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The Best Way to Feed Cardinals

The better half and I recently moved into an older home amidst a wooded area. Needless to say, I never thought I'd see as much wildlife in the backyard, fur and feathered, as I have seen in the short time we've been there!

We recently got a front row seat just outside our living room window of a nesting pair of Northern Cardinals!  Before getting into the best way to feed them, I'll go over a personal experience I learned from watching them. 

These beautiful birds are typical of other North American birds where they share responsibilities of rearing and feeding their young. 

Although the red bodied male is slightly larger like most bird species versus its female counterpart, she can also be beautiful with her more muted plumage as well (see main photo above!)

Cardinals like to nest in areas that have a lot of shrubs or thick, leafy canopy coverings, so the bushes in your backyard worked perfect to this effect. In fact, it was so close to the window and near the ground (but out of the way of predators) that I got some amazing photos!

As stated earlier, both Mom and Dad Cardinal take turns feeding their young. I realized that this was a great opportunity to take photos of them up close and also feed the parents via a bird feeder.

Baby cardinals once they hatch generally have a 10-13 day window until they fly off and become fledglings. Not wanting to miss out, I very carefully got some pics of the babies and parents in the nest. 

Be very mindful when it comes this close to interacting with wildlife, even baby birds. Never get too close where the animal is uncomfortable or in this case, disrupts their feedings. In fact, it is unlawful in the United States to possess a cardinal for domestic purposes.

With that said, you can easily observe them without interfering with their routine as I did. Once you observe them with respect, you and anyone else in your home viewing them can enjoy them for a long time. Having binoculars and a good camera comes in handy in times like this.

And after that 2 week time period, the baby birds grew into fledglings and stayed close to their parents in the backyard. Even with my slight interaction of photographing them in their nest, they stayed wild and flew away whenever I would approach them at a distance in our yard.

Knowing that more birds are now occupying our yard, we decided it was best to feed them via a  good feeder & seed.

Our local Home Depot has a wide selection of bird seed and feeders, and we wanted something that would feed just them. In that I mean our yard and I know lots of others have squirrels and chipmunks that would love to get their paws on some tasty seeds!

So our choice was getting a squirrel resistant bird feeder alongside seeds tailor-made for cardinals. These birds love sunflower seeds, so having the right mix of seed made buying it so much easier!

Our in-store bird seed brand, Wagner's, has a great large bag that can last for weeks for feeding cardinals or other birds that happen to show up at the feeder.

6 lb. Cardinal Blend Wild Bird Food

As for the feeder, we chose the Perky-Pet Squirrel Slammer Bird Feeder. It's named that 

because any bird can safely perch on it, but any squirrel or similar animal won't be able to due to it's shutting off mechanism on the bottom. 

As shown in the main image at the top of this post, we decided to place the feeder in the front yard in better lighting away from a lot of trees (so the squirrels can't jump on it). 

Alongside the 7 foot Shepards Hook we used by Vigoro, it's been great so far at feeding just the birds and nothing else at the feeder. 

However, we've had certain non-Cardinal species that like to pick through some seeds, leaving a few to spill on the ground for chipmunks and other birds to eat. As the picture shows below, different species seem to co-exist in this new mini ecosystem we discovered.

From just a few short weeks of seeing baby cardinals grow and leave their nest, I've learned quite a few things about these beautiful creatures. 

The main part is that if you see these birds in your yard, it's a good chance that they are nesting somewhere nearby year-round (they don't migrate like some other species). 

So what better way to see them and know you are helping them by placing a bird feeder in your yard for them! 

I just found out this morning that we have yet another set of expecting birds in one of our outdoor ferns, this time Thrashers. So it's good that we are more than ready to help feed them!

For any further questions regarding safely feeding cardinals or birds, do not hesitate ask us here!

Happy bird watching!


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Posted 2019-06-19T17:52:42+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL Joseph_HD_ATL
Great post Joe!

We have 2 large evergreen trees in my back yard near the house.  There are cardinals nesting there year round.  Our bird feeder hangs from a branch in those trees, and we fill it with safflower seeds.  Cardinals love this stuff, (so do doves), but squirrels won't touch it.  I have not found a solution for chipmunks, as they seem to eat anything and everything.  At least they don't climb the trees but just settle for spillage off the feeder.  If you want to be more selective about which birds you attract, see this chart from Wagner:


Posted 2019-06-21T13:13:53+0000  by Chris_HD_CHI
Our local bird food store also recommended safflower seeds because the squirrels don’t like it.  She also said something about it being mating (or something) season and the male cardinal will drive off other males, so you’re likely to see only one pair in your backyard.  That should change shortly (and may be different in other parts of the country).
Posted 2019-08-17T22:26:43+0000  by Adam444
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