Cardinals are frequent visitors to bird feeders, but they have their preferences. Having the right bird feeder and food that they like will help to attract these beautiful birds to a yard. The best bird feeders for cardinals can come in a variety of different styles, but all of them have plenty of space for cardinals to land and eat. They come in a range of materials and designs to suit personal preferences and look nice in the garden as well. To make a backyard a place cardinals love hanging out in, complete with a bird bath, adding one of the best bird feeders for cardinals can help.
- BEST OVERALL: Brome Squirrel Buster Plus Feeder Cardinal Ring
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Perky-Pet Squirrel-Be-Gone II Home Style Feeder
- BEST FOR WINDOWS: Nature’s Hangout Window Bird Feeder with Suction Cups
- BEST SMALL: Perky-Pet C00322 Red Cardinal Bird Feeder
- BEST LARGE: Woodlink Heritage Farms Hopper Bird Feeder
- BEST TWO-TIER: Bolite Two-Tier Tray Bird Feeder
- BEST POLE-MOUNTED: Woodlink Deluxe Cedar Bird Feeder
- BEST WOOD: Nature’s Way Bird Products Cedar Platform Tray
How We Chose the Best Bird Feeders for Cardinals
Cardinals are a welcome visitor in most gardens, and the best way to attract them is with a suitable bird feeder. Cardinals have a few preferences when it comes to how they eat. They’re medium-size birds, so they need a large enough feeding area. They also don’t like turning to eat, so they prefer a feeder where they can snack on birdseed head-on. When searching for the best cardinal feeders for bird lovers, we chose larger feeders with a spacious and open perching area to suit cardinals’ preferences.
While it’s important to choose a feeder with cardinals in mind, don’t skip over user-friendly features as well. The bird feeders on our list are easy to fill and straightforward to clean to simplify necessary maintenance. The top picks on our list are also affordable, with several squirrel-proof options to lessen seed loss and mess.
Tested bird feeders from this guide:
Our Top Picks
The following cardinal bird feeders are some of the best on the market. 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.
What Our Tester Says: Debbie Wolfe, Bob Vila editor and product tester, says about this bird feeder: “[I] love Brome’s feeders because they are well built and do a good job of thwarting squirrels. [I] liked this feeder in particular because it was easy to hang right out of the box and accommodated a wide range of birds. With its six feeding ports and perching ring, small- and medium-size birds such as chickadees, nuthatches, finches, and cardinals sit comfortably while eating.”
Read our full review: Brome Squirrel Buster Plus Feeder With Cardinal Ring
- Feeder type: Tube
- Materials: Polycarbonate
- Capacity: 5.1 pounds
- Squirrel-proof design uses an adjustable weight mechanism to foil crafty squirrels
- Does not require tools; is easy to build and take apart for cleaning
- Includes a Lifetime Care warranty with free replacement parts (if covered by the warranty)
- Heavier and larger birds can also trigger the weight mechanism, which prevents them from feeding
- The cardinal ring can be tricky to attach to the feeder
Get the Brome bird feeder for cardinals at Amazon, Brome, or Walmart.
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 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.
What Our Tester Says: Debbie Wolfe, Bob Vila editor and product tester, says about this bird feeder: “The birds flocked to this feeder as [I] tested it in [my] yard. [I] loved the way this feeder looked and appreciated its sturdy construction. The only con [I] noted for this feeder is that it is heavy when full of seed. Even when hung on a shepherd’s hook, the hook bowed due to the feeder’s weight. This feeder is best mounted on a pole.”
Read our full review: Perky-Pet Squirrel-Be-Gone II Home Style Feeder
- Feeder type: Hopper
- Materials: Metal
- Capacity: 8 pounds
- Attractive design and color make this hopper bird feeder a charming outdoor decor piece
- All-metal construction holds up nicely to weather and pesky squirrels
- Has an adjustable weight-activated squirrel-proofing mechanism
- Option to hang or pole mount
- Can be very heavy when full; needs a heavy-duty hook mounted to sturdy frame to hang
Get the Perky-Pet Squirrel-Be-Gone II bird feeder for cardinals at Amazon, Do It Best, or Walmart.
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 is perfect for quick and easy refilling, and the acrylic construction allows for 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.
- Feeder type: Window
- Materials: Acrylic
- Capacity: 4 cups
- Window-mounted design provides the best view for bird-watching
- Does not require any assembly; just attach by suction cups to mount
- Very easy to refill and clean due to open design and removable tray
- No critter-proofing features; needs to be placed out of reach from squirrels, rats, deer, and other backyard animals
Get the Nature’s Hangout bird feeder for cardinals at Amazon, The Home Depot, Nature’s Hangout, or Walmart.
Cardinal aficionados will 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.
- Feeder type: Hopper
- Materials: Metal
- Capacity: 2.5 pounds
- Wire mesh material allows excellent airflow and creates a larger feeding area for multiple birds
- Large overhang helps dissuade squirrels and protects birds and birdseed from rain and snow
- Collapsible design makes the feeder easy to store
- Smaller seeds may fall through the mesh holder
Get the Perky-Pet C00322 bird feeder for cardinals at Amazon, Tractor Supply Co., or The Home Depot.
For yards and gardens teeming with birds, a large bird feeder is the right choice to keep up with demand. This hopper bird feeder from Woodlink holds an impressive 15 pounds of seed—enough to feed a lot of cardinals! It is designed to avoid feeding squirrels, with a weight-triggered closing mechanism and locking top. The weight-triggered perch locks access to the seeds when it senses a squirrel.
The front-facing perch and large size are ideal for cardinals, but plenty of other birds will love this feeder as well. The powder-coated steel material is long lasting, plus it looks nice in the deep green color. To suit different homes, this bird feeder can be hung or pole mounted and includes the necessary hardware for either option.
- Feeder type: Hopper
- Materials: Metal
- Capacity: 15 pounds
- Very large capacity; can hold 15 pounds of seed
- Durable powder-coated steel material is rust- and damage-resistant
- Includes necessary hardware for hanging and pole mounting
- Crafty squirrels can figure out how to bypass the critter-resistant features
- Can be too heavy to hang when filled with seed; must hang from a sturdy frame
Get the Woodlink Heritage Farms bird feeder for cardinals at Amazon, Lowe’s, or Wayfair.
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 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.
- Feeder type: Platform
- Materials: Metal
- Capacity: 1 pound
- 2-tiered design allows for more birds to feed
- Open trays are easy to fill and simple to clean
- Powder-coated rust- and weather-resistant construction holds up well to the elements
- Larger birds can cause the feeder to tip and seed to spill
- Not critter- or weatherproof
Get the Bolite bird feeder for cardinals at Amazon.
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.
- Feeder type: Hopper
- Materials: Wood
- Capacity: 5 pounds
- Can be hung (with included cable) or pole mounted
- Features a birdseed feeder and 2 suet cages; great for year-round use
- Hinged roof makes refilling and cleaning straightforward
- Suet holders are on the smaller side and may not fit some suet cakes
Get the Woodlink Deluxe bird feeder for cardinals at Amazon, Wayfair, or Walmart.
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.
What Our Tester Says: Debbie Wolfe, Bob Vila editor and product tester, says about this bird feeder: “The feeder works best in a sheltered area, like a covered patio, to protect the seeds from rain. For those who don’t mind an occasional visit from a squirrel, it’s a nice feeder that will attract many birds.”
Read our full review: Nature’s Way Bird Products Cedar Platform Tray
- Feeder type: Platform
- Materials: Wood
- Capacity: 3 quarts
- Large and spacious tray fits several birds
- Mesh bottom allows for excellent airflow and drainage
- Platform design makes cleaning and refilling a breeze
- Mesh holes can be too large for some types of birdseed
- Does not have any features to dissuade squirrels and other critters
Get the Nature’s Way Bird Products bird feeder for cardinals at Amazon, Nature’s Way, or Walmart.
What to Consider When Choosing a Bird Feeder 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 the bird food 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 colorful 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 ultraviolet-resistant materials to help prevent fading and sun damage.
With their bright bills, distinctive red feathers, and beautiful bird song, the Northern cardinal is a favorite bird to many, even landing the title of state bird in states like Illinois, Kentucky, and West Virginia (among others). They’re a favorite winter garden visitor, and their bright color stands out beautifully against snow and evergreen trees. 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, they will also attract other birds! Most types of wild birds can feed at bird feeders made for cardinals.
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