feeders that work well for cardinals. These include:
- Platform: Since cardinals are among the birds that don’t particularly like to turn their bodies when feeding, platform feeders work great. These open feeders feature a tray upon which cardinals can perch, or they can sit inside comfortably.
- Hopper: These birdhouses are typically shaped like houses for people and deposit the seed into a hopper from which the birds eat—no body-turning required.
- Window: Similar to platform feeders, window feeders also work well for cardinals as they attach to a glass door or window and allow birds to perch on the edge facing straight or sit in the feeder to eat.
- Tube: Although tube feeders typically have traditional stick perches which require birds to turn their bodies—something cardinals aren’t keen on—many tube feeders come with cardinal rings, which allow you to provide more comfortable seating for cardinals.
- Suet: Cardinals love suet feeders because they provide the high-calorie nourishment cardinals need, especially in the winter. Suet feeders typically consist of a wire cage that a suet “cake” is placed in, and birds can hang on to the wire while eating.
Since cardinals are bigger than finches, wrens, chickadees, and sparrows, having a sizable bird feeder can ensure that cardinals have plenty of room to sit and eat. Most bigger bird feeders can hold a few pounds of seed and allow several birds to eat at once. The right size for you will depend on how often you’ll be filling your feeder as well as where you plan on hanging it.
Bird feeders can be hung from a tree or stake, pole mounted, or suctioned to a window. Those that are hung can typically hold more birdseed than window-mounted or platform feeders.
Bird feeders can also be made of different materials, although cardinals likely won’t mind which one you choose. These materials include:
- Metal: As long as it’s coated to prevent rusting, metal can be a convenient material for bird feeders, as it’s easy to clean. The only con for metal is that it can get hot, so if you live in an area where higher temperatures are present year-round, or if your yard gets a lot of sun, this may not be the best material for you.
- Plastic: Durable and easy to clean, plastic feeders are popular because they won’t break when dropped and resist cracking from extreme temperatures.
- Acrylic: Also easy to clean and resistant to damage, acrylic feeders offer a clear view, which is perfect for window feeders.
- Wood: Wood feeders aren’t as easy to clean as plastic, acrylic, or metal, but many people appreciate the aesthetic. Keep in mind that these feeders aren’t chew-proof against squirrels and chipmunks.
- Epoxy resin. Epoxy resin is extremely durable and has the benefit of being chew-proof, meaning it can be a great material for squirrel-proof bird feeders.
Perches and Feeding Ports
Since cardinals like to face forward when eating, avoiding stick perches on tube feeders without a cardinal ring can help you attract more cardinals. These perches are typically too small for cardinals to fit comfortably anyway, as they’re made for smaller birds.
Ring perches on tube feeders work well for cardinals and allow them to sit comfortably, as do traditional circular perches on hopper feeders and window feeders.
The feeding ports should not only be large enough to accommodate cardinals, but if you have a squirrel-proof feeder, make sure the settings are such that the cardinal’s weight won’t trigger the feeding ports to close. Cardinals are a medium-size bird, with adults typically weighing about 1.5 ounces.
If you have squirrels, looking for a squirrel-proof bird feeder can help keep them out of your birdseed and leave space for cardinals.
Squirrel-proof bird feeders typically have a mechanism in place that closes the feeding ports when a squirrel’s weight is placed on the perch, preventing them from accessing any food. While tube feeders, suet feeders, and hopper feeders can be squirrel-proof, platform-feeders and window feeders typically are not (unless window feeders are placed high enough and away from trees where squirrels can jump).
The material matters when it comes to squirrel-proofing, as you’ll likely want a type of chew-proof material, such as epoxy resin or metal, to thwart invading squirrels.
The best bird feeders for cardinals can also have other features that make them more appealing to these beautiful birds.
Some feeders have a built-in ventilation system that prevents birdseed from getting wet and accumulating mold or mildew, which can be advantageous for larger bird feeders that don’t need to be filled as often.
Many bird feeders also include a combination of feeding methods, such as a place for birdseed and a suet holder all in the same feeder. Others are made with UV-resistant materials to help prevent fading and sun damage.
Our Top Picks
The following bird feeders are some of the best on the market for attracting cardinals. With comfortable eating perches, plenty of space for larger birds, squirrel-proof features, and a wide range of styles and materials, there are plenty of excellent options to choose from.
Attract and keep cardinals happy and well fed with this durable tube-style bird feeder. With six feeding ports and a cardinal ring, there are plenty of places for cardinals to hang out and eat mixed birdseed, sunflower seeds, and safflower seeds. A seed ventilation system keeps up to 5 pounds of feed fresh while preventing mildew growth, and a weight-adjustable spring automatically closes the feeding ports when anything larger than a bird finds its way to the perch. Epoxy resin construction makes this feeder extra-durable and resistant to chewing from squirrels or chipmunks.
- Perch closes access if weighed down by squirrels
- Adjustable perch setting for different weights
- Doesn’t spill a lot
- Ventilation system to keep seeds fresh
- Birds may need time to figure out small feeding holes
- Perch seems a little close to the feeder
Although charmingly designed to look like a cabin, this hopper-style bird feeder is more than just an eye-catching decoration. Constructed from durable, powder-coated metal that’s easy to clean and resists rust, it’s also squirrel-proof, thanks to a spring-closing mechanism that shuts the hopper when too much weight is placed on the perch. The top of the feeder also locks into place, keeping squirrels out.
The front-facing perch is especially attractive to cardinals, and the 8 pound capacity will keep birds of all kinds well fed. This feeder can be hung from a pole or tree, or it can be pole mounted.
- Large capacity holds up to 8 pounds of seed
- Perch closes access if weighed down by squirrels
- Can hang or mount on pole
- Wire hanger bends easily
- Squirrels could access by hanging from wire
For an easy and entertaining way to watch cardinals, consider this window feeder. Easily attaching to glass via strong suction cups, this platform-style feeder can be filled with virtually any type of feed and holds up to 4 cups of birdseed. A roof helps protect birds from the elements while feeding, and draining holes help keep birdseed dry and mold-free. The removable tray allows for quick and easy refilling, and the acrylic construction allows for easy cleaning and a clear view of bird visitors.
To dissuade squirrels from chowing down, hang this bird feeder on a high window or glass door and away from trees.
- Clear acrylic for full view of feeding time
- Attaches directly to windows
- Small drain holes to release rainwater
- Could attract other critters if placed too low
Cardinal aficionados should enjoy this similarly hued metal bird feeder. Featuring a zinc-plated finish that helps prevent rust, this feeder can hold up to 2.5 pounds of birdseed, including black-oil sunflower seeds and safflower seeds, which cardinals love. Don’t be fooled by its small size: The appealing circular seed tray and mesh surface can hold up to 15 birds at a time.
In addition to a large overhang top that shields birds from the elements (and keeps squirrels at bay), built-in drain holes ensure the feeding hopper stays dry. When not in use, this feeder collapses, which makes for easy storage.
- Circular wire mesh offers lots of feeding space
- Chew-proof, rust-resistant metal
- Works well for birds that cling or perch
- Water drainage system
- Not squirrel proof
- Seeds in middle can’t be reached
With two sizable trays, this platform-style bird feeder offers plenty of room for cardinals to eat comfortably. Made from powder-coated metal that resists rust, this stylish hanging feeder can be set on on a pole or tree branch. Drainage holes help keep birdseed dry and can accommodate a baffle for extra protection from the elements—and squirrels.
The open format allows for easy filling and cleaning, and the feeder can be filled with virtually any type of birdseed. Since it’s made out of metal, it may not be the best choice for those who live in hot, sunny climates.
- Two-layer, open-tray bird feeder
- Plenty of free access to seeds
- Water drainage holes included
- Works for almost any bird
- Not squirrel proof
- Can’t be mounted on a pole
Appeal to cardinals with both seed and suet with this attractive hopper-style bird feeder. Made from cedar, this feeder can hold up to 5 pounds of birdseed and two suet cakes. Although it includes a cable for hanging, this model can also be pole mounted, making it a great option for those who want to keep squirrels away.
The hinged roof opens for easy cleaning, and the plexiglass makes it easy to see when the feeder needs refilling. It has front-facing perches to accommodate cardinals, and since it holds different types of food, it’s like having two feeders in one.
- Natural cedar birdhouse feeder
- Includes space to hold suet cakes
- Holds up to 5 pounds of seed
- Suet cage holes may be too large for bird safety
Constructed from insect- and rot-resistant cedar, this platform-style bird feeder is ideal for those who want to attract cardinals and other larger birds. The spacious seed tray is appealing to cardinals and larger birds, such as jays and mourning doves, as they can perch on the edge of the feeder or sit inside. A mesh metal cutout in the bottom of the platform allows for draining and provides proper ventilation, preventing mold or mildew from growing among the seeds. This screen also makes it possible for the feeder to accommodate different types of seed, including mixed seed, sunflower seeds, and peanut pieces.
This feeder comes with a vinyl-coated hanging cable and rust-resistant hardware. Keep in mind that because this bird feeder doesn’t have a protective covering, squirrels, chipmunks, and other critters may be drawn to the tempting birdseed buffet.
- Open, flat tray made of natural cedar
- Large enough for several birds
- Can hold bird nesting material in the spring
- Water drainage system
- Mesh holes are too large for small birdseed
- Straps could be attached better
Birdseed is known to attract many other unwanted critters, so finding a bird feeder for cardinals that reserves the food just for them is important to many bird lovers. That’s why we chose the Brome Squirrel Buster Bird Feeder as our top pick thanks to its patented design that keeps squirrels out of the food. For a more up-close look, we recommend the Nature’s Hangout Window Bird Feeder.
How We Chose the Best Bird Feeders for Cardinals
Cardinals are a medium-size bird, so finding the right-size bird feeder for them is important. These recommendations include feeders that easily accommodate these birds and many others their size or smaller. Our favorites include the most popular designs like platforms, hoppers, window feeders, tubes, and houses that can hold suet cakes. Some designs prevent excess spillage on the ground, while others allow it; this attracts other larger birds that don’t mind feeding on the ground. Each feeder has a water draining system to prevent moisture from spoiling the birdseed when it rains, which is helpful for preventing waste.
We researched products that had squirrel-proof designs to prevent extreme competition for resources, and we looked for styles that had plenty of access for cardinals’ preferred safflower seeds. Additionally, we narrowed our choices to include different size capacities, materials, and feeding ports. We included bird feeders at several price points as well.
Still have questions about choosing the best bird feeder for attracting cardinals? Here are some of the most commonly asked questions, with answers to help you get started.
Q: Do cardinals need special feeders?
No, but since they don’t like to twist their bodies while eating, any feeder that has plenty of space and allows them to face forward when eating can work.
Q: What attracts cardinals to feeders?
Cardinals are attracted to feeders that have their favorite foods, such as sunflower and safflower seeds, peanuts, and even cracked corn. Suet is a popular type of food for cardinals in the wintertime.
Q: Will bird feeders for cardinals attract other birds as well?
Yes! Most types of birds can feed at bird feeders made for cardinals.