The Best Bird Feeder for Cardinals: 22 Feeders You Will Love!

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The Northern Cardinal is an iconic bird. It’s the state bird of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Virginia–more states than any other bird!

In a stunning cloak of unmistakable red, male cardinals are easy to identify and delightful to see. The females have pretty russet-colored feathers and join the male cardinals in song. 

These beautiful birds don’t migrate, so these lovely birds are year-round companions for the entire eastern and central United States, as well as most of Mexico and even portions of Arizona.

These well-known and well-loved birds are expanding their range, thanks to help from cardinal lovers who set out bird feeders. 

Want to join in the fun and see more of the beautiful cardinal for yourself? Read on to find out all the details on exactly what kinds of feeders work best for cardinals, and check out our complete buying guide to cardinal bird feeders! 

Product Name
Top Platform Feeder
Droll Yankees Dorothy’s Cardinal Platform Bird Feeder
Top Hopper Feeder
Woodlink Absolute Squirrel Resistant Bird Feeder
Top Suet Feeder
More Birds Suet Cage Bird Feeder
Image
Droll Yankees 344318 DCF Dorothys Cardinal Platform Feeder, Birdseed, Fruit, Suet, or Mealworms, 15-Inch
Woodlink Absolute Squirrel Resistant Bird Feeder, Model 23803
More Birds Suet Cage Bird Feeder, Fruit and Suet Feeder, Single Cake Capacity ,Black
Customer Rating
Material
Made From Plastic
Made From Alloy Steel
Made From Alloy Steel
Weight
Weight: 5 Pounds
Weight: 12.3 Pounds
Weight: 2.89 Ounces
Size
15.18 x 8.03 x 15.06 inches
13.5 x 16 x 11.25 inches
5 x 2 x 5 inches
Top Platform Feeder
Product Name
Droll Yankees Dorothy’s Cardinal Platform Bird Feeder
Image
Droll Yankees 344318 DCF Dorothys Cardinal Platform Feeder, Birdseed, Fruit, Suet, or Mealworms, 15-Inch
Customer Rating
Material
Made From Plastic
Weight
Weight: 5 Pounds
Size
15.18 x 8.03 x 15.06 inches
Top Hopper Feeder
Product Name
Woodlink Absolute Squirrel Resistant Bird Feeder
Image
Woodlink Absolute Squirrel Resistant Bird Feeder, Model 23803
Customer Rating
Material
Made From Alloy Steel
Weight
Weight: 12.3 Pounds
Size
13.5 x 16 x 11.25 inches
Top Suet Feeder
Product Name
More Birds Suet Cage Bird Feeder
Image
More Birds Suet Cage Bird Feeder, Fruit and Suet Feeder, Single Cake Capacity ,Black
Customer Rating
Material
Made From Alloy Steel
Weight
Weight: 2.89 Ounces
Size
5 x 2 x 5 inches

Last update on 2022-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What is the best kind of bird feeder for cardinals? Do cardinals need special feeders?

Cardinals need a feeder large enough to accommodate their size and allow them to perch and feed comfortably. These are ground-feeding birds not built to perch in awkward positions.

They also need a feeder that will hold their favorite foods. A cardinal’s beak is shaped for cracking larger seeds, so these are the best foods to offer them. They enjoy black oil sunflower and safflower seeds, corn, and peanuts. Cardinals also like mealworms and suet. 

So while cardinals don’t specifically need special feeders, they’re certainly going to prefer feeders where they can most comfortably eat the foods they like best. 

The best feeders for cardinals are platform feeders (especially ground platform feeders), hopper feeders, and suet feeders.

What to consider when choosing the best bird feeders for cardinals

Type of Food

First, you should consider what type of food you’re offering. Cardinals are known to adore black oil sunflower seeds. They also love safflower seeds, peanuts, and suet cakes. You should select feeders that allow you to serve these foods.

Wondering what to fill your cardinal feeders with? Check out our guide to the best bird seed for cardinals

Size of the Bird

Next, you need to consider the size of the bird. Cardinals can’t comfortably use small tube feeders, but a larger tube feeder with a tray at the bottom could do the trick. Tiny seeds like millet and thistle are great for smaller birds like chickadees but too tricky for cardinals to manage. 

The Size of the Feeder

Many bird feeders do not have large enough perches or perching spaces for cardinals. Cardinals are larger birds, averaging 8.5 inches in length with a wingspan of over 12 inches. Some bird feeders aren’t even that wide! Check the dimensions of the feeder before making a purchase. 

The Style of Feeder

Also, consider the feeding style the bird prefers. Cardinals are ground feeders. Platform feeders best replicate this experience. Hopper feeders with enough perching space, or trays underneath, can also work.

Cardinals also enjoy suet but won’t use a feeder that requires them to hang upside down. They’re also not usually too keen on clinging the way that, say, a nuthatch might. Make sure there are ample comfortable perches available if you want cardinals to use your suet feeders.

Hungry Neighbors

Feeding near the ground means that squirrels and other hungry critters can be a factor in what kind of feeder you choose. You may have to select a feeder that compromises between the cardinals’ favorite feeding method and blocking access for the squirrels. 

A hopper feeder can provide this kind of compromise for cardinals. Many have design features intended to keep squirrels out. You can also hang or pole-mount your feeders to help deter uninvited guests.

What type of feeder will attract cardinals?

Cardinals will come to many types of feeders, but the styles that they prefer include:

Platform Feeder

This style of feeder is a simple flat tray that holds the mixed seeds or other food you are offering. It typically has a mesh bottom, which allows for drainage of water, droppings, and seed shells.

Platform-style feeders can be covered or uncovered. Covered feeders offer more protection from sun, rain, and snow but don’t give you as clear of a view. Some feeders compromise on this with different styles of see-through covers.

Platform feeders can be close to the ground, mounted on a pole, or hung. Feeders close to the ground are most preferred by cardinals but most accessible for other animals and potentially more challenging for you to view. 

Hopper Feeder

A hopper feeder keeps the seeds fresh and protected from the elements. Usually, the seeds are dispensed at the bottom as birds eat. 

Many hopper bird feeders have a covering to protect the seeds and the birds and ledges or additional perches for the birds’ comfort. They also frequently have squirrel-resistant features, like spring-loaded perches that drop squirrels to the ground or seed doors that will close when something too heavy to be a bird stands on the feeder.

Even though the seeds are covered, humidity can still cause moisture inside a hopper feeder, which will spoil the feed. You should not put out more seeds than birds will eat in a couple of days. And clean the feeder thoroughly in between refills. 

Suet Feeder

A suet feeder is designed to feed suet to birds without getting it on their feathers. Suet usually comes in flat cakes but can come in other shapes. The most common suet feeders are mesh or cage feeders. These look like a simple cage around the suet, with a hook for hanging.

More fancy suet feeders can have the same features as platform or hopper feeders, like covers, perches, and different mounting styles. Suet feeders are intended for cold weather, so you’d only use them during winter and sometimes fall, depending on your region.

What color bird feeders attract cardinals?

There’s a lot of advice out there saying to use red feeders to attract cardinals. After all, the birds themselves are bright red, so maybe they like red things. But is there any scientific evidence to back up this claim?

Carotenoids in native fruit like raspberries, wild grapes, or Dogwood berries are responsible for the red hues in cardinal feathers. Cardinals love these fruits, although they mostly eat them for their seeds.

But even though these berries are red, the plants that produce them are not. Dogwoods, the favorite plant of cardinals, have white flowers. So it seems unlikely that red is the predominant color attracting the cardinals.

Researchers studied bird preference for feeder colors, and while the study did not include cardinals, the wild birds in the study showed a preference for subdued green and silver feeders. The brightest colors, yellow and red, were avoided the most.

There is plenty of research available on hummingbird color preferences, and they are known to prefer red, which may cause some confusion regarding other bird feeders.

Are there better cardinal feeders for different seasons?

Winter is a great time to offer suet, which can be placed in mesh or cage feeders that allow the cardinals to access the suet without getting it on their feathers. It’s not a good idea to offer suet when it’s hot, because it melts and spoils quickly. So put away your suet feeders after winter, and don’t take them out until fall days get cool again. 

Platform feeders might be better for times when precipitation is less of a concern, such as summer or fall. Though, if your platform feeder is covered, this isn’t as much of a problem! Whatever season you use your feeders, check them for spoiled feed and mold frequently, especially if it’s been rainy, humid, or hot. 

Where should I place a bird feeder to attract cardinals?

Cardinals prefer a bird feeder that is close to natural cover. Smaller trees and shrubs offer protection at the feeders and on the ground. Ground-level feeders are their favorite. They will also feed at pole-mounted and hanging feeders, which you can encourage with varying levels of cover plants. 

Favorite berry shrubs, such as the dogwood, sumac, or mulberry, will do double duty as they attract cardinals to their fruit (and the seeds inside) while offering shelter.

Placing a cardinal feeder near evergreen trees is another great option, especially for the winter, as it will make the cardinals feel safer while offering places to perch. Just make sure it’s not so close that squirrels become an issue.

Providing a nearby water source, like a birdbath, is another great way to draw cardinals to your feeders. Keeping the water moving will attract the cardinals’ attention and help prevent freezing in the winter. 

What kind of feeder do cardinals prefer?

Studies have shown that cardinals prefer ground and platform feeders. A hopper feeder with adequate perches, or a large tube feeder with a tray underneath, can provide a similar experience. Suet feeders are a great cold-weather option for feeding cardinals. 

Let’s take a look at some bird feeder options that cardinals will enjoy!

Platform Feeders

Duncraft Covered Ground Platform Feeder

This feeder gives food to cardinals where they like it the best: at ground level. It provides a broad, sturdy platform for the cardinals to feed while keeping the seed out of the dirt. Bonuses include mesh flooring and rust-free construction. The downside of the platform-style bird feeder is that it’s readily accessible to animals, including squirrels. But the upside is that cardinals will love this style of feeder.

Hanging Platform Feeder in Gray Recycled Plastic

Are you looking to keep it simple? This no-frills hanging platform feeder will get the job done. Hanging the feeder makes it harder for squirrels, cats, and other uninvited guests to access, while the platform shape is comfortable for cardinals. A mesh bottom allows drainage and airflow. The downside of this type of feeder is that it’s open to the elements. But it will be easy to clean, and the Cardinals will be happy here.

Twigs Platform Bird Feeder

This pole-mounted platform feeder will help you feed cardinals away from cats, squirrels, and other critters. Insider tip: put a slinky on the pole to keep squirrels from climbing it! A roof over the platform keeps out precipitation and provides shade, while a mesh bottom offers drainage. This is an excellent option for cardinals!

Extra Large Platform Feeder for Deck or Window

Want to bring the cardinals to you? This feeder has generous dimensions to allow cardinals to feed comfortably, with a mounting system that will put them at your eye level. It includes a mesh bottom and drainage, with special finishes to protect the wood and metal to keep them at their best for years to come. Best of all, it’s handcrafted to order. 

Duncraft Double Platform Fly-Through Feeder

Enjoy twice the birds with this double-decker platform feeder! A clear cover offers protection while providing a clear view of the birds. Each tray can be removed for easy cleaning. This feeder is designed for hanging.

Droll Yankees Dorothy’s Cardinal Platform Bird Feeder With Adjustable Dome

Droll Yankees 344318 DCF Dorothys Cardinal Platform Feeder, Birdseed, Fruit, Suet, or Mealworms, 15-Inch
  • CAPACITY: Platform bird feeder holds up to 1 pound of seed, fruit, suet, or mealworms
  • PLATFORM: 13-inch-diameter platform makes it easy for multiple birds to feed at once
  • DOME COVER: 15-inch-diameter dome protects food and can be moved up or down to control bird size

Last update on 2022-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This unusually-shaped platform feeder boasts a dome designed to keep squirrels out while letting birds in. The platform base lets cardinals feed in their most comfortable position, and the clear construction lets you observe the birds. Win-win!

Duncraft Safe Haven Wonderland Feeder

This ground-based platform feeder takes an unusual approach to offering protection for birds: it provides clips so that you can secure branches to the feeder to create natural cover. This creates a feeding environment similar to what cardinals expect in the wild. A really interesting idea to try! This feeder features two trays with a slide-out bottom tray.

JC’s Wildlife Ground Fly-Thru Bird Feeder

JCs Wildlife Colossal Ground Fly Thru Bird Feeder - Massive Covered Platform Bird Feeder - Removable Tray Holds 16 Cups - Roof Helps Seed Stay Dry (Standard)
  • Welcome your wildlife with the JCs Wildlife Colossal Ground Fly Thru Feeder!
  • Carefully designed fly-through design accommodates many types of birds for your garden
  • Perfect for feeding not only birds but also rabbits, squirrels, and other backyard creatures

Last update on 2022-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

A ground-level platform feeder with a bonus: two inner trays allow you to feed two different foods simultaneously, to give the cardinals their favorite seeds, or attract multiple species. The cover helps protect your precious seeds and birds from rain. 

Hopper Feeders

Green Solutions Hopper Feeder with Suets

Medium Hopper Bird Feeder with Suet Cages in Green Recycled Plastic
  • Medium Hopper used 17 plastic containers
  • Feeder capacity - 3 quarts with 2 suet cakes
  • Durable recycled material

Last update on 2022-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This feeder offers cardinals their choice between fresh seeds or suet cakes, perfect for cold weather feeding. The enclosed design of the hopper feeder keeps seeds clean and dry, and a mesh bottom allows shells to fall through. 

Recycled Double Decker Platform Hopper Bird Feeder

Birds Choice SNDDG Hopper Feeder, Recycled Double Decker Hopper Platform w/ Two Removable Screen Trays, 4 Quarts Taupe/Green
  • HOPPER FEEDER: The most convenient type of feeder, especially for hard-to-reach locations. Best to use with Black Oil Sunflower...
  • RECYCLED MATERIALS: Poly lumber proudly made from recycled plastic jugs and bottles in the United States and is designed to...
  • MADE IN THE USA: This product is proudly made in America and manufactured in our Wisconsin facility

Last update on 2022-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This extra-wide hybrid feeder takes advantage of the benefits of hopper feeders and platform feeders, giving cardinals ample space to feed while covering seed to keep everything clean and dry. 

Woodlink Absolute Squirrel Resistant Bird Feeder

Sale
Woodlink Absolute Squirrel Resistant Bird Feeder, Model 23803
  • Durable powder coated steel body
  • Squirrel's weight on perch closes access to seed
  • Locking top

Last update on 2022-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This squirrel-proof feeder is big enough to feed cardinals but spring-loaded to block out anything as heavy as a squirrel. Seeds are protected from the elements, and you can choose to pole mount or hang this feeder. Just remember that seeds inside this style of feeder can get humid, and check them frequently for spoilage. 

Perky Pet Squirrel-Be-Gone II: Squirrel Resistant Metal Wild Bird Feeder

This charming house-shaped hopper feeder keeps squirrels out with a weight-activated perch that closes the seed ports when a pesky squirrel jumps aboard. The squirrel-proof bird feeder is specifically designed to feed cardinals’ favorites: sunflower seeds and safflower seeds. This feeder can be hung, or pole mounted. 

The Pioneer Woman Sweet Rose Squirrel-Proof Hopper Feeder

Looking for a hopper feeder that’s as stylish as it is squirrel-resistant? Then this pretty little rose is for you! It has a host of squirrel-resistant features, including a locking roof, collapsing perches, and weight-sensitive seed shields. This feeder is designed for hanging. 

Heartwood Skybox Cafe Bird Feeder

Heartwood 249A Café Skybox Cafe Bird Feeder
  • Made in United States
  • Package height :30.0 "
  • Package length :16.0 "

Last update on 2022-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This handsome bird feeder will stand out in any garden, and its ample construction offers plenty of space for cardinals to enjoy some seeds. It’s designed to be mounted on a wooden post, which will be an extra-sturdy placement. 

Recycled Poly Whole Peanut Bird Feeder

DutchCrafters Plastic Poly Hanging Whole Peanut Bird Feeder for Woodpeckers, Ravens, and Blue Jays, Outdoor Bird Feeder for Whole Peanuts - Amish Made in USA (Black & Weathered Wood)
  • Peanut Feeder: Popular with Woodpeckers, Crows, Ravens, Jays, and Other Large Birds. Squirrels Will Also Enjoy This Feeder and...
  • Hopper Style: Whole Peanuts, Suet Nuggets, and Other Large Snacks Can be Added into the 1" Wire Mesh Cage. Peanuts Fall as They...
  • Features: 8" Width x 8" Depth x 12" Height, 3.5 lbs. Stainless Steel Hanging Mount, Roof is Easily Removable for Refilling and...

Last update on 2022-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Like many birds, cardinals love peanuts, a high-calorie, high-protein treat. You can enjoy watching them pull the peanuts from this covered cage feeder and break them out of the shells to eat. Sturdy perches on each side provide for the cardinals’ comfort. This is a hanging-style feeder.

The Original Natural Log Seed Feeder

Ok, so this isn’t exactly a hopper feeder, but it works along the same principles. If you favor a rustic look and natural materials, this handmade feeder is sure to please. Spacious dimensions will allow the cardinals to perch and feed, while the natural curve of the log will shelter seeds and birds. A metal chain allows for hanging. 

Suet Feeders

More Birds Suet Cage Bird Feeder

Sale
More Birds Suet Cage Bird Feeder, Fruit and Suet Feeder, Single Cake Capacity ,Black
  • SUET CAKE FEEDER: Holds a single suet cake to provide food and energy to birds during cold months when food is scarce
  • CLINGING BIRDS: Cage grid designed with clinging birds in mind – feed woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, and more
  • NOT JUST FOR SUET: Great for small seed cakes, nesting materials in spring, and oranges in summer

Last update on 2022-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This suet feeder keeps it simple: a cage to hold the suet cake allows cardinals to eat without getting grease on their feathers. It’s inexpensive and easy to use. Just make sure you hang it close to easy perches for the cardinals to use comfortably.

C&S EZ Fill Deluxe Suet Wild Bird Feeder

C&S Wild Bird EZ Fill Deluxe 4 Suet Cake/1 Seed Brick Feeder with Roof
  • Green full steel roof, bottom door with two closures and chain hanger
  • EZ Fill makes the chore of filling easy
  • Holds 1 brick or 4 cakes

Last update on 2022-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Taking things up a notch from the no-frills suet feeder, this one offers a four-cake capacity and a protective cover. Otherwise, it’s also inexpensive and easy to use, like our first suet feeder. It still needs to be hung someplace in easy reach for a cardinal to use.

Fly-Through Suet Ball Feeder

Looking for something different? This suet ball feeder fits the bill! Its wide construction will accommodate a cardinal, and they can have their pick of the suet inside. Bonuses include a covered top and a mesh base. 

Duncraft EZ-Fill Deluxe Suet and Block Feeder

This suet feeder pulls out all the stops for cardinals. The most important feature is its generous base, providing a comfortable ledge for cardinals to rest and have a leisurely meal. A cover on top protects the suet and opens to let you easily clean and refill the feeder. This feeder is designed for hanging. 

Hanging Cedar Bird Suet Feeder with Roof, Perch, and Chain Hanger

Do you love the look of natural materials? Do you appreciate quality craftsmanship? Then you might want to go the handmade route for your suet feeder. This one offers a sturdy perch for cardinals, a protective housing for the suet, and your choice of natural woods. Its generous size will appeal to cardinals. 

Woodlink Going Green Peanut or Large Suet Cake Feeder

Woodlink Going Green Peanut or Large Suet Cake Feeder, Green
  • Recycled composite frame with metal cage creates a fantastic bird feeder
  • Easily holds 2.25 quarts of peanuts in the shell
  • Item can also accommodate a large suet or seed cake

Last update on 2022-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What if you’re a bird enthusiast who actually likes squirrels and are looking for a feeder that’s just as friendly to them as it is to cardinals and other birds? This is the feeder for you, wildlife lover! Generously sized and built to last, this feeder can be used for birdseed, peanuts, or suet. A transparent cover protects food from the elements but allows you to see everyone enjoying the feast. 

Cardinals Rule!

While there are no cardinal rules for picking a bird feeder for cardinals, keeping their preferences in mind can go a long way toward attracting them to your yard. These ground-feeding colorful birds love their black oil sunflower seeds. They also like having enough space to perch and feed comfortably.

Pick a feeder or two off this list, offer sunflower and safflower seeds, place them near some cover and running water, and your feathered friends are sure to find their way to your yard soon!

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Stevie Miller

Stevie Miller is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience. Her lifelong passion for birds began young, starting with a citizen science project at her aunt’s bird feeders, followed by a memorable first-time birdwatching trip to Assateague Island. Later, she got the opportunity to help birds directly while working as a veterinary assistant. Now she enjoys frequent time outdoors, traveling extensively to observe the birds, animals, and plants that inspire her writing and artwork.